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What keeps HR Managers awake at night?

By July 10, 2022 No Comments

In a recent survey by KPMG, respondents reported Employee Engagement and Customer Confidence as the second and third most important challenges behind the Economic Environment, as the world moves forward post Covid.

When you add ageing workforces, multi-generational and multi ethnicity staff, skills shortages, changing demands of employees, remote working and mental health, as well as calls for more social purpose and responsibility, employers today, more than ever before, need to respond to these key business drivers in order to maximise their business opportunity.

Invariably the same issue rises to the top of the pile – employee engagement and how to ignite the passion in employees. This seems to be the number one challenge for HR managers in companies large and small all over the world.

With Human Resources managers striving to gain a seat on the Board or the Executive Committee, it is vital that HR strategy is in alignment with the corporate vision and strategy. Unfortunately this is often not the case, and many HR managers remain transactional, focused on reviews, exit interviews and paperwork, rather than looking at the bigger picture around building a culture of appreciation to ignite the passion and make employees feel valued and part of the vision. Passion  and engagement should be the holy grail for HR.

Employees are your corporate brand. Without them you have no unique competitive advantage, and so improving employee passion  and engagement, which can lead to improved retention, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and greater customer satisfaction, is critical to your corporate performance.

With leading professional services consulting companies such as Mercer Consulting and Gallup calculating that to replace an employee can cost as much as 150% of salary, a staff retention strategy is critical to maximise staff performance which can deliver huge benefits.

During a recent meeting with a senior hospitality HR manger, we discussed a key issue connected to employee engagement – unplanned absence and staff retention and the impact on the business. In this particular business this was a significant challenge, but this is an issue for most businesses, especially with Covid still having an impact.

When we discussed the challenges in detail, we agreed that unplanned absences can have a major impact on a business and are a concern for many HR managers, as well as being a drain on resources, and they create significant problems for the business. The key issues identified around unplanned absence and staff turnover were:

  • Lost productivity (and revenue) if no one can cover the work
  • Increased costs – you may need agency staff
  • Reduced efficiency (and revenue) if staff cover is not found
  • Lower levels of customer service as personnel are stretched
  • Reduced employee morale as the staff take up the slack

When you also consider employee turnover, the real impact on a business starts to add up, and it could be costing you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per year if your employee absenteeism and staff turnover is high.

Lowering your unplanned staff absenteeism and turnover has a major positive impact on your bottom line through:

  • Improved productivity and morale
  • Lower recruitment costs – both time and money
  • Reduced on boarding and training time and costs
  • Retention of expertise – losing expertise can impact morale and customer experience

When your staff are passionate and engaged they are usually happy – and perhaps more importantly, they are likely to be productive and motivated to deliver their best to your company.

There is a large amount of data supporting the business benefits of fostering engagement among your workers.  It really pays to make developing a  culture of appreciation a priority, and this has been highlighted in a recent survey from KPMG, where they reported that most organisations are placing employee passion and engagement as their second highest priority post Covid.

Gallup have repeatedly reported that organisations who ranked in the top quartile for engaged employees had a 22% higher profitability and 10% higher customer service rating than those in the bottom quartile.

Conversely, the negative impact of disengaged staff on business is high. Apart from reduced productivity and lower customer experience, it is estimated that the cost of replacing staff is around 150% of their annual salary depending upon their role in the organisation. (Take a look at the Employee Retention Calculator on the Brownie Points web site to calculate how much employee turnover is costing you

Certain industries such as hospitality, by their very nature attract more transient employees, which can make engagement even more complex to achieve.  All the more reason to make every moment count, so it is important to start with the end in mind when planning your engagement strategy.

It is certainly worth considering the following:

Onboarding process

First impressions count. Employees who experience a positive introduction to their new employer are more likely to remain motivated and stay in their role longer.  Research shows that a strong onboarding program can boost new hire productivity by 70%. Remember to:

  • Outline expectations clearly and be positive in your approach.
  • Resist the urge to cut corners on training and orientation and keep processes simple.
  • Provide a “buddy”, a “go to” colleague or mentor to support your onboarding efforts.

Create and share clear goals. Reward success.

Research suggests that workers who are given autonomy to make decisions and are encouraged to provide suggestions to improve the business and suggest changes are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

  • Be transparent with what you want to achieve and collaborate with staff at all levels to solve problems. Letting staff know your corporate vision and values is key to this.
  • Whilst money is undoubtedly a motivator for employees, many studies have confirmed that if workers are paid correctly recognition for contribution and positive feedback becomes more important to foster overall engagement.
  • Rewards for a job well done don’t have to be expensive but should recognise the worker and suit the business ethos e.g. paid time off, a meal voucher or a movie ticket. In many cases, the act of recognition and positive feedback is sufficient, but where rewards are given, such things as charitable donations or paid time off for voluntary work are becoming popular as social responsibility becomes important.
  • Programs such as Brownie Points, that automate processes and recognise across the organisation in real time can make your employee recognition and reward program easier for businesses to manage, and cost effective to maintain.

Communicate Regularly

Timely, sincere and regular communication from you and your Manager’s will make or break your staff’s engagement.

  • Gallup suggest that immediate Managers account for 70% variance in employee engagement scores so it’s vital that your Supervisors and Managers understand the significance of driving an informed, positive workforce who receive constructive feedback often. Employees who take part in regular meetings have been shown to be twice as engaged as those who don’t.
  • Foster diversity and inclusion in your workplace environment through your recruitment practices and create opportunities to bring team members together socially. Volunteering for a shared cause is an excellent way of providing a sense of belonging.

Create strong organisational values

A workplace with integrity lives and breathes a culture where respect prevails.

  • Leaders should “walk the talk” to embed identified values throughout the workplace and state their importance to the business.
  • Remind staff of these values often and tie rewards to those who demonstrate these. As a result, you will engender trust and create a more meaningful engaged environment.

Choosing to invest in your people is choosing to invest in your business. Your staff are your only competitive advantage, and motivated, engaged employees will deliver higher levels of customer or guest experience.

Engaged employees supported by leaders who communicate positively and openly can be the key to move your business performance from ordinary to exceptional, so plan your strategy carefully.

By placing employee engagement at or near the top of your list of priorities, HR managers can align their strategy with the overall corporate vision and make a real difference to the bottom line.

We believe that your employees are your most precious resource, and staff engagement is vital if you wish to maximise the potential in your people and grow your business, while giving HR the chance to sit at the “big table.”

If you don’t look after them your competitors will.

Tony Delaney, CEO Brownie Points


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