How to Successfully Improve Employees’ Work during Crisis
The problem of improvement becomes especially acute for a company during crisis times when employees’ productivity often directly determines its success. Jeremy Mitchell, the first Deputy General Director of HomeLand shares several "crisis management" HR solutions with CleverControl.
Jeremy, what is the impact of a crisis on companies’ HR policy in general and on your company’s in particular?
During a crisis, any leader will think about how to use the potential of their subordinates to the maximum, while maintaining team spirit and high motivation of all employees, despite the difficult times.
Our HR strategy has always been aimed at obtaining a full commitment from the staff, therefore during the crisis, it has not changed much and the management tools that we use have already shown effective results.
One of the most popular tools of improvement is training: improvement of professional skills. How do you organize it?
Staff training is an extremely important task, but often inviting trainers from outside can be quite expensive. The problem is solved simply enough: ask more experienced employees to train new ones. Everyone will benefit from it. Young people will be able to advance their career with new knowledge and skills, and the coach will receive financial motivation. Besides, there is probably no better way to express approval and recognition of an employee than to get him or her to have someone as a student. Therefore, experienced employees are guaranteed to appreciate this decision.
In addition, improving your own employees is faster and cheaper than recruiting people from outside the company. Coaching can also be done by external organizations. We usually invite specialists when purchasing new equipment for workshops or software for the engineering department. New skills are the innovation that increases competitiveness.
How to motivate employees for professional development and increased productivity?
There are three levels of productivity: low, medium (or expected), and maximum. Employees at the low level are unreliable, prone to performing a smaller amount of tasks and try to avoid work. Those who are at the average level perform exactly what is required of them, and no more, although as employees they are very reliable. And those who are at the maximum level, work very long hours, take the initiative every time, and their productivity is much higher than expected. It is clear that any employer would like to have as many workers who are at the maximum level of performance as possible. It is not necessary to be limited
Employee motivation should help with that, because, in essence, it is the key to the prosperity of the company. It attributes the success of the company with the personal welfare of the employee, which helps to increase the efficiency.
How is it implemented in your company?
Our motivation system is based on KPI. A system of key performance indicators is based on the tasks that are supposed to be solved by the employee in a specific position. And if the task is successfully solved the employee is rewarded. The functionality for each position is different but the KPI is uniform and transparent across the organization. In particular, we have implemented a document management system, which allowed to improve awareness and to strengthen the control over the execution of orders.
It is very important to build a system of motivation, otherwise, it will slow the company down. For example, if two employees with similar skills work with different commitment but their salary is the same it will result in a low efficiency of both workers.
What factors underlie the system of employee motivation? Are there examples illustrating their effectiveness?
Opportunity for career growth supported financially motivates young professionals and other employees to achieve new heights. It is beneficial for both the employees and the company to which the specialist will bring guaranteed benefits and will help in further development. We have such an example in HomeLand - Jack Burton who currently holds the post of chief engineer. He began his journey as an apprentice mechanic on repair of instrumentation in the Department of Metrology. Then Jack worked in various positions: mechanic, draftsman, engineer-researcher. He was then appointed the leading engineer of Department of microelectronics and soon the head of this Department. His history shows that every employee of the company can reach any heights with his or her own strength and perseverance.
What are the peculiarities of employee motivation?
Never forget that the wage system should be structured and consistent, reinforcing the desired results, but not unique for each employee. Principles of payment of bonuses and rewards should be transparent and uniform for all. Remember that it is equally wrong to reward identically for different efforts as it is wrong to reward differently for identical effort. This kind of injustice can knock employees off balance and undermine not only their motivation but also the credibility of the company.
In addition, salaries should always be paid out in a timely manner. Delays or cancellation of payment demoralizes the team: they lose confidence in the future of the company, the motivation to qualitative work, the team forms an unhealthy atmosphere, it often comes to gossip and rumors. All this, ultimately, leads to a weakening of the position of the company itself.
In the case of a difficult financial situation, the company may move to a shorter working week, which will allow you to save on the payment of salaries. But the situation should be explained by management,
people need to know the reasons for such decisions. The company must work as one.
Do you hire students and young professionals? Because among them, there can be a new valuable resource, which, ultimately, will contribute to the optimization of the company? How do you work with them?
We always need young specialists. To attract new employees with the right skills our company signs contracts with institutions of higher education that guarantee the students to attend a course in which they receive the necessary skills to work with us. It is a tripartite agreement between our company, a student and the university. It is agreed that the student has the obligation to work a certain time in our company and thus to obtain advanced knowledge in some subjects. We are also actively involved in Doors Open Days. Some students already got a job in our company this way. We also constantly update our training program.
We are ready to attract especially valuable professionals. If necessary, the company conducts search all over the country and even abroad. And if a particular expert is right for us, we are ready to assist in the relocation and help with housing.
During a crisis, many companies resort to downsizing. How to make the process less painful for employees and the company itself?
Many companies face the question of the headcount optimization. But we must remember that it is a complex process, which always starts from the top. Top managers of the organizations hold meetings, analyze the situation, and develop a strategy for further action.
Only after that, you can fire employees when it is precisely planned and carefully considered. Of course, everything must be done in accordance with the law. Thus, the changes are made correctly and all employees see that the company behaves honestly and fulfills its obligations to the end.
Should we use corporate events as a tool of emotional motivation during a crisis, or better, on the contrary, abandon them?
All festive events are a great tool to create a favorable atmosphere in the team and increase productivity. However, we cannot say that the result will be immediate. But it will help increase employees’ loyalty. Perhaps the most important thing that you have to keep in mind as a manager is that you should always follow the rules and not just during a crisis when the staff is in urgent need of mobilization. Thanks to competent approach to motivation and honest relationships with employees, companies always manage to survive the difficult times with minimal losses.