How can you influence HR variables?

Arjen Swank

Being informed of the importance and meaning of the HR variables is one. Gaining an insight into the HR variables and knowing how you can influence them is the essential next step.

Not only the organisation, but certainly also the employees themselves are responsible for their own well-being. That’s why the solution to improving a low score on an HR variable is not always obvious. The role of the organisation in this is creating an environment that allows employees to perform well, and in measuring HR themes through tools such as employee surveys and employee engagement surveys.

Influence on commitment and engagement

An organisation profits the most from affectively committed employees. After all, these employees identify with your organisation. Ensuring that your employees support your vision, mission and objectives, therefore, has a positive influence on employees’ commitment. As indicated earlier, engagement takes affective commitment to the next level by involving employees’ inner drive (intrinsic motivation). You must thus first ensure that employees are affectively committed before being able to work on their level of engagement. An important condition for employee engagement is that employees believe in the organisation. This is only possible if they support your organisation’s vision, mission and objectives.

Influence on motivation 

The HR variable motivation is also positively influenced by clearly communicating your vision, mission and objectives. In particular, clearly communicating goals makes a positive contribution to your employees’ energy level. Formulating goals lies at the heart of motivation theories. Consciously motivated behaviour is being aware of what the motives of behaviour are, knowing why people do certain things. This is goal-oriented behaviour, whether the employee has formulated the goals himself or has been assigned them. 

For this reason, objectives are essential for stimulating motivation. On the one hand they activate the behaviour of your employees. On the other they give direction to this behaviour. Goals have to correspond with the needs and interests of employees. They all have to head in the same direction. It is also important to look at what these goals mean for the knowledge and value present in your organisation. Vague and/or unachievable goals have a negative influence on motivation. It can be frustrating for employees if they do not know which goals they should be aiming for, or if they work towards goals that, in their eyes, are not attainable. Clearly formulated goals, on the contrary, have a positive influence on motivation. 

Influence on effectiveness and customer orientation 

Organisational goals and more specific goals (at the department and employee level) not only have a positive influence on motivation, they are also vital to being able to work effectively. First and foremost, it has to be clear what your organisation wants to achieve and how the different departments can contribute to this. It is important to communicate these goals well. To allow the goals to ‘live’ among your employees the organisational goals have to be translated into departmental goals and ultimately into measurable goals for every employee.
Aside from this, clearly communicating your goals also has repercussions for your employees’ customer orientation. If it is clear what your organisation envisages, this image is more likely to be conveyed to your customers. This has a positive influence on customer expectations. 

Influence on satisfaction and commitment

The working atmosphere is crucially important for creating satisfaction and commitment. At work, colleagues and managers form the social environment. They determine to a large extent the enjoyment of the work. Nice, friendly colleagues with whom there is an open and honest relationship are important. Having a good relationship and being able to work well with colleagues and managers has a positive effect on satisfaction. Your employees will enjoy going to work if the atmosphere in their department is pleasant. Employees who have good relationships with colleagues and managers are more likely to feel at home in your organisation. If employees find themselves in a situation where they are not accepted by colleagues, if colleagues and/or managers display other negative behaviour, there is poor communication or bad cooperation, your employees’ commitment may be negatively affected. 

Besides the relationship with colleagues and managers, your organisation’s culture plays an important role in creating a good atmosphere. The organisational culture is the personality of your organisation. Create an open culture, in which communication and information-sharing are central. Sharing information with employees has a positive influence on satisfaction. On the one hand it gives the employee the feeling he is important to your organisation. On the other it makes it easier for the employee to execute his tasks and achieve his goals. 

You can work on an open organisational culture by formulating and communicating core values. Nominate the core value ‘trust’, for example, which emphasises the fact that your organisation considers trust to be of paramount important and attaches great value to fair and open dealings with each other. Then encourage your organisation to act in accordance with these core values.

Finally, your employees’ work environment is important for creating and maintaining a good working atmosphere. The surroundings should be pleasant, safe, attractive, quiet or inspiring. In addition, they should be equipped with all the materials necessary for the job. If the workplaces are too noisy and/or dark, there are extreme temperatures, bad office chairs and so on, employees’ satisfaction may be negatively influenced. Employees will complain, will not feel fit or will be dissatisfied. It is important that an employee can work adequately and not be impeded by poor working conditions. 

Influence on motivation and engagement

This basic need ‘solidarity’ can be linked to the motivation drivers ‘social contacts’ and ‘long-term relationships’. Social contacts and long-term relationships are also important in the workplace. The contact between employees and the contact between employees and managers has an influence on cooperation and ultimately on the atmosphere within your organisation. A good atmosphere is crucially important for employees’ motivation. In addition, good working conditions have a positive effect on motivation because they contribute to the need ‘certainty’. If your organisation provides good working conditions for employees, they know where they stand when they go to work in the morning.

A good working atmosphere encourages your employees to do their best for the organisation. It encourages them to go the extra mile and to contribute to the success of your organisation. In other words, a good working atmosphere will also positively influence your employees’ level of engagement.

Influence on loyalty, absence and turnover 

A good working atmosphere and open organisational culture also play a large role in creating loyalty and reducing absence and turnover. An open culture stimulates clear communication between employees. If your organisation announces what it is doing and where it is going (transparency), your employees feel as though you trust them, that they belong and that they can contribute to the success of the organisation. In addition, you show that what your employees think is important and that their contribution and ideas are appreciated. In this way you show that your employees matter in your organisation. If your organisation adopts a loyal attitude towards its employees, they will be more likely to be loyal to your organisation.

This again has a positive effect on absence and turnover. A bad relationship with colleagues and managers can result in an employee not enjoying going to work quite as much. After all, he spends the whole day with them. If an employee cannot get on with his direct colleagues, the days can seem endless. This can increase absence and ultimately turnover. That is why it is important to ensure there is a pleasant atmosphere in every department.

Influence on effectiveness

A good atmosphere ultimately also has a positive influence on your employees’ performance. This plays an important role in stimulating your employees’ effectiveness. For example, if there is a culture in your organisation in which everyone is focused on their own tasks and there is little communication, effectiveness will be negatively affected. After all, employees do not communicate what they expect from each other. If employees know what others are doing, they are in a position to help each other and so achieve the goals together. Make sure, therefore, that your organisation has a culture in which communication in central.