Now is the time to reformulate your company’s people strategy

Mike Davis, senior strategic advisor at Spark Strategy, discusses why your company's people strategy matters now more than ever.

Executives, business owners or not-for-profit leaders could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, feeling it’s not a good time to make any strategic changes.

However, good strategies that propel companies forward are more often made during hard times with a range of competing interests and environmental pressures. As they say “pressure creates diamonds”. Now is the time to lean into the uncertainty, put a name to it, critically assess and deploy a people strategy that demonstrates how you can leverage these competing external and internal forces to your advantage. It is time to embrace a people strategy predicated on love not fear.

Think about how many companies have struggled to come up with a strong employee value proposition, to keep employees engaged to keep productivity high without risking employee burnout. This is an area that many companies don’t do well, suffering from high employee turnover and as a result. This is often the biggest cost companies face, especially in professional services where your people are your key assets. Estimates on the cost of employee turnover place it between 33% to 66% of an employee’s annual salary, depending on the seniority and technical expertise of the employee.

Lockdown has forced companies to examine ways to keep staff engaged when they are working remotely from home. They also need to think about how to keep employee engagement and productivity high, without the ability to directly influence this through supervision and the office environment. More importantly, companies also need to consider how to promote good mental health and wellbeing of employees.

Companies that fail to acknowledge and act on the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 and lockdown on employees are doomed to suffer productivity losses, absenteeism, presenteeism, more sick leave and greater turnover. This involves considering how parents working from home and also homeschooling children are impacted, how those already with underlying health conditions may be coping and thinking about young people, older people and other vulnerable groups who may be particularly vulnerable to both COVID-19 and mental health repercussions.

At a time like this, your people strategy becomes a burning priority for your company. We have already seen progressive companies act proactively to promote people’s wellbeing, whilst carefully balancing and adjusting company strategy. It all starts with deep consultation with your people. This consultation is vital in driving any effective people strategy forward. While surveys have proven efficient and effective for many innovators, focus groups and one on one interviews can also be very effective in informing proactive people strategy development.

Recent examples include Bastion offering employees a monthly “Super Happy Day”, where offices will close for the month. Meanwhile, Australia’s most recently crowned Unicorn Canva recently announced that employees would only have to come into the office 8 times per year. Its recently unveiled new flexible work model will allow teams to determine how often employees will need to work from the office.

Now is the perfect time to ask the hard questions and gain the insights you need to extend your organisation’s strategy and lean into the proactive rather than languish in the reactive. What does the future of work look like for your company? What does success look like for your people as employees of your company? How do you ensure leaders and staff are equipped to support colleagues who are facing mental health challenges?

The answer sits squarely with how you are able to leverage flexibility, autonomy, emergent technology and social solutions to make people feel safe, valued and connected. Now is the time to drive dynamic strategic approaches that put people at the centre and make them a key part of the solution.

Mike Davis is a senior strategic advisor at Spark Strategy.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.