human resources

New year is the perfect time to get your team issues sorted

Engel Schmidl /

It’s the start of a new year – hopefully you had a chance to rest and refresh over the break. Now is the perfect time to think about the year ahead and prioritise things within your business.

Of course, this includes your people initiatives. Before things get hectic again, take some time to consider what initiatives you plan on putting in place to get the best out of your team. This may not seem as important as enhancing your business operations or improving and expanding your product lines, but those of us ‘in the know’, understand that it’s your people who can make the biggest difference to your bottom line, so investing time planning your people initiatives is definitely time well spent.

So where to start? Think about what created your people headaches last year. There are probably some obvious things that come to mind. Perhaps you’re struggling to find the right talent for your business and need to focus on your recruitment needs and methods so that you don’t continue to make the wrong hiring decisions? Or maybe there was a particular performance or conduct issue that kept you up at night last year that you need to address now so it doesn’t keep recurring.

Another approach is to go straight to the source. We’re currently working with a client to develop an engagement survey for their business. They recognised that the best way to help them understand their people needs was to simply ask their employees. The survey creates an opportunity for their employees to provide feedback on what it’s like to work within their business and what they need in order to be successful within their roles. If a survey isn’t your thing, then conducting a few listening sessions/workshops with your team will do the trick as well.

Once the responses have been received and the results analysed, you can easily determine what the key people priorities are for the year (there are a heap of online survey tools out there, a lot of them free, to help you build a great survey and make collecting and reporting the results a cinch!). Not only that, if you’re smart about it, you can get back a whole bunch of clever ideas from your employees that you may never have thought of otherwise.

We’re very aware that in a lot of businesses, engagement surveys don’t exactly have the best reputation, which often results in low participation levels. They’re seen as having ‘good intentions but poor execution’. So to help avoid this perception and ensure strong participation levels, there are a few things we think you should keep in mind if you’re going to develop one for your business:

1. Keep it relevant. Make sure you cover topics that are important within your business and that are general enough so that your employees can actually contribute.

2. Keep it short. Engagement surveys should take a matter of minutes, not hours to complete.

3. Be transparent. Communicate a summary of the survey results to your employees including the good, the bad and even the ugly. Most importantly, let your employees know that you’ve heard them. Outline the things that the business will action in order to improve things and be sure to address any employee concerns.

4. Sweeten the deal. Include an incentive e.g. free lunch for the team/department with the highest percentage of completed surveys by a certain date. Or, if your team is small, a free lunch for everyone if the whole team takes part!

5. Finally, understand that talk is cheap. Take the opinions and ideas of your employees seriously and make sure you do the things you said you would do.

It’s not called an engagement survey for nothing – eliciting opinions and ideas from your team is a great way of getting them to feel involved and valued. The added bonus is that you’ll also have a working list of people initiatives to see you through the year and most importantly, you’ll be sure they are the right ones to focus on, making it a Happy New Year for everyone!

Janelle McKenzie and Abiramie Sathiamoorthy are the co-founders of E&I People Solutions. Janelle has a hands-on background in HR, her philosophy is all about providing practical solutions that offer businesses real value. Abiramie has worked with a range of different businesses to set up or enhance their people processes with an end goal to help create high-performing teams.

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