A culture of engagement

businessexcellence logoTalent retention and engagement, as Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends survey recently confirmed, remain on-going human capital issues. According to Deloitte’s survey, 79 percent of business and HR leaders worldwide still believe retention and engagement are key issues they need to address.

That raises the question: Should we be approaching this challenge in a new way?

Certainly the HR landscape is shifting very rapidly, requiring a new mindset and new approaches. HR directors are taking on a far more strategic role as they move away from the transactional emphasis which their position once required. As the need increases for their departments to become profit centres in their own right, we are seeing a new breed of HR Director (HRD) emerging: one who has to have a greater overall understanding of the organisation coupled with a transformative leadership style and a visionary attitude.

The corporate playing field they are managing is rife with new challenges. An emphasis on short-term goals can make it difficult for an HR Director to effectively structure long-term plans to create engagement and motivation. Rather than addressing this conflict head on could HRDs benefit from taking a leaner approach? As it turns out the new generation of employees tends to operate best in a more flexible and results-oriented context. This flexibility could be anything from working remotely to working unusual hours, something which more traditional HRDs may initially struggle to weave into the overall corporate structure. Yet, if we take away the need for ‘presenteeism’ and centre instead on results, motivation generally follows.

Empowering the workforce is now something that the HRD needs to take to a whole new level. Whilst historically HR has always played a reactive role – shifting from the dispenser of tissues and tea when they were head of personnel to defenders of employee relations – this new breed of HRD focuses on taking good people and making them better, ensuring the cultural fit is diverse. At the same time, they need to be dynamic, stretching their reach from graduate intake all the way up to the boardroom. Their role has now become transformational and crucial to an organisation’s growth.

Implementing game changing strategies which deliver sustainable engagement and, therefore, employee retention, means stepping into this new role and driving change rather than following it. By creating a company with clear purpose and values, employees are able (and willing) to connect themselves to a much bigger picture which, in turn, increases productivity. Developing and maintaining a culture of engagement leads to greater employee loyalty and better financial returns.

The fact that corporate goals, particularly financial, tend to be short-term based should not prevent the HRD from creating a strategic plan that addresses the short term, but has a succinctly long-term vision built into it.

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