Sort Out Your People Plans!


Jane Kennelly highlights why people processes are vital to business performance and shared her tips on recruiting the right talent.

How often do we hear “Our people are key to our organisation”? Yet recent results based on a business measuring tool developed by The Icehouse, called BIQ Barometer, suggests that this, in fact, is not quite accurate – far from it.

As a long-time industry expert and, might I say, entrepreneur within the employment arena, I have been presenting on the importance of people processes with The Icehouse team across New Zealand in recent weeks.

Meeting and talking to business owners has confirmed the apparent reluctance by them to get their heads into ‘the soft stuff’; yet all agree that it is critical to business success.

It appears that all too often people processes within organisations are pushed to one side or overlooked. The ‘we’ll be right’ attitude prevails, but the days of highly reactionary activity and a lack of forward planning could spell disaster for business owners in New Zealand.

As an example, results from the barometer show that:

  • 30 percent of owners have a formal leadership development process outside the management team.
  • 40 percent conduct performance reviews less than once a year.
  • 40 percent say that a key (non-management) employee leaving the business would have a significant impact.

Having digested this, solutions are at hand. It starts with the realisation that ‘What makes the most difference in your company’s success boils down to how many of your employees are better than your competitors.

For the agile, adaptable SME (small or medium enterprise) operator, this environment presents an opportunity to get cracking and steal a march over the large faceless corporate by having a steely focus on attracting and retaining, high calibre people.

It just takes planning, preparation and some new market savvy.

Get Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is a continual process used to align the needs and priories of the organisation with those of its workforce to ensure it has suitable talent to meet its objectives.

Workforce planning considers HR factors and ties these to overall strategic plans, financial and budget projections, environmental issues, legislative requirements/regulations and governance.

It incorporates business goals and plans with predicted people requirements and from here, attracting and selecting the right people, building high performing teams, culture and employment branding, growing your own talent and retention, form part of the ongoing picture.

Or put another way, find’em, keep’em, and win!

Market factors driving the urgency to take control and get planning include:

  • Skills shortages – biting now and about to get worse. [In Christchurch, I spoke with a business owner who had to turn down $6.5m worth of work as he is short 6 people]
  • Salaries pressure – expect 3 percent to 3.6 percent increase
  • Retiring baby boomers – one company’s average age is 55. That’s risky!
  • The cost of a poor hire – ever been through it?

FACT #1: Organisations that spend more time preparing for and recruiting high-calibre people earn 22 percent higher return to shareholders than their industry peers.

Attracting and Selecting the Right Talent

Companies can build on their structural advantages by expanding their competencies. A rapid way of increasing a company’s competitive advantage is to look for superior talent. The focus here is on:

  • It starts with being clear about what you want, fit and skill, not just for the ‘now’ but for the future.
  • The personal touch is vital in any people process. This is where the SME sector can dominate! Don’t minimise your involvement because people like to know who they are working for. Candidates tell us that this can be the winning stroke.
  • Be sure your hiring managers know how to recruit. This is one of the most significant investments you can make. It takes training and structure. The days of “Walk me through your CV” have gone! In their place are interactions that are carefully crafted; resulting in only seeing the several people who really fit the bill; yet keeping an eye on high potential.

One method that assists in this process is the designing of a decision-making-guide to aid objectivity and benchmarking. By gathering consistent information at each interview, comparisons on key attributes can be made- and heart, head and ‘gut’ are in unison.

FACT #2: 45 percent of candidates have indicated that they have withdrawn from a recruitment process before progressing to the offer stage because the person/s conducting the job interview/s were rude to them. (Yikes!)

Employment Branding: What is the Perception of Your Organisation as a Place to Work?

A focus on employment branding achieves success with recruitment, retention, engagement and motivation of teams.

It’s not about advertising, it’s about creating conversations. The opportunity to influence conversations occurs with every touch point, such as: industry events, your own workplace, competitors, media, social media, local community, and schools/universities.

It’s a continual process and needs to be practised well. It doesn’t start when a vacancy arises. So some tips on making and creating great conversations:

  • The senior management team must believe, invest in and endorse the employer brand work.
  • Make sure your employer brand is being communicated – consistently with key messages.Reach, awareness and perception; has your target audience heard about you?
  • Arm your people. Your employees are your biggest assets. They are your ambassadors! (Some organisations have set the ratio of referrals from their own internal staff at 40 percent. How do you stack up?)

Remember: “People may not remember what you say, and they may not remember what you do, but they will remember the way you make them feel.” – Thomas L. Garthwaite.

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