Employee engagement comes from feeling valued

By Mark Picken

It’s one of the deadly sins I know but last year’s win at the Leasing World Awards, in the Independent Lessor category, filled me with pride. While most of our senior management team was there to enjoy the occasion, I was particularly keen to get back and share the great news with the troops. Every one of whom had, in some way, contributed to our success.

We’re very fortunate. A combination of geography, and a strong family tradition coupled with continued growth, has meant that attracting and retaining good staff has, to date, not been an issue. A close-knit community, Shire’s people are bound by a collective loyalty and most stay for years, many even for decades. But I’m aware that “the times they are a-changing” and I am regularly reading about a new band of employees coming out of education and entering the workplace.

Generation Z, or the post-millennials as they’re also referred to, are noted for different career expectations beyond financial reward and opportunities for advancement. Characterised as less loyal and quicker to move on, less money-driven, and preferring traditional methods of communication (including face-to-face meetings) they are said to lack focus and concentration.

As far back as 2014 Entrepreneur magazine was cautioning business leaders about the disruption that these work-newbies born after 1995 might cause, and meting out advice as to how they should best be handled. Needing to be taken seriously and to know that they are reporting to an honest leader, they are set to bring some challenges, but with unprecedented multi-tasking abilities and entrepreneurial spirit, they offer great opportunities for the employer too.

There are admirers of Richard Branson and what he terms “the Virgin way”. Professing to never having read a book on HR theory or people management, much has been written about his style of leadership and he makes no secret of his belief that if staff are happy, customers will follow. It’s testament to his strong leadership that this thinking has become embedded within the culture of the organisation. The result? Empowered and engaged employees, great staff retention and, ultimately, business success.

“Our people are our greatest asset” has become a well-worn phrase. We are in an industry that, better than any other, understands the importance of assets and recognises the individual value of each of them. Keeping our people happy, young or old and whatever their demographic, is how we’ll reward that value. Going forward it seems there is no “one size fits all” means to achieve that.  

Mark Picken, pictured above, is Managing Director, Shire Leasing PLC