All Work and No Play (2): Think Win-Win

photo: courtesy of

photo: courtesy of

From last week’s post we found that an organization may have the happiest of staff and still not bring in the numbers. Clearly, there’s more to achieving a right balance than just healthy work relationships.

There are several elements that make organizations successful. The ability of an organization to leverage on its strengths and the efficiency in the use of its talent, systems and unique strategies has the ability to set it apart.

Google’s impeccable policies towards ensuring an enabling and balanced environment for work is an outstanding example. Likewise, NetApp for the 12th year has continued to feature on the ‘great place to work‘ list while consistently improving its bottom line.

Balanced organizations share a common theme. In this post, I have put together some useful tips on how Q2 – Q4 organizations can transition into Q1 organizations.

  1. A Clear and Focused Mission targeted at achieving ‘specific’ and ‘measurable‘ goals .
  2. Employee Buy-in: A sense of shared responsibility. Employees’ understanding of roles and how it fits into the overall corporate objective.
  3. An environment that encourages mutual respect: Zero tolerance for morale damaging behaviour, bullying or intimidation.
  4. A culture that supports fairness: Credible processes and meritocracy.
  5. A system that rewards outstanding performance, individual-based as well as team-based.
  6. Investment in employees’ personal and professional development.
  7. Priority placed on the health and safety of employees: Having adequate systems in place to cater to employee health including stress management.
  8. Promoting an environment that encourages innovation.
  9. Accountability: Performance review sessions/meetings which provide an avenue for team bonding, target setting, brainstorming, feedback and recognition.
  10. Predominantly objective rather than subjective performance measures.
  11. Lean model of operation: weeding out waste and inefficiencies in the system.
  12. Q1 organizations drive performance and do not hesitate to stretch employees’ capabilities. ‘Going over and beyond’ is often the mantra.
  13. Job design/re-design with sufficient attention placed on valuable and challenging work. People naturally flourish in their areas of strength. Employee engagement is often higher when tasks are valued by the staff -a feature that often accompanies work which challenges employees’ mental development. In essence, get employees interested, get them to enjoy what they do and you have a winner on your hands!
  14. Open and honest communication: Reducing the power distance by encouraging a free flow of information. Employees, especially subordinates/associates, must feel free to air their thoughts,share ideas and suggest solutions.
  15. Management’s unrelenting commitment to the business, its superordinate goals as well as the value it places on employee contribution, employee welfare and advancement is vital.
  16. Promoting  work-life balance: The idea isn’t to break the bank in order to attain a similar level of commitment like the Googlers. Employing ‘Human Analytics’ is useful for generating data to determine such things as what matters most to employees and which policies would be most appreciated.

The key is to attain a fit to context. Hence, there is the need to understand your business, know your people and in so doing, design systems, processes and the organization’s structure to support a healthy work environment and at the same time, optimizing value.


Recruitment and Selection (R&S): A Unique Opportunity

Recruitment & Selection

photo: courtesy of

Ever attended one of those assessment centres where you were made to feel comfortable and at ease? Treated with the utmost respect and catered to in such a way that you almost forgot where you were or the purpose for your attendance? Kudos to those firms who go to the lengths of reimbursing participants’ transportation and accommodation bills.

Compare the preceding to a poorly organized test/interview session where candidates are packed into a poorly ventilated space; instructions thrust like reprimands and facilitators easily mistaken for boot-camp instructors. It gets worse! There have been instances where there was absolutely no respect for the candidates’ personal time and sessions began hours later than they had previously been scheduled to commence.

One thing is clear; the little things do matter. People are generally reactive and would usually respond in accordance to how they are being treated. This is why I believe organizations can and should take advantage of the opportunities the ‘Recruitment and Selection’ (R&S) process provides. It could be used as a powerful, yet subtle tool to improve an organization’s brand perception or public image. Likewise, it serves as a platform to ensure successful candidates are those who value their employer, are proud to be associated with the brand and ultimately, ready to stay the long haul.

Countless research findings have established a link between an effective R&S strategy and an organization’s  overall performance. Nevertheless, while there may exist a relationship between a firm’s R&S strategy and the employees’ subsequent satisfaction, it should be noted that individual differences, interests and ‘motivation’ all play an equally important role irrespective of the R&S strategy applied.

Without a doubt, a well thought out and executed candidate-centred R&S session holds great potential. The benefit to the organization far outweighs the costs of not engaging in same and could very well assist organizations achieve a spot reserved for a few – the employer of first choice!

Implication for HR:

For firms that would rather outsource the R&S function: it behoves the HR department to ensure a ‘values’ match.  Vendors must be educated about the impact of service quality on the company’s brand and ultimately, its bottom line.

Alternatively, when R&S is conducted in-house, staff are to be encouraged to deliberately portray behaviours that are in accordance with the company’s core values as well as any existing stakeholder retention policies.

The candidate’s experience does matter. The benefit (to the firm) may be viewed in terms of:

  • The Brand: R&S provides a cheaper alternative of promoting a company’s image. Savings in advertising costs are inevitable when a room filled with candidates help to spread the word about an exceptional experience.
  • The Quality of staff: R&S conducted with a candidate-centred approach may in the short-term endear the candidate to the organization and in the long-term go a long way in ensuring employees ‘feel’ engaged to the firm.

In conclusion, some benefit is always better than none. However, the extent to which a candidate-centred R&S strategy is employed depends largely on how much a firm values its brand outlook.