“People are our greatest asset”

“People are our greatest asset”

Why do people come to work? – some time ago I asked a class of school children - alright young adults - “why do people work?” – they all shouted “money”. [I’d like to tell you they said “Money Sir” but that’s a different story]. 

Of course, money is important. Money enables people to pay for the essential physiological needs of life such as food & shelter. But work also can provide a sense of belonging and opportunity of growth which is less easy to measure as a transaction. [in what Maslow called a “hierarchy of needs”].

Somethings have got to be right at work or they will cause job dissatisfaction [what Herzberg called ‘hygiene’: 

  •    Salary and Benefits 
  •    Job Security 
  •    Work Environment
  •        Job Policies 
  •        Supervisory Practices 
  •        Company policies and administration 
  •        Company reputation  

On the other hand, positive “Motivators” include:

  •        Achievement 
  •        Recognition for accomplishments 
  •        Advancement 
  •        Creativity  
  •        Variety  
  •        Independence 
  •        Interesting work 
  •        Responsibility 
  •        Accomplishment
  •        Personal development
  •        Interpersonal relationships 
  •        Status  

But how do we implement and measure these?

In my experience smaller firms often don’t know what good HR looks like. Business administration is not one of their core competencies. Someone who has built a business based on their own skill set- perhaps they were a very good carpenter joiner - often has little understanding of People Management and Development. Therefore, a good starting point is to conduct an HR audit at the firm to find out what they have in place and identify any gaps or possible causes of job dissatisfaction. 

At this point we often find that the basics are missing; no contracts of employment, no HR Policies & Procedures or Employee Handbook, lack of internal record keeping and no e-HR system etc.    

An HR audit of a Wealth Management company [S G Wealth Management] recently revealed the need to update some HR policies and procedures [such as relating to Maternity and Paternity] and the need to implement an Appraisal and Performance Management Process. People want to achieve at work and need to be recognised for their accomplishments. 

In a different firm [Glenn Cleaning Group with a £4M turnover & 200 staff] we conducted a salary survey as the Managing Director was concerned that salaries & rewards were not in-line with the market. A detailed analysis of management roles compared to direct competitors revealed that some of the jobs were below the upper quartile level that the business strategy had identified as necessary to recruit and retain top talent.  

Once the causes of job dissatisfaction have been addressed, we should consider the positive motivators.  

Employees that feel valued will give their best.  

We know that motivated and committed employees will ‘give of their best’. They will work hard and be prepared to go the extra mile. This can be a real differentiator and completive advantage. Committed and motivated employees behave differently. In short, they are more productive. When was the last time you received great customer service in a shop and how likely are you to go back or recommend that business to others? 

At well-established family business [Robinsons Caravans] we wanted to take a snapshot of how people felt about working for the business, which was in a process of transformation, so we conducted an employee engagement survey. This anonymous survey revealed how people really felt about the job and company and they were encouraged to highlight any concerns and help identify where the business could improve.  The Managing Director implemented a number of initiatives including a Continuous Improvement Circle where small groups of employees met, identified and agreed how issues could be addressed and then implemented an improvement plan. As a customer service improved and cost savings were achieved.   

A Care Group [The National Care Group] was growing rapidly through acquisition but recruiting and retaining staff was difficult. We wanted to change the mind set from job to career so developed a career framework which identified competencies necessary for Care Workers and also what was needed to progress to Team Leader or Manager. This enabled individuals to develop improving retention and helping to attract potential employees.

Walk this way… 

CEO’s and Senior Executives often espouse the value and importance of employees. ‘Our people are our greatest asset’ is a well-worn and now somewhat clichéd expression but the results for firms that ‘walk the walk’ are measurable; Recruitment, Retention [reduced staff turnover], Staff Development and Succession all feed into top line sales and bottom-line profitability.  

Sustainable competitive advantage 

The current employment market is difficult, and recent events including the Pandemic have highlighted the importance of people and pushed HR up the agenda of many organisations. Addressing job dissatisfaction and enabling positive motivators for employees at work provides firms with a sustainable competitive advantage where people really do make the difference.  

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