A finance director once said to his chief executive, ‘What if we pay for all this training and everyone decides to leave?’ The chief executive replied, ‘What if we don’t and they decide to stay?’
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is now on record as saying we are beginning to experience an economic recovery. Yet fierce competition, reduced budgets and tough economic times means that we all still need to get more from less. But how can you make sure that your people are fit to meet the challenges you need them to face? Times are changing fast and customers have more choice, more product knowledge and more power than ever before.
Here’s another angle. Some commentators use the cliché ‘People are your greatest assets’. I disagree. Although companies own assets, they certainly don’t own their people. Instead businesses hire their attitude, skills and knowledge. Employees can walk away at any time. And if they are not happy they will walk – eventually. Not only will the business lose their input and hands on capability but the leaver will take their corporate knowledge away with them and possibly customers too.
So what’s the answer? Whatever business we’re in we need people. Service, manufacturing, the knowledge economy – each depends on people. Having people that are equipped to produce the goods, deliver the service and build relationships is essential. But it’s only half the story. People also need to be energised, enthused and excited about what they do. Only then does passion takeover to ensure your customers’ needs are at least met if not exceeded. The higher the engagement of employees, greater productivity and profitability will follow.
If you’re still not convinced then here are the facts. Research undertaken on behalf of the Government* surveyed over 23000 companies. Those that adopted best practice in employee engagement showed an average 18% higher productivity, 12% higher customer advocacy and 12% higher profitability. For those organisations in the lowest quartile of best practice showed 31 to 52% higher employee turnover, 51% higher inventory shrinkage and 62% more accidents. At some time we’ve all been served by disengaged employees – we know what it feels like. Can you risk this being felt by your customers?
Providing quality training and development goes way beyond fulfilling compliance and other mandatory obligations. Skilling up people increases their knowledge, confidence and feeling of well-being. Training offers different perspectives in a world where standing still means you go backwards. But most of all investing in people gives the key message that says ‘I believe in you and I believe you’re worth it’. Your employees will feel it. I think your customers will notice it too.
(*source: Engage for Success by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke)