Following the global financial meltdown, multinationals are beginning to take Human Resources (HR) more seriously and the increasing competition between multinationals have given rise to even bigger reasons. The 21st century business world is so sensitive such that the physical location of a company may grossly affect turnover and business ranking in the eyes of the consumers; I am not talking about physical location in respect of competition between a bank in New York and another in New Jersey, I am talking about competition between industries just a few miles away. For instance, Santander Bank despite its size and prominence on British high streets is the 6th largest retail bank in the UK, a situation I believe is affected by the fact that its headquarters is situated in the London financial district rather than Canary Wharf. However, while other banks like Barclays are reforming their mode of operations as a result of the financial burnout they have experienced, Santander never required government bailout; there are two sides to the coin, you would say. Companies generally find it difficult to invest in people despite the fact that it is an acknowledged fact that companies that invest in people produce a better motivated work force and in turn an increase in productivity and turnover. Now, what exactly is the bigger problem? Companies that invest in people focus more on an aspect of workers than the other, most banks for instance focus less on people management and strategic thinking skills. It is not enough for companies to invest in people; people investment has to be holistic in other to obtain its full benefits.
An organisation is a partnership between the employees and the employers. There are strategic steps that could be taken in order for a company to maintain its top spot or beat or lessen competition. Firstly, investment in the younger generation is crucial, a company should seek to employ younger employees and tailor its learning packages to suit them so that they would not underperform. Not only that, companies should employ the right set of people first time and keep new starters, they must avoid the temptation of not doing a thorough behavioural check out of a mouth-watering theoretical qualification a potential employee possesses or out of desperation to maintain a particular ”employees standard”, the havoc a potential guru employee may cause if grabbed by a competing company or the fear and stress of not finding a better candidate for a role. Companies should give the first few months of an employee a chance.
Secondly, the technical nature of industries may make it difficult for employees to switch sectors therefore companies must be inquisitive, they must gather enough information about their industry and across industries, this will keep them abreast of new challenges and trends in the business world and will allow new inter-sector employees to adjust quickly without affecting company output. This responsibility of inquisitiveness has to be shared equally by an employee and the company, while companies seek information, employees should develop themselves.
Thirdly, it is beneficial to have a blend of skills within a company. Skills that are complementary ensure that no stones are left unturned and that there are no room for lapses that could have been otherwise overlooked. If a ‘worrier’ is in a team, he would constantly check back to ensure things are properly done while the ‘thinker’ can do all the paper work. Complementary skills are crucial if a company wants to beat competition.
Furthermore, employers must listen to workers, a workers strike does no one any good, while employees gradually get broke, business growth is stunted. Benefit packages for employees should match up with their effort and must be benchmarked constantly with competing companies. Feedback is also crucial to employee motivation, it goes a long way in fostering the partnership bond between employees and employers and it allows for a culture of openness and prevents malpractices within the company.
Finally, companies must constantly pursue and retain talents and be ready to invest in them continually, this can be done by providing a wide range of resources and network of materials and developmental programmes covering various skills that are heavily required by the company, however, companies should not be tempted to focus more on certain skills. An in-house think tank would keep talent’s mind active but having a think tank is not an end in itself, think tanks and issues being dealt with must be constantly revised because the business world is not static and people’s priorities may change.
In conclusion, for a company to increase output, maintain an edge, cut or beat competition, it must be ready to invest in every area of the employee’s growth, gather needed information, invest in talents, encourage feedback and maintain an organisation with blended skills. This way, a 21st century company with a global mindset will not only be on top but would in the long run have inculcated the best business practices in its employees.
WRITTEN BY: Bolu’ I. Michael-Biyi