Improve the culture to close the doors on an exodus

01 November 2016 Nazlie Samodien, Edcon

While South Africa is dealing with an economy which is severely under strain, the public is finding it harder to make ends meet.

This is having a severe impact on companies who are struggling to come up with innovative employee benefit programmes that will encourage loyalty. How do we design innovative employee benefit options in this environment?

Focus on commitment

At the recent Liberty Employee Benefits Symposium, Nazlie Samodien – General Manager of Remuneration and Benefits at Edcon – did not mince her words when pointing out that an emotionally invested employee is an asset to a company.

“We need to look beyond the benefits we currently offer employees. We need to ask ourselves: how are we creating an environment that encourages personal growth within our organisations that encourage an emotional investment in what we do,” said Samodien.

She followed this statement up by referencing research done in the US where statistics show that a company with engaged employees can increase their revenue by an estimated 10% a year and profitability by $2 400 over the same period.

This number may seem modest, however, it points to the fact that companies with engaged employees outperform those who do not have engaged employees by 202%. This is a statistic that is hard to ignore.

Arrive… work… engage

The obvious way of motivating employees is to create a company culture that they will invest in. Again, this goes beyond company team building days, it is the everyday interactions managers have with the people who work for them.

“Many companies have identified that employee engagement strategies are becoming important parts of their corporate makeup. But while many companies are saying this, only 12% are driving this,” said Samodien.

How does a company drive this? Samodien says that corporates need to bear one maxim in mind: employees join companies but leave managers. Therefore, managers need to be made more accountable for their actions and the role that they play within companies.

Managers can achieve this by:

Focusing on employee needs: needs that have to be focussed in are needs such as healthcare, family situations such as sick children or family members where an employee needs to work flexitime in order to be productive and care for a sick child or family member;
Setting goals: setting personal goals for employees creates a shared vision that both managers and employees can work towards to improve productivity. A happy employee is a productive employee which becomes an asset for the company;
Encourage innovation: managers need to encourage employees not to be bound by traditional norms. The term thinking out of the box exists for a reason; and
Give direction and regular feedback: managers cannot assume employees are comfortable with what they are doing or working with. Providing direction and feedback is not spoon feeding a person, it is making sure that employees and companies are singing off the same hymn sheet.

Mind the gap

Technology has changed the world more than we care to realise. Nowhere is this more evident than when we look at the difference between Millennials and older generations. They simply interact with the world differently.

“Companies need to find innovative ways to communicate across generational gaps. Currently, there can be as many as four different generations working within one company, each of which provides challenges when it comes to culture. But where differences exist, there are opportunities. Through understanding our workers, we understand our clients,” said Samodien.

She added that this can be done through creating a culture of recognition. Companies need to be specific in order to be relevant. They need to be timely and conform to timelines defined by social media. And finally, employee benefits need to come in all shapes and sizes in order for companies to see the bigger picture.

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