Money makes the world go round, but it takes more than money to make us feel complete. TED speaker Dan Pink opened our eyes a decade ago with his novel Drive’s biggest takeaway: the key to motivating people at work isn’t money. The real secret lies in giving people autonomy, mastery and purpose. Money is one important component in a salary package, but the rest can make the difference between a business hiring an A-team or a Z-team.
Workspace hosted a Business Insight Breakfast at its Fleet Street centre to find out what employees want and what employers can do to win staff loyalty. We share insights from: Ade Akin-Aina, global director of talent acquisition at rental management company Hostmaker, based at The Biscuit Factory; Leanne Spencer, founder of Bodyshot Performance, based at Parkhall Business Centre; Ryan Adams, founder of recruitment firm Signify Technology, based at The Frames; and Jane Bright, director of people and talent at online florist Bloom & Wild, based at Vox Studios.
How do leaders build a game-changing talent strategy?
The “nine-box grid” is a popular, if traditional, process to managing and developing a top team in line with a company’s goals. It plots employee performance against potential, and helps businesses better map how its talent is set to meet its future needs.
This tool has been really effective for Bloom & Wild. Director of people and talent, Jane Bright, joined the company two years ago to build out a dedicated people function with more focus on its people and developing its talent.
Bloom & Wild's goals are to further expand operations both in the UK and across Europe. Having the right people and talent management strategy is critical for Bloom & Wild if it wants to achieve its ambitious goals, says Jane.
“Our most important asset is our people. We are both investing in our existing team and holding a very high bar when hiring to create more of a culture of excellence. If the whole team perform even better, we are more likely to achieve what we set out to."
The nine-box grid approach has its shortcomings though. A 2011 study by Lancaster University Management –Talent Management: Time to Question the Tablets of Stone? – found that it emphasises personal brilliance over wider factors like a company’s systems and support set-up. As much as we like to revere a genius, individual talent is just one piece of the talent management puzzle; our environment has a huge role to play.
So how can you get the most out of your people?
It starts with cultivating the right culture. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer gives some insight. An annual report that tracks levels of public confidence across business, government, NGOs and the media, it identifies trends in the workplace. It shows that people put great faith in their employer. Three-quarters said that their employer is their most trusted relationship, versus NGOs (57%), businesses (56%), government (48%) and the media (47%). People trust their employer to treat them fairly.
For Bloom & Wild, this means promoting from within our existing team where possible, but also having honest conversations early so that employees know where they stand and have a chance to change. Empower managers to have those conversations, advises Jane.
“Be brave sooner. We’d rather have a more difficult conversation sooner to improve performance during probation, rather than passing probation and encountering those problems six months down the road.”
When a company gets culture right, it can feel like family. Personal development programmes are a tangible way to show employees that they are part of the "family", because it tells them that the company genuinely wants to develop their skills and promote them.
Listening to employees and understanding what their needs are is crucial, say our panel experts. Ryan Adams’s recruitment firm, Signify Technology, finds jobs for developers that can programme using a high-level programming language called Scala.
He says, “What a developer wants is different to what me and my staff want. They want to work on the latest technology and go to things like workshops, conferences and local meet-ups.
“To get the best developers, you need to invest in your community. We ran two workshops last year; 75 engineers attended and were taught how to programme using SCALA.”
Some employees simply want more flexibility in their hours to take care of things like childcare arrangements. 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. The trick for businesses is to keep an ear to the ground.
Jane says, “For us, it's about continuous listening. Listen to what your team say they want. We can’t do everything, but that individual approach to what people want at different stages of their career is the most important thing. We did a benefits survey at the end of 2018, which identified key areas where our team wanted more support like enhanced family leave and healthcare.”
Welcome to wellbeing
Wellbeing is a top priority, as people take better care of their health and prioritise their personal lives. 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. She works with businesspeople to help improve their health.
“Companies that are game-changing are purpose-led – they focus on getting people and culture right. They recruit people based on whether they share the same values of the organisation. A competitive advantage is a wellbeing strategy.
“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.”
However you go about introducing a wellbeing strategy, keep it authentic. Almost eight in ten surveyed by Edelman believe that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for it, so be the boss that leads from the top. To promote good health among employees, be healthy yourself.
Signify Technology has a points-based Health League Table for all its staff – which Ryan has signed up to – that documents their daily workflow and wellbeing markers, like diet and personal bests. The top three win a day at the spa.
Ryan 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.”
How can you find the best new talent and drive business growth?
Look within to find people that are aligned with your company’s values. Is your company big on flexible working? Try advertising vacancies on less conventional platforms like the Successful Mums group on Facebook. But to find the best talent within your budget might mean looking further afield.
Ade Akin-Aina, global director of talent acquisition at rental management company Hostmaker, says that the fast-growing start-up had to build its tech team outside of London, simply because it couldn’t compete on salary compared to the likes of Google and Facebook.
Watch Ade Aki-Aina talk about how to build and nurture an A-star team!
“So we built a fully remote team based all over Europe in Amsterdam, Lithuania and Turkey. We attracted really high quality talent, and our tech teams meet up once a month to work together so get to fly into cool cities.”
Hostmaker took a “silver bullet” approach to talent management, after realising its small team was stretched and not delivering fast enough. This helped the lettings company rapidly expand into new countries.
“We flew SWAT teams into a city. In Barcelona, we needed to grow our customer services team over the summer from 10 to about 40, so we flew in recruiters.”
For smaller companies with say fewer than ten employees and a slower growth trajectory, a softly softly approach might be more suitable. Breakfast attendee Robert Scrafton, director at workplace consultancy LSC at The Light Bulb shares his thoughts.
"Performance = motivation + competence + management effectiveness in equal parts. SME owners need to know how to strike the right balance between structure and freedom, set boundaries, be consistent and have formal systems and consultation procedures without blocking creativity and growth".
To find out more about the art of talent management, check out our further reading links.
Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life by James Kerr. New Zealand's national rugby team was the world's most successful sporting team but by 2004, it was on a losing streak and team morale was at rock bottom. Read how new coach Graham Henry ushered in a culture focusing on individual character and personal leadership with the mantra: Better People Make Better All Blacks. It worked - the All Blacks have a win-rate of over 86%.
Creating a Culture of Empathy and Engagement in Business with Vayner Media's Chief Heart Officer, Claude Silver. In this podcast from Bodyshot Performance (Remove the Guesswork: Health, Fitness and Wellbeing for Busy Professionals), Claude talks empathy. Listen to why we’re now in an age that is about the heart, and why humanity is essential in today’s workplace.
Performance Management: The Puzzle of Motivation. In this TED talk, career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Watch for illuminating stories -- and maybe, a way forward.
Did you enjoy reading this piece? Hear more great insights at our upcoming WBI dinner event, Investment and Algorithms: Tackling Diversity and Bias Challenges in Business #WBIDinner. Join our panel of experts on Tuesday 26th March from 6pm at The Record Hall in Farringdon to find out why less than a tenth of all venture capital deals go to women, black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and LGBT+ founders.