nurture a productive workplace through recognition
It’s been an interesting couple of months for employment policy in the UK. In what has been labelled in the press and the treasury as ‘the second part of the Budget’, Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled his Productivity Plan for the UK.
This is, according to the Chancellor and secretary of state for business, Sajit Javid, a solution to fixing the foundations of British businesses and creating a more prosperous economy in order to close the productivity gap between the UK and the U.S. The plan is focused on nurturing ‘a highly skilled workforce’ and it’s going to introduce a compulsory apprenticeship levy, requiring larger businesses to ‘invest in their own future’.
The Government has pledged to radically streamline the number of further education qualifications students can study. And it’s targeted on developing world-leading universities in the UK, open to ‘all who can benefit’, including removing the student cap and ensuring the sustainability of investment in universities.
But I believe that, while the Government is desperate to upskill our workforce, it is employers that should be strategizing in a bid to boost productivity–because productivity is driven by motivation–and motivation hinges on employee recognition and engagement.
The Government can only do so much when it comes to people strategy. They can incentivize employers to recruit staff; and they can put measures in place to upskill employees to make them more job-ready.
Yet, it is ultimately up to employers to create roles, to recruit talented staff, to offer the right development for these individuals and to generate business success, growth and ultimately economic productivity.
It’s not about passing the buck. HR directors have to take responsibility.
Let me give you an example. Back in 2013, when David McLeod and Nita Clarke formed Engage for Success and its employee engagement taskforce, the business press was buzzing with news of how employee engagement could lead to more productive, profitable people and business growth.
To me, this is a fundamental component of productivity. Skills can be taught, but employee recognition and engagement have to be felt by your people; engagement is more than an end in itself; it is more than having happy staff that like coming to work. It is a journey.
Engagement is centred around developing talented employees, sharing a corporate vision, united in a company culture, prepared to go the extra mile for their business, who are recognised for their achievements and empowered and enabled to innovate, create and delight customers and stakeholders.
A successful engagement and recognition strategy is based on so much more than moving up ‘best companies to work for’ rankings, or having increasing scores on an annual engagement survey. It should be at the very core of HR strategy and all HR initiatives should be linked to engagement.
Sometimes I think HR professionals forget this and have come to believe that the growth and productivity prospects of our businesses lie with other departments. But it’s simple physics. Businesses can never be productive if people are not productive; people can never be productive if they are not genuinely engaged and recognised for the work they do.
In the hospitality sector where I work, our people have to demonstrate excellent customer service to delight customers and keep them coming back to our hotels and restaurants. Bringing more customers into UK hotels not only bolsters tourism but encourages business trips, networking and conferencing. I believe for our economy to continue to compete on a world stage and increase productivity, it all goes back to motivated, talented and engaged employees.
And this hinges–not necessarily on employment policy from the Treasury–but on world-class HR.
Do you agree?