Are your employees in the wrong roles?

Organisational change is becoming a reality for more and more South African businesses, and is resulting in outplacement of employees on a regular basis – from a number of industries and sectors. Paired with an uncertain economic environment, and an employment industry fraught with challenges, this has resulted in many people seeking work outside of their usual job function or industry.

Right Management, a partner of the ManpowerGroup, recently conducted a study of 800 candidates who had been provided with outplacement services. While it was known that approximately half of the respondents had changed either their industry or function following outplacement, it was unknown whether this change was brought on by necessity or desire. This initial study found that one in five people— or 20% — had changed either their function or industry as a result of desire.

They viewed their career transition as an opportunity to re-set their career and pursue their passion rather than work as a means to an end. What was most surprising about the research was that people who chose to change career direction out of personal desire were significantly more engaged. When this difference in engagement was quantified, we found that the organisational impact of having one in five people in the wrong role was 0.7% of annual revenue.

“While hiring the right person for any role is not always an easy task, it is one that needs to be taken seriously – as it impacts the way the organisation runs, the working environment, as well as the business’ bottom line,” explains Lyndy van den Barselaar, Managing Director at ManpowerGroup South Africa. “Its people are a business’ most important asset, and if they are not fulfilling their roles then the effects on the business production and even reputation can be negative.”

The study was then expanded globally, surveying more than 4000 people. The percentage of people who wanted to change roles and the financial impact was comparable to the findings. Approximately one in four people pursues a new role out of personal desire, with a subsequent increase in engagement that mirrors the study. Research from global technology company CEB shows that the number of South African workers looking to leave their employers has more than doubled to 36.2% over a three-month period. The main reasons for this are dissatisfaction with total pay packets (69.9%) and future career opportunities (71.7%).

“It is not always easy for an employer to tell whether they have placed the employee in the right role – sometimes even the employee has a hard time realising their role may not be for them,” says van den Barselaar. Given the magnitude of the results it is critical that organisations ensure they are placing employees into the right roles.

Here are some recommendations—for individuals and for organisations—on how to maximise fit.

Recruitment: Research has shown that how a role is described during the interview and the reality of the job are often very different. While there is an element of marketing (on both sides) in any interview situation, there also is a need for honesty. “Interviewees should be informed about the challenges they may face in a role, and the expectations that will be placed on them should be explained and discussed in detail. This will ensure that there are no grey areas in terms of the job description or expectations, from the outset,” says van den Barselaar.

Career Development: The CEB survey also found that South Africa is one of the hardest-working nations, ranking fifth out of 40 countries polled, with over 31.6% of employees going above and beyond what is expected in their roles. Determining what motivates an individual employee requires managers to communicate effectively with their staff. It also requires staff to be clear about where they can potentially go, and where they actually do want to go. “Having a clear view of the potential employees career development plans can assist employers in making sure they are hiring the right people, and putting them into a role in which they will flourish,” she says.

Retention: It’s often said that people join organisations but leave managers. To retain talent, managers need to have an employee’s perspective at heart, yet at the same time be equipped to have tough conversations when required. “Employee retention strategies need to be taken seriously, and managers should be having open and honest discussions with their employees about performance, career development, role changes, organisational changes, and any other important topics. Employees who feel heard and valued within their organisation are more likely to display loyalty and to perform at their best,” explains van den Barselaar.

Regardless of the stage of the employee life cycle (attraction, motivation or retention), the key to an employee getting the most out of their role - and the organisation getting the most out of their employees – is job fit. Ensuring at every step in the life cycle that there is a strong skill and motivational fit will help decrease the number of people in the wrong role, increase employee engagement, and drive up organisational performance. ENDS

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