I attended an HR event, which I felt had productive workshops with insights that can be readily applied. I really like events like this as they remind me just how much we can learn from one another and how we can also improve in the service offered to employees and clients.
My main take-away points (my 3 C’s) were around:
1) Change & agility
2) Having continuous conversations
3) Effective communication
So, looking a bit closer at Change and agility, we will all experience change that we will need to adapt to- especially if we want to remain employers of choice or improve market position. For those of us in the UK, we can expect to see the effects of Brexit this year and anticipate changes to the way we do business with the rest of Europe. Some employers are already setting up new ways of working in preparation.
Despite national change, we have to keep moving forward and still see how we can adapt to ‘every-day’ aspects of change, such as innovation to increase sales or even integrating social media for employees as well as for customers.
Take Coca-Cola for example. Arguably this has been the same product since the late 19th century, however the marketing methods have changed and adapted over time. The other day I read that some select bottles of Coca-Cola will be sold with selfie tools so you can take a selfie whilst you drink- hash tag it and share across social media #tastethefeeling. Of course, they are trying to appeal to certain groups of social media users to improve their customer experience.
It reminds me of this quote I read from the CIPD: ‘Organisational agility is critical to business success. It has the potential to offer organisations practical solutions o meet the evolving needs of their workforce, as well as controlling operational costs and finding competitive advantage in greater customer focus and nnovation’. (CIPD https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/strategy/change/agile-working-report) It was reaffirmed through discussions at the event that managing change is most effective when some of these things are in place- I’ve added a few of my own suggestions to the mix:
- Senior leaders/ board members embrace change and demonstrate trust and openness from the top down
- Employees are encouraged to embrace change
- The reasons for change are clearly explained
- There is an infrastructure in place so systems and process can adapt without too much disruption
Although these points are not exhaustive and there is single solution to getting things right, I elieve they do depict an agile workforce that can adapt to change positively. A number of these elements such as trust are considered drivers of employee engagement, and as such can bring about return on investment (ROI) from various engagement initiatives and return on talent (ROT)- in terms of retention of employees during difficult times.
Having continuous conversations is about creating opportunities and forums to continuously gather feedback from employees. This keeps them involved and is also another way to have effective discussions around performance. This is not bombarding employees with lengthy surveys with no result/action post completion. This is genuinely engaging with employees.
This can include pulse surveys and engagement surveys, but regular discussions are critical to success. These methods can also build trust between employees and their managers, helping to break barriers to working and improve frequent communication. Feedback can also allow senior managers to make informed decisions about issues that directly impact employees and keeps the business ‘in the know’ about how their employees feel. The employee engagement survey should not produce results that are a surprise. Other benefits include involvement and internal networking (cross team and with senior management)
Lastly, effective communication. Some of the points I have already made are about effective communication. I mentioned earlier that there is more than one way to success in terms of engaging people and that each business is different and therefore what might work for one may not be effective for another. But I do believe that there are common elements that we can all utilise.
One is ensuring that communication is ‘authentic’. This means that it is honest with an approach that doesn’t necessarily propose to have all the answers, but invites people to discuss/share or ‘figure it out together’. I like that having continuous conversations with employees can help to do that.
Communication can also be considered effective when the method used is ‘most preferred’ (based on employee feedback), which often provides confidence that what is being shared is being received in the right way. When employees begin to feel listened to and can see things being done, it’s evidence that the communication style or channel is ‘working’.
In conclusion, with times of uncertainty ahead, there will be change and the way we approach business may have to adapt. It’s great that there are tools and resources to assist with making the right choices that centre around better ways of connecting with people.