Remote work is fast becoming the new normal and for a good reason. First, employees and freelancers love the freedom of working from anywhere, and second, the pool of available talent is dramatically larger when you aren't limited to your city for workers.
With more and more families exiting to big cities for that elusive work-life balance a tree/sea change is by no means odd anymore. Lots of people I come across are working a few days from their home in the mountains, farm, beach or whatever!
I rarely watch television – hell, with a business and an alpaca farm to run, 2 small children and ultramarathoning, I usually don’t have time to have a cuppa tea – not a warm one anyway. But this week I was watching the end of The Project on Channel 10 and watching a story unfold about a past NRL player, Hazem El Masri and his wife. Now there is a huge backlog of a personal story behind why the story was interesting to the media and the masses, but the bit that peaked my interest was the way in which the NRL dealt with his suspension as an ambassador and ultimate exit from the game/organisation. And it led me to shake my head, reaching for my wine and wondering, yet again, why is it so damn hard to have difficult conversations with people at work?
I have, and I’m out & proud about it. It’s a topical subject at a time when we seem to move on Prime Ministers in the blink of an eye. Many of the best leaders I know around me have been “over thrown”. Call it redundancy, contract not renewed, moved on after a newer senior structure was put in place or whatever, the definition for the purposes of this article is “leaving not of your own accord”.
What I find remarkably interesting, particularly as a HR professional who is on most occasions orchestrating the exit, is the appalling way it’s executed. In my own example, I put it down to the fact they clearly didn’t have a HR person in their corner as the “emotional intelligence” throughout the process, but it’s not uncommon.
Values – what’s the fuss about?
How much money and how many hours been wasted on the hypocrisy of corporate values? How many offsite meetings, focus groups, committees or similar have you been involved in to carefully construct the exact, most perfect arrangement of words that will be on lanyards, inductions and reception areas of your organisation? What if it’s all been a waste of time?
Because values play such an important role in our own lives (perhaps sub-consciously), being able to recognise, understand and articulate one’s own values set becomes critical in sound decision making. Additionally, the ability to identify with an employer’s corporate values will assist in determining an employee’s job performance and allegiance.
Why do conversations about an important topic like culture typically go nowhere? How many thousands of dollars have been wasted on “cultural change efforts” which very seldom work?
Here is one of the big problems: First, virtually no one clearly defines what they mean by “culture” or if they do they don’t define the goal of the project. Culture can be defined as “the pervasive values, beliefs and attitudes that characterise a company and guide its practices”. Therefore the goal should start with “purposefully & actively building capability for new ways of working.” A culture project needs to be run just as that – a project, with the same discipline any other project within your organisation has.
The difference that makes the difference
Making engagement happen is the ultimate objective for organisations today. Real employee engagement means that employees are maximising their value to the organisation. But the definition of what it takes to make engagement happen is a moving target; it is determined by the employee and is not based solely on a competitive reward.
Engagement, going to the heart of the workplace relationship between employee and employer, can be a key to unlocking productivity and to transforming the working lives of many people for whom Monday morning is an especially low point of the week.
A key challenge for organisations today is achieving optimal performance and sustained productivity.
Sustained productivity is derived from a workforce that is engaged and resilient. In order to achieve these attributes business leaders need to ensure the presence of a sound employee value proposition, one that proactively contributes to the health and wellbeing of the workforce.
In research conducted by Ernst & Young published in 2013, the single biggest contributor to improved productivity was “having a culture that values staff and wellbeing”. According to the study, healthy employees are working approximately 143 effective hours per month compared to 49 effective hours per month for the unhealthy (3 times more effective).
The HR technology industry, now more than a $15 billion market in software, is exploding with growth and innovation. (Bersin HR Technology 2015). Most organisations look like they have it all together in the HR technology space.
Conference presentations are filled with analytics, cost savings, efficiencies gained, workflows improved and on and on it goes. Wouldn’t it be great to see someone stand up & present “This was a terrible project with terrible outcomes and this is what we learnt and how we fixed it?”.
Coming together to share experiences and insights is a great way for industry experts and HR practitioners alike to learn from one another.
The truth is, most HR organisations are still working hard to enhance and find more capability, looking for more proficient technology solutions. Insourcing, outsourcing, looking for yet more costs savings that technology will support.