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Three staff priorities for the year ahead – what businesses need to know

When it comes to staff priorities to consider throughout this year, there are three standout things that businesses must be prepared for.
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If last year was any indication of staff priorities and what the future holds for the global workforce, we know for certain two things:

(1) More changes are coming. Bersin by Deloitte’s 2017 Predictions report notes that “organisational design” and the need to “be digital” will challenge businesses to rethink how to manage, engage, lead and develop employees.

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(2) Organisations will face a challenge in balancing business priorities and what it needs in terms of staff priorities to effectively manage and support its future workforce.

What might the future of work look like? Global consulting company Accenture refers to it as a “liquid workforce” – which essentially means a work environment and employee behaviour and skill set to match that is more agile, something more commonly seen in startup environments, and applying these principles at a larger scale.

Here are three key staff priorities that should be on the radar of HR professionals and management, and a few recommendations for preparing to address them:

(1) Maintaining job satisfaction and employee engagement

The most recent CIPD Employee Outlook survey found that employees in micro businesses report the highest levels of job satisfaction – a trend consistent across the last few surveys. One of the main reasons for this is that it is easier to provide highly personalised performance management in small businesses.

Recommendation

To help maintain job satisfaction and employee engagement, regardless of how big the organisation is, performance management must become an essential part of the day-to-day work experience and more personalised when it comes to staff priorities.

It’s about maintaining a connection between what employees are working on, encouraging employees to pursue opportunities they are passionate about, and tying it all to how it can help the company.

It’s important for frontline leaders to explain organisational priorities and help each individual employee set performance goals so everyone sees how their work supports and contributes to the overarching goals.

When everyone knows how their day-to-day work fits into the overall plan, it helps boost job satisfaction and engagement.

(2) Enable continuous learning and career development

When asked what aspect of their talent strategy they are changing to make the greatest impact on attracting, retaining and engaging the people they need to remain competitive, half of UK CEOs highlight a focus on their pipeline of leaders for tomorrow, according to PwC’s 19th Annual CEO survey.

There is more evidence that executives acknowledge the importance of learning and development as staff priorities. More than eight in ten executives (84 per cent) responding to a Deloitte survey viewed learning as an important or very important issue.

Yet there is work to be done in getting line managers and leaders to translate good intentions into action and to embed a culture of performance management collaboration.

Fostering a culture of continuous learning and skills development is key to the success of organisations. Bersin by Deloitte’s research showed three times greater profit growth over a four-year period in companies that are high-impact learning organisations (HILOs) – those with learning programmes that are efficient, effective and aligned to the priorities of the business.

Recommendation

It is a good idea to have line managers top and tail training programmes, setting out the relevance and importance of training at the beginning and, when the training programme is complete, making sure that employees apply the learning on the job.

According to Aberdeen Group research, best in class companies are 73 per cent more likely to ensure managers have a post-training meeting with employees to talk about how to act on what they have learned.

It is a good idea to repeat this exercise on an ongoing basis for any type of learning activity, formal or informal, to make sure that training continues to be effective.

An earlier study found that 62 per cent of learners applied learning on the job immediately, but only 44 per cent still applied the learning at six months and the number dropped to 34 per cent after a year.

(3) Improve performance management collaboration between employees, line managers and senior leaders

Encouragingly for staff priorities, 56 per cent of employees said their organisation has a performance management process. However, the CIPD also reports: “Managers are fairly poor or very poor at coaching [employees]on the job (31 per cent), keeping them in touch with what is going on (25 per cent), discussing training and development needs (23 per cent) and acting as a role model in the organisation (23 per cent).”

Recommendation

Provide managers with the necessary training, tools, and resources to develop in their skill as a coach and mentor. A major component to good coaching is being able to provide feedback that is timely, specific, and actionable.

Regular conversations about employee performance present excellent opportunities to coach employees. For performance management to be truly collaborative, leaders and employees must work together to keep the conversation focused on what is best for the employee and the organisation.

Prepare your talent strategy today for the workforce of the future

Organisations need to act now to maintain employee engagement through effective career and skills development and performance management collaboration at every level of the business.

Those that manage staff priorities by fostering a culture of learning as part of ongoing and collaborative performance management will be best placed to retain a robust and agile workforce that is able to deal with all the changes that 2017 – and beyond – will bring.

Nina Mehta-Vania is a talent management consultant for Halogen Software

Image: Shutterstock

 

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