Friday, 20 January 2012

2012 Resolution: attract and keep the right people for your workplace

Getting people in

It's all very well having the best methods of selection, but you need to get motivated, capable and well-fitted people interested in working with you.

1. Cultivate a good word-of-mouth reputation to attract highly educated graduates. So treat existing employees well and avoid allegations of hypocrisy by ensuring your internal culture fits with your external brand.  The received wisdom of 'campus presence' turns out to be on rather flimsier ground  (it may even be counterproductive for world-wise candidates), but the evidence is that people trust word-of-mouth.

2. Ensure online recruitment materials reveal the diversity within the office. There's evidence that both black and white applicants are more likely to peruse sites that present images of diversity, treating it as a marker of merit. Of course, this doesn't mean misleading applicants as to the true nature of your workplace!

3. Treat your intake of young  workers as you do graduates: as an investment in the future. Many industries rely heavily on young workers, and experts argue we should take this work more seriously, offering better working conditions, access to training and recognising good performance. That way, those who thrive will recommend their workplace to their social circles, reducing churn costs, and may themselves stay with the company into adulthood, or return after studies.

Keeping people sweet

We're living in an era of unprecedented attention to the notion of wellbeing, satisfaction and happiness. Even if we believe that material conditions are primary – for instance, that money buys you happiness – there are undoubtedly other measure we can take to better conditions in the workplace, and here the psychological literature can really help.

4. Explore whether your older employees are hankering after managerial responsibilities. Employees older than 45 have a stronger preference to supervise others than their younger colleagues. Of course, "want to" does not equate to "should", but such preferences are likely to drive engagement, so it's unwise to ignore them, especially in a workforce, which, at least in the first world, is ageing at an unprecedented rate.

5. Take up volunteering. An unexpected resolution? People who volunteer time out of work gain benefits they carry into the following working day. Actually, it shouldn't surprise: volunteering epitomises many of the evidence-based five ways to wellbeing, including giving, connecting to others, and (often) a degree of physical activity.

6. Experiment with focused breaks to enhance health and energy at work. Maintaining our health at work allows us to function better and avoid illness, stress and burnout. So you may want to explore the idea of packaging activities such as mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises or physical activity into bite-size packages during the working day.


There is a potential dark side to a focus on enjoyment on the workplace. As outlined in this article, emphasis on "fun" can end up being inauthentic, pressurise everyone into the same mould, and draw young workers into unhealthy dependency on their employer as the source of their social support as well as income. So stand up to cynical uses of fun and socialising in the workplace (7).

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