Please Pass it On
We’re absolutely delighted that Peter Wilde, ex-Global Head of Employee Engagement for Unilever and UBS, has joined the 52N team as Head of Research.
Peter brings unrivalled expertise across the insights and mechanics now available to organisations who want to develop their enterprise through a greater understanding of their employees and potential employees.
Here, Peter offers a broad view of the challenges and opportunities …
Q: Being in charge of work satisfaction of more than 140.000 employees in Unilever, what did you find most challenging?
A: I’ve spent 10 years running global engagement programs from a central location and so I think I have experienced pretty much all of the pitfalls that it is possible to experience! There are the physical/logistical issues (survey delivery, having oversight of local communications) and then there is the perceptual issue, namely ‘how dare they tell us what to do from their ivory tower in London!’. It takes a lot of work, a lot of network building and a lot of late nights to ensure that things go smoothly!
Q: Thanks to the employee lifecycle model, Financial Times recognised UBS as one of the great places to work. Could you tell us briefly what the model was about? How did you see it improve employee’s satisfaction and change the corporate culture in UBS?
A: I still see many, many organisations who do not have a coherent, joined up set of HR metrics. I’ve recently been working with an organisation which doesn’t know how many people it employs. This becomes particularly problematic when it results in fraud (see NHS in the UK) or nepotism (as we see in The Balkans and elsewhere). Implementing both hard (headcount, salaries, etc.) and soft (performance, perception, etc.) metric programs are essential. The lifecycle model ensures that soft metrics are recorded, stored and utilised – from recruitment to exit of each and every employee, while matching that data with other HR metrics in the organisations. It enables organisations to gain key insights into the mechanics of their firms
Q: What is the best way for companies to engage their employees?
A: Some factors are universal across all companies – management behaviours for example – and some are unique to job roles, to locations, to company culture, to a whole host of factors. For me, ensuring that employees feel that they are contributing to a compelling company vision and narrative is absolutely critical. Covering the basics (pay, benefits, working conditions) will ensure a degree of satisfaction, but actual engagement takes a lot more.
Q: Do you believe that there should be an expiry date for employees in a certain company? Or even more drastically, do you believe that there should be a rule that any employee can not stay in one company longer than, say, 5 or 10 years?
A: I think that is a fantastic question! Obviously, some roles tend to be ‘lifetime roles’, while some are more transient. In the current economy, retaining Generation Y and key talent is imperative – as for them, work is a ‘thing’ and not a ‘place’, so these people will happily leave you for another employer (and a lot quicker than in a five year time-span!) This obviously makes an engagement and retention strategy even more crucial.
Q: Finally, what are your predictions when it comes to HR trends in 2014 and beyond?
A: As global economies turn a corner and enter a growth phase, the importance of ensuring that your key talent remains engaged (and doesn’t jump ship as the job offers start coming in!) is going to be a key job for HR – and for businesses as a whole. The only companies who will survive and thrive will be those populated by highly motivated key talent. HR must be facilitating this.
Please Pass it On