Reality Check: What Can Employers Learn From Recent News Stories?

Author:Mr Alastair Vettese
Profession:Withers LLP

TV bosses have had tough decisions to make in recent weeks as successful reality shows such as The Jeremy Kyle Show, Ex On The Beach and Love Island have come under scrutiny for the standard of care provided to participants both during and after filming. In their pursuit of ever higher ratings, producers have been forced to confront a reality of their own: that commercial success sometimes comes at an ethical price.

Many employers have to grapple with a similar dilemma when determining how best to incentivise profitability without rewarding bad behaviour. At a time when businesses are subject to increasing public scrutiny, and when a company's environmental and social impact often plays an important role in employee and customer recruitment and retention, the importance of workplace culture cannot be underestimated.

So how can you promote positive behaviour within your workforce without curbing the ambition and creativity of your employees? Here are three ideas:

Embed cultural expectations within your recruitment practices

Communicating your expectations as an employer starts well before your employees arrive for their first day. Publishing a job specification which sets out required behaviours, and adopting a recruitment process which actively tests for them, will ensure that applicants understand the balance of your priorities even before they are appointed. Keep in mind also how important the induction period can be: new starters may not remember every detail of your sickness policy, or the names and faces of those responsible for handling grievances, but the first impressions they form of how seriously you value positive behaviour will endure - and might even have been one of the reasons they applied for the job in the first place.

Adopt a more nuanced bonus structure

Offering bonuses can be an effective way to incentivise employees and to reward the delivery of key targets. Often bonuses are linked to financial success, both because it is more straightforwardly quantifiable, and because the employer only pays when it has the money to do so. Consider whether you can take a more nuanced approach: for example, by linking a company-wide bonus to sustainability measures, or by using a wider range of factors to determine whether an employee has been successful in their role.

Redefining success is particularly likely to resonate with millennials. A recent Deloitte Global Millennial Survey found that...

To continue reading