The fragile state of talent management

Globalisation offers business immense possibilities: bigger markets, more sources of innovation, and – in theory, at least – a wider, deeper pool of talent. That’s the good news. The bad news, though, is that large parts of the world are already facing talent gaps. Even with the downturn-driven workforce surplus we currently have, many organisations are still finding it difficult to find workers with the right skills and talents to meet their needs. 

Board and executive coaching – what’s in it for HR?

As I sit down and write this, I look across at my husband who’s transfixed to the TV watching the Ryder Cup with our son, both of whom are keen golfers. This got me thinking about the great summer of sport we’ve enjoyed over the last few months. From the US Open, the Olympics and Paralympics, to Wimbledon and Euro 2012, and now of course the golf – in all of which British athletes have performed, and all with their coaches in their respective corners.

Making engagement happen – what HR needs to do now

Joe has been with his company for six years. He works hard, has recently gained a promotion and is popular with his peers and management alike. He enjoys his job and rarely has time off sick. But he isn’t highly engaged. He is a ‘Saver’.

Healthy competition creates win-win for staff and employers

Health and wellbeing has been the focus of many healthcare providers over the last few years. This is partly because they have wanted to re-position themselves by moving from being viewed as purely sickness insurers to the more positive stance of being viewed as promoters of good health and healthy lifestyles. Many have added to their products services, e.g. on-line healthcare promotion, advice on healthy lifestyles as well as access to discounted gyms and health screens. This of course is not just an altruistic stance as healthcare providers know that in the long term healthier people are likely to make fewer demands on the need for their services.

Could a new form of discrimination law shrink the pay gap?

The pay gap between men and women continues to exist. Sorry, not just exist, but in certain EU jurisdictions it has got wider. The answer, according to EU Parliament last month, is to enact tougher sanctions, predominantly on employers. But the ‘regulatory failure’ (in political EU speak) is not a lack of sanction. It may very well be the way we look at the way in which the law operates.

Retaining talent - are we missing the real battle?

One of the most discussed topics in HR conferences is how companies can win the ‘war for talent’. Recent surveys even indicate that the attraction and retention of talent (employees with superior endowment or ability) is the top concern for more than 60% of employers. Deloitte’s 2011 Unified HCM and Talent Technology Survey Report, for example, said that ‘nearly two-thirds of executives surveyed identified talent retention as one of their top two business challenges’. In the business world, where holding onto your best people translates into competitive advantage and the related financial aftermath, this certainly is a cause for concern.

How much core business knowledge should our leaders have?

One of the unanswered questions in business is how much a leader needs real hands-on, nut-and-bolts knowledge of the core business. Does Ian Powell, chairman and senior partner at PwC, have to be a decent chartered accountant, or would it be OK if he had a great suit and had run an oil company? Could Robert Elliott perform the role of senior partner at the law firm Linklaters without being a competent solicitor? Might former HBOS CEO Andy Hornby have fared less badly if he had spent more years in actual banking rather than Asda supermarkets? What about high-tech firms -- should they be led by technical experts or just smooth-talking generalists? 

Checking up on people – do it properly and employees will love you for it

In the classic 1959 Boulting Brothers film I’m All Right Jack, a company employ a ‘time and motion’ researcher with the inevitable consequence of the militant shop steward Fred Kite (played by Peter Sellers) calling his members out on strike. Although the workers refuse to cooperate, the time and motion study man tricks a new employee into showing him how much more quickly he can do his job than other more experienced employees. The film depicts trade unions, workers and bosses as equally manipulative and incompetent, and frankly deserving of each other!

Can HR learn anything from contractors?

When the HR department is looking to respond to employees’ needs in a better way, a group that doesn’t often come to mind to look at is contractors. But in these uncertain economic times, with companies sometimes reluctant to employ workers on a full-time permanent basis, an insight into the contractor’s mind is becoming increasingly useful.

Innocent espionage?

