Companies need to focus on getting the basics right before employing any other strategies to enhance employee engagement and boost productivity, says Bernadine Reynolds, MD of Human Performance Practice at IQ Business.
“Many organisations still fail to recognise people for great work done, provide challenging work opportunities and support organisational values. Once these are in place other strategies such as wellness programmes, encouraging innovation and volunteering projects can be employed to contribute to a great working environment and will support retention,” said Reynolds.
“There are four main human capital management practices that maximise performance,” says Reynolds. Firstly, organisations need strong and consistent leadership that is aligned with the vision, culture and values of the organisation. In order to achieve this, companies need to have clear and robust succession plans in place supported by accelerated development programmes. Succession planning needs to be linked to development so that a number of people can be considered per role over a period of time.
Secondly, in order to maximise performance companies need a workforce that is engaged with their work and the business, their teams and clients. In order to achieve this, people need to feel valued and recognised for the work they do so that they feel their commitment is worthwhile.
Thirdly, companies need to build capacity in their people by providing them with access to modern learning opportunities to ensure that they have the latest knowledge and performance support on the job. “Staff will embrace learning opportunities that are relevant, appropriate and non-threatening; management just needs to better position learning opportunities and support them. Companies need to bring learning and working closer together. Gone are the days when a 2-day workshop was the answer. Today people need to be put in situations which require them to learn, innovate and improve. Staff also need to be encouraged to develop the social skills to work in teams. Working in teams enables each individual’s strengths to be leveraged and helps to overcome development gaps,” says Reynolds.
Finally, companies need to have strong line managers in place who can act as coaches to help build up staff around them.
“Traditional HR approaches to retaining staff, including career pathing and performance management can assist in staff retention, but are generally badly conceptualised and managed in most companies. Career pathing is an outdated paradigm in most organisations, and tends to reinforce the status that the organisation is responsible for learning. Modern day practice is to establish risk managed environments in which adult learners have access to content, coaches and resources and are able to drive their own learning, looking for enriching experiences and drive their own career paths. Similarly, performance management is generally badly conceptualised and managed in organisations and most line managers avoid having the difficult performance conversations,” says Reynolds.
“Businesses are about people and the better the people, the better the business tends to perform. It is well known that most businesses in South Africa today face significant challenges in attracting and retaining top performing skilled staff. This need fluctuates depending on the economic climate at the time. At present there is an increase in top talent in the market looking for above average career opportunities. However, at other times companies really struggle and need to constantly be on the lookout for top talent,” concludes Reynolds.