It is a strange time in the UK for employers and staff alike.
Unemployment is at its lowest since 1975 and still, UK wage growth has started to lag inflation for the first time since mid-2014. Yet there is still a sharp decline in job applicants both for full and part time roles. As Kevin Green, CEO of Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) notes,
“We have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005, and people already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty”.
Add to that the perennial problems of poor staff engagement and low productivity in the UK – output per worker, per hour worked and productivity growth in the UK are below most other major economies. In 2015, output per hour worked was 15.9% below the average for the rest of the G7 advanced economies – actually slightly worse than in 2014.
At such a time, there can be a tendency to nail things down, cut costs, and put the brakes on any new initiatives. There is a real danger that you end up in a vicious downward spiral. Staff will feel beleaguered, undervalued and further demotivated and disengaged but stay with you out of fear of the unknown.
Now is the time to take stock and revisit how best to engage with and continue motivating your workforce. Here are some areas you should focus on.
Hire the Right People
I would go a step further – if you can’t hire well, don’t hire at all. Where there are roles to fill, the right new hires will add life to the team – the wrong ones drag it back further. Take the time and effort you need to make great hires.
Create a Culture that Celebrates Success
How many organisations do you know that carve out time to celebrate and appreciate success, big and small, and to dish out regular thanks and praise? How quickly does that disappear when things get tough? Make sure do embed this in your culture.
Create and Maintain Well-Articulated Values
People like to work for employers with a clear ethos and set of values. Not only will it help with your existing staff but assuming you get it right, it will start to help with recruitment.
Create a Culture that Stands Out
Strong values don’t have to be bland values. Make sure when you develop them they have the ability to inspire.
Don’t Be Tempted to Cut Training and Development
A commitment to training and development is not only a commitment to your organisation but it is a commitment to your people. Want them to commit to you? Well, show some commitment to them.
Consider Flexible Working
Don’t make the mistake of believing that because things are tough you need to keep an eye on your staff. In a recent public sector survey, 30 per cent of staff said flexible working would be the “single one thing” to improve productivity levels.
Help Your Staff With Their Lifestyle
In the same survey, nine in 10 of those surveyed made the link between having an active lifestyle and increased productivity at work. A gym membership doesn’t have to be the only option – a little more flexibility on hours, enabling proper lunch breaks, fruit, encouraging of work teams – think outside the box a little (your team will be only too keen to help).
… And Listen
In all this, we would always say the best way of knowing if you are getting it right is to listen to your staff. They can tell you if you are or not!
If you are feeling challenged – particularly on listening to staff – we can offer some ways to help. Get in touch and we can chat through some ideas together.