Episode 2

Employee Engagement For New And Existing Hires!

In this episode, Chris interviews Employee Engagement expert Simon Morden Of Prosell Learning Ltd to discuss how organisations can use technology to increase Employee Engagement levels for new and existing hires.

About my guest

Simon a founder of Prosell Learning has spent the last 30+ years in the engagement and coaching space.  Of particular interest is that Prosell have developed a mobile coaching and performance improvement platform called On.Board – a SaaS digital solution. It is being used in the US with Comcast Inc and UK across many sectors in technical, service, operations and sales environments for compliance, skills, product and onboarding programmes.

Transcript

[Chris]: Welcome to Oven-Ready HR. This is the podcast that aims to demystify and deconstruct HR best practices for the start-up and SME sectors. This week’s episode considers employee engagement in terms of new hires and existing employees. And to discuss this very hot topic, my guest this week is Simon Morden.

Simon is an absolute expert in this field. Having spent 35 years within the learning and development sector and is currently the chief exec and chairman of Prosell Learning, based in—. Where are you based? You’re based in Middlesex, right?

[Simon]: We’re based in West London—a place called Twickenham. Where they play a very strange game with an oval ball.

[Chris]: As per London. 

[Simon]: None of our intellectual clients know anything about, which they’re very sensible. 

[Chris]: Anyway, Prosell Learning has developed a mobile coaching, a performance improvement platform, called On.Board. It’s a SAS digital solution. It’s being used at the moment in the US and the UK across many sectors, actually. Technical service, operations, and sales environments for compliance skills, product, and onboarding programmes, which we’ll come on to. 

The main difference about On.Board is compared to most digital learning and systems, it has features, which focus on not just delivering learning but ensuring that the learning is applied to impact performance. Which I think is the Holy grail, really. On.Board is a digital product driving the quality of human interaction, and this really kind of chimes into Prosell’s legacy values. It’s not the knowing. It’s actually the doing. So, it’s a really, really practical, pragmatic application. So, Simon. How would you define employee engagement?

[Simon]: Yeah, I think sort of it comes in many flavours. Doesn’t it, Chris? I think that the start point is a base definition that it is about the sort of emotional commitment, and I mean, commitment that an individual employee shows to their role and the organisation. So, it’s a measure of emotional commitment. That kind of comes out if you like. You can see it in discretionary effort. So, people going the extra mile, I guess you’d say—people doing the extra thing. 

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: That’s where the thought becomes doing. You mentioned knowing to doing. So, emotional engagement, emotional commitment, only really happens when you do something different, and I think that’s the key area, which is around seeing changes in behaviour. 

So, typically, you’d see people—when I say, “Going the extra mile,” it’s not necessarily working late to Chris and all that kind of stuff, which people talk about. It’s more about, are they willing to help others problem solve at work? Are they looking to engage people when they feel they’re a bit lonely, particularly poignant at the moment in this kind of COVID world we’re in? 

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: But they’re just trying to do more outside their actual specific role, and that’s where you see true emotional engagement. The other biggest measure of it for us over the years of doing this is their ability to describe what they do and the fact that it’s a great place to work, and why don’t you come and work here as well? That’s probably the biggest one—recommender, I guess you call it. 

[Chris]: I mean, this is really Holy Grail stuff for HR directors. I mean, because a lot of time and effort and a lot of resources sort of driven into engagement, and people are very worried about their engagement levels. In the sectors that you’ve worked mainly, where do you think we are in the UK in terms of having an engaged workforce? 

[Simon]: Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. There’s an absolute ton load of research on that, which I’m sure a lot of the people can dig into themselves, but you’d definitely say we’re better at it than we were 20 years ago. Okay? 

[Chris]: Okay.

[Simon]: People are more aware of it. No question. Also, I think the thing to say, “Oh, we’re better in the UK.” I think you then got to split it down classically with all data modelling and look at the different types of organisations. Also, more specifically, I think, do you know the biggest measure? Just look across at the leaders in those organisations and how they try and drive that culture.

[Chris]: Yep. 

