Fusing my passion for sport and past athletic experiences with a fascination for human behaviour, I have been fortunate enough to work as a sports psychologist for the last 17 years. I quickly came to realise that my services in performance enhancement are often seen as a “nice to have” as opposed to a critical element of success. Whilst any high performing sports team, as well as a plethora of research, will tell you that the psychology of performance has a direct effect on success, this view prevails. Similarly, in the corporate world, oftentimes an organisational effectiveness (OE) strategy is viewed in a similar manner. So why is this the case when research across a number of industry sectors demonstrates direct performance benefits associated with a positive workplace culture? At the coal face, practical experience also underlines the critical nature of developing and implementing an OE strategy as a means to achieve an organisations’ potential.
Concerns around assessing return on investment are often one reason for a lack of formal OE strategies. In analysing the economic benefits, a range of Fortune 500 companies consider metrics such as:
- turnover costs
- employee replacement costs
- value of employee self-care behaviours
- development of superior selection tests
- training levels and requirements
- additional recruiting costs
- increased job satisfaction and organisational commitment
- performance levels in specific roles
Capturing and analysing such metrics can provide the evidence desired in supporting the efficacy of an OE strategy for your business.
A poignant example of an organisation that has recently developed and implemented a multifaceted OE strategy is the Arts Centre Melbourne (ACM). In 2013 ACM made a loss of $7 million, and the subsequently appointed CEO saw an opportunity for change, engaging external partners such as PeopleScape to work alongside the executive team:
“How we deliver our experiences is as important as what we deliver. We put people and culture as our number one priority for change, elevating HR to the Executive table and making it a strategic contributor. We defined our target internal culture with our senior leaders and then embedded this within all of our systems, processes and relationships. Equipping our people leaders with the skills to embrace and drive this culture became a major focus.’” – Claire Spencer, ACM CEO
Delivery of the OE strategy has resulted in a number of benefits including a significant increase in staff engagement as measured by surveys in 2015 versus 2016, the publishing of a communique to detail ACM’s purpose, vision, and values, a 97% positive customer satisfaction rating in the 2015/2016 financial year, and a return to profit generation, much generated commercially.
Perhaps your organisation does already have an OE strategy in place, but have you considered whether it addresses all of the important areas that contribute to performance? Organisations should be encouraged to consider how to recruit and select the right people for their strategy, utilising the very best assessment tools, capability frameworks and talent mapping techniques. Once part of the organisation, efforts should be made to develop individual employees through coaching, developing leadership skills and fostering positive team dynamics. In support of a positive and high performing culture, it is important to focus on employee engagement in line with personal and organisational values, and enhancement of employee wellbeing. Finally, alignment of employees with organisational strategy is vital, through career planning and development, career transition services and overall organisational design.
Furthermore, each organisation is unique, and needs to consider whether they are investing the right mix of energy, time, and budget into the overarching OE strategy; a consideration which will be dynamic. Championing a strategic rather than a reactive approach to OE can both prevent issues from occurring, as well as support optimal performance. So whilst the task of developing and implementing a tailored OE strategy for your business may appear to be a mammoth undertaking, approached systematically and incorporating tailored, evidence-based advice from OE professionals such as PeopleScape, the effort will pay dividends. “A great workplace is one in which you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you are working with” (Levering, 2000, p 26).