Finding talent is the first step, but how do you nurture your workforce?

Building value from within

In its 2018 Global Talent Trends report, HR consultancy Mercer defines nurturing talent as developing someone’s connection to the organisation’s mission. When that mission is to save lives, the connection is paramount. The National Health Service (NHS) set up a new programme in 2016 to modernise its talent-management plan, by developing a pipeline of future leaders and style of leadership that is both compassionate and inclusive.

Martin Hancock, Director of Talent Management at the NHS Leadership Academy, says the Developing People: Improving Care programme is about both staff and patients. “From a patient perspective, it is the impact that really good staff engagement has on patient care. If we want staff to be engaged, we need to make sure that they’re properly supported to fulfill their potential, to have meaning at work, and to be properly supported in terms of their development and progression. For some, this will be to progress to the most senior levels; for others simply to do a great job where they are.”

It’s the most comprehensive talent-management plan developed by the NHS to date, says Hancock, but “real success will only come if we see a shift in culture, mindset and behaviour in staff at all levels, especially our most senior leaders”.

The NHS came under fire last year when the new Health Secretary slammed its poor diversity record, pointing out that only five NHS chief executives are from a black and minority ethnicity background. The Developing People: Improving Care programme is intended to change this. Hancock says, “In particular, we intend talent management to be an enabler for improved diversity of leadership.”

The value of diversity is echoed by Bruce Daisley, Twitter’s Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He believes bringing new voices into any discussion is integral to better decision-making in the workplace, but it can get overlooked if it’s not a key part of the definition of talent.

Bruce Daisley, Twitter Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa

“When looking for talent, if you’re not thinking about the methods in a diverse and inclusive way, you could end up missing that contribution [from diversity].” Daisley has a keen interest in how workplaces function. His new book, The Joy of Work, tackles job satisfaction, and his popular podcast, Eat Sleep Work Repeat, examines the way we work.

Talent can be summed up as the personal attributes that define someone, such as “attitude, energy, integrity, intelligence”, says Daisley. He recommends prioritising a good attitude and qualities like being a powerful team player above set qualifications like an MBA.

The Joy of Work

Foster the right culture

For a business to get the best out of its talent pool, experts recommend looking beyond compensation and more towards things like role development and even staff wellbeing.

“When culture works well it can be an incredible magnetic pull,” says Daisley. “There’s a lot of debate around the use of the word ‘family’. Some experts like Patty McCord, who wrote the Culture Document for Netflix, which states its core values, say that we shouldn’t claim workplaces have the feeling of being a family, but if you ask employees in good teams they definitely say there is a close-knit family feel to them. When cultures work well we do find ourselves valuing the trust that we feel.”

Personal-development programmes are one way of showing employees that they are part of the family, says business coach, Ramona Da Gama. She says, “These programmes show employees that the company genuinely wants to promote them.”

Da Gama’s advice for employers is to allow employees to become part of the company’s vision for the future, and share its long - and short - term business strategy. She says, “Making them responsible for the success of the company empowers them and makes them feel that they belong.”

Workspace hosted a Business Insight Breakfast at its Fleet Street business centre in January on how to build a game-changing talent strategy; our panel of experts agreed that building the right culture is a huge factor. Sharing company values with staff is paramount, said Ade Akin-Aina, Global Director of Talent Acquisition at rental-management company Hostmaker, based at The Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey.

Hostmaker is a fast-growing company, and as such it seeks to attract high performers. She said, “We want to be authentic to who we are, so we project a brand that attracts these kinds of people, and if people are driven by the property-technology space, they come to us.”

People want a great place to work, and to feel appreciated, says Jane Bright, Director of People and Talent at florist Bloom & Wild, based in Workspace’s Vox Studios. “It’s about shaping the people experience, making sure that people have a lovely experience, feel really cared about and invested in.”

The days of recruiting top talent solely with the promise of a company car, corner office and impressive salary packets are dying out, says Leanne Spencer, Founder of Bodyshot Performance, based at Workspace’s Parkhall Business Centre in Dulwich. She works with businesspeople to help improve their health.

Leanne Spencer, Founder of Bodyshot Performance

“Does your company have standing work stations? What about a policy of short meetings? Are there signs on the floor, guiding you to the stairs and not the lift? When people are more energised, productivity goes up.”

Some employees simply want more flexibility in their hours to take care of things like childcare arrangements, says Bright. Trusting staff to manage their own time can generate a strong sense of loyalty, which means they will stick around and go the extra mile, if needed.

However you go about introducing a wellbeing strategy, keep it authentic. Almost eight in 10 surveyed by Edelman for its 2019 Trust Barometer believe that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for it. Be the boss who leads from the top.

Signify Technology, a tech recruitment company based at The Frames in Shoreditch, has a points-based Health League Table for all its staff – to which boss Ryan Adams has signed up – that documents their daily workflow and wellbeing markers, like diet and personal bests. The top three win a day at the spa.

Adams says, “You’ve got to lead from the front. My leadership team has bought into it. Last year, hardly any of us went for jogs. Now people come in earlier and leave earlier to go to the gym; they have more energy. This month, productivity is through the roof.”

Businesses of all shapes and sizes will need to respond to the changing conditions in the labour market throughout 2019 and beyond. Those that thrive will do so by continually developing how they find and retain their valuable talent.

When culture works well it can be an incredible magnetic pull

Bruce DaisleyVP for EMEA at Twitter

Read more about how to build and nurture an A-star team, along with practical advice from our expert panel at our Business Insight Breakfast at Fleet Street business centre. Find out what employees want and what employers can do to win staff loyalty. 

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