[Simon]: Typically, it’s like the schools, isn’t it? It’s the same thing. You get a good headmistress, headmaster, head person, whatever is politically correct.

[Chris]: A super head. 

[Simon]: Yeah, a super head. You will have super kids.

[Chris]: Yeah. Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, I think it does come from the top, and I think you’re right in that, actually. Leadership does really drive engagement, and maybe sometimes, it’s easier, would you say, in start-ups and SMEs to actually have that levelling of engagement, or higher level than perhaps a more established or legacy firm?

[Simon]: Yeah. Yeah, I think a new start-up, if people have got the right kind of ideas. I think there is a danger in that. That you’re assuming that the people who are entrepreneurial and driving those start-ups necessarily get the people piece. You see quite a lot of companies. We do a lot of work with people that are growing very quickly. 

[Chris 00:05:07]: Yeah.

[Simon]: The kind of leaders of those organisations, the ones that have the great ideas, particularly in this digital world as well, having experienced a lot of that. They’ll come up with a great idea. They’ll set the wheels in motion, but they will forget to take the people with them, and it’s not unusual. And that’s not an age-related thing. I don’t say that in a defensive sense—

[Chris]: No.

[Simon]: –because I’m sort of past my solid days, but it’s more about just—it’s far more about their mindset and whether they’re turned on by the fact that they’ve got to engage their people more. In fact, you’re seeing more and more younger people complaining that actually, we’re not getting reviews. We’re not getting coached. We’re not getting the support we need. 

That’s to your original question about, “Are we getting better?” Yes, we are over the last 20-30 years, but are we where we need to be? I think, interestingly enough, if somebody said, “What has COVID ever done for you?” Which is a strange question, I know. But actually, what it’s done is, it’s amplified this concern that a lot of people have that they don’t get that level of support and engagement. So, in some ways, I know it sounds completely and utterly ironic, but there may be some good things that come out that actually wake people up to saying, “How do we better engage with our people?” We’re almost being forced into it.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: Because we will lose good people, and that’s already happening. 

[Chris]: Yeah. Yeah. Do you think that there is obviously some resistance that some employees actually don’t want to be engaged? And they’re very happy actually to come in and do the job as it says on the piece of paper, which they’ve signed up to in their employment contract and actually go home and then forget about it.

[Simon]: Yeah. Of course. 

[Chris]: And there’s some people that you will never reach. 

[Simon]: Yeah, Absolutely. Absolutely. 

[Chris]: Okay.

[Simon]: I think there are, and I think you’ve got to be realistic. I think a lot of people in our sort of work and when you get into sort of learning performance improvements and think you can change everything. Well, you can’t. What you’re trying to do is shift the 60% that probably sit in the middle. You know?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: 20% will always be there. There’ll be running the team events in the evenings, whether that’s virtually or physically present, I think is the expression we use now. 

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: And they’ll be doing that, but then there’ll be 60% will be watching what’s happening, and the course, there will be maybe between 10 and 20% of people that actually, as you rightly say for all the right reasons, are very happy doing what they’re doing.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: So, what you don’t try and do in a leadership role is try and change everybody into your perfect person. [That’s what I absolutely think.]

[Chris]: Okay. So, what you would say is that you would concentrate very much then a, on maintaining your top 20% in terms of their levels of engagement and performance. But also moving the dial slightly on the 60%, and actually, that would make a very big difference too, let’s say overall performance. 

[Simon]: Huge, huge, and then this goes back and not to forget the other people, obviously, and again, that shifts. Your background’s very strong in recruitment, so that shifts the way you recruit people. So, you look for people with the kind of mindset that is about, how can I get better? I want to have some fun at work. How do I make sure I have fun? Because you’re there a long time. I believe now people are staying even longer. So, I don’t know. People will be retiring at 80, maybe soon—living [past] 120 or whatever. So, therefore, you’ve got to make this workplace a really good, fun place to be as well, and they get a lot from it. So, there’s some massive challenges about that.

