“Half” Joke Reveals HR Truth and Opportunity

Yesterday I met with the VP of Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. I asked him how many people he had working for him and he said “About half.”

Though he said it in jest, it’s no secret that workplace morale- intrinsically tied to workplace productivity, is down. In January a Conference Board survey found that only 45% of those polled were satisfied with their jobs. Last month, Addecco Group North America released results of a survey to see if American workers were still “in love” with their jobs, and only 39% said that the economic situation caused them to appreciate their jobs more.

With the economy stabilizing and in many cases improving, popular thinking is that employees will be jumping ship, and the “war for talent” will be back as a hot topic.

But what about the Loyalists. Or the Lazyists? The ones that aren’t looking for a new job or leaving any time soon. Maybe they’ve downshifted their efforts to match demand. Maybe they’ve gotten used to marching to a slower tempo. Will they wake up one Monday and start giving 110%?

The internet is full of quick, cheap and tidy ideas on how to improve workplace morale. They range from cuddles (recognition) and huddles (go-team-go) to thank-you notes, free lunches and time off for good behavior.

But I contend that these broad brush strokes do little to improve culture or morale or raise the needle of employee engagement in any significant way. (I invite you to disagree and leave a comment with your proven favorites.)

Rather, now is the time to survey your population and get a baseline understanding of the current climate.

Are your employees connected to business?
Do they understand the goals and how their work contributes to the success of the enterprise?
Do you understand the top three places they might seek employment if your organization ceased to exist, and why?
Do you have systems in place that compensate employees for accomplishing goals large and small?

If your company has “taken a break” from launching employee surveys out of fear of what they will reveal, I urge you to bring them back.

We are at the pinnacle of new and noteworthy times when HR can drive the rally, and implement focused ideas, tied to business goals that improve culture.

At the very least, you will have real insights from which to compare next year, or build a solid communications plan that drives employee engagement. (For help with survey or plan call us). At best, you have validated your own contribution to growth and revenue of the company you call home.

Later in the conversation, I asked him if he had any metrics around his recruitment advertising results. He said that he’s wasting half the money he spends- the trouble is, he doesn’t know which half. [sound]

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