Whilst we are almost out of the financial crisis, businesses are still struggling to meet their targets and are more focused on pleasing the shareholders by meeting their quarterly targets and gains . Less attention is given to the stakeholders, especially their employees and no proper communication is in place.
This hack will provide a few suggestions on how an organisation can become more principled and invigorate good corporate values.
The recent global economic crisis has crippled thousands of businesses and affected the lives of millions of people due to unemployment, bankruptcies, loss of income and even low morale. While the world is almost out of this crisis, we can still feel that we have not totally recuperated due to the known fact that there’s still a huge percentage of unemployment. In New Zealand alone, Kiwis continue to move to Australia to find better lives by getting better jobs. TV3 News reported that in May 2011 alone, 3,300 Kiwis made the move which is a record high in 32 years. According to the Department of Labour, in December of 2011, New Zealand’s unemployment rate is at 6.3%, or 150,000 kiwis unemployed.
Although some company CEO’s believe that short-term capitalism provides better output for quarterly profits, research has shown that majority of businesses are much better to last with long-term capitalism. Short-termism only provides a quick fix for short-term gains. But this type of capitalism doesn’t guarantee survival in the next 10 years and beyond.
According to Piety the preoccupation with the short-term has been seen as shortsightedness, which is often ridiculed as an expression of immaturity. He argues that capitalism is not to blame, but rather the contemporary American paradigm of capitalism with its short-term orientation (2004).
What the global economy need are organisations and leaders that will set and install the best practises that will lead us to the path of righteousness and economic growth. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the government, NGO’s, or private organisations that will make this move. But what we need are organisations and leaders that will instill the culture of principled capitalism that will deliver us from the evils of greed and lack of proper planning for the long term.
Businesses are not just all about profits and how to build it to make it grow. A principled organisation takes a huge amount of consideration about having a strong ethical foundation. There is a growing need for organisations to also focus on virtues such as generosity and selflessness and to put value into the human aspect of economics and business.
Most Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources book have said a lot about how important people are in the organisation. According to an author named B. Jordan, it is quite obvious that no organisation can operate without people and it is self-evident that the organisational performance is directly dependent on the performance of its people, thus, making them important assets.
Principled organisations listen and care about their people. They understand the value of employee satisfaction and how it is connected to business growth; they always think Win/Win.
A win for the employees is a win for the customers, which is also a win for the business. And to get into this winning state, organisations must value what their employees think and feel about the organisation. This can be done by:
- measuring the company’s ethical or moral climate through internal surveys regarding the effectiveness of the business
- individuals can be involved to become stewards of organisational values, resources, and stakeholder well-being by creating stake groups
- forums or processes can also be created to share and discuss ethical dilemmas
- open book or corporate transparency can also be practised
Internal Survey to Measure Business Effectiveness
Allow me to share with you a practise that I had the pleasure of participating in with this company that I used to work with. Every year, this internal survey is participated by all full-time employees, where we answered a set of questions about what we think of the business, its leaders, the importance of our roles and how it is related to the big objective of the company. The answer sheets are collated and are audited by a third party audiing firm. The results are then brought back to the company, wherein action plans are made by top management, and later on implemented by the Human Resource department.
I believe that this type of measurement is effective because management took into consideration what the employees think and feel and took steps to address the issues involved. Personally, I also thought that it was one of the ways to make individual voices heard as a group. Moreover, new and improved programmes were implemented such as rewards and recognitions, stress management, forums, and work-life balance programmes.
Forums and Processes
Organisations can also have forums, which are great venues for top management to meet with their employees face-to-face and discuss issues with their team, other departments, or even with top management. This is scheduled and done per team and are conducted over lunch for a couple of hours or sometimes longer depending on the issues. Human Resources facilitate the meeting and take notes. Some issues can be answered immediately while some can take time depending on the current resources, urgency, and priority. However, it is not just a venue for issues, suggestions on how to improve some processes are also welcome.
Another way to listen to the employees is by implementing drop boxes for employee feedbacks. Forms can be available through HR, and employees can fill-in and drop the feedback into the “Drop boxes” strategically located in the offices. The dropboxes are opened regularly and the feedbacks are recorded and studied for action. I can call these boxes as “feedbox”.
To become stewards of values, resources, and stakeholder well-being, stake groups can be created and initiated by management. There could be a stake group that will initiate programmes to promote values in the organization, or a stake group that will look after the company’s resources, and will take good care of the stakeholders of the company that focuses its employees’ welfare.
Each stake has a champion to drive the group in making plans and strategies to execute the initiative. Results are measured by HR, Finance, and the rest of the strategic business unit heads.
Transparency in the Organisation
If the organisation has a Communications team, then they have a big role in making this successful. Otherwise, the HR team can also spearhead this endeavour. Support of top management is definitely needed. Full utilisation of technology will help a lot in information dissemination, such as corporate Intranets and websites. This will become the communications channel, allowing the Communications team to post corporate announcements, team wins, challenges, and current company status in terms of profits.
I have always believed that opinion matters, especially that of the employees. By installing the abovementioned solutions, the organisation is promoting a culture of good values, honesty, integrity, trust, and respect. Communication is two ways, thus, more inputs or feedbacks can be considered to improve the way the business is run. Destructive corporate gossips are being eliminated (or at least minimised) because there's the culture of transparency. Moreover, by participating in the stake groups, employees are empowered to care for the business and its resources.
Everytime top management reaches out to their employees espcially the rank and file, they feel valued and realised that their role in the organisation however small, contributes to the growth of the business.
- Get the top management to support the initiatives.
- HR to conduct a management forum to inform the managers and directors about the programmes.
- Let HR provide the mechanisms and put it in place, especially for the suryvey, the feedback, and forums. Understand what needs to be done, how to measure, how to use the collected information to solve a problem.
- HR should draft the questionnaire for the internal survey.
- HR should hire an external auditing firm to conduct the collation and gathering of data and let the respondents/employees know about it so that respondents will have confidence in the survey and its results.
- Communications Team (or HR) must partner with IT in utilising the company's Intranet, Internet, and email for information campaigns, company updates, etc.
- Launch an information campaign, setup a web page, put posters in the hall way, get noisy about it.
Special thanks to our professor Dr. Bernie Frey from Massey University for stretching our brains and making the lecture very interesting, and of course for challenging us to participate in the MIX hack.