A guest blog by Alex Marshall.
I’ve spent my career working in the not for profit (NFP) sector. For the last five years I’ve also worked simultaneously for commercial organisations and start ups in the sport, business, and technology sectors. I specialise in helping organisations provide an excellent employee experience to their workforce. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed between sectors is in their approach and investment in their workforces.
The arrival of the global pandemic crisis has highlighted this difference to me even more starkly. Where NFPs are stripping back all people-related cost centres, many corporate organisations are doubling down on their people strategies and renewing their commitment to their workforce and employee experience.
Why this stark difference in approach?
It would be easy to argue it’s purely down to money. NFPs run on a tight shoestring at the best of times, with many funders refusing to support core people costs.
Tech start-ups are equally at the mercy of multiple sets of investor/funder demands. However, they choose to take a more people-centric approach. They believe that ultimately the people they employ and the experience they give them are the key to survival and success, not services or products. These will only ever be as successful as the talent they employ. In times of crisis, they believe you need the best talent to be creative and innovative, as well as different perspectives to fight fires and solve problems.
Research data supports this. Organisations which invest in their people are more resilient in times of crisis and more sustainable in the long-term. Ultimately they are more successful financially because they are better positioned to attract the broadest range of talent.
Where NFP organisations have an innate advantage in times of crisis is they are built on a strong purpose. This provides a strong sense of direction and inner compass when navigating choppy waters.
Many people dedicate their working lives to NFPs because they want to make a difference to society. They care passionately about the causes they work for. The sector is built on passion and a culture of going ‘above and beyond’, driven by employees’ innate sense of mission. However, when budgets are tight, this can lead to the development of their people being depriotirised because employees will stay in a role because they are passionate about the cause.
Whatever sector you work in it’s easy in a crisis to have a knee jerk reaction to cutting expenditure. This includes cutting investment in recruitment, training, and wellbeing. It’s easy in a crisis to stick with what you know and look for short-term solutions from freelancers, contract staff and consultants. It’s easy in a crisis to focus on your product and services, forgetting the most important element for long term success, which is the experience you give to your employees combined with the quality of their skills, attitude, and motivation to succeed.
Here are my top tips for quick and cost-effective ways to improve the employee experience for your workforce and therefore your long-term success:
- Recruitment – If you are about to embark on a recruitment drive, make sure assets like your website and social media channels are up to date and communicate your values. These will help potential candidates get a feel for your organisation, especially now that they can’t do so in person.
- Onboarding new starters virtually can be daunting for both parties. Consider creating a short welcome film featuring different employees sharing some of their top tips and stories about working for your organisation. This is a great way to connect a new starter to the culture and feel of the organisation.
- Much has changed for organisations in the last three months, so revisit your organisational values. Your organisational values are core principles, which guide behaviour and decision-making; check they still reflect who you say you are and amend/tweak them accordingly.
Alex Marshall runs Spot The Gap, supporting individuals and organisations to be more inclusive and impactful, through better employee engagement, campaigns, and communications. Twitter: @lexymarshall
If you’re looking for cost effective ways to engage and develop your workforce, check out the Lucidity Network – a friendly professional community, that together with online training and coaching, gives members the tools and support to work remotely, manage uncertainty and achieve success at work.