Cezanne HR Blog | Human Resource Management & HR Technology
Cezanne HR helps organisations manage their people better. We're leading the way in providing flexible, powerful online HR software that's quick to deploy, easy to manage and won't break the bank. That's because we've designed our HR systems for the ground up to take advantage of proven Cloud and SaaS technologies. Visit our website to find out how Cezanne will help you..
Office romances can be a real headache for HR. Even with an official policy on personal relationships at work, these cases are rarely black and white. It’s often left to HR to decide what action, if any, needs to be taken – not an easy job by any means – especially if relationships turn sour.
Thankfully, there’s one office love affair that every HR person can get on board with: the relationship between a practitioner and their HR software system. Employee romances may cause you grief, but an HR system designed to support you will make your job all the rosier!
With it being Valentine’s Day, we’ve highlighted five Cezanne HR features we think you’ll fall in love with.
Automatic Calculations of Holiday Entitlement
Organising employee absences and holiday is a pain if done manually, not to mention frustratingly time consuming, especially if it’s up to you to figure out exactly how much paid time off each of your employees are due. Any HR system worth its salt should be able to cope with the most complicated calculations, so that you don’t have to. Cezanne HR for instance, lets you define your own rules – i.e. when entitlements should be calculated from, how they are accrued, what carry-over is allowed, or whether you award extra days based on seniority. The system then does the maths, updating employee records in real time based on their working time patterns.
What’s not to love?
Configurable Form Builder
Paper forms and manual approval processes are the bane of every HR team. You can’t not use them, but you don’t want to get buried in the paperwork either. Whether it’s travel loan requests, back-to-work interviews, or anything else you can think of, the Cezanne HR form builder has got it covered. You’ll be able to create sophisticated, digital forms and route them through your approval processes – all without leaving the security of your HR system. It’s decluttering with a difference.
All HR professionals can benefit from having a simple way to create, track and manage personalised documents – from pay awards to policies. Being able to set up and save unlimited templates means you can generate and distribute all the documents you need directly from your Cezanne HR system at the click at a mouse. They’ll be stored against the employee record, so they – and you – always know where to find them.
So, if your company does have a written policy about relationships at work, you can be sure that everyone knows what’s expected of them.
Easy to set up Onboarding Portals
The welcome portal in Cezanne HR’s Onboarding and Lifecycle module is a fantastic way of engaging with new employees from the moment they’re hired. Acting as an information hub, your personalised portal helps new employees find their feet quickly, and can contain anything from introductory videos to essential information they need to know on day one – it’s your call. The portal helps build a relationship between the new hire and the company before they even start, so they’re more likely to stick around and you’re less likely to have a messy break up on your hands.
Simplified Performance Reviews
With any couple, honesty, transparency and an open dialogue is key, and the relationship between an employee and their company is no different. Performance reviews not only provide an opportunity for employees to receive feedback and to be given direction, but also for HR and the business as a whole to develop better informed succession planning, training plans and workforce development strategies.
The Cezanne HR Performance module has been built with this in mind; to make processes more transparent, consistent and streamlined for everyone involved, whilst providing a central place where key information from reviews can be extracted and used by HR to inform key decisions. You can read in more detail about how an HR system can revolutionise your approach to Performance in this data sheet.
Does Cezanne HR sound like a good match? If you want to find out more about how our system can benefit you and your business, we’re happy to play Cupid. Book a demo today!
Further confirmation – if it were needed – that digital skills are going to be core for HR professionals of the future, comes in the shape of a recent article from the HR Director. The magazine puts digital-savvy HR advisors in the top 10 most in-demand roles for 2019.
There’s no doubt that technology is already changing the face of HR as we know it. There are examples of companies using chat-bots and AI-augmented video interviewing in recruitment, introducing digital learning platforms that suggest training to employees and using hackathons to engage staff in redesigning performance management processes.
As a Deloitte report points out, HR also has a critical role to play in helping organisations to be digital, not just do digital. HR practitioners, it suggests, can lead the way in creating working environments that enable people to be more productive, collaborative and better networked.
So as an HR practitioner, what can you do to future-proof your career – and deliver business benefits to your organisation at the same time?
