Practicing social distancing at work is a wise precaution for all of us. However, the pandemic has highlighted a more fundamental need to be closer. Steve Carter explains why leadership teams in large organisations need more engagement with their employees.
Few events in living memory have emphasised the value of reliable data more clearly than the outbreak of Covid-19. Unquestionably, the countries that have managed best are those that have been able to ‘track and trace’ effectively and make timely interventions when infections are identified.
And while it is the pressing need for infection control that’s focusing the minds of politicians and executives, it highlights a deeper problem.
Having the capability to capture and analyse data and then act upon insights in real-time, has always been essential for any leadership team. And this need is acute when it comes to managing people. Whether managing supply chains, planning staff rosters or auditing the efficacy of training; having a good understanding of your employees is vital.
Since 2004, FirstCare has been working with the UK’s largest organisations to reduce the huge personal and financial costs incurred when staff are unable to work.
Across both public and private sectors, we help leaders identify, understand and respond to the health and wellbeing needs of their employees. Our unique and effective approach combines nurse-led triage with advanced management tools and analytics that are easy to implement.
We provide managers with the knowledge to make the right decisions and the capabilities to act quickly; from a swift clinical referral through to a timely return to work.
Although this is all facilitated by smart technology and sophisticated processes, what we do is actually is very simple and very human. We bring management closer to their staff. And whether you're the CEO, CFO or HR Director, the benefits are unequivocal:
1. Pastoral care is good for productivity
Even the most cold-hearted leader (and we’re told than some CEOs are psychopaths) must recognise that organisations are more productive when employees feel appreciated and supported. Identifying problems as they emerge – whether physical or mental – allows for early intervention and support. If they go unnoticed, they will often get worse and then typically result in extended periods of leave or the departure of the member of staff.
2. There is no compliance without evidence
Most modern organisations are now subject to myriad legal and regulatory obligations. The way in which we manage and support staff is no exception; from taking reasonable measures to protect individual rights through ensuring someone who’s been off sick returns to work with the correct safeguards in place. If you have reliable systems and processes in place you can not just do the right thing, you can also provide the evidence whenever it’s needed.
3. Problems happen in clusters
If you can see a hotspot in your organisation where a particular problem is especially prevalent, it’s likely that there’s a common root cause. It might be due to an asymptomatic member of staff unwittingly spreading Covid or it could be due to failings in machinery or management. If you know the location and nature of a recurrent injury or illness, there’s a good chance that you can intervene to make things right.
4. Large organisations rely on reliable internal communications
Most of the most important messages you need to communicate are with your own staff. Management teams are wholly reliant of distributing key information about policies and best practice to people across the organisation. If your distribution centre is presenting high level of musculoskeletal injuries, it might be time to review your Health & Safety induction procedures. If an unusually large number of your staff in a particular team are missing work due to anxiety, you might need check if your Diversity training is reaching the right people.
5. Leaders set the standards
Whether you’re responsible for running a police service or a high-tech manufacturing business, your stakeholders will judge your performance against other similar organisations in your sector. You might be pleased with your staff turnover rate or attendance record, but success is always relative. It's the leaders who set the standards. Benchmarking your workforce against others in your industry is the only reliable way to see where you excel and where you need to improve.
These aren’t hypotheses or hunches, they’re demonstrable facts based on 16 years of data spanning millions of lost working days.
These are recurrent issues that incur costs to taxpayers, to shareholders... and to families like yours and mine.
Leaders face many challenges. Some we can overcome, and others (such as Covid) we can only mitigate. However, the 'closer' you and your management team get your workforce*, the better job you’ll be able to do.
*Figuratively, of course! FirstCare encourage everyone to follow the guidance designed to minimize the spread of coronavirus.