Business must heed call for investment in its staff

Have we – as a profession – failed? The Industrial Society opened a
Pandora’s box of statistics this week as it relaunched as the Work Foundation.

Its research involving more than 2,000 employees shows that satisfaction in
the workplace has plummeted over the past decade. Staff are a lot less happy
about their career prospects, pay, job security, hours and workload.

During the same period, productivity in the UK has stagnated with staff
proving to be about 30 per cent less productive than those in competitor
nations.

If you believe these worrying statistics – and the CIPD does not – then
leaders, line managers and HR are allculpable, and we need to start thinking a
lot more creatively.

The answer, claims the Work Foundation, lies in a huge cultural shift in the
workplace where ‘softer’ issues, such as the development of the social
capabilities of staff, become as important as ‘hard’ ones like the bottom line.

The argument carries some weight although it could boil down into a simpler
message – invest in your people. This is a message that HR has long understood,
but has had problems in translating into a language that the board can comprehend.

The more progressive firms have glimpsed the future and made the link
between people and productivity. Soon all leading organisations will have the
same technologies and structures as competitors. Companies will only be able to
differentiate themselves through their people – who will need to be the best
skilled and managed staff to succeed.

This will involve much more than just pay and benefits. It will only be
through a genuine commitment to developing flexible working, career
development, learning, management and a creative work culture that increased
productivity will be achieved.

HR has to lead this shift, and leave question marks about failure way
behind.

By Mike Broad

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