1. Get familiar with the technologies
It seems as if almost every day, another digital development comes along that is predicted to disrupt markets and wipe out the old ways of doing things. It’s not possible – or indeed necessary – for HR people to be expert in all these new technologies. You don’t need to be able to code or understand all the intricacies of Artificial Intelligence – there are IT experts who can do that. What is important, however, is to keep up with what’s out there and develop an understanding of the opportunities (and threats) it presents to the business.
A healthy dose of practicality is needed too. Not all technologies are fit for purpose just yet, as Amazon’s decision last year to scrap their AI recruiting tool demonstrated. You’ll need to match the available solutions to your organisation pain points if you are to make headway in the digital space.
2. Digitise your own HR processes
Excel spreadsheets and paper-based forms are no longer fit for purpose. If you’ve not already moved your HR processes into the Cloud, now is the time to start. HR software has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, with sophisticated but easy to implement Cloud HR systems now affordable for any business, large or small.
By digitising HR, you’ll not only demonstrate that you know what it takes to implement digital technologies, but free up more of your time by centralising data, automating time-consuming processes and providing information on-demand to the wider workforce. One of our clients recently told us that following their implementation of Cezanne HR, they’d cut HR admin overheads by an impressive 80%.
3. Collaborate to innovate
HR has a clear role in helping the organisation embrace digitisation and all that it brings. But it can’t do it alone. It’s important to reach out to all areas of the business. It’s about being curious about the issues that managers across the business are facing and how they envisage AI and other digital technologies can help them meet their people-related and other challenges. Communication is often a good place to start and an area where it is possible to achieve quick wins. Is the business using the latest technologies to help employees communicate quickly and easily? There are a number of commercially available tools that do this (Slack, Facebook Workplace) but most up-to-date HR systems will also come with integral communication portals where staff can easily access core information, get answers to questions and find others to network and collaborate with.
4. Develop your HR networks
HR practitioners are generally happy to share their experiences, and nothing beats learning from those that have been there already. If you don’t have the chance to go to conferences or networking events then online LinkedIn Groups or CIPD communities can offer the opportunity to listen in on what others are saying and ask your own questions. With any digital initiative comes the need to demonstrate a wider range of competencies, including influencing, change management, and project planning. Developing an understanding of how peers have approached their digitisation projects will better equip you take similar projects in your stride.
5. Don’t forget the human touch
Employees won’t always greet attempts to bring digitisation to their workplace with open arms. They will inevitably have concerns about the impact it will have on their jobs and career prospects going forward. Although advances in process automation and AI will almost certainly wipe out some roles, other jobs will emerge. As with any change, people are much more likely to get on board if they are involved in the process and offered opportunities to develop their own skills sets. Keep the lines of communication with employees open, to provide reassurance and also gain valuable input about how roles might develop and what inter-action will be needed between humans and the machines.
Not long ago, one of my friends bought a new car. He’d opted for a 4×4 version of saloon instead of the 2-wheel drive version and when I asked him why he told me the 4-wheel drive was “nice to have”. As I admired his gleaming new purchase, I couldn’t help thinking he’d paid about 40% over the odds (plus increased running costs) for something in all honesty he would probably never need to use.
Of course, it’s his money to spend as he liked. When we approach the issue of buying HR software on behalf of our organisation, it’s a whole different game.
Last year I presented my shortlist of recommendations to a client HR director. She had asked for an e-recruitment module as a ’nice to have’ even though predicted recruitment volume was about 8 heads per year for the foreseeable future. To accommodate this, she was going to commit the company to an extra five-figure spend plus on costs.
Somehow, the perception that buying a solution that has ‘everything’ will mean a better system, even though it ticks boxes that don’t really exist.
‘Buying big’ is another factor in the selection process. There used to be a saying in the IT industry that “no-one got fired for buying IBM”. It’s an adage driven by the fear that the decision to buy a relative unknown will open up unfavourable peer perception. I have heard more than once where a particular product stands out but “How am I going to tell my board that we are going to purchase this product when they’ve never heard of it?” or it doesn’t appear in some much-vaunted analyst reviews of HR software products that focuses primarily on the bigger players. It’s a risk aversion strategy that may not have the results you anticipate.
