The last 12 months have thrown the world upside down, and the corporate world is no different. Michael Easton, the former Global Head of HR at Elekta, gives us his views on some of the HR-related opportunities on the table for companies as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.
Michael Easton is the former Global Head of HR at Elekta, a Swedish Medical Technology company and leader in precision radiation medicine. His most recent role was Group HRD for EnQuest plc. Michael helps organisations optimise their people agenda to the business plan and partners leadership teams in delivering improved engagement, performance, collaboration and accountability. Michael brings a diverse range of sector experience and insights having worked in start-ups to global plc's enabling people to deliver their best work in double-digit growth environments.
As an experienced HR leader/advisor, what are some of the big challenges you have been helping companies with over the past 12 months?
Survive, engage, and thrive would be the themes. Companies have been focussing on people’s individual needs during lockdown. Putting in place communications, engagement and clarity around expectations, performance and wellbeing ensure that voices are heard across the organisation. It’s important to utilise the right data when people decisions are made. There needs to be recognition of the issues people have faced and of how your organisation can and has supported people to maintain focus, delivery and ensure your company Values are upheld.
I’ve been helping a couple of organisations redefine their Values and ensure performance outcomes are recognised and rewarded. Managers have been supported to discuss with their teams what the Company values, expectations and behaviours mean to them. Providing clarity around the company’s purpose and values meant that regular, consistent and effective communication could be delivered to all. Importantly, a range of support mechanisms were put in place, as many feel overwhelmed with the pace of change.
What is the importance of a company having a well-aligned Mission and set of Values?
This allows focus on what is important and helps stakeholders understand what the organisation drivers are – what are your organisation’s reasons to exist?
The Values define the behaviours the organisation holds as important and help measure the outputs. Clear links between your organisation strategy and its Values help setting goals and rewarding performance outcomes. This way, your employees can operate at their best: individual contributions can align with your organisation goals and performance expectations. Equally, behaviours and actions that are not acceptable are clearly identified.
Clarity of Mission and Values provides a blueprint to operate effectively. Values create a sense of purpose and can link people together.
Why is now a good time for companies to be reviewing this?
People have been reassessing what is important to them during lockdown - and many have refocussed their own goals due to the circumstances the pandemic has brought for all of us. Organisations that recognise this will need to demonstrate a more inclusive, personal connection and change the landscape of the employee/employer relationship.
By taking measures towards wellbeing, performance and collaboration, you encourage others to view your company as a "positive" employer. This will positively impact your employer brand in recruiting and retaining talent. Talking about what it means isn't enough – it is critical to demonstrate action in delivering outcomes aligned to the Mission and Values. Investors too are increasing their focus on the organisations' actions to impact their employees and their communities.
What difficulties do you think companies could potentially experience if they fail to realign on this appropriately?
I see an increase in operating risks if companies decide to continue without revisiting what is important, after COVID-19 and lockdown. Stakeholders will have to provide clarity in actions and reporting.
There is a risk of increased key talent attrition. Reasons for not taking action need to be clear if your organisation decides not to readjust. One thing’s for sure – if realignment has not taken place, be prepared to be asked why.
To be continued... Check back next week when Michael will be sharing his tips on how best to embrace these opportunities and we discuss the importance of HR leadership in a post-pandemic world.