Nicole Alvino, Co-founder and CSO of Firstup, says a new report highlighting dissatisfaction in the workforce can be the kickstart businesses need to improve their recruitment and retention…
Much has been said, written and discussed about how difficult things have been for workers and businesses recently. However, this period of intense change also poses an incredible opportunity, offering options to overhaul how things are done, and ensure companies can become magnets for talent.
Firstup’s recent research, The Deluge of Unhappy Workers, made sombre reading, with employees feeling undervalued and uniformed. Over half of those surveyed felt their role was not valued by their employer, making the results both fascinating and scary.
While these numbers were alarming, it does give organisations an insight into what they need to do today to leverage their workforce and to keep their employees happy. There is a real opportunity for leadership teams to look at how they are engaging with their workforces, and to transform so they become employers of choice.
So what does a culture that both attracts and retains top talent look like?
As with so many things, getting the basics right is the first step to achieving success. What this means for businesses is alignment: with strategy, across the business, and in communications. This requires real conviction and role-modelling from leaders, in order to bring that journey to life in a compelling way. It’s important to take the time to ensure this level of alignment can then cascade and impact every other element of your organisation’s internal engagement.
Ensuring there is a sense of ownership throughout the organisation plays a huge part in making employees feel valuable. In order for the whole business to be aligned with an organisation’s strategy, everyone – from shop floor to C-suite – should feel they are making a contribution towards strategy. Unfortunately, strategies generally tend to be created in a boardroom with little buy-in or engagement from other levels of the business. Taking the time to engage workers from every level of business in strategy development will ensure people feel part of the journey and, more importantly, feel they can influence this. And this will have an incredible impact on the energy and commitment to deliver the strategy across the whole business.
Supporting middle management
With 38 percent of workers wanting better communications between employers and employees, it is clear that, at present, communications aren’t always reaching every level of the business – particularly the frontline. Understandably, this has a detrimental impact on an employee’s ability to understand where the company is headed, and how they contribute to that goal. Importantly, the research tells us that employees will feel more valued if they feel seen and heard by the leadership team.
In small businesses both of these matters are easier to handle in a direct way, with channels of communication being shortened and individual recognition simpler; but in larger organisations a more thoroughly thought out approach is required.
An often-overlooked asset in this area are team leaders. These individuals are often the ones on the ground, conveying the organisational message and receiving information from the workforce. This level of management has the capacity to be both enablers and engagers.
By ensuring that these people are equipped to be fantastic communicators – making sure they are cascading information and taking the time to understand from them how workers want to be heard – will ensure that those on the shop floor feel visible in their day-to-day roles and have an appreciation of how they contribute to the overall business objectives.
Technology to support productivity
To establish a culture that employees want to be a part of you must make life easier for them. That means making tasks more efficient, freeing up time and building trust. It is vital that business leaders critically assess the blockers and barriers that are preventing people from doing their job to the best of their ability and take steps to make these processes easier by providing workers with the best possible tools and apps to do their jobs. In addition to boosting productivity, demonstrating this level of understanding of what employees need, and being prepared to invest in it, will go a long way in boosting feelings of worth to the organisation.
Roadmap for the future
With so many employees seemingly disengaged and contemplating leaving their jobs, it’s easy to become discouraged. However, this also means that there is a huge amount of talent with itchy feet, and a massive opportunity for businesses to take steps to ensure they are the ones attracting top talent and creating a culture where people don’t want to leave.
Going forward, senior leaders need to ensure they are taking heed of data insights and using them as a roadmap for the future. Employees have given a very clear indication of what they want and need to feel valued in their roles, and it is now down to those at the top to deliver this.
Ignoring the signs is not an option for those businesses that want to stay ahead of the game. Employee expectations of feeling valued, having a purpose, and of being engaged, are only going to increase, particularly as younger generations (who have grown up expecting personalised two-way engagement thanks to social media) enter the workforce.
Finally, it is vital to remember that employee engagement is a journey. There is no end destination – the finish line will continually move and change. This presents an exciting opportunity for leaders and employees to build a sense of cultural and behavioural change as they embark on this journey together.