(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

In the growth process of any business, there comes a time when it either has to train existing staff to perform new roles or bring in new staff that can already perform those roles.

This is a very important and sometimes very expensive process but quite often, the needed skills set is already available within the existing workforce.

A recent survey by us, as part of the Giving HR a Voice series, found that 39% of companies were unaware of the full range of skills possessed by their employees.

This is a very worrying fact.

If employers are unaware of their employees' talents and capabilities then it is clear that performance cannot be monitored effectively.

This in turn will have a knock on effect, causing disaffection amongst the workforce and leading to poor company morale.

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Performance Management

Performance management plays a pivotal role to the bottom line delivery and return on investment (ROI) of a company. By managing the performance of individuals in a way that is unique to each person, HR can ensure people feel enfranchised and that employee skill sets can be maximised.

Unfortunately for many companies, the process of appraising staff is just a series of tick boxes that does nothing to encourage employers or motivate employees. In order for appraisals to deliver a genuine ROI, the process must have a direct benefit to the business.

It must also have a direct link to how the employee perceives their role in the business and how, by helping them achieve their personal goals, it also ties into benefiting the overall business too. Unless appraisals factor in both these key areas, the process becomes more or less redundant.

Companies that isolate the appraisal process to an annual or even bi-annual event will often struggle with productivity and employee development as it means there isn't an on-going conversation about how the employee is developing or how their individual skill sets can be best utilised within the organisation.

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Radical Changes

The difficult economic climate has also meant radical changes for some companies.

In some cases, this means engagement has been left to line managers whilst HR directors tackle unexpected issues. Having the right HR system will provide detailed insight into the workforce that will allow HR to develop and execute an employee engagement strategy that will look after employees and help them become more efficient.

Many companies either do not have an employee engagement strategy or fail to align their review process to the engagement strategy.

Another survey found that 79% of respondents rated employee engagement a high priority but only 41% had a strategy in place.

An employee engagement strategy outlines a company's intention to carry its employees along on its journey and this creates a better employee experience.

By creating a better experience for employees, employers only stand to gain a higher level of return. Employees need to feel driven to ensure they are performing at optimum capacity.

Talent Recognition of Existing Staff

Companies also have to actively seek to recognise existing employees' skills and competencies.

Companies need to create a system of collecting information on its employees that works within its context and supports the management with their objectives. This approach will also support other areas within the company's HR strategy, for example succession planning, creating leadership roles and internal mobility.

There is also a need to have an effective reward system in place. Nothing motivates like praise and rewards, and not all rewards have to involve money. If employees feel like they will receive a reward for using a skill they already possess, they are more likely to step forward. As employees are encouraged, their independence and responsibility is increased and creativity is stimulated.

To instigate or carry on any growth in business, companies must prioritise making the most of existing talent and resources before seeking to bring in new ones.

As much as bringing fresh blood can spur a business on to bigger and better things, the ill-effect of employing a new member of staff to perform a function that an existing member of staff feels they can do should not be underestimated.

It is very easy to look around enviously at other companies and the talents they possess but sometimes, the solution lies with making the most of what you have.

Lee Grant is the international vice-president at HR management firm Youforce.