So, to your point, yes. Absolutely. If you could shift the dial on those 60, you would have huge impact. And that goes back to research done in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, into the two thousands about this whole point about discretionary effort, employee engagement, what drives it?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: But still, we tend to focus on end results, not inputs. And that’s still the challenge for leadership to focus on what you’re actually doing with your team, not just measuring the output of the team. 

[Chris]: Okay. Prosell, obviously, it’s an international company. You have obviously a lot of clients in the United States, and I think Asia Pacific also is a key region for you. Do you apply, really the same sort of techniques? Do you think it’s a global technique, or do you think you kind of change things to fit cultural norms in those regions or countries? 

[Simon]: Yeah. That’s a great question. I think by default, you do tweak what you do, and I don’t mean you change it dramatically. I mean, you just are very sensitive to the culture. So, in certain cultures, and again, I think we’ve got to be careful here to talk about a culture, but also talk about the sort of leadership and the type of organisation within that culture. 

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: So, we’ve tended to work more with larger companies when we work internationally. So, it would be unfair of me to judge near 95-97% of the small or medium-sized companies and how they work. 

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: But in the main, yes. You would say there are differences. For example, even [not] our great neighbours, which I know people are talking about a lot today over the channel. Where everybody eats herring and things like that. We actually have a great respect, and we do a lot of work in France, Germany, et cetera. But in France because of their education system and they are super people to work with. But they learn a slightly different way, and therefore, when you’re running these kinds of programmes, you have to be sensitive to that because it is far more they are sort of more top-down telling sort of environment. Now, we’re trying to get people to collaborate more, problem-solve, et cetera. 

So, you’ve got to be careful about how you just temper your approach. But ultimately, you want to get them using the techniques, which we know work, which is about engagement, collaboration, et cetera. Very similar. So, we did a lot of work in India as well, and that was an absolute delight. Learnt a heck of a lot there, and again, it’s a fairly ordered system in terms of the sort of levels people are at. So, it’s fairly hierarchical compared to what you’d be used to in a similar organisation in the UK. But again, they work with those whole principles. They can seal the [seat] in the [vanny? inaudible 00:10:55], but you do it in a slightly different way. 

[Chris]: Okay. And in terms of, we’ve touched a little bit on leadership and how that impacts upon engagement. Obviously, a lot of employees are not particularly close to, let’s say, the CEO or the board of these organisations. They’re far too distant. So, often it comes down to managers and supervisors. So, what would you say is the role of the manager and the supervisor in terms of engaging their direct reports?

[Simon]: Yeah. Yeah. For me, it would almost be it is their role.

[Chris]: Right. 

[Simon]: And their role is to do that, to facilitate the development of their people, give them chances to explore, give them chances to challenge, and all those things. I think it’s a good point you make. I think though those people are probably that sort of, if you say middle to first line, but the people that influence the behaviour of those people on the front line. People come to work to do a good job. For people to think they come to work to do a bad job is ridiculous.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: And therefore, it’s the role of the manager to get the best from those people. And you can see by attrition, look at all the research, all the facts that people don’t leave necessarily just because of the job. But the biggest cause is normally the way in which they’re managed and developed.

[Chris]: So, that age-old saying, “People don’t leave jobs. They leave managers.” 

[Simon]: Yeah. I think there’s more than a little bit of truth in that one. Well, we know there is because of the whole point if you look at some of the studies about motivation, and all those areas. So, even back to 2004, a big piece of research done by CEB (Corporate Exec Board) engaged employees, 57% increased discretionary effort, 87% reduction in desire to leave. It doesn’t, and there are 20, 30, 40 different studies that prove the same thing. Yet, we still sometimes struggle with doing the things that are common sense. 

[Chris]: Yeah. Okay. So, obviously, managers—so, we’re saying managers have a great deal of influence on engagement levels. So, what skills do managers need to have? I mean, when you work with supervisors, managers, middle managers, whatever they are, what skills are you trying to bring out? What are you trying to tell them or teach them? 