Large enterprise systems by their nature have a high degree of configurability and complexity, which although a good thing in the right context, by necessity comes at a price. Not just during the implementation phase, but throughout the life cycle of the system. If you haven’t got a team of product experts on tap, you may well find that after a year or so, your HR system ends up doing little more than acting as a glorified (and very expensive) address book because you don’t have the time or the budget to keep the underlying workflows, data fields and process rules up to date.
That these instances are commonplace is borne out by the number of times where I have been asked to find more appropriate replacements for well-known systems that proved to be expensive and out of scale with the client, both in terms of size and requirements. Clients of 500-1000 employees had been buying systems more suited to organisations of 2,500 plus, with a correspondingly higher price tag.
The end result is, again, unnecessary expense and running costs where a lesser-known contender (at least in analyst terms) could have met the case. Let’s not forget the value motive in this exercise.
In this regard, it’s worth considering the advantages of multi-tenanted software, where all clients share the same core code, and system can be provisioned “as is” with a generic set-up that covers the majority of HR transactions but allows for some configuration. These systems can provide significant cost savings in terms of the hosting cost, and product updates. It’s also worth noting that each client has secure access to their part of the application.
Different systems offer different levels of configurability; if your HR processes are multi-staged or convoluted, you need to be sure that the system can flex to fit them, but ask yourself first if you have reviewed these processes to establish whether or not they are still applicable, as they tend to be followed regardless of their relevance because “that’s the way we’ve always done things”.
It is vital before starting out on your HR selection journey to do the preliminary background work. What are the problems you need to solve, the business improvements you want to make, the features you can’t do without and the costs you can justify?
Having done this, it’s important not be side-tracked by irrelevant functionality or flashy sales pitches for features that are a distraction from your goals and bring with them a cost that can be justified; the organisation has entrusted us with perhaps the most impactful task we’ll ever have to deal with, so let’s get it right.
Most HR practitioners are fully aware of the benefits of having a well-thought-out onboarding process. With all the research pointing the same way – that those who onboard new employees properly boast higher employee retention rates and save on recruitment costs – taking onboarding seriously should be a no brainer for employers.
However, it seems that much less attention is given to inboarding – arguably an equally important process which focuses on the retention of existing talent rather than on new hires, but with the same goals in mind: greater job satisfaction, better job performance, and less employee turnover.
But what do we mean by inboarding, and why should HR practitioners ensure it’s high on their list of priorities?
“Employee’s aren’t just set it and forget it machines. The need for input is ongoing…if onboarding is like an inoculation, then inboarding is like booster shots” writes author and consultant Larry Cassidy. In other words, inboarding is a process that helps ensure employees receive the support they need to succeed within the organisation, making sure they feel appreciated and not forgotten about and happy to go the extra mile.
How often do your longer-serving employees receive training, or the opportunity to learn more about what your company stands for, for instance? It may be common practice for new hires, but training more experienced employees, especially on softer skills, is often side-lined, the assumption being they know everything already. But considering your organisation is constantly evolving, it’s a dangerous assumption to make and can be disheartening for longer-standing employees if they feel that you aren’t interested in giving them the same opportunities as their newer colleagues.
The importance of managers frequently touching base with their team, and giving consistent, constructive positive feedback, should not be underestimated either. A study by Healthstream of 100,000 participants, found that 79% of those who had quit their jobs cited ‘lack of appreciation’ as a reason for leaving. And, with a ‘war for talent’ already underway , it’s vital you hold on to experienced employees, who let’s face it, are best placed to capitalise on the skills shortage. Employers often don’t realise how key these employees are until they’re gone, and the repercussions could be huge if you let them slip through your fingers.
So, with this in mind, ask yourself: when did we last discuss career opportunities with employee X? What are the skill sets he or she needs to thrive in their role? Do we know what really motivates them? When did we last offer them a stretch assignment or training opportunity, or even just a chance to go to a conference and network with their peers? Have we offered them mentoring, or a opportunity to chat to someone from the senior management team? Where do we see them being in two, three or five years’ time, is that where they want to go, and how do we help them get there?
By frequently engaging with your more experienced employees as part of a structured ongoing inboarding programme, you’ll keep valuable employees happy, and reduce flight risk.
