Employers must keep workers engaged
In the face of mass public sector layoffs, private sector restructuring and fear among workers, employers are being cautioned to pay close attention to their remaining employees and ensure they are fully engaged.
Addressing an audience at the Barbados Best Employers (BBE) Awards ceremony at the Hilton Barbados today, Rosalind Jackson, managing director of Caribbean Catalyst, which organized the event, said it was critical employers kept their workers engaged in their jobs and lead effectively, especially after some of their workers were severed.
“Disengaged employees who stay are very toxic and costly. If they are going nowhere then they have to be meaningfully switched on. That is what real leaders do,” she said.
She said that historically, in a vibrant economy, staff retention was seen as the key measure of employee engagement. This, however, has shifted significantly, said the human resource and talent management consultant.
“We have high and rising levels of unemployment. The most recent available numbers from the Barbados Statistical Service suggested it’s close to 12 per cent. Do not pat yourself on the back for no or low turnover before examining the reality,” said Jackson.
“Our attitudes to employee engagement and leadership effectiveness and truly understanding their financial impact also need to dramatically shift. Because of the difficult and uncertain economy, retaining talent may seem easier on the surface, but, and I mean a huge but, keeping that talent motivated and performing well against a backdrop of redundancies, salary freezes and other cutbacks make genuine engagment and leadership effectiveness exceedingly important.”
International consultant and strategist John Spence said when laying off workers it was critical that employers treat them fairly and humanely as possible. This, he said, could determine if workers who remain make or break the company, whether it be private or public sector or non-profit organizations.
He was speaking to members of the media following the event, which saw Globe Finance Inc. and RBC Insurance Company Limited walking away with the awards for the small and medium sized categories respectively.
“The key is fairness,” said Spence.
“Layoffs don’t have to be painful . . . it is when your company is doing great and your CEO is making a ton of money and everyone is doing great and they are doing layoffs just to make numbers or just to get shareholder turn, that [workers] realize they don’t care about [them], they just care about the numbers.”
Spence said if employees who were severed were treated “well” in the process then those who remained on the job would remain motivated in their jobs.
The author and advisor added that once a company created a good culture and paid employees fairly then that company would attract top talent. He said on the flip side, however, if the employer paid well but treated employees poorly because they believed they would not be able to find employment elsewhere given the economic climate only the greedy workers would remain.
“Truly talented people won’t stand for those sort of threats; they will go find a job some place else; but the people who know that no one else will hire them, they are the only ones that will stand that sort of atmosphere and eventually you will have the worst of the worst working for you right before you go into bankruptcy,” Spence cautioned.