Marcus Wilson, Marketing & Communications Manager, at Keele University in Staffordshire, warns that above all else, never shelve the training agenda as it is indelibly inked in employee engagement.
Pay freezes, pay cuts and redundancies are, unsurprisingly, resulting in feelings of uncertainty, with motivational levels for those hard-working employees due a promotion likely to plummet, as bosses are forced to make the decision between rewarding their most valued team members, and keeping the business afloat. In the interests of survival, the business always wins. Whilst salary increases, promotions and incentives are traditional tools used to reward staff for a job well done, the climate is restricting many HR departments from being able to offer this type of reward, forcing them to look at alternative methods of keeping their staff engaged and ultimately supporting the growth of the company and its brand.
Pullquote: “Gone are the days when a 20-slide PowerPoint presentation in the office boardroom by a monotone HR manager will do the job. Employees need to feel enthused, motivated and actively involved in the process.”
In such times, many employers can make the mistake of focussing on ensuring that their external brand awareness is the best it can be, spending thousands on re-brands, logos and un-inspiring marketing material, without ensuring their brand values are clear to their own employees. By focussing on the internal message this in turn creates a greater level of confidence in what the company actually stands for amongst its most valuable asset, its employees. Training is a fantastic way of getting the message across about the company ethos to the workforce who will then in turn communicate this to the outside world, increasing employee engagement, motivation and morale, without being too costly. Training serves as an effective way of bonding a team, especially if the internal structure has recently changed due to redundancies. It goes without saying that the more exciting the training event the more likely the staff will be engaged.
Gone are the days when a 20-slide PowerPoint presentation in the office boardroom by a monotone HR manager will do the job. Employees need to feel enthused, motivated and actively involved in the process. An example of a creative training event can be seen within Keele Universities commercial and facilities management directorate who mimicked the format of popular TV show This Morning during a business strategy and HR training session. The session included a pre-recorded message from presenters Philip Schofield and Fern Britton, a cookery demonstration, a phone-in discussion and competition. Rachel Cairns, Head of HR at the directorate, played her part by being interviewed as a celebrity guest on the sofa. She talked about her work life balance, the organisation’s investors in people accreditation and the feedback from action learning groups.
Rachel comments: “We always have an annual address setting out our business goals and looking back at the previous year’s achievements, but here was an opportunity to do something more creative and to say thank you to our staff for all their hard work. Retention is key for everybody this year.” Whilst creativity is key, research our own research has shown just how important it is to take employees out of the work environment, as most people find their work inspiration away from their regular and sometimes mundane setting of the office, in a quiet, rural location. Almost half of those who responded to the research survey said their ideal place to find inspiration is at a rural retreat, with more than 42 percent crediting time away from the office, with their work colleagues, as the best way to get creative juices flowing.
This demonstrates not only the importance of employee engagement in terms of training, but also as a proven method of increasing creative ideas within the workplace. Nearly two thirds of people surveyed said they sometimes struggle to come up with new ideas in the workplace, with nearly 30 percent feeling uninspired at their desks. Almost a third also said exercise helped to inspire and motivate them and over 35 percent admitted to having their best ideas when taking a break away from their desk and office surroundings.
Ensuring the venue is suitable is half the challenge.