Inboarding programmes similarly benefits employees moving internally; to a new role or to a different department, maybe even abroad. Taking the time to help managers fully appreciate what’s expected of them in their new role, including understanding the company culture from a managerial, not just an employee, standpoint can make a huge difference to their success. Having some insight into the cultural and operational differences of a different part of the business or location will ensure relocating staff settle in faster.
To learn how Cezanne HR can help you better onboard and inboard your workforce why not book a free demo with one of our consultants today.
In a future where Artificial Intelligence is predicted to change the face of work as we know it, employers are switching on to the fact that soft skills will become an increasingly important competence for their people.
The ‘robots’ may well have the ability to crunch the numbers and automate pretty much every core corporate process going, but when it comes to building relationships, encouraging collaboration and handling difficult conversations, the human touch will still be very much needed.
A recent article in People Management cites CIPD President Professor Cary Cooper calling for more recognition of the need for line managers in particular to be equipped with strong social and emotional intelligence. He has called for “every HR department in the country” to audit the people management and relational skills of employees – and to make training (or redeployment) a priority for those who are found lacking.
This growing emphasis on soft skills has implications for the way companies approach training and development programmes, many of which have traditionally had a strong focus on equipping people with hard technical and specialist skills. So as an HR or L&D practitioner, how can you ensure you are spending your training budget wisely and in a way that reflects the changing face of the job markets?
1. Assess what you need
Take a step back and ask yourself if the business is training the right people for the right jobs at the right time. It’s not unusual for the corporate training calendar to be repeated on a rolling basis, year on year, because the courses are popular and that’s what the business has traditionally delivered. But if the market the organisation serves is changing, and the way the business is developing products or delivering services is being revolutionised, then training provision needs to follow suit. Yes, of course you need to keep training people for the jobs they are doing now, but keeping ahead of the competition means also having an eye to the future. It’s about making sure HR has a place at the table when important, strategic decisions are being made, so that it can ensure people with the right skills are in place to support future growth or diversification plans.
2. Tap into leading-edge thinking
Thanks to advances in neuroscience we now understand a lot more about how people learn and retain knowledge. At the same time, technological developments have led to an explosion in virtual and just-in-time training provision. Recent research from Ashridge, for example, has found that to maximise leadership learning, people need to be stretched, challenged and even stressed (albeit in a supportive environment that stops them tipping over into cognitive shut-down). This high-pressure experiential learning helps people develop the muscle memory that will prepare them for dealing with difficult relational or crisis situations when they arise in real life. Research has also debunked the myth that soft skills can only be developed effectively in a face-to-face environment. We now know that if development is designed well, it can be just as effective in the virtual space. Keeping up with the latest thinking, tools and techniques will help ensure you are delivering training that hits the mark – although it’s important to make sure the approach is right for the business. Just because gamification and virtual reality is available, doesn’t mean you should necessarily use it.
3. Prioritise building self-awareness
Strong self-awareness is the foundation on which soft skills are built. If people are to develop good influencing, communication and relational skills, they first need to develop a deep understanding of their own personal working style, communication preferences and the impact they have on others. Feedback, from peers, managers, stakeholders and clients, is one of the best ways to help people begin to build self-awareness, although giving and receiving feedback is a concept many are uncomfortable with, and to be truly effective, it needs to sit within a culture where regular feedback is the norm. Psychometric assessements (Myers Briggs for example) can also be a good starting point for raising self-awareness – although tools like these should always be delivered and fed back by a trained facilitator.
4. Invest in coaching and mentoring
There are numerous courses out there designed to help people develop their Emotional Intelligence, improve their political nous or build negotiating and collaboration skills. These can be a highly effective way of helping people hone their soft skills, although as with any L&D offering, they vary widely in quality, depth and effectiveness. A formal training intervention is not, however, the only way for people to build their competence. Coaching, whether internal or external, can play a valuable role in helping people work their way through ‘live’ situations and discuss difficult issues in a safe environment. Less formal mentoring programmes, which give people a confidential sounding board and the benefit of other’s experience, are also a cost effective (and often overlooked) approach.
