Media and Articles
Addressing the Employee Experience
February 29th, 2012
Author: Darryl Judd, COO, Logistics Executive
As market pressures ramp up, Executives continue to center on attraction and retention strategies but the focus needs to be more about what sits between these two, writes Darryl Judd, COO for Logistics Executive Group.
“What if it was possible to retain a large pool of staff simply by offering them exposure to new on the job skills? It could be argued that if companies developed their own people, they would end up with more talent than they could handle. ” ~ Mr Kim Winter, CEO.
2012 brings with it the continuation of supply chain challenges that we have now come to accept as the new norm. This includes the continuation of globalization, business volatility and an increasingly competitive marketplace. Despite all these challenges economic growth remains stoically healthy with consistently reasonable growth levels returning and buoyed by factors such as the strength of emerging economies, new technologies and resources.
Whilst this is reassuring news on the business front, it means that there will be more pressure than ever to get the Human Resources aspect right, as the enduring message from Executives is that success is only possible with the backing of a talented team.
It is therefore no wonder that in the Logistics Executive’s 2011-2012 Global Employment Market Report, 56% Senior Executives stated that talent and retention would be their main focus for 2012. From a Human Resources strategy perspective this is excellent news. Human Resources teams are at their most effective when they partner closely with Business leaders and there are a number of approaches that they can take if they work together on these issues.
According to the Market Report there are major insights in the area of conditions of employment. In particular, a key concern amongst respondents is in the area of employee training and development opportunities.
Remuneration it seems is only part of the solution in attracting talented Supply Chain and Logistics Professionals.
In terms of development opportunities, the Logistics Executive 2011-2012 Global Employment Market Report found that the majority of Business Leaders perceived that they offered a satisfactory focus level on training to their employees. However on the employee side there was an increase in workplace movement to other organizations stating their main reason was lack of development opportunity.
Perhaps there is a need for the Human Resources function to shift their focus from traditional means of engagement towards a broader approach? According to Mr Kim Winter, Logistics Executive’s Global CEO, the answer lies in the middle ground. With Executives and Human Resources focusing on retention and attraction they are missing the middle piece here – managing and developing existing talent. “It could be argued that if companies developed their own people, they would end up with more talent than they could handle,” adds Mr Winter.
Here we are referring to structuring the whole employee experience. This would start with the first impression of the company through employment branding. Followed with the first impression as part of the attraction strategy and the on boarding. Overlaid throughout with a social element, which would enforce a healthy approach to change. A flexible training program and conditions of employment would be carefully interwoven in this model. Mr Winter goes on to explain that talent development could encompass a range of options, including “a real Talent Retention strategy to include structured career development, meaningful assessment processes, relevant KPI’s linked to bonus schemes, career choice options, job re-structuring, improved participation and an enjoyable but challenging work environment”.
By training we aren’t just talking here about the traditional definition of the word, which refers to formal courses to increase directly related work skills but to work related on the job learning. This could be offered not just to an earmarked group of “high performers” but to all company employees. In other words treating everyone in the business collectively as “the talent”. Exposing them to new areas, which would then allow personal growth on the job but not necessarily directly related to their current roles. In this way it would be possible to retain a large pool of staff simply by offering them exposure to new on the job skills. This approach would require executives to include talent development as a major focus. Employees in turn would take on some responsibility for their own development. This would lead to a culture that is more capable of dealing with the high amount of change as employees are constantly encouraged to find better ways of doing things.
The approach of treating change as an opportunity and not a threat in the micro level is critical as the capacity to keep up with changing markets is increasingly paramount for a company’s survival and competitive edge. It is not enough to have the support structure in place such as systems and process but imperative that there is a workforce mentality that isn’t afraid of change but actually sees this as an opportunity and part of the norm.
A way of fostering this culture is to give people in the workplace opportunities to seek out new personal challenges that will provide them with opportunities to test themselves and drive themselves to new levels of performance and ways to connect with others in the workplace to achieve outcomes. This will attract other likeminded individuals to your organization and enhance employer brand. Mr Winter adds “As organizations get flatter then offering career development can be a challenge but this can be tackled in many ways such as offering inter-office transfers, job rotation & greater delegation of decision making down the line. Allowing employees to be involved in “continuous improvement teams” offers both job satisfaction and better results – a win-win”.
It will be interesting to see if the year ahead sees the Human Resources function take up the challenge to redefine culture as a way of improving the total employee experience. In partnering with their Human Resources teams, Executives will recognize the broader role they may play in achieving commercial success. Through these measures the focus is all about changing the mindset so that employees aren’t just ready for change but will embrace it on all levels. A change-ready company will not only have the competitive edge but will create a self-perpetuating cycle of achievement.
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