Since 2011, the HR (Human Resources) – consultancy firm Hays is conducting annual empirical HR – studies together with IBE, the German Institute for Employment and Employability. Over the years, the ranking of the most important HR topics hasn’t changed much. The soft topics culture, leadership, and employee engagement and retention are clearly in the lead.
The big discrepancy between the importance of the above soft topics and their realisation has hardly changed. Companies weren’t able to achieve significant improvements. The reason is that these soft issues are difficult to tackle. There are no quick fixes. And it would need leaders who act in a sustainable way while addressing these issues. Leaders who are committed to make a difference. Leaders who serve and live as a role model every day.
The focus of the HR – report 2015/16 was on the topic company culture. 532 decision makers from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria participated in the study of Hays and IBE. The participants were from top management, HR leaders, and other employees from companies of different sizes and across all industries.
The top three HR – topics identified in the survey were the advancement of the company culture (41%), employee engagement and retention ((38%), and the furtherance of the employability (34%).
In the opinion of the participants, the company culture is most influenced through communication (34%), leadership (26%), and flexibility and willingness to change (25%).
There is a clear discrepancy in perception when it comes to the topics communication, and leadership. While 63% of top management marked the performance regarding communication very well or well, only 38% of the other survey participants rated it very well or well. A similar gap was found in the topic leadership. Here, 59% of top management rated it very well or well, however only 33% of the other participants marked it very well or well.
Regarding communication, the three most important topics stated were a) openness in critical topics (81% namings), b) appreciative communication between leaders and employees (72%), and c) establishment of a feedback culture (69%). However, the implementation rate for these three topics were considered as rather dissatisfying with a) 23%, b) 39%, and c) 29%.
The summary of the HR – study showed that
- there is a high gap between talking and taking action in the topics being considered the most important ( all these topics are soft topics)
- top management shows only rarely opennesswhen it comes to critical topics, and there is not enough open communication across hierarchies
- when it comes to leadership, not much has changed. Leaders often still apply the same old style. They claim to have no time. One main reason for that is the fact that leaders don’t empower their subordinates enough.
- when it comes to change, organizations are slow to compete with the speed of change in markets. Reasons are the little flexibility, and the low willingness to change.
In order to close the huge gap between the high importance of the before mentioned soft issues and their realisation, leaders have to understand that it will take time to solve these issues. Nevertheless, they need to commit and make it a priority to tackle these challenges which can lead to a competitive advantage. And they need to see the criticism as a chance, not a risk.