[Simon]: Yeah, I think we try to get them to be very clear in about five areas, really. Firstly, that they clarify what their expectations are and make sure that people understand that and are committed to that. Then they spend some time, and this is quite interesting in terms of how many hours a month they spend on good quality review and coaching. So, you’ll see a massive difference between organisations that spend a minimum of three hours as opposed to those that don’t spend any and in terms of performance, attrition, engagement.

So, the second one is very much around being able to understand how they’re applying their skills. Then the third area is making sure that they give them the necessary coaching to get those skills. Hook them up with other people. The great thing about this world we’re in now, it’s not difficult. You could look at it as the fact, okay, there’s this huge challenge of not being physically present. But there’s a huge opportunity to reach out to people for mentorships and things to say, “Hey, I could use a bit of support for this person here in our organisation. This colleague needs some support in this area.”

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: So, that’s the sort of third area, and then the fourth area is make sure that if there is any development, anything that gives them recognition. Anything that’s relevant. Not just now, but to their future roles and make sure they get that. Then the fifth area is to make sure that you are evaluating how they’re receiving all of that development, how they’re performing, what impact that’s having, and then feeding that back into the loop.

So, it’s really kind of five pillars, really. Clarity on expectation, diagnosis, making sure they’re committed to it, giving them the coaching and development, and then just measuring how that goes on. That sounds very easy, of course.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: But there’s a bit to that. 

[Chris]: Sure, and recently, well, perhaps not so recently, but you’ve moved very much into the digital space.

[Simon]: Yeah, yeah.

[Chris]: And developed new services and products around that. How’s that? How’s that sort of helping, would you say, measure engagement? Tell us a little bit more about On.Board. 

[Simon]: Yeah. I mean, it’s really interesting. A colleague of mine [had gone solo]. I think you’ve met Chris.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: He was very instrumental in the development of that for a very large US company. We’re allowed to use the name—Comcast. 

[Chris 00:15:30]: Okay. 

[Simon]: And you’ll probably see it in a lot of box sets that you watch. I’m not saying that you watch a lot of box sets, but anyone who watches that, and you’ll see their name. Their biggest challenge was in onboarding, and they had lots of learning management systems. We won’t go into the name obviously on here, and very well-known learning management system that was set up to do the onboarding. 

But the problem was—no surprise. Just pertinent to our earlier sort of conversation was their local managers and leaders weren’t necessarily getting back to them with feedback on how they were doing thru their onboarding process. 

[Chris]: Okay.

[Simon]: Because there wasn’t a mechanism to drive what we call a performance hub.

[Chris]: Right.

[Simon]: So, what was happening, somebody was coming on board, and the thing that most people worry about when they first join an organisation is who am I going to have a sandwich with at my first lunchtime?

[Chris]: I think about it every day. 

[Simon]: Yeah, absolutely. Prior to induction. Yeah. 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: So, the issue there was, well, how do we make sure that people are nudged prior to joining to make sure they reach out to the individuals joining their team? How do we make sure they’re hooked up with the right kind of people to support them as they go thru and learn, whether they’re an engineer, salesperson, admin member— whatever? How do we make sure they’re pre-boarded properly and onboarded?

So, our product was born out of a frustration from—the initially, one, but I’m pleased to say now many more organisations about when people are learning things, how do we make sure we get the feedback practice? So, you can upload practice. You can get feedback. You can have a social group on it, but it’s all geared towards getting better at doing certain things that give you confidence to enjoy your work.

[Chris]: Okay.

[Simon]: So, in essence, it’s kind of the digital paradigm for me, this thing. I don’t know if that’s the right way to term it, but it’s actually in the very thing or the very approach, which is aimed almost reducing into human interaction, which is kind of digital world AI, et cetera.

[Chris]: Yep.

[Simon]: Artificial intelligence.

[Chris]: Yep.

[Simon]: Here’s the paradox. It actually can be used to drive more human reactions. So, you can actually get people to communicate more in an effective way if you set it up with a hub that nudges people to do those things. So, On.Board is about using digital to drive performance by making sure people talk more about the right stuff. 

