Investing in staff

With the apparent increased confidence in the economy, more employers are looking at ways in which they can retain staff and ensure they keep top talent on board. A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development 2010, which surveyed 729 organisations, found that over a third of respondents had adopted a reward strategy, while a further 31 per cent intend to adopt one in 2010.
 
Kevin Harrington, director of Sodexo Motivation Solutions states, “Some businesses took the short-sighted view during the recession that there was no need to focus on talent management because people were not going anywhere, but a Marketing Week survey showed that 40 per cent of marketers expect to leave their current job in 2010.” If this is indicative of professionals in other areas of business, then companies that have not invested in talent management may see a significant increase in their spend on recruitment when taking account of advertising, HR/ management time and loss of productivity/service delivery during the notice and induction period.
 
The most popular reasons for having a reward scheme in place are to strengthen the pay–performance connection, to motivate employees and to reward those who perform the best. A significant change this year is a move toward increasing the pay award differentiation between ‘normal’ and ‘high-performing’ employees. The CIPD survey suggests that this change is possibly a reflection of tight pay budgets and a desire to reward those who have contributed the most.
 
It is important to know what employees will respond to in terms of reward and recognition, as cash incentives are not always the most effective. In addition to bonus and reward schemes, many employers (41 per cent of survey respondents) use employee recognition schemes, such as employee of the month and non-cash incentives to help maintain staff engagement and motivation. “Part of the increase over the year in the use of these low-cost plans may be attributable to the state of the economy and many employers having a tight budget from which to reward and recognise individual and team contribution,” suggests the CIPD report.
 
Flexible working hours may be another option that employers can use. While flexible hours and shorter working weeks may have been a creative solution to avoiding job cuts during the recession, many employees are very satisfied with this arrangement. Organisations benefit from these cost control measures, which maintain knowledgeable and skilled employees in the workforce and employees gain from a flexible approach that contributes to a better work-life balance, which is often also a more family friendly arrangement. Going forward, organisations that implemented these measures in a difficult environment are considering the benefits and engagement potential of maintaining or extending these schemes.
 
In a recession, training and development is often one of the first areas where companies look to making cost savings. However, investing in training and development makes good business sense when seen as a way to retain employees who are already working for you and who know the company’s business. Investing in them by providing training has a number of bonuses.
 
First, employees gain more knowledge and skills allowing them to be used in different areas across the business. It could also mean that companies can avoid the need to recruit new staff to fill gaps. This increased fluidity and flexibility of employees with a broader skill set also makes succession planning easier.
 
Secondly, providing appropriate and effective training and development is an excellent way of motivating employees. It demonstrates that they are valued within the business. Giving people more capabilities and self confidence can help lift spirits and increase loyalty. A learning and development survey conducted in 2009 by the CIPD found that 76 per cent of the respondents said that “learning and development was seen as an important part of business improvement.” One of the CIPD’s advisers, Angela Barron, noted that, “They (employers) are showing a commitment to careers and employability and are keen to develop and retain talent for the upturn.” Her belief is that this commitment is rooted in employers’ needs to make the most of what they have.
 
Finally, continuing to develop your employees now will benefit you in the future as you will emerge with a stronger, more skilled and flexible staff with which to meet the challenges ahead.
Investment in staff and their needs, whether through reward and recognition schemes, flexible working options, training and development or any other means is an investment in the future of the business. Such investment aids employer/employee relations, helping to develop and maintain loyalty to the company and enhance motivation. This in turn will maximise the company’s productivity, quality of service delivery and the company image as a ‘good place to work’.

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