How to promote staff internally without the drama

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Morna Metzger of Metzger Search & Selection offers insights on how to smooth the path to staff promotion within a company by enabling a staff welfare programme

In the cleaning industry, specifically in larger more established organisations, there are those employees who have trained for a certain manual role and, over time, developed other skills. This may be through study, observation or experience. In this way, they may acquire valuable people skills or become more adept at analysis and problem solving, making them prime candidates for a move into management.

Astute employers will detect the change and the skill evolution in their employee and help to develop their career further within the organisation, for example by sponsoring them to complete a further education qualification.

For the employee, the change involved in moving from a manual role to a managerial one can be challenging as they learn about a different working culture. For their colleagues who are not making this transition, the reactions can vary from positive to negative. If senior management is considering this kind of internal promotion, the question arises as to how they manage the transition as smoothly as possible, both administratively and culturally.

Communication and change

A tricky issue at this point is usually the extent to which the employee should be asked to maintain confidentiality about the promotion offer as far as workmates are concerned. Workplace gossip does occur and makes it virtually impossible to keep anything secret for very long, but it should be possible to maintain confidentiality about the actual terms of offers made and accepted.

The traditional position from the employer’s point of view would be that confidentiality is important to discourage opening of the floodgates. Other employees may expect benefits by similar means, whatever their ability or potential. This expectation presents with it a delicate balancing act of exercising fair means of satisfying the workforce, maintaining good internal relationships and cultivating a positive external image.

Regarding the latter, to some degree, information about your business’ approach to helping able employees with professional advancement and new skills will spread by word-of-mouth. If you manage to maintain a positive culture within the company, it also helps to reinforce the brand outside, including to recruitment advisers, potential new employees and other key stakeholders.

The benefit of a staff welfare scheme

Possibly the best way to manage staff relations at that pivotal point where a promising employee is advancing, is to use it as a catalyst to launch a new or improved staff welfare scheme. This is an area where some of our clients have sought advice and assistance from us over the years.

The scheme should be announced as a new benefit to staff members who have demonstrated commitment and acumen contributing to the growth and reputation of the business. Furthermore, that they have the potential to progress taking a role in the company’s management.

Explain that the first new role and benefits have been offered to someone under the scheme. Thereafter, invite the staff to engage with proposals on how the business could be improved, made more profitable or made a better place to work.

As part of the briefing, employers should also explain that, in future, every employee will be interviewed as part of the approvals process to get their views on the company’s progress and on what might be done to improve it. Emphasise that the quality of contributions made to these meetings will influence whether individuals will be considered for advancement and access to other benefits like funded training.

Face to face discussions usually produce the most reliable results, while also giving employees an opportunity to express any previously undiscussed or hidden areas of discontent.

The very fact that the company is talking to each individual employee to find out what they think should improve employer/employee engagement and foster a more accessible relationship. This approach also constitutes a valuable element in the company’s reputation because it demonstrates that it openly cares about employees and their opinions.

Enhanced employer brand

Having established a staff welfare scheme to help you identify and help promising people within the business with potential to develop, it will help your company with future recruitment if you promote the ways in which you are enabling career advancement.

Some established means of developing a positive employer brand are:

  • Promoting the business’s successes for customers through press releases and local press interviews, emphasising the importance of the contribution made by local staff.
  • Sharing updates on the scheme in client/partner newsletters (as well as internal newsletters – news spreads!)
  • Promoting the progress and success of leisure interest groups associated with the company – from the company football team to, for example, groups of employees who raise money for Comic Relief or Children in Need.
  • Similarly, promoting to trade and regional media, significant successes by individual staff members. A press announcement of the success of your first employee funded through further education in your local newspaper, or featured on your local television or radio station news, will raise awareness of your initiatives and brand you as an employer of choice.
  • Making modest budgets available to sponsor worthy staff endeavours for charities and promoting the fact that you have done so.

There are other approaches both to generating awareness of the organisation’s employer brand and of creating new awareness. Engaging the services of a good PR consultancy will help to source ideas and proposals to sustain growth in employer brand awareness, and to counter any perceived negative comment on the company.

It is in every organisation’s interests for its long-term growth, profitability and success to take positive steps to generate staff loyalty and approval. Creating awareness in the employment market of the benefits of working for their organisation. Investment in employer branding will be amply repaid.