[Chris]: Yeah. Okay. Interesting. I mean, in terms of new hires. So, a new hire joining a firm, whether it’s a Comcast or another organisation, do you think people go through sort of various stages? So, you’re a new hire. You don’t know the culture of the organisation. As you say, you don’t really know who to reach out to. The experience is all brand new, and people are naturally very—they can be very nervous about joining a new firm. It’s a big move for anybody, and people often get that sort of post-purchase dissonance where they think, Have I done the right thing? Have I joined the right firm? Would you say that the system that you’ve developed sort of really helps them sort of overcome some of those concerns? 

[Simon]: Yeah, I think it’s an excellent point. Again, going back to where it was developed, that was exactly the concern. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, which is there’s a kind of curve. 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: The excitement of joining drops off very quickly, depending on the level of engagement and support you’re given. It’s a no brainer. Do you meet the right kind of people that can help you as you progress? Can you quite clearly say to people, “By the way, this isn’t the job I signed up for.” Now, that happens an awful lot to people because as particularly at the moment when people are doing probably more than their role, and it’s a very common thing. 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: I think you mentioned start-ups, smaller companies. You’re always going to have roll creep, as we call it. It all goes right outside, and some people call it something slightly ruder, but there you go. So, what you have to do is you have to have people who are able to say, “Yeah, for sure. It has expanded. That probably isn’t the key thing about your role.” So, therefore, how are you feeling about that? And all those kinds of things. 

So, if you build that into your induction programme and ongoing programmes, so if you go, we’ll look at induction being sort of people talk three months, six months, I think it goes on into that first year. I think there are, but what you do is you just turn the tap down a bit in terms of numbers of activity. You don’t want to just keep—you’ve fought so hard on the panel in the first three months. A lot of interventions, a lot of support, and then you just gradually temperate. But there’s still the opportunity for people to say, “Hey, this is getting worse for me. What can you do to help me?” 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: That’s the key thing. It sounds very sort of altruistic, but it works. There’s no debate. You can see the data, and the lovely thing about the digital world is you can track stuff. As long as you track the right stuff, of course, which is a big debate at the moment with what’s going on. But you can track stuff. 

So, one of the classic things that we’re able to track, which I found fascinating, was the fact that if we saw—so, say you had something like 100-200 new starters, new hires, of various roles. You can track the speed at which the—what we call their manager or line manager or approval or feedback. They got back to them with feedback on a particular activity and said, “Good job. Well done,” or, “Hey, what about this? Actually, that hasn’t quite hit the mark. I think you need to kind of revisit this activity. Let’s do some work together.” 

You could see the correlation between those that got back quickly and with good sort of solid feedback. Not reams of it. Just very clear, very concise feedback. You can see the correlation between them and their people’s voluntary attrition rates and also their performance after nine months. So, you can actually track it, and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that engagement is driven by those proper formulate conversations that happen. Some of them can be informal, some formal, but they have to happen. As in the famous saying by John Donne, “No man is an Island.”

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: And you have to give people that feeling of engagement. 

[Chris]: Okay, and do you think you can build engagement if it’s been lost somehow in an organisation? Do you think you can get it back?

[Simon]: Yes. 

[Chris]: Or once gone is always gone?

[Simon]: It’d be very tempting for me to say, “Oh, yes. We could always do that.” I think it would be slightly trite to say that. I think, sometimes, because of the values and the, sadly, self-interest of certain leadership groups. This is not a norm, by the way, but it’s an outlier. I think if you have people like that who are key leaders within the business are probably owners as well that don’t want to move on. Don’t want to sort of bring up people with some of those more adroit skills of engagement, and I think you are going to have problems to change that—definitely. But I’m pleased to say that’s not the norm, and in most cases, with most people, they’re pretty reasonable, and you can get them to think about the logic of what you’re trying to do. And also, you can [inaudible 00:22:46].

So, in terms of solving the problem to your question, I think it’s more about solving the problem of leadership and management level than it is solving the problem at the employee level. You can definitely reach out to employees and say, “Look, the world’s changed now. Do you want to come on board with this one?” 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: But I think in the main, people will do that. Again, particularly if they’re still there in that organisation. 

