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I was heartened to see the interest displayed in your publication from a CFO — Denis Duverne of Axa — about the link between employee engagement and company performance (“Above & Beyond,” February).
Research for some years has pointed towards a close relationship between high employee engagement and bottom-line results, yet it appears that neither the finance function nor investment analysts have paid much attention to it.
To pinpoint meaningful ways of improving employee engagement at the department or business-unit level, it is necessary to analyse and interpret data in an integrated and disciplined way. This means bringing together data, such as employee attitude surveys, and business metrics, such as customer service, people productivity, staff turnover and investment in training. It requires both finance and HR functions to work in a joined-up way, which in our experience is not common.
From our market data, there is little evidence that workforces are becoming more engaged with their employers. For example, we are detecting increases in resignation rates and reductions in training that can have a potentially negative impact on company performance.
A greater interest on the part of finance, with its disciplined analytical skills, may help improve how the value of employee engagement is communicated to investors and thereby taken into account in investment decisions. Our latest human capital trends data, released this month on pwc.co.uk, will provide a timely barometer of companies’ progress in this area.
Partner, PwC Human Resource Services
This Year’s Deals
“Crisis, What Crisis?” (December/January) painted a good picture of the deals landscape in 2007. It may be worth noting the two most important repercussions of the changing landscape that the article describes.
First, with the increase in the cost of capital, advisers will be under pressure to justify deal-related efficiencies to their clients and the market. In theory, this more effective examination of the reasons behind deals being done could lead to stronger deal-making. Likewise, companies seeking funds from the equity markets will need a persuasive business case to be successful.
The second repercussion is heightened risk mitigation. The banking sector will be partially paralysed until the process of marking-to-market all debt obligations (and publicly reporting on them) is complete. Auditors will be under pressure to finalise audits swiftly, while limiting their own exposure to potential collapses. Ultimately, corporate and banking regulation may become tighter as regulators and governments on both sides of the Atlantic undergo knee-jerk reactions to the credit crunch.
Guru Comes Good
I read about Gary Hamel’s management work in “Talk about a Revolution” (November 2007) with interest. We at TriFinance have lived Hamel’s management philosophy since our inception in 2001 and we can confirm that it works.
Active in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, TriFinance employs close to 300 people who provide HR support to clients’ finance functions. For the most part, we have no hierarchy. We recruit self-starting, self-propelling finance professionals and manage them on a basis of trust rather than control. Bearing in mind our aim to empower our people, we have only one rule — ask for support when you get stuck. We invest 10% of our revenue in training and development, which helps staff to enhance their employability. We have no retention policy. We even help to move staff on to their next jobs when they can no longer achieve their potential at TriFinance.
Why do most organisations find it so difficult to apply similar management practices? Companies label their employees as their “most important asset” but they fail to align the company’s strategy to their employees’ objectives. Managers like their jobs and so maintain organisational hierarchies, hindering staff creativity and development. Control prevails over trust.
At TriFinance, with an average growth rate of 40% and extremely happy clients, we can confidently say Hamel’s management philosophy is working for us.
Director, HUB Management, TriFinance