Though rebounding job numbers are no doubt a positive development for the nation and economy, they actually pose a mixed blessing for corporations and business enterprises.
Why? When employees succeed in finding a new job someplace else, their job performance and commitment often lag after they’ve given notice. In a sense, it’s human nature to take your foot off the gas and your eyes off the road when you’ve a new destination in mind. Furthermore, it’s likely that the professional leaving no longer considers the brand and reputation of the organization his/her priority. And, like a distracted or disinterested driver, that lack of attention and care may result in some serious damage — to their duties and to the reputation and brand of their employer.
That’s why I believe focusing on “conduct risk,” or “culture risk,” should be placed near the top of a business’ priority list. In my experience leading a division focused on corporate risk-sensing and reputation management, I’ve observed a “90/10” rule: that 90 percent of the hazardous workplace and professional behaviors arise or are magnified when an employee has set their sights on a new job and their focus dips.
I believe this is a hazard because your employees perform two critical services: they have a positive impact on your client base by doing quality work to the best of their abilities, and they serve as stewards of your enterprise’s reputation. If their performance declines because of lagging focus, your customers or clients will take notice and they will be acutely aware of low-quality service. Worse off, they may impact the organization’s reputation through one careless move with proprietary information, a click of a mouse on a social media site or an email to the wrong party. Many become disconnected from the organization’s purpose the day they give notice.
Businesses and leaders may want to address this in a two-pronged way: proactive awareness and the use of tools and technologies to continuously monitor employee conduct and culture throughout an employee’s life cycle.
A number of methods can be put into place to boost awareness in the workplace so that business leaders can stop a threat in its tracks. By having an environment where staff productively and positively perpetuates quality work from the top levels down, you can lower the odds that a decline in job commitment or behavior is permitted. When an employee gives notice, there are ways to surround that employee with the proper guidance to reiterate their obligations to the organization until the day they leave.
There are also technological tools through cutting-edge information technology that can detect odd shifts in behavior that can be examined for potentially out-of-line activity. Cognitive technology and surveying your employees may play a role in this cultural risk sensing process. These tools can be used to understand and react to employee behavior until the day one leaves the organization.
As much as businesses are focused on their outward branding investments, it’s worth the time, energy and resources to inculcate the workplace with an internal brand and reputation. When you can identify and define the behavioral goals of your personnel and create a consistent tone and monitoring mechanisms, you can reinforce expectations and provide day-to-day support in maintaining it.
The issues surrounding “culture risk” are on the rise: the new demographic of millennials entering the workforce with a unique world view, contingent workforces, mergers and the internal attempts to strike the right blend of tone and the refreshing attention to work-life balance that carries with it a new set of challenges. All of these and more can be incorporated into a successful and effective business, but they require leaders with the vision and attention to put practices in play.
I remember early in my professional career hearing friends and colleagues say, first impressions are vital in setting a tone, but everyone remembers how you leave and that lasting legacy. Businesses owe it themselves to take actions today and every day to help ensure that their personnel set a consistent performance standard and live up to it until their last day at the office — to project a legacy of reputational excellence for themselves and their business.