[Chris]: Yeah. Yeah, and I think, also, that actually things that are will be changing really from sort of the bottom-up as well. Because those entering the workforce now, the millennials, the generations X, they actually do want high levels of engagement, and they do want to be very proud of the organisation they work for. Money for them isn’t really everything. Yes. It’s important. Of course, it is. Are they willing to experience, and it is all about the experience? I think they do want to. They want to have a voice. They want to have a say over how their work develops, how their career develops, and have a real part to play in any organisation. 

So, I think it’s going to be incumbent upon owners, managers, leaders to actually now try and engage this workforce and sort of meet them at least halfway. So, I’m almost feeling that it’s going to happen anyway, whether you like it or not. 

[Simon]: For real, but I mean, that’s a great thing, and I think we ought to be optimistic about that. Again, I think that’s probably been exacerbated a little bit by the COVID phase. This whole working from home. What are my expectations? You get a lot of time to think about yourself. Haven’t you now?

[Chris]: There’s a lot of self-reflection. Yeah, but I agree with what you said earlier. I think we don’t have anything to be frightened about digital or artificial intelligence. Because in a way, they’re—well, you probably have done endless Zoom meetings with clients and colleagues, but in a way, it’s kind of humanised us all a little bit more. And we’ve actually seen inside people’s homes, and we’ve met their partners and their pets who walk on camera when not expecting them to see them. In a way, we would never have had that before if it hadn’t been for Teams or Zoom or any of those platforms. So, do you think that—that again, is an interesting concept for you? 

[Simon]: You mean the home working?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: Yeah. I find it fascinating. We’re lucky enough to be working with an organisation that has been home working since 2006.

[Chris]: Pioneers.

[Simon]: They’re absolute Pioneers, and they set up the site. They set up this organisation based on very strong values about giving people the chance to work, who really couldn’t go into work, and this is because of their physical ability and also their confidence to work in an office environment.

[Chris]: Right. 

[Simon]: So, they created, and what they did was they set them up as almost like you would call, in very simplistic terms, an overspill call centre. So, if you’ve got too much traffic coming in at particular times, we don’t want to employ lots more people within the organisation. So, we want to have the ability to turn on and off the tap, so we can then move overflows into this group of people.

That company has grown and grown, and you can imagine at the moment, they’re just kept going gangbusters in terms of what they’re doing because they’ve learnt how to drive home working. 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: What’s interesting to me, which I think is linked into what you were talking about was actually, there was a sort of initial moment where I talked to a lot of people of various ages, but mainly people sort of less than 30 years old or less than 40 who say, “Actually, I really enjoy working home.” Et cetera, et cetera, and that’s how it started back in March. But we’ve seen a massive change, and actually, do you know what I’m really missing? But the ability to be able to have more fun and problem solve face-to-face. Therefore, what you’ve got now, I think, is even more of a challenge at leadership level is to really understand who can handle it, who can’t? What we’ve got to do? How do we temper this mix of engagement?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: And I think that is a real challenge, and it’s something that actually we’re wrestling with a couple of companies to really understand what works. So, we’ve dipped into some of the very recent research, Harvard research, on why motivation debts working from home. What you can do about it. The emotional pressure, economic pressure at home, leading to inertia. So, therefore, how do you make people more engaged and motivated? Guess what it comes down to? Give them a chance to play, problem-solve stuff. 

[Chris]: Yeah. 

[Simon]: Give them a sense of purpose and then make sure what the hell happens above everything else that you give them a sense to reach their potential, which is this whole development thing, or very obvious stuff. But I think quite interesting—

[Chris]: Very.

[Simon]: –because we’ve seen working at home. By the way, the really interesting piece that comes out of that. If you don’t give them a choice—in other words, they have to work from home—their motivation dips dramatically. If you give them a choice that they can come to a hub every now, it shoots up. 

[Chris]: With mothership.

