To Be, or Not To Be

May / 2021

Note to reader – I am not standing holding a skull looking mournfully into the distance, or wearing a Shakespearean ruff before you ask… To be, or not to be, is the most widely known, and quoted lines in modern English.

 How Do You Manage Your People?

After giving it some serious thought, I’ve slightly rephrased the question but with the same dedicated meaning using a bit of poetic license.  In this blog, the question is – are you an employer of choice?  You either are, or you are not, there is no in-between. 

In asking yourself this fundamental business question you might further add, ‘we want to attract and retain top talent’.  We know that every company on the planet is a people-driven operation, the only difference is you might manufacture cars, you might sell insurance, or you might make some cookies.  It all comes down to how you lead and manage those people that make the difference.

If you have ten minutes, search any three company’s annual financial reports or statements, look up the ‘our people’ section.  What is the difference and what sets them apart?  What did they all say? One thing for sure you’ll find is the line ‘we provide an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)’.  90% of companies will say this, maybe a free bowl of fruit (on a Friday), or allow you to wear odd color socks (on a Wednesday) …

Employers must think employees have just arrived from Mars if they think such quotes will inspire them to join their company (and retain them) – the average cost of an EAP in the US is between $12-$40 ANNUALLY PER EMPLOYEE. That’s a jaw-dropping $1-$3.3 per month they’re investing in you which cannot be argued as a serious attraction for me to join your company, or even persuade me to stay. 

The savvy employee can put this question to any search engine like me to discover this information, and still, employers say those three-letter letters with beaming pride and think that’s all they need to do and say to be different from everybody else.

Build Trust 

It is said that the reason employee usage of an EAP is as low as 3.5 – 7% is trust. Employees need to know and trust the person they speak to, and while the stigma surrounding poor mental wellbeing or complexity management still exists, awareness and normalization are the key battlegrounds.  When an employee in distress calls your EAP confidential line they’re not sure if they’ll speak to Colin in California, Tracy in Tennessee, or Neil in New York. 

What they also fear is where does this information go. Third-party engagement is essential, but employees need to know and trust the person they are having that conversation with, can picture them, and know what they look like to have that meaningful conversation.  

Set Your Employees Up For Success

A key role of leadership is to create a set of conditions in which people can thrive and add value to your company.  It means that what matters to them needs attention and consideration.  Targeted support to those who need it, and when they need it, will differentiate you from the chasing pack and needs to become part of the fabric – doing what is right

Giving employees a clear sense of purpose and manageable workloads builds an inclusive culture where difficult issues can be discussed.  Additionally, providing targeted access to mental health resources coupled with effective training in ‘positive mental wellbeing’ (across the organization; not to a select few) creates a supportive and empathetic management culture of mutual support and team ethos.

What are you doing to be the Employer of Choice?

About the author

Chris Marren
Business Coach | View Bio | More From the Author

Chris Marren is an Executive and Business Coach to senior business leaders, emerging talent, serving military and veterans. Trained and accredited with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) with a post-graduate degree in Business & Personal Coaching from Chester University, Chris founded the Resolution Coaching Partnership in 2017 which delivers coaching and mentoring conversations to enable clients to discover or reinforce their purpose and why allowing them to be their best self every day.

Chris’s own significant executive leadership and management experience were developed throughout his British military career in the Commando Engineers which included building and training high functioning teams in some of the most hostile environments on the planet. From boy soldier at 16, to retiring as a Captain after 27 years service, Chris served within 3 Commando Brigade’s Reconnaissance Force, was the Senior Warrant Officer responsible for Command training of young Royal Engineer Officers direct from Sandhurst, which also included leadership training for Warrant Officers, Senior and Junior NCO’s. He completed numerous operational tours from Operation Desert Storm to Operation Enduring Freedom. More recently Chris has delivered experiential learning to MBA students and Executive Leadership programs at the INSEAD Business School in the US, Canada, France, and Singapore.

Now 100% devoted to assisting coaching clients reach their ultimate potential – and maintaining it. Chris believes with a passion that the transformational coaching and mentoring style of conversation is a durable method of enabling leaders to excel and reach the very top.

Chris delivers talks on 'The Mental Wellness Spectrum’, which raises senior leader’s awareness of the subject and how to become a more empathetic leader. It also covers how to have meaningful conversations around the subject that enable you to retain talent and be the employer of choice.

Chris is a trained commercial diver, are an arctic survival expert, an expert telemark skier, and a mountain bike leader who plays bad golf but feels good.

Client quotes:

Richard Walker OBE, Head of Engineering Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) UK - Chris engaged with my senior leadership team in a manner that was very open and honest, prompted reflection and engagement, and drove each of us to ask of ourselves - what am I going to do differently tomorrow and every day thereafter to make a difference for those we lead and manage.

Placing time in the calendar for such sessions has paid dividends by enabling subtly different conversations and fresh perspectives in comparison to business as usual.

Serving Lieutenant Colonel - Chris helped me slow it all down which allowed me to see clearly and put my thoughts into perspective. We explored awareness and resolution dispelling my fears that I wasn't worthy of my position; my doubts were unfounded. I needed trust and confidentiality which I received from our first session and throughout our time together.

Veteran working in the London Financial Sector - A friend suggested I speak to Chris when things started to get on top of me. I was a new employee and did not want anyone at work to know I was struggling on numerous fronts. Chris helped me see things as they were, and not how I thought they were. He listened and encouraged me to talk allowing me to examine my beliefs right now. I appreciated that he was a fellow veteran and connected quickly at our first session. I welcomed that we progressed session by session.

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