Article (December-2018)


Engagement : What is it?

Sanjeev Sharan

Designation : -   Director HR

Organization : -  ZTE Telecom India, Gurgaon


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Engagement and engaging people is universally accepted oldest HR Practice. It is even referred in our mythology in Mahabharata and Ramayana era. When Lord Rama was planning to invade Lanka by crossing sea to get Sita free from Ravan, he entrusted Hanuman to build a strong committed team. The vast sea with huge length and width was near to impossible to cross. Hanuman built a team of monkeys which were committed. He invested time and trained them into a strong skilled army from a bunch of monkeys to give tough fight to demons of Ravana.
One of the most remarkable feature of this whole event is "passion and commitment" displayed by the army of monkeys. Their passion was generated by their deep and strong engagement to Rama's vision and goal. They could relate to it. The monkeys, Hanuman, Bali, Sugreev all were engaged members with clear goal and deeply engaged to the cause of the fight. This engagement to the cause was also to be linked to the aura and personality of Rama which kept them glued together leading to the possibility of impossible task.
As an individual each one of us would have gone through same kind of engagement experience on several occasions like hotel where class service can be found with delicious platter or courier delivery during peak summer with a smile, or airlines which ensure memorable check-in experience.
Recently I had wonderful opportunity to experience "Engagement" in true senses. There is a large multi specialty hospital in Jharkhand, which is run by one of country's highly respected corporate house with proud history of investing extensively in health care for employees as well as citizens. A practicing doctor whose father had brain hemorrhage was admitted in this hospital. Doctor was employed with this hospital for more than a decade. It was for 10 days doctor's father was admitted there, in spite of having negligible chances of revival, but one could see the team of relevant doctors fighting out to bring him back to normalcy, that too consistently with same passion for all through 10 days.
It is an interesting case study for HR. It was not about the issue of what the son was doing for his father, rather the issue was larger in terms of 1) what his organization was doing for him and more importantly 2) what were the comforting factors to expect such support from the organization!! The whole organization was standing with him from top to bottom. It was very evident that they were trying every possible effort, along with extending moral and emotional support to the doctor. It was display of genuine positive culture reflecting "Oneness" in the current so called professional world where "concerns are limited on WhatsApp messages or maximum visiting for initial few days. But here it was different.
Out of my inquisitiveness, the sleeping author in me pushed me to confront him one fine day, what is making him so sure and confident about the support extended by organization? What is making him taking this support for granted? Does he not feel hesitant knocking some doors? His crisp response was "I belong to this organization". These 5 words were enough to speak everything. Enough to express the mindset of employee. It was like Eureka moment, which I had been craving for this kind of engagement. Organizations like ours and many others spend millions annually on engagement efforts to create "confidence and commitment" within employees but I doubt how many of them have actually achieved it. Here the confidence of expression was strongly and loudly reinforcing the "sense of ownership". By the simple short statement "I belong to this organization", he had actually meant that "he owns it". And the moment "sense ownership" comes in our life, result changes. The said organization has been able to build two ways engagement with both employee and employer standing for each other during lows and ebb.
Undoubtedly the tone, the body language, the expression made here were enough to make any HR professional happy and proud. This culture has long term advantages.

Unshakeable trust : They carry unflinching and unshakeable confidence of the engaged employee and others like him from the organization. And in this case the said hospital's salary level is around 66 percentile of market. In spite of being at 66th percentile he and many others like him have happily resisted the charm of job change and refused the offers coming.

Consistent higher productivity : You can be rest assured of 120% output to the organization. Consistency is the key to any business. The consistent performance is directly linked to engagement. One can see the same enthusiasm during off duty patient handling. In this case the doctor was not only a performer but was looked up as dependent one during the crisis, ever willing for odd hour duty.
High customer satisfaction : The passion and engagement can be measured with customer satisfaction. The repeat customers are the right indicator of customer satisfaction. In this ruthless competitive environment customer retention is highly critical. In this case it was heartening to see that during the absence of doctor from duty all non emergency patients of his OPD or new OPD chose to change their visiting days and waited for him to be back. It was reflection of power of "engaged performance".
Walking the extra mile : It is rightly said that the engaged person is motivated to go an extra mile. It becomes a passion to excel by sheer motivation. The driving spirit is self motivated and simple It has to be the best. End result is super duper result. The doctor here in the story has gone extra mile to save the lives of the people on several occasions.
Innovating spirit : The engaged mind is mother of innovations. They are driven by fire within to innovate or create something NEW for the society or organization. Innovation is the product of highly focused mind with equally high level of intellect. It cannot be achieved without deep passion, zeal and commitment.
Leading by example : One can easily differentiate between the engaged and dis-engaged leader. The engaged one can be seen taking extra steps and dirtying their hands to support the team. They prefer to work as directional leader instead of instructional leader. They focus on How to do than what to do!!
This whole experience gave a different perspective to look at the word "engagement". It is indeed a much talked about word and used in every aspect of life by all the organizations across globe. The organizations are focusing and making strategy to build an engaged culture. It's a journey which every organization is taking, but how many of them have been actually able to achieve it? In short- engagement is reflected in the attitude of the person.