Even if your organisation has a leading employee lifecycle, there’s a strong chance this will need to adapt in response to the pandemic. As you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are keen to improve and develop your approach to the following:-
Attraction: There is no clear attraction strategy, different methods have been used without any formal review of success. You may not be aware of what distinguishes your organisation from another.
Recruitment: Standard approach to recruitment, with interview and then formal offer. Working patterns and performance culture are not explained. Often targeted by a number, not by capability or talent.
Onboarding: Standard full-time classroom training, covering systems and processes, with phased introduction to the front-line. Time to competency is not known, it is planned at 12-weeks, though this could be nearer to 6-months.
Development: Opportunities exist, however, time is not protected so it is not uncommon for people to miss this. Process updates do take priority with little to no personal development.
Engagement: 1 to 1s and team meetings are tick-box exercises with an inconsistency on how these are conducted and results from colleagues. An annual survey reports employee engagement.
Retention: Attrition can be a problem with the occasional analysis of the reasons why people leave, very little understanding of why people stay.
Transition: Internal transfers are common, with little notice required before transfer is complete. Tick box process for leavers, which is not always complete; feedback rarely shared.
Organisations have never been more concerned about their culture and corporate values and how these will translate into a new virtual or hybrid environment. However, many organisations still suffer the same challenges and still approach them in the same way, creating and embedding the culture and ‘the way things are done around here’. Those slick corporate videos, value statements and those inspirational posters on the walls will mean nothing if employees don’t follow or believe in them.
Think about these classic issues:
- People agree full-time terms, then after 16-weeks put in a flexible working request, which HR agree.
- People can’t wait to get off the phones and rotational patterns, and work in the back-office where they aren’t as closely managed.
- The team who onboard, all used to work on the phones and couldn’t wait to work standard Monday to Friday shifts and use expressions like “the shifts aren’t too bad” when describing the rotational patterns.
- Development time is essentially process and system changes updates; personal development happens by accident.
- People have been known to leave and then return on multiple occasions, being allowed to behave in the same way each time.
- There is a big disconnect between the corporate culture video and the actual performance culture.
Please don’t add another to this list with:
- We introduced this during the response to COVID-19, and 2+ years later still have the legacy!
- We introduced “Hybrid” working without actually considering what this meant!
You may relate to some (but hopefully not all) of these. Don’t sit there with your head in your hands, worried there is no way to change. These are classic mistakes, and I’m sure many will remain. In truth, however, we can all prevent these from happening and now is the perfect opportunity to do so.
The starting point for change is the organisation values and strategy. Why does the business exist and how will it achieve its goals? This is an important first step for everyone to understand as it will explain why not everything we want to do is possible – as it may go directly against the broader vision of the company. Next, you need to understand the budget and how much this will cost, as well as how much cost you will avoid.
The next key stages of the life cycle need to be designed in tandem. I split this into 4 sections:
Attraction & recruitment: A huge amount of time and money can be wasted on this, as organisations recruit based on current availability of people and not on identifying the right people.
Ideally, you will have a waiting list of talented people waiting for the opportunity to join you, knowing you are the organisation that will support their career. You don’t have to be the organisation who are always recruiting – unless this is your strategy and most cost-effective way to operate.
Your working patterns need to be part of the attraction & recruiting process as great working patterns will mean people want to work for you. Being clear during this phase, even before the interview/recruitment stage means people who cannot fit in with your working arrangements know early on.
Onboarding & development: With the offer accepted you now need to prepare people for the start of their journey. This should start before day 1 of onboarding training. Their preparation should also feel more than completing forms. A common mistake, when designing shifts for new starters, is to focus so much on demand coverage you neglect the importance of development and other offline time. Make sure your working patterns support this time. Development needs to be treated as critical, not an afterthought during quiet times.
Your working patterns may need to be adjusted during initial induction. However, be cautious not to change them too much. If someone is coming in to work specific hours, you don’t want them to a) find it so awkward they can’t work the hours, or b) get used to the Monday to Friday for 6-weeks so it’s hard to adjust to the previously agreed hours. Also, consider how part-time hours can be supported during induction.
The role of the induction training team and team leader can become more of a mentor or coach to help people embed using on-demand bite-sized learning modules.
Engagement & retention: Everyone is different, yet too often we treat everyone the same. Create a flexible framework of principles which engages everyone, allowing for freedom and creativity. Consider different ways of working, considering variances for remote/virtual working compared to office based.
Engaging working arrangements can make a huge difference. We’ve seen people complete learning & development programmes, or 1-to-1s in their own time, when they have the working patterns to suit them.
Understanding retention is crucial. It is not uncommon to have disengaged employees with long tenure, so it’s important you understand their motivation (or lack thereof). Regular dialogue will help you and them to distinguish between job satisfaction and life satisfaction. Irregular, and unstructured “chats” can promote a focus on the most recent problems, or long-standing issues and only act as a sounding off.
Transition & separation: there will come a time when people need to move on, whether this is an internal position or to a new organisation. Having a workforce strategy which is adopted organisation wide means people won’t move from one job role to another because of the hours. As people expect more flexible arrangements, each department/function should be able to accommodate this.
The most important aspect is to remember this is a cycle; it will need a regular review against a set of broad and balanced success metrics. The last 12-months have demonstrated more than ever how much can change, so it is important that we reflect the changes in our plans. Be very careful with any contract alterations, ensure these are timebound and have formal reviews. Above all else don’t make headline news for your business, e.g. ‘We will always be a hybrid business’, without thinking through the detail.
As always, I’m interested in listening to your challenges, concerns, questions and comments, so please do not hesitate to contact me.
If you are interested in learning more The Forum’s 6-month virtual Assisted Learning Pathway starts on Monday 1st March exploring Scheduling and Wellbeing. For more information, just let me know.
Author: Phil Anderson
Published: 11th Feb 21