How energising your employees can deliver the ultimate savings
Let’s face it, whether you’re a brand new employee or the CEO – we all know that work is changing to some extent right now – and will continue to change for the foreseeable future. One of the things that most people are blatantly aware of is the need to reduce costs and to deliver sustainable transformations, whilst rebuilding the employee experience. At the end of the day, it’s our people who are the ones who will deliver the transformation.
Let’s face it, whether you’re a brand new employee or the CEO – we all know that work is changing to some extent right now – and will continue to change for the foreseeable future.
One of the things that most people are blatantly aware of is the need to reduce costs and to deliver sustainable transformations, whilst rebuilding the employee experience. At the end of the day, it’s our people who are the ones who will deliver the transformation.
During uncertainty, our people are concerned about the future – giving employees input and ownership about how we can improve our business will give them some hope, control and will help to rebuild any lost engagement within your organisation.
The purpose of this blog is to:
- Share ideas about how to deliver cost and efficiency savings led by your PEOPLE, and to
- Provide a range of examples to help get your people thinking about identifying savings.
Organisations face a quandary about finding the right balance between employee experience, cost reduction and delivering a transformation that is focused on the customer, your processes and technology. This is a crucial balance that will directly affect the success of transitioning to new norms and sustaining performance over time.
The key to delivering savings is to focus on your enablers, your people, your culture and your strategy. If you are able to create a strong employee experience, you will actively inspire your people to build a strong culture that will help embrace savings and execute your transformation strategy effectively.
“Employees need to feel positively motivated to support decisions and commit to behavioural change that reduces costs…cost-cutting and layoffs fail when executives simply try to mandate attitudes and behaviours” (Cutting Company Costs – Motivate don’t mandate, 2008).
There is an array of tips to re-engage and energise your people to lead cost and efficiency savings
Re-igniting a Team’s Purpose and building strong Psychological Safety can positively motivate employees’ to innovate, change and deliver cost reductions:
- When employees have a strong sense of purpose and belonging it often translates to empowerment and accountability.
- Psychological safety creates open communication where concerns, risks and improvements are discussed openly and high team dependability converts to high engagement, motivation and a bias action.
The power of organisational purpose and psychological safety was personally demonstrated to me whilst working in the Banking and Finance Sector; our team committed to working with a customer from the science sector to develop a program––Talented Leaders––however the budget was slashed and we were faced with cancelling the whole program. The team needed to pull together and together, we focussed on our purpose and committed to delivering the program regardless. As a result of our team’s strong level of psychological safety and commitment to our purpose, we were able to re-design the work and its delivery at 40% of the original budget. This made a significant difference to our customers, our reputation and the science sector as a whole.
Use HCD principles to involve employees in all stages (design, delivering and embedding) of the cost-cutting, efficiency savings, and the transformation:
Work with your people to identify Continuous Improvement (CI) initiatives that reduce costs:
- A simple, yet valuable tip is to explicitly give your people permission to come up with what they want to improve.
- Your people know the complexities of your business, and often understand what actually happens versus what happens on paper.
- Your people use your organisational systems every day – use this knowledge to identify cost-cutting initiatives and empower your employees to deliver them.
A great example is from one of my CI roles in the Oil Industry. We implemented a CI Program across a site that asked everyone to come up with ideas for cost-cutting and improvements, and the response was amazing. People identified a wide range of potential savings and it was an incredible process to see employees empowered to change and improve their own business.
The Planning Team identified a range of pain points with long term maintenance planning and designed a whole new process for a break in work, which in turn delivered significant savings to the long term operational budget.
Agile Ways of Working are effective initiatives that improve or redesign current processes:
- Employees use your systems every day and understand how they really work; employees can identify inefficiencies that may duplicate and/or misalign processes which cause frustration and employee disengagement.
- These new ways of working enable your people to focus on your strategic priorities by eliminating ineffective ways of working, free up peoples’ time, and improve employee engagement.
A great example from the Banking and Finance industry is automating the whole Talent Management process. We recognised that our team had 6 manual processes that fed into the Talent ID and development process, which created inaccurate data, duplicated work, frustrated Leaders and an ineffective process. However, redesigning the Technology based on Customer needs delivered a robust system that was adopted across the entire business.
Process improvements are also effective initiatives that cut costs or improve efficiency:
- This can be done to scale, on a 1 on 1 coaching basis, across a team or an organisation.
- Often your team will have the solutions to pain points – and all they need is the time, space and explicit permission, or ‘license to operate’ from Leaders.
- Process improvements can be far-reaching and have high impact – ranging from Customer, Technology, Process to People and Strategy.
A great example is from when I worked in a wholesale business, we introduced a new accounting system nationwide across many industries. The new technology was implemented well, however, 6 months in, management reporting recognised that my region’s margin had decreased by 5% although sales were constant. Management had been working on the issue for around a month – and decided to share it in one of our monthly regional team meetings – they just couldn’t work out what was happening. The nanosecond the problem was shared, I knew the root cause – it was the way our new accounting system allocated a ‘sale commission’ within the Fishing industry; the system allocated a commission to every drum sold versus every sale – ie. 20 commissions, versus 1. Problem solved!
Inspiring your people to deliver savings can lead improvements from an incremental process to a breakthrough level…The key to inspiring your employees is using HCD methodology to include people (employees & customers) at the centre of your work. An engaged, purpose-led workforce will embrace cost efficiencies and lead the change.
So, to really empower your people, celebrate their successes (big & small) and embrace an open mindset for the transformation that is evolving right now.
Share your feedback with us! – We’re keen to hear your comments.