By Elisabeth Goodman, 15th March 2021
Valuing people when they work for you
I had the opportunity recently to host a breakout discussion during a One Nucleus’ (2021) “My question is..” lunchtime session. The question I posed was: “If individuals can choose the company they work for, how do leaders and managers demonstrate that they value that choice?”
It was a deliberately provocative question, seeking to go beyond questions of financial incentives to the essence of what leaders and managers can do to demonstrate that they value each and every individual in their employment. It’s a topic that is close to my heart and integral to a lot of my work with managers and team members in the Life Science. The current pandemic and the changes it’s created in working practices and in individuals’ expectations was of course a big influence on the lunchtime discussion with One Nucleus.
We thought that leaders and managers would have to respond to requests from employees for new ways of working. We also thought that value can be demonstrated by building in time for social connections at the start of team meetings and regular 1-on-1’s between managers and members of their teams. Providing opportunities for learning and development will also increase motivation – something that I have seen several employers try to do despite the disruptions at the present time.
Interestingly, the latest issue of Harvard Business Review also echoes these themes in two of its articles.
Valuing prospective candidates
The first article is a review of a Gartner white paper (2021) on “Reengineering the recruitment process”. The pandemic has apparently accelerated shifts that were already starting to happen. Amongst the trends is an indication that prospective candidates are increasingly selecting where they work based on the “value proposition” of the employer. Candidates’ criteria include:
- How companies have helped their employees with work / life balance during the pandemic
- Whether the work involved will be ‘meaningful’
- The freedom to work remotely
- Flexibility in managing their own schedules
Amongst the author’s (Dion Love) conclusions, this one in particular stood out for me:
“Firms must understand candidates’ expectations” and craft positions accordingly, “in the same manner in which they tailor their services to customers”Dion Love as cited in Harvard Business Review, 2021
This idea of treating employees as you would your customers is an interesting one for managers and leaders to consider too. There is a link here to the impact on a company’s reputation as in the next section of this blog.
Valuing people when they leave
The second article, by Dachner and Makarius (2021) focused more on valuing employees when they leave. As the authors point out, the imperative is not just one of meeting legal requirements. It also makes sense from a competitive, reputational stand point. They quote George Sample, an HR practitioner:
“The tighter the competition and the tougher the battle for talent in your industry, the more imperative it is to have dedicated and thoughtful offboarding efforts.”George Sample cited in Dachner and Makarius, 2021
This other quote by Mike Quinn, a senior vice president at a chemicals company is also very illustrative:
“When people leave, they are going to talk about the company and the way they were treated on the way out. You want them and your current employees to realize that people are treated well even when they leave.”Mike Quinn cited in Dachner and Makarius, 2021
The authors come up with a list of recommendations, based on their own research on employee turnover, a review of academic and practitioner articles (1980 – 2020) and a scouring of company websites, newspapers and magazines and interviews with HR professionals.
These recommendations include:
- Introducing the concept of a company alumni programme at the recruitment stage
- Recognising that employees will have career and progression ambitions that might at some point take them out of the company
- Having open discussions with individuals about these career and progression plans and actively supporting them with these e.g. through challenging assignments, mentoring and coaching, introducing them to external networks
- Being active and transparent about succession planning
- Doing public thank yous for people when they leave (assuming the separation is amicable)
- Having well constructed exit interviews to support learning by the employer
- Providing post-separation support – if applicable
- Keeping in touch through an alumni programme that might include inviting people back periodically – for instance to provide insights, consultancy or temporary project work.
I’ve deliberately focused in this article on what organisations can do to demonstrate that they value employees at various stages of the employment life cycle.
There is of course another side to the equation: what employees can do to demonstrate their commitment to the organisation. Employees are accountable for delivering against expectations, and for working with the other members of their team in a way that promotes trust, inclusivity, mutual support and continuous improvement. That’s something that I have covered elsewhere. (See for example Goodman 2018).
Dachner, A.M. and Makarius, E.E. (2021). Turn departing employees into loyal alumni. A holistic approach to offboarding. Harvard Business Review, March – April, 89-97
Goodman (2018). Defining team norms for high performance teams. Retrieved from https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/defining-team-norms-for-high-performance-teams/
Harvard Business Review (2021). Reengineering the recruitment process. The skills needed in many roles are continuously changing – and sources of talent are too. March – April, 17-20.
One Nucleus (February, 24 2021). My question is…. Retrieved from https://onenucleus.com/blog/my-question-isnetworking-lunch-24th-february
About the author
Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through coaching, courses and workshops, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.
Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.
She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to exercise choice and realise their potential in the workplace by enhancing their leadership / management, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to deal with uncertainty and change.
Elisabeth is accredited in Coaching (ACC – International Coaching Federation, PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching), Change Management, Lean Sigma, Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is also a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.
Elisabeth is also the founder of The Coaches’ Forum – an international community of interest for coaches to explore ideas and insights as an extension to their personal and professional development.