5. Hard skills are not dead yet
Although the need for many traditional or specialist technical skills may be starting to disappear, there are a few new ones emerging in their place that organisations ignore at their peril. Clearly, in a working future dominated by AI, there will be a need for people who can code, work with big data and manage the interface between people and the machines. Tomorrow’s leaders and managers don’t all have to have these detailed specialist skills, but what they do need is a basic understanding of how the likes of Bitcoin and Blockchain work, for example, and what threats and opportunities the continuing march of AI will bring to their business. If organisations don’t have people who understand the potential of new and emerging technologies, they won’t be able to exploit them and will soon fall behind more tech-savvy competitors.
There was plenty for HR to get their teeth into last year, and 2019 looks like it’s going to be equally challenging and exciting. From GDPR and Brexit, to boosting the effectiveness of performance reviews and absence management, we put the magnifying glass on a host of HR trends and topics in the Cezanne HR blog.
Here are the articles that piqued the most interest in 2018.
In an increasingly automated and digitised world, HR careers as we know them are likely to change significantly. Although we don’t need to worry too much about the advance of AI – the future of HR is thought to remain ‘human’ – success instead will be determined by being principles-led, evidence-based and outcomes driven. See if you agree with our list of the top five HR skills for the future.
There are always times when companies need their employees to work over their standard hours and giving them Time Off in Lieu (TOIL) to compensate is standard practice. It’s an approach, however, that needs managing carefully if it’s not going to lead to problems with resourcing or cause discontent from staff. Our resident industry expert Erika Lucas sheds some light on how to avoid TOIL related issues in this article.
Discussion surrounding GDPR seemed to dominate 2018. The legislation, which came into force in May, brought with it new requirements such as enhanced rights for employees over their data, and more emphasis on data security and transparency. The first fines for non-compliance are likely to land in 2019, so it’s vital for HR to keep on top of the key challenges that come with it.
You probably don’t love spreadsheets, (and if you do, I think it’s fair to say you’re in a minority..). But under GDPR, they may cost you more than just time and sanity. Find out why spreadsheets put you and your people data at risk, and why HR software could be the solution.
How long-term is your thinking when it comes to HR strategy? A case study from The Prince’s Trust showed just how important a clear vision is in maintaining strategic focus and for turning aspirations into reality. Read the full article to discover what it takes to put an effective HR vision together.
Unless preceded by the words ‘bank’ and ‘holiday’, Mondays can be a bit of a drag. No matter how much you love your job, it’s not unusual to be dreaming of a three-day weekend on Monday morning.
But, according to a calculation by Cliff Arnall back in 2005, this coming Monday (the 21st) is the worst of all. Also known as ‘Blue Monday’, the third Monday in January is recognised as the most depressing day of the year for workers in the UK.
Why? A combination of cold and miserable weather, short days, Christmas hangover and festive debts from holiday spending apparently makes this day particularly miserable. But whether you believe the science behind Blue Monday or not, it’s fairly common to notice a dip in office morale in the new year.
So, with employee well-being and productivity at stake, what can HR do to help turn frowns upside down on the most depressing day of the year? Here are five actions you can take:
Organise a social
Blue Monday doesn’t have to be just another day. Organising after work drinks, a team lunch or even a company kick off will boost morale and give staff something to look forward to after Christmas while reminding them that there’s more to work than work. It offers the chance for staff to socialise with colleagues outside their immediate circle too, those who they rarely interact with in the office but get on well with nonetheless and therefore strengthening workplace relationships as a result.
Encourage holiday booking
Blue Monday originated as a marketing campaign by Sky Travel in 2005, who claimed they had worked out the most depressing day of the year to encourage people to book holiday on that day to make them feel better.
Although some might dismiss this as marketing nonsense, making sure your HR system is up to date with the latest holiday entitlements – and letting staff know about it – could be a useful approach to beating those Blue Monday blues. The prospect of being on a sunny Mediterranean beach in a few months may be just the lift some of your staff need.
Positivity all round
Managers should give positive feedback all year round, but the start of the year is a time when positive feedback is particularly beneficial. Ensuring that your staff feel valued and appreciated can completely change their attitude towards their work, so encourage leaders to be even more positive during this period. Reinforcing how their role contributes to the bigger picture of the organisation is another simple but effective way of engaging employees, making them feel important and not just another brick in the wall.
