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Focus more on ‘heart count’ than head count

08 September 2021

How do you become a dream employer? This is the question that the Swede Svante Randlert will answer with his Ten Commandments at The most important thing is the staff’s engagement. “Companies should consider more their heart count instead of head count.”

In his book Dream Employer, Svante Randlert describes how companies can become dream employers. According to the Swede, it boils down to three things: attracting the right staff, engaging them, and developing them. “You can copy strategies, products, and visions that make teams and companies more successful,” he said. “But you can’t copy employees. They are the company’s greatest asset and propel the organization forward. The right employees have a major impact on the quality, efficiency, and profitability of your company.”

Ten commandments

Svante Randlert uses ten commandments to explain how to become a dream employer. These commandments are related to the company culture, the right competencies, employee development, communication, and measurement. “If I had to single out one, it would be engagement,” he says. “Dream employers don’t have satisfied customers or employees in common. Instead, they have engaged employees. Companies sometimes focus too much on satisfied employees. But that’s not enough. Satisfied employees don’t propel the company forward. They’re happy with the organization’s status quo. Engaged employees, on the other hand, enjoy their work, want to propel the company into the future, and are prepared to work as hard it takes to get there. We see that companies with the highest engagement numbers are also the most profitable and see the largest increase in market share. From an HR perspective, they experience less absenteeism due to illness and lower staff turnover. Engaged employees feel better; they want to stay, and that is better for the company.”

Employee branding

In other words, dream employers focus on their employees. He believes terms like B2B and B2C are outdated. “I’ve never seen a business figure do business with another business figure. It’s always about people doing business with each other. So, dream employers always talk about P2P or people to people.”

Successful companies evolve from employer branding to employee branding. According to Svante, the term employer branding is 1.0 and employee branding is 2.0. “Employer branding is what the company says. Employee branding is what every employee says to colleagues or friends daily. This is how we will recruit people in the future. What do your employees say about the company over a glass of wine? It’s the stories told by employees that tell how interesting you are. Engaged employees are ambassadors. They tell you how good or bad you are as an employer. Disappointed or angry employees also talk a lot. So, that focus has to shift because you can never acquire a terrific employer brand with a bad employee brand.”

Reskilling and upskilling

These are golden times for the HR department because it is all about people now more than ever before. They must help the managers do the right thing. According to Svante, three things are important here: everything that happened before covid (x), what happened during covid (y), and everything that comes after covid (z). “Customer needs have changed. In the past year, I’ve seen consumers change a lot more than in the previous decade. Every company must adapt to this and change what it offers from x to y. Many employees retain their knowledge of x, but we must train them for z.”

HR has an important role in this by not only attracting the right employees, but also by upskilling or reskilling existing employees. “All too often, I see companies that need z and have already laid off x. But they are the ambassadors. The shift in competence is significant. We need to reskill and upskill employees at a faster pace than we did in the past.” Svante Randlert is convinced that what has gotten us here will not get us there. “That’s also what Albert Einstein said: it is madness to do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results. In other words, we must rethink certain issues to achieve different results. We can do that by evolving more quickly to z. Otherwise, companies won’t be able to acquire new competences and arm themselves for the future.”

Heart count

Technology helps you care for your staff even more. But the more we talk about digitalization, automation, or robotization, the less we talk about people. “We have two circles, one with high tech on one side and one with high touch on the other. We must align the two,” explained Svante Randlert. “These two circles must meet in the middle. We need both high tech and high touch. Many people talk way too much about high tech and neglect the high touch: how to move people, care for them, get them involved, and attract them. Other companies focus too much on high touch and forget about high tech.”

Ever since covid-19 came into our lives in March 2020, companies have been talking a lot about the head count. They are primarily concerned with the number of employees they need. “It’s not wrong to talk about that because organizations must adapt when operating activities scale down. But companies should also talk about heart count because that’s all about employee engagement. Say your company has a thousand employees, but you need to evolve down to eight hundred and only fifty percent of the employees actually care about the organization. Then you only have 400 employees with heart count for the company. That company will be beaten by a company with 500 head count and heart count because there are more employees who care about the organization. You reap what you sow. If an employer doesn’t care about its employees, they won’t care about the organization. We still focus too much on the head count and too little on the heart count.”

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