Brand as culture

HR’s biggest challenges in 2018

12 February, 2018


A study commissioned by UK-based Cascade HR has ranked the Top 12 challenges facing HR in 2018. And here are the top two:

  1. Employee Engagement (41%)
  2. Retention (35%)

Since “retention” and “engagement” are two sides of the same coin – highly engaged employees are less likely to leave, and employees who stay are more likely to be highly engaged – engaging and keeping employees is by far the #1. challenge being cited by 75% of the 450 HR Executives they surveyed.

Now I know I have been saying this for yonks, and I will say it again. Companies don’t make things happen, people do. So why are companies not doing enough to engage their people? Why is employee engagement in Australia sitting at a tragically low 24%? (SOURCE: Gallup)

The reason why is that profit comes before people. This means that organisations today are (still) thought of and run (by their leaders) as a (industrial) machine that considers labour (Human Resources) and materials as inputs, and products and services as outputs. Management’s job is to optimise the labour and materials so that they bring the largest financial reward. They do it by controlling productivity, efficiency and quality. It is an engineering task that maximises output, minimises cost, and produces the greatest amount of profit.

This thinking has to change. People are not machines who can be ‘engineered’ into doing things. Along with the traditional bottom line, companies have a second bottom line i.e. a return on human investment that advances a larger purpose beyond just making money. A motivating ‘reason why’ we exist, why we do what we do, and why we come to work every day.

That “reason why” is the intrinsic motivator that people need in work as well as in life. It comes from great branding, and it’s what drives high employee engagement and retention. And no, it’s not a token mission and vision statement stuck in a framed poster in reception. It starts at the top, and is lived and breathed by every person at every level.

This is so-called “soft stuff” – human energy, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, devotion – and it’s what makes the difference between good and great; between growing 3% and 10%; between being on budget and on fire.

If you’re not engaged at work, despite your best efforts, get out. Stop spending five out of the seven days in your week at a workplace that just gives you a salary, and doesn’t give you a reason to come to work. It’s not worth it.

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