I’m taking Derek Irvine up on his offer to respond to his blog (What are you bringing to the top table? 01.09.11), which I read with great interest. This is certainly a question that the HR community has been and should continue to ask themselves.
The question is how do they get and keep the attention of business leaders that have extremely short attention spans? The answer is, keep it brief and talk their language (the language of the bottom line). The best advice for anyone wanting to grab the attention of someone who is important and time-pressed in all areas of the business is to go in with a one pager. It’s about distilling a lot of preparation and information into one simple, hard hitting document.
HR has always struggled to get the attention of the board, even more so when they are put in front of this toughest of crowds. Here are some more metrics this one-pager should include to ensure HR is viewed by the ‘top table’ as an essential asset to the organisation.
Productivity = money: the board wants to know that its workforce is productive. A productive workforce means more money. It’s as simple as that. They will know that an engaged workforce is a productive workforce, but if you’re fighting for space at the top table this will likely mean that this hasn’t been translated into tangible business strategy.
Raise their eyebrows: knock them out with hard hitting stats that prove an engaged employee is more productive – they take 3.5 fewer sick days and are 10 times more likely to stay in their company longer than disengaged colleagues. Gallup estimates actively disengaged workers cost US business between $270 and $343 billion a year due to low productivity.
Make them sit up in their seats: show them the number of sick days and the staff turnover rates in their organisation. Translate that into actual cost to their business on a quarterly or yearly basis – they’ll soon be sat up and paying attention.
Chewing nails: you’ve made the case that if they want a productive workforce, they need an engaged workforce. Here is where your preparation comes into its own. You need to analyse just how engaged your workforce is as a whole, and more importantly, identify which teams or offices are experiencing the lowest ebbs. More crucially, compare the low ebbs with productivity or revenue levels – if you can show that low engagement match poor results this is your chance for HR to be the driving force for change in the business.