The changing attitude of company bosses towards their employees has been well documented and firms are now become increasingly aware of just how important an impact company culture has on business performance.
A recent L’Atelier article highlighted the vital need for companies to take an across-the-board approach to their switch to digital. At a recent conference in Paris on the theme of ‘Well-Being at Work and Company Performance’ organised by the Great Place To Work institute, a global research, consulting and training firm, a group of Human Resource professionals and consultants shared their views on how companies ought to be adjusting their management practices. The importance of employee well-being emerged as a key factor for company business performance. The staff need to feel they are being treated fairly if they are to take pride in their work. Consequently, firms need to work on their credibility not only with the customers, but with the staff as well.
Transparency fostering both customer and employee loyalty
Bertrand Bailly, co-founder and head of Davidson Consulting, a firm based near Paris which specialises in technology project management, talked about the dual meaning of the word ‘credibility’. On the one hand is the more literal sense – that something can be believed on the basis of the facts; and on the other hand is the link with a ‘credo’, or belief, which has to do with one’s reputation. In an information society, where there are always a good many stories and rumours flying around, having strong belief in the company where you work, and in its management, is a pre-requisite for wanting to give your best. Bailly underlined that a firm risks losing its credibility if it tells lies, is guilty of inappropriate management behaviour – such as failing to listen or behaving in an unethical manner – shows incompetence, i.e. lack of a strategic vision and/or misplaced priorities. Some of the ways of countering these problems include fostering the ‘horizontal’ (silo-free) organisation, use of the tried-and-trusted staff ideas box, and creating a company intranet.
Putting employees first
Matthieu Leclercq, one of the speakers at the conference “dedicated to people who love sport”, strongly encourages cultural alignment. He sees company organisation as a sort of spinal column, comprising the company culture, collaborative strategic objectives and employees. He underlines that the great change a company needs to make is “to dare to say that the customer comes third, giving first place to the employees and second place to processes.” This means that the customer is no longer central to the change process. Employees should take priority, argues Leclercq, because if they are content, processes will be carried out properly and at the end of the day the customer will be satisfied. Thus the business is a chain, which will not serve its purpose if there is any weak link. The values and strategies which the company sets should therefore be cascaded right through from top to bottom, so that each and every employee knows what his/her own objectives, and those of the department or team, are, and is closely associated with the achievement of the company targets. Sophie Digard, HR Strategic Business Partner at Coca Cola, summed up the argument succinctly: “Employees make the best brand ambassadors.”