Insight article

Save money – develop your people

As The Times publishes its Times Top 100 companies to work for, it comes as little surprise that the focus of this article by Sue Leonard is on the costs that can be saved by keeping your staff happy. And keeping your staff happy has as much to do with employee engagement and maintaining personal and career growth opportunities as it does paying them a good salary.

Dr Pete Bradon, head of research at Best Companies Limited, says ‘The figures are staggering,’ and ‘those who do really well on engagement have much lower staff turnover.’ When it costs an average of £7,750 to recruit a new member of staff (and even then it may be some time before they reach the pinnacle of productivity), suddenly the cumulative cost – and we’re talking millions of pounds for some companies – of losing a significant percentage of your people makes your eyes water.

This isn’t new news, of course. But it’s a fact. Senior managers will be nodding their heads wisely in their boardrooms, no doubt, on reading the evidence that has surfaced, yet again, that employee engagement should be seen as an investment rather than a cost. Yet we are constantly amazed at the attitude of many companies which purport to support employee engagement yet aren’t prepared to dedicate anywhere near enough financial resources to it.  As if it’ll just ‘happen’ on its own.

Why? Perhaps it’s because of risk, intangibility and the inability to correlate emotional connection directly with the concrete bottom line. The big problem with the term ‘employee engagement’ is that it can become a nebulous blur of all sorts of activity ranging from crucial, sustainable strategic communication and engagement in change, to one-hit wonders such as head massages, family fun days, Christmas supermarket trolley dashes round the office handing out mince-pies and ipods and so on. Not the best return on investment in the latter case I would say…and I think you can probably guess where we would recommend the money is spent.

Bosses should have a quick look at their staff turnover data, work out the maths, and then we might start to see a shift in dedicated resource. Once ‘employee engagement’ has been identified as a key driver for success, they can then start to take action. And a whole new industry in defining what type of ‘engagement’ activity is the most effective in this area is just waiting to be born…

Nailia Tasseel