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Why Investing in People cannot be Optional

Over the course of the last year, around half of the UK’s 15 million workers were looking for a new job. And the single biggest reason (43%), is down to the way they’re managed, with a depressing 39% not feeling valued and around a quarter of the workforce citing lack of training as the main factor in them wanting to ditch their current role.

This continuous deep dissatisfaction with how we are being managed and how valued we feel is reputed to cost around £39 billion every year. And the sad fact is that the reasons are always the same ones, i.e. lack of meaningful development, little or no interest in understanding the viewpoint of the employee, poor two-way communication, failing to recognise and reward good work, promoting the wrong people for the wrong reasons, actively discouraging creativity and blocking people from showing initiative in pursuing projects they feel passionately about.

In most large organisations the top team is often very good at setting out their vision for their business. And their strategy will usually include most of the enlightened practices that employees want. So, the question has to be, why in so many cases does this vision not translate into custom and practice in the organisation? And why is the number one reason why an employee leaves an organisation still down to their line manager?

Well, if the managers themselves haven’t been developed, how would they be able to be effective leaders? As Maslow once said: “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. And if company leaders do no more than pay lip service to the basic needs of their people and continue to use the term “growth’ only to describe company sales or profit targets how will they create the right environment for managers to focus on what’s really important?

Fortunately, there are a number of forward-thinking organisations, fuelled by a new generation of leaders, who are investing in training and coaching to ensure they retain and develop their best people. These organisations have grasped that good leaders need to be able to identify the physical, emotional and mental needs of their employees to keep them motivated, committed and satisfied in their roles.

Additionally, they understand that by being proactive in showing employees a clear development path, using coaching methods rather than command and control, and combining the aims of the employer with those of the employee they will get far greater levels of engagement, staff who feel valued and less people leaving out of sheer desperation.

And the bottom line is, as always, the bottom line. In another recent study, 66% of employees who were highly engaged reported they had no plans to leave their company compared to just 31% for disengaged staff. If then, for no other reason than one of cost, leaders grasped the nettle and actively promoted the sort of systemic culture change so badly needed, surely all would benefit, leaders, managers and employees?

Investing in our people is right for so many reasons. It lowers recruitment costs, contributes to far healthier working environments and empowers people with a greater skill-set and increased confidence and motivation. The knock-on effect is felt, not just in business, but in our general society, too.

 

And as our workforce continues to expect more in terms of personal growth, job development and an achievable and rewarding career path, the difference between companies who do invest in their people and the ones who don’t will become more and more obvious. Investment in our people is not optional, it’s essential for the health and wellbeing of employees, companies and the wider society we live in.

 

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