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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Literature review From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 22, Issue 6
Capital One is first again
The UK credit-card company Capital One is, for the second year running, the best large employer in the Great Place to Work awards.
Its employees praised the company for treating them fairly and with respect. They expressed pride in working for the company. Around one in five of last year’s new recruits were referred by existing employees.
Chris Newkirk, Capital One managing director, said: “Being a great place to work benefits our customers, as a happy, committed workforce ultimately means better service for customers. The best-workplaces program aims to identify, create and sustain great workplaces through the development of high-trust workplace cultures. This fits perfectly with the ambition we have for our business”.
Tom O’Byrne, Great Place to Work UK chairman, commented: “Capital One’s commitment to trust, engagement and best practice in the workplace shone through again this year and the company is a well-deserved two-time winner. Its corporate vision is clearly translated through an extensive and co-ordinated program that connects all employees to the business. They have worked hard to stay ahead of the game across many areas of the business and have set the bar very high”.
To develop a culture of innovation, Capital One has provided specialist training to more than 250 staff. Graduate trainees receive this within weeks of joining.
The company holds an annual vision day – which has been voted best corporate event at the UK Event Awards for the past three years – for the whole company, including contractors and temporary staff. Last year’s event at the National Ice Center in Nottingham generated almost 100 ideas to tackle business issues. Employees worked in teams and presented their proposals with the help of a hip-hop band. The company also holds an annual customer week aimed at enabling employees to better understand customer experiences. The Institute of Customer Service is using this as a case study.
Over the past year, Capital One has improved its internal communications with the development of its corporate social-media-style internal platform, named Pulse. Currently 94 per cent of employees use Pulse, 80 per cent have joined one of the 256 groups available and 90 per cent have a read at least one of the 600 UK blogs to choose from, giving all employees a choice to be heard.
Employees put their trust in straight-talking leaders
Ability, benevolence, integrity and predictability are the main characteristics of trustworthy leaders, according to research by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and the University of Bath.
The research suggests that the human resource (HR) can increase trustworthiness through:
implementing values-based interviewing, asking interviewees about beliefs and behaviors;
encouraging leaders to share their personal stories, which reveal something of them as people rather than functionaries;
providing master-classes on self-awareness;
encouraging the use of assessment practices such as 360-degree feedback;
creating platforms for open conversations about trust; and
ensuring that trustworthy behaviors are visibly rewarded.
According to the findings, being personable and straight-talking are the strongest attributes associated with being a trustworthy leader. One recommendation is that leaders step away from the uniform of leadership from time to time to reveal their personal side.
The report, Cultivating Trustworthy Leaders, draws on the examples of 13 cross-sector organizations that retain and develop trustworthy leaders, including John Lewis, BBC Worldwide and Unilever. It recognizes the current high levels of economic uncertainty in society and the crisis of trust in many organizations as catalysts for businesses to review their approach to selecting and cultivating trustworthy leaders.
Claire McCartney, CIPD research adviser, commented: “Organizations with high levels of trust perform better in terms of innovation, problem-solving, engagement and knowledge-sharing. Given the recent crisis in trust in the banking and health-care sectors in particular, it is more important than ever that HR steps up to provide the appropriate platforms for trustworthy leaders to develop”.
“It is also important that organizations allow their leaders to flourish without getting too bogged down by process and technology. HR needs to let its policies evolve alongside the personal and relational side of trust. It is also really important for leaders to demonstrate benevolence, integrity and consistency in their actions”.
Kirstin Furber, people director at BBC Worldwide, said: “Trust is a core value of BBC Worldwide. It is essential in our organization, particularly following the introduction of our new geographic structure which was designed and implemented by our leaders rather than external consultants. The structure encourages a collaborative working culture required for working across different cultures and time zones as you cannot always meet face-to-face. To support this we have an array of people and processes in place including recruitment, annual appraisals and development opportunities that reinforce our values”.
Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, dean of the school of management at the University of Bath, who led on the research, said: “Sometimes we let HR processes and systems get in the way of trusting our own judgments of a leader’s worth as a trustworthy person. What came through from the research was that when considering the four drivers of trustworthiness, HR selection processes were good at measuring ability and predictability”.
“However, the softer elements of trustworthiness, benevolence and integrity were much more dependent upon assessing an individual as a whole person. This means considering a potential leader’s personal conduct inside and outside the workplace and how his or her personal moral code would fit the overall organizational culture”.
“What is needed is a balanced approach. HR processes and systems are great for ensuring consistency but should not be allowed to override a personal judgement of a leader’s trustworthiness. The HR system should not be allowed to override our own sense of judgment”.
Drawing up the battle-lines in the war for talent
Businesses have barely moved since the turn of the century when it comes to recruiting the best people, according to research by international consultancy KPMG.
“In 2001, when we last researched the subject, the focus was on attracting and retaining high-potential and high-performing employees. It is an approach that has become deeply engrained for many companies”, said Robert Bolton, co-leader of KPMG’s global HR center of excellence. “In 2014, however, 66 per cent of respondents are telling us it is much more important for organizations to have a holistic approach to talent management that addresses the needs of all employees as well as those in critical roles; roles that are not defined by hierarchy but by position in the value chain”.
The survey results signify a dramatic shift in HR’s approach to business, brought about by four key factors. The research identifies these as a broad-based shortage of skilled workers, the effects of increased globalization, competitive pressures resulting from improving economies and the changing career expectations of younger skilled workers.
