Six Hot Button Issues that Could Cost Millions Richard J. Anthony, Sr.As if they didnt have enough to worry about, employers are facing six hot buttonissues that could cost millions. If not addressed, these are the issues that sinkcompanies or stunt growth. The common denominator is PEOPLE.As business consultants, we see many of the same insidious issues taking root insmall and midsize firms as well large companies. They sap valuable resourcesout of organizations and often go unnoticed until a crisis develops, requiring evenmore effort and dollars to fix the problem. The cost in hard and soft dollars isimmense; in lost opportunity, incalculable.Issue #1 — People Do What’s Valued, Observed, Measured and RewardedCompensation programs fail because they no longer fit the organizations theywere designed for, assuming it was a good fit to begin with. They’re out of syncwith the behaviors that are really valued. They’re not linked to observable,measurable behaviors and outcomes. And they don’t have the correct ratioof fixed to variable pay. The consequences of “failure of fit” pay programs areworse when economic pressures flat line compensation, resulting in low morale,lower productivity and wasted financial resources.Issue #2 — Boomers on the MarchWon’t be long before the first wave of Baby Boomers vacate their jobs, takingwith them years of experience and a work ethic that wasn’t perfect, but preferablein many cases to the workforce a generation or two behind them. Yet mostemployers are doing nothing to plan for the exodus. According to a survey of 200corporate HR professionals in the Philadelphia region, more than 85% ofrespondents reported they have no retirement planning process in place andover 90% said they have no plans to modify pay or benefits or hours of work toaccommodate the Baby Boomers who are about to transition to the next stage oftheir lives.Issue #3 — Intergenerational Conflict in the WorkplaceFor the first time in history, four generations of workers are sharing theworkplace. Ask any first line supervisor how difficult it is to build bridges ofunderstanding, tolerance and respect among the generations vying foropportunity, recognition and reward. Respect in the workplace is no longerlimited to adherence to policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination;productivity is up or down depending upon how well four very differentgenerations are able to get beyond their differences to achieve competitiveadvantage. Getting there requires a different set of rules about how to managepeople and turn intergenerational variances into a competitive advantage.
Issue #4 — Seven Questions All Employees HaveMoney might get qualified recruits in the door but it won’t necessarily keep themin the house. Savvy employers are taking a close look at their recruitmentand retention strategies because of the increasing cost of hiring, onboarding andtraining employees. Quality candidates for any job are always in a seller’smarket. They have to connect with a prospective employer and over time theyrequire the answers to seven questions: What’s my job? Am I valued? How am Idoing? Where are we going? How do I fit in? How can I help? What’s in it for me?Coming up with compelling, credible answers is hard work. But necessary workto ensure enough of the right people, doing the right things, consistently.Issue #5 — Succession Planning in the BreachAll of the data show that most companies do not have succession plans in place.The predictable result is that American business is facing a looming leadershipcrisis, according to statistics from the US Department of Labor. In thePhiladelphia region, for example, it is estimated that more than half of privatelyheld companies have not planned to replace their CEOs, many of whom foundedtheir companies decades ago. The reasons for the lack of preparedness rangefrom delusions of immortality to not knowing how to plan for a transfer of power.The most common reason is simply procrastination. Is it any wonder that mostfirst generation companies don’t make it past their founders?Issue #6 — Mass Customized CommunicationIn a college class titled “Organizational and Leadership Communication,” I teachthat effective communication begins with establishing an environment of mutualtrust and respect. An equally important point is that in today’s digitized world,there is no such thing as mass communication. The technology that has broughtus instantaneous, real-time access to information has enabled mass customizedcommunication— essentially the same message packaged differently to reachvertical segments of large demographic groups. The Internet is the best example:millions of websites, blogs, social networks and affinity groups that never sleep.The rumor mill, always the bane of top management because of its speed andaccuracy, is built in to modern communication. The challenge is to fashioncommunications that excite, engage and motivate the workforce to fight for andhold on to competitive advantage._____________________________________________________________Richard J. Anthony, sr., is founder and managing director of The SolutionsNetwork, inc., a consulting firm specializing in human resource management andperformance improvement. He is the author of Organizations, People & EffectiveCommunication and teaches courses in organizational and leadershipcommunication at Villanova University. He is the founder of the Entrepreneurs
Network, a venue for aspiring and serial entrepreneurs and accredited angelinvestors.