Are you careless with your people's careers?

Matthew Wilcox our consultant managing the role
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As the first quarter of 2023 comes to an end, the economic backdrop hasn’t turned out to be quite as grim as potentially envisaged, with the threat of a UK wide recession gradually receding. That said we’re certainly not in growth territory either – so a relatively ‘flat’ year beckons for many with the inflation-driven cost of living, higher borrowing costs and nervousness in the markets all contributing in their own specific ways. 

Given this uncertainty, now is the time to ‘double-down’ and ensure that our teams are clear about objectives, performing at their optimum and focussed on addressing this ‘bump in the road’ in readiness for better times ahead. To navigate this aspect of the economic cycle, employers need committed, motivated and engaged people. That sounds like good, practical management focus and should be straightforward – right? Well, partially. Despite that old adage that ‘our people are our greatest asset’ - far too many businesses are still ‘careless’ with regard to managing their people: resulting in low engagement, high employee turnover and an organisation that never quite achieves its potential. 

Looking at the key HR trends cited by those moving on from organisations some familiar themes emerge. Foremost amongst them: 

Leadership

Many leaders continue to struggle with certain aspects of their roles, impeding both their own successes and the success of their team and organisation. Individuals are promoted – often as a result of success in their previous - non-management role - and find themselves thrust into an entirely different theatre with unfamiliar challenges. Too few are supported through this change and end up learning on the job. For some that works well, for others…..not so much. Equally, some leaders continue to be reluctant to embrace change. This can lead to maintenance of a culture or leadership structure that is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ (see the Casey Report around the Metropolitan Police), resulting in a disconnect from both employees and the markets or customers they are wishing to serve.

And too few take time to genuinely understand their personal impact upon close-colleagues and the broader employee base, demonstrating either a lack of self-awareness or a psychopathic drive to achieve and damn the consequences…both will cause leaders to come unstuck pretty quickly and an early sign of this malaise will be a steady ebb of people away from the organisation.

Lack of career opportunity

With over 1.1m vacancies in the market it’s still very much a buyers-market, with organisations regularly reporting that certain skills remain in high demand. Engagement surveys frequently show that employees want development – and typically those at the early stages of their career are often hungriest. Lack of career development is often cited as one of the top 3 reasons an individual leaves an organisation. Deferring development opportunity, maintaining the status-quo and failing to engage with individuals at a personal level to understand exactly what they are after from their role (and indeed their longer-term career) is likely to end badly

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Awareness is a positive step to ensuring our workplaces both reflect our society and tap-in to as broad a range of talent as possible. That said, many ED&I interventions are superficial at best – attend a workshop here, confirm you’ve read a policy there and so on – useful to an extent, however unless this awareness is genuinely translated into the workplace - and the organisational culture mirrors the aspiration - then those who may have experienced marginalisation may continue to do so. Unsurprisingly, they’ll vote with their feet. 

Flexibility, workload and work/life balance

Has never been more important to people. A hangover from Covid, the majority of employees’ expectations now include an element of flexibility – whether that be 2-3 days working from home, flexible-work patterns or part-time working. It’s a difficult one to get right as ‘bringing people together’ promotes learning and connection, helps more junior staff to understand what is needed in the workplace and reinforces the organisation vision, mission and culture – important if people are all to be pulling in the same direction. Many employers are still searching for the optimum balance here and it’s likely to be some time before we find a solution that entirely fixes the issue.

In almost all cases the points outlined above can be addressed through open discussion and engagement with the workforce – helping people navigate a workplace that is changing faster now than ever before. Ranging from employee feedback sessions, genuine follow-through in respect of implementation of policies, line-manager development, a focus on individual career aspiration and dedicated one-one-one coaching, there are many ways in which solutions can be affected. The best companies embed these – and other interventions - into the core of their being; for others, those who are genuinely ‘careless’ with regard to their employee management, its inevitable that people will drift away, enticed by a more personalised, productive and inclusive environment elsewhere. Don’t be careless with your employees -they are your future. ” 

The future world of work

INTOO UK&I have released their latest report which focuses on employee attitudes to the “future of work.” The newly released report draws upon their previous research, first delivered in 2017, and assesses how attitudes towards the future of work and employment have changed during the past five years.

Ongoing technological advances, an increasing demand for ‘flexible working’ bought about by the Covid pandemic, a changed political landscape, a worker shortage and an increased focus on inclusivity and diversity have all impacted, and continue to impact, upon our relationship with work. Our 2017 survey results revealed most of these factors however all now have far more prominence than five years ago.

Yet the need for talent with the right skills has always remained. 

Equally, against an ever-increasing pace of change, shifting social values, a lack of available talent and a potential significant economic downturn, growing demands will be placed upon an organisation’s ability to quickly evaluate what these changes mean for both their people and their business and prepare accordingly. INTOO has commissioned this independent survey to assess the preparedness among UK organisations for the future world of work. Its aim is to analyse the impact of this recent technology on businesses and their people. To help identify the measures that should be taken to embrace the opportunities presented, and overcome the challenges faced.

About Intoo  

Here at INTOO, we believe that developing the careers of your employees is what ultimately drives business success. We partner with companies to develop the potential of their people, transform performance and transition skills as business needs evolve.

We take a long-term view of careers and help people identify what success looks like now and in the future. We help them evolve into the best version of themselves, providing them with the skills to keep themselves sharp and your business successful.

For people-centric HR consultancy services that hone in on your unique business needs and challenges, you can rely on INTOO. Whether you’re looking for outplacement services that will benefit both you and your employees, or career development programmes that will truly maximise employee talent, we make it our mission to help you to reach your goals and achieve lasting results, whatever your needs


13/07/23
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