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A happy workforce is a productive one

on Tuesday, 14 August 2012. Posted in Engagement, People

Psychometric testing can be one of the tools to help employers identify what makes staff tick – and then act on it

   It has been a tough couple of years for UK plc. The economic crisis has had a significant impact on businesses across the UK and, it’s not just the bottom line that suffers, but all of their employees too. Employee engagement is at an all-time low with one in five employees planning to leave their job in the next 12 months (according to the CIPD Employee Outlook Survey), and it is a known fact that employees predominantly leave because of dissatisfaction with their managers. As the old adage goes, join a company, leave a manager.

  Employee dissatisfaction causes firms significant problems, as low engagement and lack of motivation can lead to loss of productivity and eventually result in staff leaving their roles, so it’s essential that companies – and specifically managers – learn how to engage and motivate their staff. When you consider that statistics show the cost of replacing an employee who makes the decision to leave in the first year is equal to their first year package, the benefits of maintaining a well balanced and satisfied work force become clear. Dealing with staff dissatisfaction is an employer’s responsibility, so it’s vital to understand what employees want and what makes them tick in order to not only manage them more productively, but also to increase employee retention.

  Each employee is motivated by different things; some are goal orientated, some want to work in a stable environment which enables them to maintain the status quo, while some are ‘people people’ who thrive on interaction with others. Understanding how people behave at work and what drives them can help managers to unlock their staff’s potential. Psychometric assessment is one way to gain valuable insight into each employee’s motivational make-up.

  According to research, the things that people find most motivating are a sense of achievement, recognition from colleagues for good work, enjoying aspects of the job itself, a sense of responsibility, a sense of career advancement and a feeling of personal growth. Employees need opportunities to learn new skills through work and be rewarded for the effort they put in and managers need to fully appreciate the benefits of regular communication with staff and make a conscious effort to support and encourage their people.

  Behavioural profiling can help managers learn the different motivations of their staff. Using psychometric assessment, behaviour in the workplace can be broken down into four different factors – dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. These factors in combination identify an individuals prefered communcation style and method of working. Once you have determined what motivates an individual, inspiring and managing them becomes easier.

  One of our clients, Everything Office, which provides stationery and office supplies throughout the UK and Europe, successfully used Thomas International PPA assessments to reduce their staff attrition and support company growth. Everything Office is predominately a telesales operation which was struggling with a high churn rate among its telesales staff. They came to Thomas looking for help in reducing that rate and increasing employee satisfaction and they used the Thomas PPA to profile their staff. Managing Director, Bob Taylor, commented that profiling ‘helped us to understand [employees] better; identify weaknesses and pinpoint training needs. Those in jobs that were less than a perfect fit were helped to modify their behaviour. We’ve seen a reduction in employee frustration and people who had challenges are now performing well. The tools facilitated the start of a two way communication and helped us cement a better working environment.” As a result of utilising Thomas assessments, Everything Office saw their churn rate reduced by 50%.

  Many employers already use behavioural profiling as part of their recruitment processes, but underestimate how valuable these tools can be during the rest of the ‘life span’ of an employee. As an employee progresses in a role, or as the role changes, there can be subtle changes in the profile, so using profiling tools as part of the ongoing HR process can ensure that managers are aware of how they can adapt their behaviour to accommodate this.

  Alternatively, or in addition to profiling their employees, managers themselves can benefit greatly from insight into their own management style. By using a combination of assessments, a manager can gain an acute awareness of how their own behaviour might be interpreted by their team – an approach used by Willmott Dixon, the UK’s second largest privately owned construction, support services and development company.

  Rick Lee, group chief human resources officer explained: “We use a range of instruments that help us get to the heart of the manager’s skills and qualities and address any shortcomings. By helping managers understand themselves better and identify their strengths and limitations, we help them perform better.” A benefit, he goes on to say, that enhances both their own career and the company.

  With staff satisfaction, efficient teams and low staff turnover on the wishlist of every company in these challenging times, a more thorough understanding of motivations, strengths and limitations of all team members is in everybody’s interest to ensure a happier, more productive workforce, not to mention success for your company.

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