When I recently asked some friends what they thought was key to investing in their people, they all mentioned that supporting both career and personal development were the primary factors, and although salary was also important, it was rarely used in isolation as a means for retaining staff. Ultimately, losing potentially good staff by not investing in them is expensive both in terms of the direct replacement costs, and indirectly through de-motivation, which leads to poor performance.
Whilst a job title stays the same, the role itself may change regardless, for example where a project manager is expected to pick up business analysis skills. However, all too often we expect our people to just get on with it, usually on the assumption that it’s only temporary. So recognising those skills gaps and providing the necessary training even on the basis of it being a short-term affair, is absolutely necessary.
Aside from ensuring staff have the correct skills and tools for the job, giving them a genuine opportunity to progress in the Business means that they are trusted and capable. This could be achieved simply by providing a secondment opportunity, allowing staff the chance to experience life on the other side. As long as they remember where their roots are, they are likely to return invigorated after 6 months with a greater understanding of the some of your key stakeholders.
And if secondments are not a practical solution, how about allowing staff an opportunity to shadow at C level? This cost free approach demonstrates trust and shows that the organisation is prepared to invest its key resource time in its people. An alternative to shadowing could be a mentoring and coaching programme. Such programmes can be essential to helping individuals develop both their career and personal aspirations, but may also be used to mould its future senior management team, in essence formulating its succession plan!
But sometimes it is simply about making a pleasant working environment to provide increased productivity and cost savings. A neat and tidy office for example is often synonymous with a paperless office, which naturally equates to reduced printer related costs.
Whilst I have still to experience a work environment of bottomless fruit bowls and free head and shoulder massages on a Friday, I do have friends who still work in such environments. This may well be an obviously cheap means to providing motivation, but still addresses the simple point that their bosses do care, and who would want to work for a company where that wasn’t the case?
So whether it be providing training, creating responsibility and autonomy or just creating a good working environment, if we get it right, the investments we make in our people are insignificant compared to the investment our people put back into the organisation.
About the Author
As one of the early Greenlighters, Pete has held a pivotal role in the growth of the business. He has delivered a huge amount of change for a large number of our clients and really is an expert in all areas.