under the hammer

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Having been fortunate enough to have undertaken business directly with Steve Jobs back in his NeXT days I was intrigued to see that a job application, submitted by the supreme being, will imminently go up for auction. With an estimated value in the tens of thousands it was reassuring to see his spelling, grammar and punctuation was just as poor as it had been in his hand-written and faxed offer-letters some twenty years later. On the form he lists his name as “Steven jobs” and “from Bay near Hewitt-Packard” (sic) and informed the reader that whilst he had a driving licence his access to a vehicle was “possible, but not probable”. Furthermore, the ultimate irony is that next to “Phone” he wrote “none”. Priceless.

Notwithstanding those offers receiving a somewhat mixed response from the UK audience, he was largely successful at getting those he wanted to join to do so. And, to his credit, he was savvy at keeping them happy and on-board. Having spent an eternity in recruitment it’ll come as no surprise that losing employees is damned expensive, as is paying salaries to unhappy, unproductive staff. According to Oxford Economics the total cost of replacing an employee, when all factors such as training, paid holidays, notice periods, recruiting & advertising costs, hiring time and missed opportunities are taken into account, currently stands at over £30,000. Consequently, the business case for keeping staff happy and engaged is compelling!

Now, not all companies can be an Apple, or even a NeXT for that matter, but all organisations in today’s increasingly competitive and disruptive environment need to be more than aware of what keeps their employees happy, content and glad to hang around for the long-haul. Furthermore, changing employment patterns, an aging workforce, shifting expectations and increasing economic uncertainty mean that employers are needing to up their game and adopt more agile & responsive practices. And the bad news is there are no real short-cuts to be had and no amount of bean-bags, free pizza and pool tables will make amends for a poor working environment.

To my simple mind, organisations have little alternative but to pay sincere and genuine attention to all the facets of an employee’s work experience: inclusion, communication, working relations, training & development, management, security, reward, flexibility, work/life balance and recognition. Once upon a time all these could be compensated and hidden by the ‘green-back’ but quality employees aren’t now coming to work just to earn money, they want to engage and thrive. Rewarding work in a supportive culture is now recognised as crucial to the success of any workforce within all organisations. Mind, I do wonder how long this will take to translate from the search engine optimisers of Shoreditch to the zero-hour cleaning contractors of Crewe & Nantwich and the Deliveroo drivers of Deptford…