[Simon]: Yeah, yeah. So, to your point, particularly the younger people, they want to have choice.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: That’s what they’re all about, and I think that’s why you’re going to see this growth in these hubs. Where people [who are not starting / inaudible 00:27:54] from the same organisation can go and be physically present with other people.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: And release—. What’s it called, Chris? What’s the thing called? Oxytocin, isn’t it? That’s right. It’s that hormone. That hormone is one of the four hormones that proves if we’re not physically present, we lose a lot of our quality. 

[Chris]: Yes. I mean, work is a social construct. 

[Simon]: Yeah, absolutely. 

[Chris]: I mean, it’s a social environment. People are very keen on you don’t just go to work to earn money because actually, you want to be part of something. You want to feel that you are doing something that actually is the greater good, or you are generally past something a bit bigger than just working at home. 

[Simon]: Yeah.

[Chris]: And I think we all miss that. People miss that water cooler moment. They miss that a little bit of office gossip. They miss that little bit of all those conversations, which you just don’t have at home. Yes, you get all your housework done very easily and very quickly, and there’s certain benefits to it. But you’re right. We are social animals, and I think that we are missing a huge, great big part of our lives. 

So, hopefully, we’ll be able to at least make a choice, as you say, and some of us will be working from home all the time. Some of us will be, as you say, in the mothership or in a hub whereby we can then obviously interact with people again. But that’s been brilliant. Thank you very much. 

[Simon]: Thanks, Chris. Can I ask you a question now? 

[Chris]: Yeah, go on. 

[Simon]: Yeah, because I’d like to do that. I’m very curious. So, my question is it’s really about because obviously, you do a lot of support for people who are doing the recruitment for HR environments, but also other roles as well. 

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: So, you’re working for recruiting HR and lots of other roles. I was just interested in terms of the conversations you’ve had with people over the last three or four months. What are the things that people are really looking for from the workplace? What are they trying to tap into? What will make a difference for them? What will make them move? 

[Chris]: As a candidate?

[Simon]: Yeah. 

[Chris]: Yeah. Again, I think it’s actually where I think for me that I’ve seen a lot of people that wish to be working for a well-regarded organisation. An organisation that has a real social conscience and has actually gone out of its way to engage with its local community. That’s really important to people now, and I think it’s that reputation. That the market at the moment, of course, it’s very much an employer’s market and not the other way around. But still, I think for people to want to move positions, they do want to work for someone that they think is actually doing some good for the community as a whole. And I think that’s really important, but I think particularly that, again, that’s driven by younger employees or those that are entering the workplace for the very first time. 

[Simon]: Yeah. 

[Chris]: And there’s a real movement to that. So, I think that it’s inherent really upon leaders of organisations that actually, they don’t just pay lip service to sort of corporate social responsibility policies. That actually there is some real meat on what they actually say, and there’s evidence of that because it’s great to work for a visionary company. It’s great to work for something that’s growing exponentially. But at the same time, you do have to bring people with you, and you do have to be seen to be doing something more than just being a profit centre.

[Simon]: Yeah.

[Chris]: So, I think that’s what people have really got into touch with that, I think. 

[Simon]: Yeah. That’s really interesting because that completely reinforces you. I mentioned that company that was about homework.  

[Chris]: Yes. Yeah.

[Simon]: They’ve captured that sort of spirit, a huge piece of it. They’re oversubscribed massively.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Simon]: Their issue’s almost trying to get as many people as they can a chance.

[Chris]: Absolutely.

[Simon]: I’d buy that.

[Chris]: Yeah, and I think organisations, I think it is being driven by various global movements whether it’s Black Lives Matter or NeedTo, or whatever it is.

[Simon]: Yeah.

[Chris]: It’s actually diversity and inclusivity. It’s really important now for people to want to join a firm, whether it is a key policy because actually, it’s good. Where people say, “Oh, you’re not a culture fit for us.” I think it’s inherent really upon employers to employ people that are not necessarily “the culture fit” and actually looked differently and sound different to your other employees.

[Simon]: Yeah.

[Chris]: I think it’s a positive thing and not a negative. 

[Simon]: Yeah. I agree with all of that. Indeed.

[Chris]: Cool. Thanks very much, Simon. 

[Simon]: That’s great, Chris.

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