A global cosmetics brand talk employee integration and staff retention as part of our series of HR interviews. Find out what challenges they face.
Employee Integration is the Key to High Staff Retention
A world-renowned cosmetics brand with around 3,000 employees in the UK, agreed to take part in this interview series, but preferred not to be named. The points raised during the discussion were interesting and we feel that there is benefit in sharing them with you.
Getting it right from day one is intrinsic to the organisation, so much so, there is a role solely responsible for culture and employee integration.
“You can have as many processes as you like, but if they aren’t followed up in the working environment integration just doesn’t happen.”
The Importance of Staff Inductions
They said, “We acknowledge that even if a lot of effort is put into recruitment, the whole exercise is a bit pointless if it is not followed up with proper induction plans.
“It’s something that is often overlooked and line managers need to be more accountable for staff integration too. You can have as many processes as you like, but if they aren’t followed up in the working environment employee integration just doesn’t happen.
“It can be simple, very basic things like making sure that new people have a desk and a phone on their first day.
“Staff retention problems can often be traced back to those first few weeks when a starter didn’t get a good reception.
“Perhaps they weren’t made to feel welcome or the company culture wasn’t explained. Maybe they weren’t given good understanding of their role.”
“If you have quantitative information on why people have left an organisation then it’s more difficult for people to ignore.”
Understanding and Managing Expectations
Before measures can be put in place to manage staff retention, organisations first need to understand what employees want from their careers.
A spokesperson for the company told us that quantative information is absolutely critical because businesses are used to making decisions and change based on data. Anecdotal information is rarely acted upon because it’s not evidence enough.
They believe that quantitative information on why people have left an organisation is harder for people to ignore.
Younger employees tend to have a greater focus on work/life balance than previous generations. Although this can be very challenging for organisations this company needs no convincing that long hours can be counterproductive.
They added, “Ridiculously long hours lead to people getting physically low and then to absenteeism. We need people to bring creative solutions to business problems and you can’t do that if you are working 16 hours a day.”
Flexible working, especially for women is a particular challenge because of the high proportion of female employees in this industry. Many women need time to juggle work and families.
“It’s vital that people know where they are going and that they have a future with the company.”
Staff retention is integral to the HR process of this organisation. It has a consultancy based approach to HR through which all employees get an individualised development plan, tailored to them and the area in which they work.
Personal development is an important element of the process as is transparency about career development.
They said, “It’s vital that people know where they are going and that they have a future with the company. Our organisation is very flexible and there are opportunities for people to move around within it.”
The company has a proactive approach to retaining staff and aims to keep policies as cutting edge as possible. For example, at head office there are manicurist, massage and dry cleaning services.
As well as social events, the company encourages employees to get involved in its Corporate Social Responsibility programmes to really make them feel part of something.
The mentoring and buddying scheme is often cited as one of the most important elements in the HR programme. It’s somewhere to go that’s outside of the team where people can get advice, for example, on the cultural aspects of the organisation.
However, even with such a comprehensive set of processes in place, HR firmly believes successful implementation depends on the line manager.
“Managers need to be evaluated more on how they manage their teams. For instance, high employee turnover in a particular team it should be a point for discussion.”
Integration Starts with the Line Manager
They said, “There are really good managers who make sure their staff go on training courses and are exposed to everything they need to be, particularly in the first six months. Equally there are managers who don’t.
“HR needs to communicate openly and instigate training so managers understand their role in the integration of new people. Sometimes, I don’t think they really understand why it is so important. It’s viewed as a process they have to go through.
“Managers need to be evaluated more on how they manage their teams. For instance, high employee turnover in a particular team should be a point for discussion.
“The effects of attrition can be very damaging to an organisation: when people leave knowledge leaves with them and that’s worrying.
“It’s particularly worrying if people aren’t around for that long. Employee motivation begins to suffer when teams are not fully staffed most of the time.”
In conclusion, they have a stark warning for all organisations. They said, “You can have good processes in place but if no-one heeds them and people don’t understand why they are there, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.”
(Main image from Generator Group)