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Part One: Emerging HR Trends with Arnold Muoki - Employer branding, Employee experience and Employee development.

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In this 2-part series we take a look at 5 emerging HR trends. Be sure to check out part two, covering Flexible work schedule and Feedback.

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With the first half of 2019 in the rear-view mirror, it’s a good time to highlight notable trends in the labour market. Arnold Muoki, a renown HR expert, breaks down developments that have impacted how people work and require HR practitioners to pay attention to in order retain the best talent.

In recent years HR has embraced marketing in defining company culture and brand. How important is it for companies to build their employer brand? 

Employer brand is the face and true definition of the character of the organization. As a legal person, a company’s brand speaks to her values and characteristic traits, all aspects that make her unique to all others. Such aspects determine the organizations interaction with its various internal and external stakeholders and alludes to its intended purpose, expected outcomes and desired road map to achieve the latter.

That said, the risk of not intentionally carving out an employer brand is by default ending up with a brand only that it’s not been intentionally developed, you have no control over and worse still one that misrepresents you. Its real harm lies in the likelihood of engaging with the wrong partners, your stakeholders going through unwanted experiences and most of all less than desirable business outcomes.

Organizations are shifting from ‘one-size-fits-all’ HR-practices and are adopting an approach that creates more job satisfaction and increase productivity for individuals. What are some of the ways that organizations can improve employee experiences?

Many organizations are waking up to the fact that employee experience is core to the customer experience and satisfaction index. Each year companies invest enormous amount of resources in training employees on how to conduct themselves. Granted, in the current economy where there is cutting edge competition for the customer’s attention and money the importance of such training can never be over emphasized. It has however dawned on many executives that even the best surface actors cannot outlast the deep level emotions, the authenticity of deep acting will eventually come to the surface.

Richard Branson was quoted saying this at one point, "I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.’’ . The customer experience approach starts from within. Look at it this way, your employees, offer you an inexpensive ground for leadership to train and learn on their intended customer service philosophy. To be an example to their employees and through action learning (as well as experiential learning) set organizational standards for business conduct. 

With the growing sensitization in the appreciation of both legal and social differences, the world is moving from focusing on surface level diversity (Such as tribe, culture, inability, gender), to an appreciation of deep level diversity (Simply meaning the appreciation of different groups values and interests.) As such, organizations are focusing more on the different employee groups based on things they value and are interested in. 

Adopting the individualist versus the collectivist strategy in determining employee preferences has led to refined and enriched the data collected by employers which will best advice their choices of organizational – employee strategies such as compensation and benefits. These approaches will most definitely help improve employees’ and subsequently customers’ experiences and satisfaction at all touchpoints. 

CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

Going by these famous quotes by Peter Baeklund, why is it critical for organizations to have learning and development programs? 

It seems like a no brainer to most that employers who want to thrive must be willing to engage in employee training, yet with the debate on the investment on employee development versus the risk of developed employees leaving frequently featuring in many boardroom agendas. In fact, such debates only get intense as resources become scarce and the C- suite has to make some tough decisions. The line has been drawn and the real question is simple, to develop or not to develop? In an attempt to answer, let’s take a walk down memory lane. The 80s and the 90s were ages of baby boomers dominating the workplace, my parents were part of a vibrant workforce who are best characterized as loyalist. Most spent their careers with one employer. Fast forward to present day and the workplace is a mosaic of five generations with baby boomers as the minority group. The generations comprise of a more mobile and willing to risk employees.

So, why develop them? Let’s not forget that all organizations have a vision, mission, values, business objectives and strategies that are further derived into key outcomes/ results and initiatives. Simply said, there is a lasting impact or difference (overall goal) that your organization desires to achieve, which can only be done through a specific means by applying the skills its employees possess, using tools and processes to make them more efficient. Strategy on the other hand are the various plans put in place to help progress the organization’s overall goals. All these elements of business success form learning and development needs as the business interacts with the environment through its lifetime.

For maximum achievement of desired outcomes, the organization ought to ensure that it grows its internal capabilities to be able to respond to the market needs and here lies the need to develop employees. This is because while the overall goal for your organization may transcend through years to almost a lifetime, the communities in which the impact is to be achieved keep on changing with that change being more frequent with few moments of stability that are far in between. As such employees must be developed to acquire the required soft and hard skills to help the organization to operate optimally.

The concern over the longevity of an employees’ stint in an organization is one that can be addressed through well laid out retention plan, employee experience and employer branding strategies. Just to mention but a few. If you consider the reality that employee attrition is a given, considering that Mother Nature herself contributes to exits through involuntary separation (E.g. Death, Incapacitation). Employers ought not to focus on the ‘what ifs’ but to the best of their ability manage the ‘then ifs’ by designing programs known as the succession plan and business continuity plan.

Read part two: Emerging HR trends with Arnold Muoki – flexible work schedule and employee feedback.

 

Author 

  

Arnold Muoki is a senior people capital and culture strategist. He holds a MSc. HRM, is a full member of IHRM and has a valid practicing license. He has an unwaivering desire to aligning organizational elements, improving their impact in the community as well as developing the capacity of youth through initiatives such as training, coaching, mentoring to prepare them for the job market. 

 

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