3. December 2012 10:38
People managers’ plates are full. Very full. Reduced budgets and resources have forced them to take on more and more in recent years. Our Manager Report 2012 suggests this has taken its toll on how well they’re managing.
It wasn’t always this way though. In the report we look back at data over the previous four years to see where manager capability is improving and where it is worsening. Don’t panic, it really isn’t all doom and gloom for managers!
The report contains guidance on strategic actions for management development folk on steps they can take to address some of the problem areas. And it makes a strong case for organisations to invest more in training and development and provide better support for people managers.
16. November 2012 09:48
This week saw the Engage for Success taskforce launch a new website. If you haven’t heard of them, where have you been?!
Engage for Success is a group of people committed to introducing a better way to work and grow businesses by releasing more of the capability and potential of employees. It is led by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke and was launched by the prime minister last year.
There’s no quick fix to getting employees engaged. The best approach will differ company by company. Start by considering whether your organisation has the four key enablers outlined by Engage for Success:
- Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going
- Engaging managers who focus their people, treat them as individuals and develop and stretch them
- An employee voice throughout the organization, for reinforcing and challenging views, and employees are seen as central to the solution
- Organisational integrity – cultural values are reflected in day to day behaviours.
An employee survey is most peoples’ first thought when it comes to employee engagement. In reality though, this is just the start. The really hard work begins when you get results and plan how to use insights to make business improvements.
The new Engage for Success website is a great resource for any HR or communications professionals leading an engagement programme so do have a look at it here.
26. October 2012 09:15
Employees, more than ever before, want to be involved in the direction of the company they work for.
They don’t want to be communicated to; they want to be communicated with.
They want a voice. And they must be given one… for the following reasons:
- You will boost engagement levels by genuinely involving employees and seeking their opinions and input on business strategy
- You will increase productivity by encouraging employees to be more involved in the company’s direction
- You will ensure employees are all pulling in the same direction if they all understand and buy-in to the strategy
- You will improve customer service as employees feel more personally invested.
Many companies talk of wanting to better engage their employees without being prepared to do what’s needed to achieve this. An annual engagement survey is a good start. This is a minimum requirement though. Aim for more regular, open dialogue – with line managers and their direct reports and between groups of employees.
Keep in mind too that surveys should shape and inform strategy and business planning. They will have little or no value as a separate set of survey actions.
For some companies, the changes needed may be quite small. For others, they will be seismic. Whatever the case is for your organisation, giving your employees a greater voice is a change worth making.
7. September 2012 11:31
Our online study found 87 per cent of employees say they are ‘engaged’ at work. Of this number, 30 per cent say they are ‘highly engaged’. This is high and, perhaps, a little surprising. At the same time though, it is very encouraging.
This does – to some extent – pour cold water on suggestions that employee engagement is currently low. It gives us cause for optimism.
We mustn’t be complacent though. Businesses are not in a position to take engagement for granted – certainly not while the economy continues to struggle. We need to ensure that we are involving, developing and rewarding employees in order to really engage them. It is essential we understand the key drivers of engagement for employees within in our organisation. Only then will more businesses reap the benefits of an engaged workforce.
Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of employees want to be engaged at work. We want to know how our work contributes to business goals. We want to be part of a successful company. And if we are treated well and buy into the company’s vision, we are prepared to go the extra mile.
31. August 2012 09:01
Skills shortages in certain industries and job functions mean that talent gaps could become an increasingly big problem for businesses. A proactive approach is called for.
The results of our poll suggest the overwhelming majority of companies (93 per cent) are already busy identifying where their skills shortages lie. The next step is to do something about filling these gaps…
Linking performance and talent management data will help. Having one centralised data source means it will easier to identify suitable talent already in your organisation for future roles. It also makes it far less likely that potential ‘talent’ will slip through the net after being filed on some forgotten Excel.
You should also encourage managers to have regular development discussions with their teams. Find out what transferable skills employees have, what areas they want to develop in and what other career aspirations they have. Then record this information for future reference. Having a clear and comprehensive picture of talent already in your organisation will mean you are far better prepared to identify future gaps, skills shortages and possible replacements.
It may be that for some roles you don’t have suitable internal candidates but if you spot skills shortages early, it may be that you can recruit at a more junior level and then develop people as successors. Such measures could save your company big money.
23. August 2012 08:37
Diversity has again been prominent in the news. A Credit Suisse study showed that firms with at least one female board director perform better. More needs to be done to keep diversity on the agenda. And it’s not just a problem at boardroom level; it is at all levels of management.
And it’s not just a problem at boardroom level; it is at all levels of management.
Our research with several big clients backs up what Credit Suisse’s study shows. It is very much in businesses own interests that they take this on board. We found that:
- Leaders and managers who are more inclusive and respect diversity are higher performing
- Employees that experience a positive culture with regards to diversity and inclusion are more engaged.