Have an open dialogue about mental health
It’s also important to recognise that feeling a little down in the dumps should only happen once in a while. Use Blue Monday as an opportunity to raise the profile of mental health awareness at your company. Employee anxiety and depression remains a hidden problem in many workplaces. According to NHS digital, mental health related issues accounted for one third of all fit to work notes written by GPs between December 2014 and March 2017, and a report by Business in the Community shows that 60% of employees experienced work related mental health issues.
The most depressing day of the year is an opportunity to have a discussion surrounding mental health with staff, and to take a step back and reconsider company strategy towards health issues. This could be anything from setting up exercise programmes, to incorporating mental health awareness into management training.
Of course, these things take time, and won’t be solved in a single day. But Blue Monday can act as a reminder to make mental health a priority.
Be proactive in combating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Cases of SAD in the workplace are on the rise, particularly amongst office workers who spend most of their days indoors without seeing sunlight. However, companies can do more to tackle this condition and to prevent future cases.
As an HR professional, the sheer amount of responsibilities you have to juggle everyday may make you feel superhuman, but changing the earth’s orbit to give us more daylight in January may be a stretch too far. You can, however, make small changes that make a big difference to employees with SAD. Simple actions like making sure the blinds are fully open to maximise sunlight in the office, providing fresh fruit every week for a vitamin boost, or encouraging employees to leave the office in their lunch breaks to get into the sunshine can go a long way to improving employee wellbeing.
You can find out more about SAD and how to deal with it here.
Another week, another gloomy prediction about the recruitment issues employers are likely to be grappling with in the coming months. This time, it’s the turn of the union Prospect, who in a survey reported in HR Magazine, say two thirds of its EU worker members are considering leaving the UK because of Brexit.
The full impact of Brexit on labour supply remains to be seen – but add to that unemployment at a record low and a rapidly diminishing pool of talent, and it’s clear that organisations cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to hiring.
There are of course numerous factors that influence how successful or otherwise a business is likely to be when it comes to attracting the best and brightest people – a strong employer brand and competitive salary to name just two. But one thing that is guaranteed to turn candidates off is a slow, unwieldly and badly managed recruitment process.
So how can organisations ensure their processes are both smooth and speedy and that they don’t miss out on good people in a tight and competitive market?
1. Streamline the approval process
A critical vacancy arises but before you can get it out there, it has to go through numerous internal approvals. The department head wants to review the job description. Senior management need to sign off on the salary. Marketing want to make sure the job ad is on brand. In the meantime, productivity suffers and potentially great candidates are being missed. Internal governance is, of course, important. But in a fast-moving market, it’s worth reviewing recruitment approval processes to make sure they are fit for purpose. Can the number of people who need to be involved be reduced? Is there any way of speeding up the process? Cloud-based recruitment software has a role to play here, automating unwieldy manual processes, making it easier for managers to access the info they need from wherever they may be and nudging them if they don’t respond quickly enough.
2. Bring consistency to job advertisements
Giving out a strong and consistent message to potential hires ensures that the business is attracting the right kind of people. It helps to ‘sell’ the business and the role as a complete proposition and encourages candidates to engage with you right from the start. It’s worth taking time to get this right, but once the tone, style and messages have been agreed, most recruitment software packages will allow you to set up standard templates that recruiting managers can draw on. It ensures all the right information is included, gives out a consistent message and saves time by making it easy for managers to input their specific job details into an already-agreed format.
3. Keep up with recruitment trends
Reaching potential candidates is so much easier now than it used to be. There are numerous job boards catering for both general and specialist roles, many of which pro-actively alert job-seekers to suitable roles; ‘matching’ services for those looking for apprenticeship and internships, and of course the recruiters tool of choice, LinkedIn. Google has also recently got in on the game, with the launch of a localised version of its job-hunting tool, which shows candidates new and relevant roles based on their interests and location. The older tried and tested recruitment techniques still have their place, but make sure you’re not missing out on good people by over-looking some of the speedier and more innovative platforms that are now out there.