There are many business issues that will keep a senior manager awake at night. But often, it is the unexpected that really takes the rug from under your feet. Research just completed by Iron Mountain looked at some of the information threats that can slip beneath the radar. The finding that as many as a third of employees have openly admitted to taking or forwarding confidential information out of the office will no doubt come as a shock to many of the more trusting business owners out there. 

Simple ways to make employee engagement work

But even though organisations seem to be accepting the truth of this, I still find that engagement levels are alarmingly low among UK employees. Figures from ORC’s recent Putting it in Perspective Report, for example, show only 63% of employees feel motivated and inspired by their managers, and fewer still (47%) have confidence that action will be taken following staff surveys.

Inspiring high-performing employees

A precondition of becoming a High Performance Organisation (HPO) is hiring and retaining the right employees. These are people who have an incurable curiosity, want to be challenged, need to have responsibility and at the same time ask to be held accountable, and want to perform better - everywhere and anytime. These high-performance employees perform better than the average employee and because of that, contribute more to the effectiveness of the organisation.

Driving agility - HR’s role in enabling change

The rate of change that businesses face is increasing daily. At the end of 2011, Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, said: ‘Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone next month? And Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter wrote: ‘The current rate of change within businesses is faster than the rate at which organisations are improving … many organisations just can’t keep up with the rate of change’. A recent study carried out by Fujitsu showed that business leaders agree: more than two-thirds (68%) of organisations are failing to keep up with the increased rate of change. This inability to be agile is placing businesses at risk from factors such as reduced turnover and hostile takeover. But just what is it that makes an organisation ‘fit to change’? And how big a role does the HR director have to play in ensuring a business is fit enough? 

Who, within the organisation, should ‘own’ social media?

According to CareerBuilder, 57% of employees say they have no idea who is responsible for handling social media matters within their companies. So where should responsibility lie? Marketing, corporate communications, PR, investor relations, on-line sales, the contact centre?

The 5 myths of employee performance

Myth 1: a mission statement is enough

Employee performance touches every part of the organisation. However, simply creating a new company vision every three to four years and setting board-level objectives of increasing sales or market share is not enough. Such goals have no relevance to or resonance to all employees. The challenge is to take this vision and translate it to functional-level objectives and then on to individual performance expectations that will drive employee performance and behaviour.

Assumptions about culture are the termites of relationships

In my experience, there is often a lot of confusion and massive assumptions about what culture means. Some organisations talk about working towards being one culture, because they want to achieve consistency in customer care, leadership and management styles, and ensure all employees demonstrate behaviours which are professional, considered, and do not wittingly or unwittingly discriminate.

Becoming a High Performance Organisation - what are we talking about?

I define a High Performance organisation as follows: ‘A High Performance organisation is an organisation that achieves financial and non-financial results that are exceedingly better than those of its peer group over a period of time of five years or more, by focusing in a disciplined way on that what really matters to the organisation’.

Tapping a neglected resource - employee idea sharing schemes

Some businesses have spent considerable amounts of money consulting external advisors in a bid to identify ways to be more efficient and to generate more profit when the best resource, the workforce, is right under their nose. Similarly, human resource departments can spend countless hours cultivating a happy workforce. Management and HR could, however, team up and create ‘employee idea sharing schemes’. The benefits are twofold; the ideas will make a business more efficient while the process engages the employees, raising morale and encouraging loyalty.

Getting women to the top

It’s over a year since the publication of Lord Davies’ report on gender diversity in UK boardrooms, and although some progress has been made, a lot more can be achieved. The number of women reaching the top is still very small – significantly less than 20% are getting into board positions globally. Ashridge research, Understanding Women’s Careers, looked at what is blocking women’s path to the top and which factors help to build careers. It showed that despite policies and practices in place to support women, organisational attitudes are still hampering career progress. However, there is plenty that HR can do on a practical and cultural level so that women get their seat at the top table.

Helping staff going through divorce

Divorce, unlike death, is seen as a failure. The level of compassion and understanding regarding divorce isn’t always as apparent compared to someone who’s in mourning. However, divorce is one of those ‘crises’ that can completely knock an employee down. This is where you, as an HR professional, come in.
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