The CIPD’s recent Labour Market Outlook (2014) indicated that despite an increase in recruitment and a slight rise in salaries productivity is not increasing. Many surveys have shown that salary is not the overriding factor for improved employee effort; what is more important is a culture of trust, respect and appreciation. Yet so few senior managers, including HR, seem to ‘get’ this.
Imagine this scenario:
‘An employee is sent from the Midlands to Devon to check out technical parameters at an engineering site. He has rigged up his own vehicle (in his own time, at his own expense) with equipment to test technical parameters, but he is not allowed to use his car because the distance is over 200 miles and he has to hire a car from the pool designated by the organisation and take other (potentially less effective) equipment to carry out the job. He is required to book his accommodation through the company intranet (often excluding cheaper options) with a strict limit for overnight expenses, often incurring personal expense.’
Why has this inflexible arrangement been devised?…because people in the past were believed to be taking advantage of mileage and expenses with the outcome that now no one is to be trusted.
I would like to suggest that those deemed to be ‘taking advantage’ should have had a discussion, initiated by their manager, and clarification elucidated to see if there were extenuating circumstances or not. This then “clears the air”, provides open and hopefully honest discussion resulting eventually in respect and trust. These values are widely held in our population who feel offended when they are included with the small percentage of people who work in a different paradigm. The result is lack of commitment to the organisation and reduced productivity.
The answer is to train managers to communicate effectively, to be able to have “difficult” conversations (as they are often called), to know and respect their employees and to be emotionally intelligent enough to notice when issues are arising.
This also applies to the HR department who are often the source of ‘draconian’ absence management policies, travel arrangements and disciplinary procedures. All of these are necessary but I believe should be used with sensitivity and emotional intelligence.
Many years ago, I travelled from Northern Ireland to Aberystwyth for a conference. I arranged my own travel and was accommodated at the University. I flew from Belfast to Leeds Bradford, shared a taxi to the rail station with 2 colleagues I met on the ‘plane, then travelled to Wales. On my return I put in my expenses as detailed above with a third share of the taxi. Imagine my surprise when I had a call to enquire why I had not taken a bus which was available a quarter of a mile from the airport! (This was before the internet so this person was amazing!). A robust discussion ensued and she was referred to the Queens University Prof whom I had shared the taxi with, resulting in no further comment. I’d like to think that my productivity was not affected by this incident but it is the type of situation that can tip the balance for many people.
Two way trust and respect should be the aim of any organisation and the result is motivated, committed and possibly even a happy group of people, providing an effect service or creating excellent products.
Ann McCraken is the chosen blogger for our Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Summit 2014 on the 28th November in London.
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