Maximise your short-term return

Employees are expensive outgoings

It’s not simply a matter of doing the bare minimum to comply with employment law, so as to avoid being beaten by the ‘stick’ of financial penalties awarded by employment tribunals. There is also a ‘carrot’ argument. Do the right thing with regards to HR and employment law, and you’ll be financially rewarded in terms of increased profitability. Now to be clear, we’re not saying that employees should simply be considered as ‘resources’, ‘assets’, and the like. We strongly believe that you should treat people properly because it’s the right thing to do. The fact that it also stacks up as an obvious business argument just makes it a no-brainer.

From a business point of view, it would seem ridiculous to lease an expensive machine, disable all the safety features, completely ignore any monitoring systems, and not do any maintenance on it. And then to just sit back, ignoring all the warning signs and ominous grinding noises, just watching its performance and reliability steadily get worse and worse. Until eventually it is generating less in monthly revenue than it is costing you in repayments. That just doesn’t make sense, does it? So, why would you treat your employees like this?

Your employees are an expensive resource for your business, with their salaries probably being your single biggest monthly outgoing. Just look at your profit and loss report. So, you need be sure that you’re getting the best possible value from them.

Growth can be painful

Making sure you get good value for your salary costs becomes ever more important as your company grows and recruits additional staff, as this will significantly increase your outgoings, both directly through salaries, and indirectly through additional office space and equipment requirements. Whilst this might initially seem to be a straightforward process, you’ll eventually hit a point where expansion is not simply a matter of recruiting more of the same. Typically this occurs when you introduce management roles. Unlike your first employees, taking on managers typically does not increase your turnover, since they don’t actually create the product or service that you sell. Consequently, they can only cover their costs by increasing the earning capacity of other staff. Yet it’s all to easy for their introduction to actually result in the money earners of your company becoming less efficient, rather than more so.

Since everyone no longer interacts with everyone else on a day-to-day basis, significant communication problems can arise as the distance increases between the top and bottom of the management hierarchy. Likewise, trust can be undermined. And these difficulties can be exacerbated if your managers are inexperienced and feel out of their depth, which can often be the case with those who have been promoted by necessity from within the workforce of a fast growing small company. Consequently, the informal ad-hoc culture commonly adopted by successful startups often simply doesn’t scale well, and so begins to break down as a company grows.

Communication problems

Unstructured expansion without the supporting people management processes in place can leave workers feeling isolated and confused, and company owners feeling that they’ve lost control and no longer know what’s going on within their business. Not only do misunderstandings resulting from the restricted flow of information lead to mistakes occurring, but the lack of proper oversight means that these don’t get discovered until very late in the day. Consequently, people regularly have to do jobs twice to ensure they’re done properly, with the rework often being done under significant time pressure to meet the original deadline. And since this then gives them less time to do their next job, that work is rushed too, leading to further mistakes. Subsequent descent into a never-ending unproductive cycle of reactive firefighting is somewhat inevitable.

Morale problems

And whilst you might start with only a few ‘bad apples’, the collateral damage caused by their issues can have a knock on effect throughout the company, thereby spreading the ‘infection’ to those not even involved in the original problem. The resulting internal tensions can lead to a culture of blame, lack of trust, and a rise in office politics. Rather than the company working together as a productive whole, it can all too easily splinter into fiefdoms as a silo mentality develops.

With a toxic working atmosphere, and much of their work seeming pointless, staff can be left feeling disheartened and demotivated, with the consequent collapse of morale leading to a drastic decline in work rate. In addition, absenteeism is likely to increase. So, not only is unnecessary extra work being done to correct errors, but that repeat work is also getting done at a much slower pace than normal. Doing twice the work at half the speed for the same income clearly has a massive effect on company productivity, hugely decreasing the value you’re getting as a return on your monthly workforce salary investment. But all too often, attempts to fix the situation are either paralysed by an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, or result in a panicky knee-jerk over reaction that just makes things worse.

The need for people processes

Consequently, once your business expands beyond a certain size, it’s desirable to introduce a more structured approach to your people management processes. We’ve got a great deal of experience as to the organisational structures, leadership techniques, and working practices that are required to ensure order, maintain good communication, and effectively manage your workforce. And what’s more, we know how to implement these people management policies and procedures in a way that supports, rather than undermines, your business objectives, and the type of company culture you’re seeking to achieve. By making sure everyone knows both what they should be doing, and how they should be doing it, we can introduce a culture of doing things right in the first place, rather than dealing with the consequences later. As a result, your workforce will spend less time fixing problems, and more time doing something useful. And now there’s a point to what they do, people will go about it with a new found sense of purpose, greatly increasing the value that they contribute to the company.

Fix workforce problems

Employers often first seek HR support when things have gone awry, and they need to manage the poor performance of an individual. And we can certainly help you with that. But ensuring that there are good people management systems in place ahead of time just makes everything so much easier. Having well defined rules and ways of doing things means that everyone knows exactly where they stand and what’s expected of them. It’s then far easier to deal with any workforce issues at an early stage, before they get completely out of hand, because it’s so much more obvious when the line of acceptable workplace behaviour has been crossed.

Avoid workforce problems

Even better, having a clear up-front understanding of the attitudes, behaviours, and abilities that you expect from an employee, and conversely what they should expect from you, supports the ‘do it right first time’ ethos. By objectively recruiting staff that are a good match for your company in the first place, you’ll avoid wasting time attempting to fix a potentially unfixable mismatch of expectations at some later point. Likewise, knowing how things ought to be will help you to tackle aspects of workplace culture that might encourage or attract undesirable attitudes and behaviours, long before they actually manifest as employee issues.

Maximise workforce performance

Importantly, dealing with problematic underperforming members of your workforce is only one of the ways in which we can help you. After all, most of your workforce probably performs perfectly adequately. But why settle for mediocre? We can work with you to fully maximise the potential of all your staff, developing them from average to good, and from good to great.

We’ll help you improve workforce morale, increase motivation, and restore a sense of purpose, so that your employees don’t simply punch the clock, but instead experience a real sense of intrinsic reward from working together as active participants in achieving your company vision.

Maximise manager performance

In particular, we can train and support your managers, so they have both a framework to guide them, and the skills to use it. We’ve found this to be particularly important where managers and team leaders have been promoted from within the general workforce as a company grows, meaning that they are not only inexperienced, but also have the challenging task of managing their ex-peers. We can give them not only the technical HR and employment law knowledge needed to manage their staff, but also the interpersonal skills, and confidence to effectively put it to use. And then we can act as a sounding board to check their thinking, should they need it.

Once your managers are clear what they should be doing, and so aren’t afraid that their intervention will make things worse, they will be able to get involved and actively manage workforce issues long before they become major problems. Likewise, they’ll be fully capable of being responsible for the development of their staff, ensuring that they can become the best they can be. Which means that your managers will provide value by maximising the earning potential of the money generators within your workforce.

Since you can trust that people issues will be dealt with early and effectively by your managers, you’ll no longer need to personally micro-manage everything. Instead, you’ll be confident that, whilst being kept in the loop, issues will only be escalated for you do deal with on the rare occasion that they really need to be. And this will free up your own time to do something more useful. How valuable is that to you?

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