“These findings should serve as a wake-up call to HR managers who may be clinging to outdated approaches to talent management”, said Robert Bolton. “Addressing skill shortages throughout the organization, and not just at the most senior levels, should be a priority. It will become critical over the next two years”.
Robert Bolton also found little evidence that the best practices outlined in 2001 are contributing to improved business performance. “An analysis of the 106 original adopters of the war-for-talent approach found that, 13 years later, only 25 per cent can be categorized as market leaders. A third of those companies have ceased to exist altogether”.
He said that companies can change the status quo to give themselves an edge in the war for talent. “One thing many leading companies are doing is putting powerful new data-analysis capabilities to work to help to gauge their performance and fine-tune their people practices over time. There is a real opportunity for companies to create a differentiated approach for the HR function, one that is a demonstrable driver for the business. The companies that seize this opportunity stand to benefit, while those that take a narrow approach risk losing far more than simply the war for talent”.
KPMG International gathered input from 335 people in 47 countries as part of the survey, which took place earlier this year.
Six in ten people are happy at work
Six in ten UK employees are happy in their jobs, and one in five are very happy at work, according to a study by specialist recruiter Robert Half UK.
The research – which looks into work attitudes among full- and part-time employees – also reveals that a third of employees are considering a new job. This increases to 46 per cent for those aged 18-34 years. Regionally, London tops the table. Half of Londoners surveyed are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, compared to only 24 per cent for those living in Yorkshire.
Remuneration remains a key driver for employees looking to switch, with more than a quarter doing so because they are dissatisfied with their current salary. Some 40 per cent claim that a higher base salary would be the deciding factor in accepting a new job.
Other reasons for switching jobs include boredom, a lack of opportunities for promotion, the desire for a better work–life balance and dissatisfaction with the company leadership.
Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK, commented: “Top performers are instrumental in helping organizations to grow. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to retain your best and brightest”.
“When considering a job move, salary remains a crucial deciding factor for the majority of employees. However, firms looking to attract top talent know that financial remuneration is only one factor affecting candidates’ decisions. The research shows that employees also want their job to be a means of attaining professional development and achieving a good work-life balance. Therefore, offering a comprehensive benefits package tailored to individual employees’ preferences – such as flexible working, holiday-purchase scheme and educational assistance – will help companies to position themselves as great places to work”.
The top signs that an employee may quit are:
A noticeable change in attitude. A formerly enthusiastic individual may become withdrawn and indifferent while performing his or her role.
Longer lunch breaks and frequent absences. This may be a sign that the employee is using the time for job interviews. It also can mean that the person is bored with work.
More professional attire. Does the person come to work in business dress even though the company has a casual/semi-casual dress policy?
A drop in productivity. Perhaps an employee who used to take projects home or work overtime no longer does. Also, forgetfulness about deadlines, meetings and appointments could indicate that a worker is gradually disconnecting from a job.
Phil Sheridan advises bosses to ask an employee showing any of the above if he or she plans to leave. If the employee is preparing to quit, it may be helpful to:
Emphasize the employee’s value and opportunities: A firm at risk of losing a key employee should consider offering an incentive to stay, stressing the person’s value to the organization and discussing career opportunities.
Do not pin hopes on a counter-offer. Making a counter-offer is risky for both the company and the employee. Even if the individual accepts the offer, the “trust exchange” has been compromised.
Leave the door open. If a valued employee decides to leave, tell the person to feel free to get in touch if things do not work out with the new position.
Small-firm bosses display long-hours culture
More than one in four owners of small- or medium-size firms are working more than 50 hours a week, with significant numbers putting in 60 hours a week or more.
Research among more than 400 UK companies employing up to 250 staff shows the average hours worked a week by their owners is a standard 37.5 hours. However, 28 per cent estimate they work 50 hours or more with 15 per cent saying that they put in 60 hours a week including working at weekends.
Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners estimate they take around 3.7 days off sick a year, which is below the national average of 4.4 days recorded by the government.
Almost two out of three SME owners say they have not taken a day off ill in the past year, while only 7 per cent have taken longer than three working weeks off through illness.
Tom Gaynor, employee-benefits director of MetLife UK, which carried out the research, said: “SME owners put in long hours to ensure their businesses are a success and many clearly feel they cannot afford to take time off or to cut back on their working hours without causing disruption to their firm”.
“Working long hours can, however, in the long run lead to health problems. It makes sense to prevent absences before they become a major problem through improving health and wellness”.
Institution of Engineering and Technology seeks to increase the number of female engineers
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has launched a campaign to encourage companies to ensure they are doing everything possible to attract more women into engineering roles, only 7 per cent of which are currently occupied by women in the UK.
IET deputy president Naomi Climer, who is also Sony Media Cloud Services president, led a 50:50 campaign to create an inclusive and diverse culture at the company that promotes gender balance and a fulfilling working environment to achieve a greater business result. She is now keen to encourage her fellow engineers to do the same.
Like most companies with engineering teams, Sony Europe did not have a good record for either attracting or retaining female engineers. It also had a very low percentage of women in senior positions.
Naomi Climer explained: “Before launching the campaign, we had to highlight that the lack of women was a genuine business concern. We set out a strong and compelling business case to do that. Our focus was that improved gender diversity would lead to more innovation, as well as a more harmonious and collaborative working environment – all of which would ultimately help us to maintain our competitive market position”.
The IET campaign calls for other companies to look at how they can make their recruitment and retention more female-friendly.