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May 2011

Talent mobility - a self-created crisis?

Talent mobility Last week HR magazine run a report under the headline, "Talent mobility a top concern for UK HR decision-makers." Apparently exclusive research has revealed that "22% of HR decision-makers expect to see an increase in voluntary churn in 2011" and see this as a major threat to business growth.

Perhaps more enlightening though is the fact that "the majority attributed retention problems to external factors such as better salaries or opportunities elsewhere, as opposed to internal factors." I don't know what your reaction to that statement is, but to me it seems to perpetuate the perception of HR as the victims of circumstance rather than the shapers of destiny. After all why would people want to move if the internal factors were all they should be?

Let's face it, changing jobs is stressful. Apparently there are 3 major causes of stress:-

  • Loss of a special relationship;
  • Uncertainty; and 
  • Lasting consequences.

Changing jobs more often than not triggers all these. Thus it takes a lot to get us to reach that point. Especially when you consider that human resistance to change is cited as a major reason that change initiatives don't succeed!

In the light of this, therefore, it would definitely seem that we need to look inwards rather than outwards for the causes of employee turnover.  The willingness of people to subject themselves to such stress is likely to nearly always indicate that all is not well with the way you are managing your people.

(And there may possibly be a clue in the fact that you are falling into the habit of talking about "talent management" instead of recognising you are dealing with people. You employ the whole person, not just their talent!)

People's willingness to move then is surely a sign that they are not engaged. And lack of employee engagement is about lack of fulfilment; it is about not being appreciated and not making a difference. Remuneration is certainly a factor in the appreciation stakes, but it is by no means the major determinant that the 48% of respondents cited in the report seem to think it is.

So, rather than looking to employee retention, HR professionals should be looking more deeply at people management. They should be looking at employee engagement and employee ownership and the way they are treating their people, rather than the bureaucratic measures that are their current focus. Only then will they avert the iceberg they themselves are predicting and for which they are still currently heading.

How to be a hero - easily!

Hero I heard a story last night that I just had to share.  

Apparently some medical students were extremely upset by a 2 mark exam question asking "What is the name of the kitchen lady's new grandson?"  

They protested angrily, asking "How are we supposed to know that?" and maintaining that it had nothing to do with anything they had been taught, and as such was grossly unfair. They created such a storm that the Principal finally had to address them. What do you think he said?

He simply told them that they were entering a profession that was all about people; how could they ever be good doctors if they didn't care enough about people to find out about them? The question was therefore entirely appropriate and the marks for the answer would stand.

Wow! I don't know about you but my reaction to that story was to want to stand up and cheer! What a heroic stand and what a wonderfully wise man that principal must be! We certainly could do more with more like him.

However, we can move beyond such wishful thinking. You can eaily be a hero too. You only need to move beyond seeing it as a feel good story. Instead think about its relevance for your job and what you do. The same principle applies just as much to banking or any other business. After all ultimately business is all about people. How can you expect to run a successful business if you don't take an interest in people?

So what are you going to do to encourage such attitudes amongst your people? Maybe you can start with them. After all, as another member of the audience said in response, "You cannot expect value, unless you value your people!" Do that and you will certainly have greater employee engagement. Who knows, you might find yourself cast as a super-hero leading a whole team of heroes!  

How to Increase Employee Engagement through Learning

Learning & Development 72% of employers are suffering from skills shortages. 

70% of employers say skills shortages are having a detrimental effect on their business. 

38% of employers said they need to target their training spend more effectively.

Those are some pretty scary statistics. How on earth are you expected to have a responsive, improving business in the face of constraints like that? They certainly point to a need for effective training. But who is responsible for this training?

The phrasing of the statements - from HR Magazine - seems to suggest that it is an "employer" issue. After all, if employers have the problem it is employers' responsibility to sort them out. Isn't it? Yet …

34% of employers will either reduce investment in training or keep it at the level of the previous year.   

That final statistic certainly suggests the challenge is not being taken up. So the problem is likely to get worse not better. This means that, however you look at it, you need to do something. The question is, "What?" Whether or not you think it is your place to address your national educational shortcomings, your organisation's survival is going to depend on how you answer this.

That means, whether you are one of the 38% described above or not, you need to:-

  • Be prepared to spend more on your training; and
  • Be able to measure and improve the return on your training investment.

