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A winning workforce: how do you measure a successful business? One employee at a time.

The drive to stay ahead of the competition while exceeding consumer demands for excellent customer service continues to be a leading factor for businesses."

Never has the reality of this statement had a greater impact on businesses. The demands facing companies today are, at times, overwhelming. Further analysis identifies several fundamental driving forces that directly influence business outcomes.

Driving forces for consumers:

* Sophisticated and discriminating purchasing habits.

* Unparalleled demands for customer service that exceeds all boundaries.

Driving forces for businesses:

* Increased competition.

* Ongoing budget constraints.

* Employee workforce.

To achieve positive outcomes for each of these driving forces, business leaders generally focus on specific strategies and targets. There is, however, a common denominator present within each driving force that can produce a direct return on the investment and, quite often, has the greatest impact for successful outcomes and that is the employee workforce.

Whether a company has five or 5,000 employees, the measure of a successful business lies directly with the talents of employees. Leading companies understand that today's employees need to be as sophisticated as the customers they service. For business leaders, that requires creating strategies that makes their employees key stakeholders. For some, identifying employees as key stakeholders appears to be a "fluffy statement" that has no direct correlation or relevance for a successful business. But for leaders who embrace and advance this concept, their employee workforce generally reflects their core values and beliefs, comprehends their fundamental business objectives and has the talents and motivation to deliver positive outcomes.

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 strategies for winning the workforce war

Strategy 1: Create, integrate and frequently communicate the core values

Core values are the guiding principles of a company. These values set the tone for business ethics and how one daily interacts with internal and external customers. Core values may also be described as the company's basic "blueprints." These blueprints facilitate creating standards for the most fundamental processes such as operational policies and procedures, employee handbooks, the flow of ongoing communication up and down the company ladder and how every employee is treated within the company. Those companies that believe it is unnecessary to establish, integrate and frequently communicate core values generally find themselves with a regular diet of employee turnover coupled with a workforce that lacks the desired performance and productivity.

Strategy 2: Align all hiring practices

The fundamental process of hiring and selecting new employees should always reflect a company's core values. During the interview, every question and subsequent response should line up with the core values and beliefs of the company. Hiring employees that do not clearly demonstrate, through past experiences, the behaviors and the level of performance that is required ultimately, over time, reduce the effectiveness of any company. To that end, it is essential that every leader responsible for any portion of the hiring process clearly comprehends and consistently executes the established hiring practices. Moreover, companies that standardize all parts of the hiring process (background checks, behavioral interviewing and testing, etc.) have a greater success rate of hiring and keeping talent that mirrors their company culture.

Strategy 3: Measure the impact of employee training and development

From the first day of orientation and beyond, employees that receive regular training opportunities gain knowledge and skills that can produce a significant return on investment. Jack Welch, former CEO of G.E. states, "In the end, the desire and ability of an organization to continuously learn from any source anywhere and rapidly convert this learning into action, is its ultimate competitive advantage." While ongoing training is critical for the competitive advantage of a company, business leaders should only provide training that can be measured i.e., level of customer service, production rate, etc. Regular and objective measurements strengthen accountability.

Strategy 4: Measure employee performance

Like any other business indicator, regularly measuring the performance of employees is critical. These measurements, if properly designed, will establish clearly communicated performance expectations, provide ongoing coaching and feedback, resolve performance deficiencies and if necessary, facilitate the release of underperforming employees in a timely manner.

Source: The HR Enterprise Group

Sam Albanese is president and principal consultant of The HR Enterprise Group LLC in Troy, a Silver-level member of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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Title Annotation:Human Resources
Author:Albanese, Sam
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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