4. Let software take the short-listing strain
Sifting through piles of (often unsuitable) applications is one of the biggest bug-bears for recruiting managers. This is one area where recruitment software can really help ease the pain. The latest systems can help you generate standard application forms, so that all the necessary information is collected and you can assess candidates on a level playing field. Qualifying questions can be added (such as right to work or any specific qualifications required) to avoid wasting time. It means that viable short-lists can be generated quickly, allowing you to get requests for interviews out quickly and avoid losing good candidates.
5. Streamline the interview process
From a candidate’s perspective, there’s nothing more annoying than getting embroiled in a lengthy recruitment process, with long gaps between assessments and first and second interviews and lengthy delays when it comes to an offer or rejection being issued. No matter how interested someone is in a role, if an offer is made for a comparable job they are not going to hang about while your company deliberates at length. In a competitive market, where candidates will typically be looking at multiple opportunities, employers don’t have the luxury of time. Take a close look at your interview/offer process and assess whether there are ways that software could help you add speed and consistency. Take a step back and look at it from the perspective of the candidate. What can you do to communicate with people better and improve their experience of the end to end recruitment journey? In a tight market, when talent is at a premium, these are the details that could give you the edge.
‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, according to legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. That’s not to say strategy isn’t important of course, but research confirms that culture plays a huge part in organisational success.
With a bit of luck, your organisation already has a positive and well-defined company culture; one that starts from the top and permeates your whole organisation and fits the context and environment you operate in. For example, as a not-for-profit, your organisations may have a caring approach, promoting support, loyalty and teamwork, whereas a corporate city law firm is likely to have grown up around a results and authority driven approach. (Read about the eight types of company culture here).
But what happens when your company goes through a period of change? Growth, mergers and acquisitions, downsizing or shifts in your business model can all have an impact. And, as recent headlines confirm, it’s important not to assume that your company culture will look after itself. Here are 5 ways you can protect what’s best about your culture:
Make your culture visible
If you’ve not already done so, work with a cross-section of employees from across your business to describe your culture – what’s best about it, what could be improved and what you absolutely want to avoid. Then share it and embed it into everyday HR activities. That way, you can ensure everyone knows the core beliefs and values of the business.
The best cultures are the ones where managers walk the talk and put effective and frequent communication at the heart of employee relationships. You can facilitate this by making sure that the company website, employee portals, handbooks, videos etc promote your desired culture. You can also work with leaders to integrate these values into employee and management training and performance reviews, so that they’re implemented on a practical level.
Listen to your employees (all the time!)
Your people are your culture, so the best way to gauge its health is by listening to them. Internal surveys, regular performance reviews and confidential exit interviews can help you pick up on any worrying signals, as will monitoring reviews on third party sites, like Glassdoor, and talking to employees face to face. Obviously, it’s important to act on this feedback and use it as a platform for improvement, whether that’s stepping in to address negative behaviour, or better aligning the way you reward and motivate employees with your cultural goals.
Be honest about your culture
You need to practice what you preach. If your culture emphasises the importance of a strong work/life balance but employees are made to feel guilty if they don’t work long hours, or management talks about a relaxed office culture but bans the use of mobile phones, your employees will resent you for it. If you claim to care about your employee’s personal wellbeing, but treats them badly when they go on maternity leave or sick leave, what kind of message does that send out to the rest of your staff? If expectations don’t meet reality, they won’t want to stick around for long.
Hire the right people
HR professionals tread a fine line when it comes to hiring staff that are a cultural fit. When does hiring for fit become bias? When might a new employee with a different approach influence the business in the right way?
In HR, you are perfectly positioned to influence the recruitment process and help managers identify candidates that will thrive in your business and have a positive rather than negative impact on the overall culture.
A ‘strong’ culture doesn’t mean fixed. The goals and strategy for a company of 100 is unlikely to be the same when it grows to 1000, and it’s likely that the culture will need to change too. In some cases, senior management may be sceptical of the need for change, nor should it be assumed that they’ll know how to help your culture evolve. HR can play a big part in convincing leaders that culture change is necessary and help equip them with the skills to drive it.
Want to find out more about what makes a strong culture? Check out these TED talks to get you thinking about your own culture and the ways that it can be improved.