As a first step you need to recognise a basic subtle nicety. Skills are personal; they are something that the person develops and uses. Training is a process; consequently it is something that is done to a person. Learning is active and training is passive. You may already have recognised this and created a "Learning and Development" function but, in order to benefit fully from this semantic nicety, you need to go further and create a learning partnership. Both you and your employee need to understand why any programme is necessary and what the outcomes will be. When the person doing the learning has a clearer stake in the outcome of the learning, they will be more motivated to learn and to apply what they learn and thus your investment in their learning will result in greater mutual benefit and yield a greater return.

Every learning programme or assignment should be subject to the same discipline as any other business project. There should be clear upfront understanding of:-

  • Why the programme is necessary;
  • What the programme entails; 
  • What the expected outcomes will be.

With employee ownership the employee has a vested interest in the benefits of the training. Create this and you will add a new dimension to your employee engagement and inspire them to be better learners who use what they learn more effectively for the greater benefit of the business.

How you can buck the trend

CutToBeDifferent You look after your people, don't you? 

Of course you do, although you will be the first to admit that you haven't perfected it.

So just how far from perfection are you?  

You might be surprised. It could be even further than you think.

You are probably all too well aware that real incomes are falling. The economic downturn and its legacy of government cost cutting and rising inflation due to commodity and raw material price increases, fuelled by the price of oil, means that pressure on pay will continue. So for the fourth year in a row real incomes in the UK are predicted to shrink. And that, apparently, is the worst run since the 1870s. 

It is hardly surprising then that, according to the spring Employee Outlook survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 37% of staff believe that their living standards are declining. However, what is surprising is that the survey reveals that 24% of staff admitted that they are looking to jump ship to another employer. And I am sure that the experience in other countries cannot be all that different.

So you have to ask yourself why that is? Clearly it is not a ringing endorsement of your efforts to be a good employer. However, it is not all bad news. Presumably the people surveyed did not all work in the same place. That is good news because it means you are not alone.

You also have to wonder what they expect to be different as a result of a move. Whatever it is, the situation suggests that they are doomed to be disappointed. And that too is good news, because it means that, if you can find a way to differentiate yourself, you will have people falling over themselves to work with you. 

However, that will be where the good news ends unless you find a way to lift yourself above the rest. Certainly the prospect of losing 25% of your people is not doing you any favours. Even if they don't all walk out the door, it is not good for your business to have people who are vital to your success so uncommitted that they may go at any time. It is essential therefore that you find a way to increase employee engagement and get the employee commitment you need. But with everyone else thinking along the same lines you need to be thinking radically differently.

Of course the most radical way to overcome your peoples' inclination to leave is to make them owners of the business! When you do that, you change the dynamics completely because they are now no longer working for you, but working for themselves. Employee ownership is the most powerful employee engagement tool there is. That is because, paradoxically, it takes the employee out while cementing the engagement.

And the best news of all is that the new Zealise employee ownership model can help you do this. There is simply no other model that offers you universal employee ownership that will engage all your employees with little or no cost to you and without the administrative burden or legal issues associated with equity. Can you really afford not to at least consider it?

The Deadliest Toxin of Employee Engagement

Could you be a victim?

There are strong odds that you may be.

After all, even the very the best businesses are susceptible. 

So you can hardly be criticised if you are too. Only the most percipient and sensitive of leaders are aware of it, even though it presents one of the biggest threats possible to your business and its ultimate success - and hence, by extension, to yours.  
What am I talking about? An invisible, invasive and insidious toxin that attacks the nervous system of your business, and undermines so much of what you do.

Of course you will be asking yourself, "If this toxin is so deadly and dangerous, why are so few people aware of it?"

Danger 000004583633XSmall The thing is that this toxin has built a Harry Potter-like cloak of invisibility. It has created this by building on a basic principle that is part and parcel of everyday thinking. In fact it is so ingrained into management theory and practice that it is seldom, if ever, challenged. But, most shocking of all, is that for this reason, you actually embrace it in all your efforts to solve your employee engagement challenge. That means your remedies for one of your biggest challenges as a business leader actually compound the problem!

That's right. You may be spreading the toxin and your remedy making the problem worse!

Do you believe this? Well, I would suggest that declining employee engagement is proof enough of the fact. However, whether you do or don't, I know that if I were in your shoes, I would be asking myself, "Could this be true? Am I really working against myself?" And, because it is a risk that I would not want to take, my answer would be, "I need to find out more about this!"

Accordingly, I invite you to find out more and investigate this toxin for yourself. Click here to learn more. After all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!