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Blog : What is business success?


What is business success?

This week, learnpurple launched its new report – Harnessing Talent for Business Success – at the first 'Purple Breakfast' of the year (it was fab by the way, with the inspirational Sara Edwards, director of human resources worldwide at Orient-Express as our keynote speaker). This report really got me thinking about what actually defines 'business success'?

All too often, organisations believe business success is simply achieving a high turnover and incremental profit year on year. But shouldn’t being a great place to work, recognised as ‘the place to be’, high levels of employee engagement along with talented individuals across the business and a strong people pipeline be just as important? After all, these things can significantly add value to the business through human capital and a brand that’s personified by the people who work for it.

The report outlines the key to this type of overall business success in three stages:

  1. Ideas – having great innovations which can be easily marketed, upon which you can build and brand and all of which meet the needs of the target audience
  2. Investment – a little capital to get you started and establish your presence in the market place as well as working capital
  3. Individuals – the right people, in the right roles, delivering innovations and high levels of service

But as we already know, ideas and innovations are always at the forefront of conversations, with talk around ‘the people’ left to the wayside. Too much focus is placed upon earning money and not how employees play a vital role in this – put very simply people make or break a business, so why is it that many organisations still fail to get this right from the outset?

The reason, and as our research has discovered, is not surprising. Growth organisations and their leaders lack the time and resource to focus on the people. Our exclusive panel of over 40 leaders taken from our ‘Purple Revolutionaries’ and networks linked to Cranfield School of Management and Lancaster University Management School stated:

  • They understand people deliver competitive advantage (90%)
  • A massive 98% agreed that people need to be invested in and given development opportunities in order to deliver that advantage
  • Whilst developing people is key to achieving business success, one in five said it wasn’t a business priority
  • All agreed managing and developing people to support business objectives is difficult in a fast-growth organisation
  • Financial reasons (70%) and time constraints (66%) were the main causes of compromise around people investment and development

Clearly many businesses recognise that getting the ‘people stuff’ right is the key to success, but there is a massive gap when it comes to putting in place a people strategy. To bridge this gap, these organisations must become ‘people-centric’ – putting people and development at the heart of the business.

So how do they do this? We have identified seven key areas where those who are placed at the top of the fastest growing company, or most successful business lists, such as Moonpig.com, Innocent and Jack Wills, are really striving to be strong in. Copy them and you are well on your way to achieving business success through your people:

  1. Reputation – being seen as a great place to work or do business with which is usually backed up by awards and accolades
  2. Retention – retaining people who have developed skills as well as high levels of engagement within the organisation
  3. Leadership – across the organisation, not just at the top. Also, performance appraisals used to identify the leaders of the future and developed from recruitment stage
  4. Attractive - getting the right people into the right roles, first time
  5. Organised – a good people-centric organisation will have a robust, and possibly automated, people performance and management system
  6. Variety – don’t rely on one type of learning and development. One size really does not fit all so use lots of low cost / no cost methods
  7. Communication – open and honest two-way communication, canvassing employee opinion and uncovering their development desires

How are you doing with the above and what do you measure business success on?

If you would like a summary of the report, please email emilyperry@learnpurple.com

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