In a conservative working environment where open communication is not the standard, how do you encourage employee engagement?
NS In a conservative working environment, the culture is averse to change or like status quo, usually don't trust change especially sudden change. In my view, these are those traditional businesses whose inherent nature cannot be changed or this is how they operate.
The best approach in such environment for employee engagement is to clearly define' Why they exist/purpose the Organisation and offer stability in job. Communicate job expectations; provide standard operating procedures to follow.
The expectation is 'follow what is required to be done'. 'Do the known' and 'do it more efficiently'. In this scenario, most important thing is to get the similar talent on board and in team so that they don't run away rather like to be in the organisation and enjoy their work.
Adding perspective from psychometric model of Thomas assessment, that people, who show characteristic like high on steadiness and compliance and low on dominance and Influence will enjoy such working environment and stay engaged.
The talent who is onboard will look for security and written guidelines to operate. If there is any change then that needs to be again clearly written to follow.
In such environment the biggest engagement factor is
(1) Provide job security and clear instructions to follow.
(2) Recognise the best outcomes based on expectations.
(3) Take enough time if introducing change so that everyone can absorb it. (4) Hire such people who would like to operate in such environment. Few examples where we see such job and talent exists are like traditional/handloom industry, textile, tea gardening etc.
How do you see the challenges in the employee engagement space?
NS The challenge in employee engagement space is majorly at two points - at the time of hiring and then retaining. While an organisation is searching talent the challenges they face are due to high bargaining power in the hands of job seekers, multiple job opportunities and organisation culture. This is outside - in perspective of a candidate when he/she is pursuing a job opportunity with an organisation. They look for 'best place to work for' in the pursuit of the same they pick multiple job offers, ensure they are landing at the right organisation which suits their requirement. That could be a preference related to job location, big organisation, healthy compensation, challenging assignment, title & above all superb work environment.
Even more critical aspect post hiring is to retain the top talent. The need of engagement changes at each stage of the employment, initially after joining they want to be accepted and seen as contributing to the assignments. After some time the need of engagement changes and it goes in various directions which is not limited to variety in the job, affiliations, well-being, onsite opportunities, promotion, lateral movement, change of manager or team, opportunities of two way communication, giving new ideas, autonomy at work, growing compensation, changing career aspirations, changing geo location preferences or need of flexibility etc.
Gallup's latest research shows that only 31% of employees are engaged at work (51% are disengaged and 17.5% actively disengaged).
For ensuring employee engagement an organisation needs to design engagement strategies around - providing meaningful work, variety in work, market deterrent compensation, long term career advancement, wellbeing and create open communication, belongingness and practice values to build trust and respect among employees.
When you look at the last three years surge in technology, how do you see its impact on employee engagement?
NS We are dealing with diversified workforce (age, geography, religion, nationalities, gender etc.) and the easiest way to handle is use technology and makes decisions to communicate better by just adding a workflow or purchase tool. There are various cloud based tools/software's available in the market today to pick the best suitable for their organisation.
An organisation needs technology for engagement related to -
- Promoting employer brand through social sites like LinkedIn, Owler, Glassdoor etc. and create visibility of the brand to current and prospective employees.
- Attracting talent - with the help of creative tools it is possible to post jobs to multiple job portals in one click, easy ways of tracking applications, actively engaging and communicating with the candidates and manage complete interview process online.
- Communicating and collaborating at work - tools enabled HR businesses processes for self-service support.
- Enabling organisations in managing entire performance cycle through online tool and easier ways of capturing peer or manager's feedback.
- Educating employees on various programs through such engagement tools and getting employees feedback through poll surveys, pulse surveys, engagement surveys to measure engagement.
- Collaborating through official networking sites like Yammer. Using shared locations for office files and docs on the go.
- Recognising employees on social platform - use tools for rewards and recognition program and given employees opportunity to appreciate peers.
- E-learning, webinars, live sessions have taken learning to next level with not so huge investment on travel for trainings all the time.
Technology has given opportunity to the organisation to enable two-way communication and correct the course to ensure they stay as 'Employer of Choice'.