Your greatest risk is your most controllable risk, your people

“People are our greatest asset” – it’s a phrase that we often hear, whether this is from enthusiastic interviewers, at the start of externally ran training courses, or during town hall meetings.

But how much are organisations truly investing and caring for their staff, thus getting the best out of them?

As of October 2022:

  • Over 32.6m are employed, and employment is at an almost all-time high (albeit approximately 1.1% lower than pre-pandemic days)
  • the number of people unemployed for up to 6 months has decreased to a record low.
  • Redundancy rates remain as low as they have ever been since 2007
  • The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 21.7%, 1.5 percentage points higher than before the coronavirus pandemic.

On the face of it, these statistics make interesting reading. They suggest that there are lots of job vacancies out there and that people can find work if they want it. It suggests that the pandemic has caused many older employees (those in the 50-64 age bracket) to leave the workforce and not look for further employment, and finally that business levels are strong, and we have the right roles in the workforce – given redundancies are so low. But whilst employment is at an almost all-time high employers should ask if they feel their staff are working harder or working smarter and do they have the skills that will be needed tomorrow, not just today?

Cast your mind back to March 2020, we are all told to work from home if we can. Many offices close their doors and install remote working with immediate effect – and in most cases with positive results too. Two and a half years later and many companies are mandating a number of days for staff to work in the office. For some people, this is causing anxiety, additional costs at a time of difficulty, lost time (both personal and business) and resentment towards their employer. We are experiencing a time of some people not going above and beyond to get the results we need and instead are gradually withdrawing their willingness to work hard and are less inclined to build strong relationships or be innovative.

Employers should ask themselves, am I creating an environment that allows my staff to bring their A-game as often as possible?Are your leaders creating the right environment for people to feel valued, motivated, and connected to their teams or are they a flight risk or ‘silently quitting’?

Allowing staff to work where and when that is best for them, their colleagues and their key stakeholders, is undoubtedly likely to increase productivity and engagement, whilst reducing unnecessary stress. The desire to bring people back into the office suggests a lack of clarity around their roles, an inability to assess performance without seeing the time “clocked in and out” by staff and creates a 1980’s phenonium of presenteeism. Employers should ask themselves if I didn’t see a member of my team (physically, not virtually) for 3 months, would I be able to conclude if they are delivering for the reason I hired them.

Over 30% of lost working time is due to workplace stress – a cost of over £4bn per year to the economy. Other costs of workers being unfit to work include sickness leave (£7bn), working when ill (£27bn) and £9bn due to lack of productivity caused by staff turnover. If you consider that there are approximately 32.6m employed in the UK currently (September 2022), for a company that employs 100 people, this is an annual cost of nearly £150,000. For 500 people, it’s £0.75m, and this is just the impact of lost time and cash, it doesn’t take account of increased productivity that should also be a by-product. Employers should ask themselves, what could I do with another £mm £150k added to the bottom line, especially in this inflationary environment we live in? What will it cost me to replace valuable talent that exits the business?

Most organisations are experiencing an unprecedented amount of change which is putting an enormous strain on your people. The biggest contributor to stress is workload, followed by the pace of internal change. Employers should therefore ask themselves, are your leaders and people equipped to align now ways of working so that outcomes and the return on investment from your change programmes are delivered?

Investing in staff doesn’t mean Thursday night drinks in the pub, oat milk in the communal fridge, fresh fruit delivered weekly to the office.

Investing in your Leadership teams and your people is about:

  • Ensuring you create an environment that allows them to deliver to their best ability, regularly;
  • Arming them with the right skills for the business both today, and also in readiness for tomorrow;
  • Understanding their key motivators and recognising them;
  • Creating a culture that drives collaboration, trust and openness
  • Helping your people adapt to the complex change you are expecting of them
  • Building a great place to work to reduce flight risk of key talent it will be costly to replace

None of this is straight-forward and simple to implement. It takes time and consistency, and there is no one correct answer for all companies, but the benefits – both financial and non-financial – will be significant and will far outweigh the time investment made.

So… are you truly investing and caring for your staff, thus getting the best out of them?

What next?

If you would like to speak with a member of our team in regard to staffing matters, please contact your usual contact or complete the enquiry form below.

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