If you invest your money in buying a house you expect to need to undertake some degree of maintenance in order to protect that investment. For many businesses, the biggest cost to the company is that of employee salaries but this isn’t viewed as an investment. In many cases it’s viewed as a necessary evil but given how much you spend on staff costs, doesn’t it make sense to make sure you get the most out of your employees? There are many HR frameworks that can help you see where your focus needs to be.
HR management (by which we mean performance appraisal, target setting, induction and the like) can sometimes seem like “optional to do” activities rather than “must do” activities and it can all seem a bit fluffy and unnecessary. Our experience (and we’re sure yours) is that investing some time in these activities can dramatically improve the contribution that employees make to the business and therefore ensure that the maximum return on investment is achieved.
We are doing a lot of work with clients at the moment to capitalise on what we describe as their “People Advantage”. For any business, but especially growing businesses, it can often be the less tangible elements of a business that make the difference between success and failure.
There are so many things that businesses can do to set themselves apart from their competitors through the way they manage their staff and we’d love to discuss all of them but in this post we’re going to look at three simple activities which all businesses should consider doing.
Many businesses we’ve met believe that by not having job descriptions they can avoid the old “it’s not my job” conversations but we tend to find the reverse to be true.
In actuality, a lack of clarity around roles can lead to more of those conversations because no-one knows what they are responsible for, and therefore there can be a real reluctance to take ownership for fear of treading on someone else’s toes. There can also be a reluctance to take ownership because if no-one has asked you to do something, there is often concern of getting no recognition for taking the initiative.
Job descriptions give clear accountability to individuals as well as clarifying how success will be measured.
There are some roles which lend themselves more easily to performance targets. Target setting tends to happen routinely for those in sales roles and those where response times can be monitored or customer satisfaction is measurable, but it can often get lost for other staff.
We encourage businesses to think creatively and set performance targets for all staff. Employees tend to react well to knowing what is expected of them and often rise to the challenge of demanding targets. Look at implementing targets around productivity levels, contribution to business development or meeting deadlines.
Again, we find performance reviews are so often overlooked within businesses or done in a rather haphazard way. We encourage businesses to give real focus to this activity.
A structured performance review process gives the business an opportunity to encourage employees to undertake more of the activities which have a positive impact on the business.
The motivational impact of hearing that what you do is valued and recognised should never be underestimated. Fostering a culture where people expect to be engaged in discussion about what they do well and what they need to improve on leads to employees continuously striving for improvement (or at least being able to identify those of your employees who strive for improvement).
Now don’t get us wrong, in every business you will have those individuals who do exactly what is asked of them, are happy doing so and both parties are happy for everything to stay exactly as it is. We advocate performance review systems which require training plans and career development objectives only where it is appropriate as they may not need to be set for every employee.
That said, even those people who are happy doing what they do need to hear that what they do matters and adds value.
The Lighter HR Framework
We’re on a mission! Our mission is to help small and medium sized businesses release the value that their employees can add to their business and we’re keen to talk to as many people as possible about our Lighter HR Framework.
The framework gives businesses a structured way to think about HR and how they can best use the resources they have to release the People Advantage.
If you’re a member of a networking group or other small business group and are looking for speakers then give us a call on 0203 319 1649 or drop us an email through the Contact Us page and we’ll gladly come and present the framework to anyone who’ll listen!