• Barnett Waddingham
    Barnett Waddingham
  • The essential guide to engaging employees in 2020

    By Paydata

    The New Year is an opportunity to strengthen the employer/employee relationship on both sides – whilst employees may be setting their new year’s resolutions, how can you as an employer support employees in meeting their goals whilst they in turn help you to deliver your vision?

    Use all resources available

    Whilst traditionally HR has been seen as distinct and separate from IT, Marketing and Sales, the fusion of these disciplines is important in driving innovation. IT systems must support HR objectives, with machine learning techniques and algorithms being used to automate essential processes around onboarding, recruitment and employee experience. People analytics can support performance management, helping to identify the individuals who most deserve recognition, driving retention.

    ‘Sell’ your EVP

    The fusion of disciplines extends to the way in which you try to engage both prospective and current employees. Marketing a strong employee value proposition and defining what sets your company apart, can tackle the recruitment challenges experienced by 55 per cent of respondents in Paydata’s UK Reward Management Survey in autumn 2019. Communicating competitive benefits packages that promote financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing and align with personal values such as shared parental leave, enhanced maternity packages and flexible working are crucial to attract and retain talent. In this sense, communication is key and the HR function must ‘sell’ the proposition both to outside talent who need to buy in to the brand to apply and to existing employees to reinforce the value of working there. Bringing these disciplines together can drive employee experience, as functions work closely to achieve continuous positive experiences at all stages of the employee journey – from application, to onboarding and exit interviews.

    Adapt and embrace change

    Flatter hierarchies, changing demographics spanning a range of generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, generations X, Y and Z) and a flourishing gig economy are all factors that are transforming the traditional notion of a 9 to 5 office space. Remote working practices are being driven by globalisation, leading to an increasingly diverse workplace that could even be contracted on a project by project basis, with colleagues from around the world being brought together based on their specific skillset to meet customer demands. Project managers are increasingly being used to compartmentalise aspects that can be allocated to freelancers, redirect workflows and drive efficiency, all transforming the way employees work. Engaging remote workers and a range of generations is critical to creating a sense of one unified culture. Results-driven performance analysis models will be increasingly expected from HR.

    Keep the focus on the individual

    Technology is freeing up HR to focus on more holistic, strategic matters, making the field more innovative and dynamic. Much of the hiring process can be steered by the wealth of data available making objective decisions and removing unconscious bias, and pay reviews can be calculated based on performance models. However, the focus on the individual should not be lost in a field of data driven insights that can drive automation. The valuable insights that HR analytics provide need to be used correctly to inform processes and support efficiency. Manager scrutiny is still vital to ensure the right candidates are successful and that promotions are correctly targeted to drive engagement.

    Effective pay reviews

    Annual performance reviews are an increasingly outdated model. Continuous pay reviews would in fact reflect what is, in reality, common practice reported by many organisations in Paydata’s autumn 2019 UK Reward Management Survey. 75 per cent of respondents said that market pressures drive their out of cycle pay reviews, which have traditionally been reserved for making adjustments based on ad hoc promotions throughout the year. This suggests that these increases supplement incremental pay awards and provide a more responsive framework in order to retain top talent.

    Promote instant feedback

    Whilst some might worry that the use of less formal performance reviews removes the rigour of the annual pay review process, embracing a flexible approach can drive employee retention. Employers can ensure that their employees are competitively paid throughout the year and that their reward package reflects their contribution to the business. Adopting an ad hoc approach to reviews promotes frequent 1:1 meetings between managers and employees, as opposed to formal once a year reviews. This continuous dialogue concerning performance can produce better outcomes, enabling employees to correct behaviours immediately, driving productivity.

    Transparency and fairness

    The concept of ‘belonging’ was a key theme that emerged in 2019. Whilst giving employees a sense of purpose is not a new concept, inspiring them with a purpose could promote a sense of ‘belonging’ where employees are much more alert to their potential next move. This also dovetails with the greater focus on promoting a diverse workforce with equal opportunities available to all. Employers are responsible for tackling equality issues within their organisations with a range of initiatives designed to support a fairer workplace: CEO pay ratios, ethnicity pay gaps and the progress of gender pay gap reporting. At the heart of these initiatives is the objective of creating equal and fair pay structures across the workplace; engaging employees by offering access to a team made up of a range of voices, experiences and backgrounds will enable an organisation to create a supportive culture and better understand the customers it serves.

    Multi-phased careers

    We are all living longer and have to work for longer – employers should be offering numerous opportunities for learning and development to embrace multi-phased careers. Recognising that there is a more fluid workforce and treating employees as individuals is key to unlocking each person’s potential by tailoring their recognition accordingly. Reward that is designed to tackle, and actively embrace, an ageing workforce and attract younger people to certain sectors, particularly the third sector and residential care, has become a prominent issue for employers who need a secure pipeline of talent to future-proof their business. Skills development was unveiled as a key focus of the new government in the Queen’s Speech, with the establishment of a £3 billion National Skills Fund designed to invest in lifelong learning to bridge the gap between ageing workers and cutting edge technology.

    Remain agile to thrive

    Employers increasingly have to re-think the design and organisation of their workforce to embrace globalisation and the challenges of engaging such diverse and flexible working practices. The crucial key to success will be to maintain a cohesive environment that is driven by a strong brand identity throughout an organisation. Organisations must foster and translate their purpose into a strong brand experience for both customers and employees. On-boarding, transparent cultures promoting fairness and harnessing the power of automation can all help to create a workplace of tomorrow that thrives.

    About Paydata

    Paydata is an ethical reward management consultancy, committed to making lives better at work. Paydata has helped customers successfully fine-tune their reward and HR approach for over 20 years, ensuring employers offer competitive salary and benefits packages, benchmarking competitors and the wider market. It also defines roles within companies, providing pay systems that support career progression, bridge the gender pay gap and deliver the business strategy.



    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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