There are other, less tangible benefits too: companies will foster a more open and inclusive working culture, where ideas are welcomed and there can be healthy debate. These companies are also likely to attract the brightest talent too.
In the longer term companies should aim for more balanced representation both in terms of gender and ethnicity among managers. Increasing globalisation will make this even more important.
And in the short term, make sure that those currently in leadership positions are inclusive in their approach and are respectful of diversity in their teams. Companies can achieve this using a tool such as 360 degree feedback. This will allow them to see how managers currently manage and show where action is needed to develop behaviours and capabilities.
2. August 2012 11:07
Is your employee engagement survey really making a difference to the strategic direction of your business? If the answer is no, fear not as you are not alone.
The problem is the focus of employee engagement surveys. There is still too much emphasis on the cottage industry of response rates and data collection. If your survey is ever going to deliver genuine business value and strategic insights, a fundamental change of focus is needed.
Engagement surveys should be more business relevant, as I explain in HR Magazine. Your organisation will get far more from the survey if it is designed around your business strategy. Tailoring the questionnaire in this way will mean you get greater insights and feedback from employees on real business issues.
In many respects though, it is managers that hold the key to survey success. Don’t concern managers with response rates – they need to be supported to focus on results and what they do with them. Help managers to identify strategically relevant insights and create relevant action plans.
If we can help bring about this change of focus, the future of employee surveys will be much brighter.
Guest blog post by Samantha Arnold, Business Psychologist at ETS
27. July 2012 08:28
It’s the start of the Olympic Games. The world’s finest athletes are set to do battle. They will train hard. Competition will be intense. Extra effort is required to get over the line. Athletes need to be at the top of their game to succeed. Those that aren’t will falter.
There are a number of parallels here for UK-based businesses. People make the difference for companies. Process improvements and product innovations all come from people. It is employees that really set a company apart from its competitors. It’s so important then that companies harness the power of their people.
An article I read highlighted a big gap between employee productivity in the UK compared with the rest of the developed world. This is a trend we must reverse if our economy is to prosper.
It stands to reason then that you need to give your employees the best chance to succeed:
- Listen to their feedback and take action where necessary
- Focus on improving the relationship between managers and employees
- Have integrity as a company – employees now demand this from their employer
- Create a culture that employees want to be part of – one with meaningful values and where employees know what they’re working towards
- Train and develop your people to improve skills and productivity
There’s no substitute for hard work – just ask the Olympians. The fragile economy means many companies need to ask for more from employees. But there’s also an onus on employers to create a better workplace to encourage extra effort.
19. July 2012 09:04
We know that getting management buy-in is one of the biggest employee survey challenges. Why is this though?
We polled senior HR professionals and found that, in almost half of companies (48%), management don’t know the difference between engagement and satisfaction. This could explain difficulties in securing their buy-in. Another possible reason is that management don’t see the relevance for them. Or it could be that they don’t understand its purpose or what it will measure.
What’s the solution? We need to make employee surveys meaningful and relevant for management. Make them understand exactly what the survey will measure. Show how finding out what drives engagement for employees will add business value.
An employee survey that is no more than a tick-box exercise is not in anyone’s interest. Companies that are simply reporting on improved response rates every year are missing a trick.
Data from employee surveys can be extremely powerful and insightful for companies. It can help affect real, positive change. This is only the case though if survey questionnaires are designed in alignment with a company’s strategic priorities or business objectives.
This way you can demonstrate a clear, tangible benefit. And that is what management are looking for from an employee survey.
11. July 2012 10:29
Is your L&D strategy closely aligned to your performance and talent management agenda, your recruitment and other people plans? If not, why not? Companies often develop these programmes in isolation and then attempt to join them up. This can be difficult and results tend to be mixed.
A more joined-up approach from the outset is best. A ‘holistic’ people plan has a competency framework at the centre. With this framework in place:
- Individuals can be recruited, developed and measured against a clear set of criteria
- It ensures employees possess the skills and behaviours required in order to achieve business objectives
- All people programmes have the same shared goals and support an organisational strategy.
If an organisation’s L&D strategy is aligned to their competency framework this enables them to develop capability in areas crucial to achieving success. This must be sustained though so review the learning curriculum on a regular basis to keep it relevant. Business strategies are ever-evolving and the L&D focus must evolve with them.
Doing this successfully will make it easier to use learning interventions to support performance and talent management and other programmes. For example, employee performance can be measured against key competencies and employees and line managers can then more simply identify relevant areas within the L&D curriculum which address employees capability gaps.
Guest blog post from Tina Carrington, Senior Business Psychologist at ETS