Article: Creating an engaging employee culture

Employee Relations

Creating an engaging employee culture

David Sturt, the Executive Vice President of OC Tanner discussed the six elements in talent magnet framework which HR professionals and organizations could focus on when it came to building engaging culture.
Creating an engaging employee culture

David Sturt, the Executive Vice President of OC Tanner discussed the six elements in talent magnet framework which HR professionals and organizations could focus on when it came to building engaging culture.

How to build an engaging culture? Something that probably is becoming a hot issue over the last few years. After the failure of the Chrysler and Daimler merger, the question of culture became far more important than it had been ever before. At Bangalore yesterday, the roundtable discussion revolved around the theme 'A Modern Framework for Building an Engaging Culture'.

The morning started with Ester Martinez, Editor-in-chief and CEO of People Matters introducing David Sturt who is the Executive Vice President of OC Tanner, and the author of the books 'Great Work: How to Make a Difference' and 'Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness', and set the context for the discussion. She talked about how in times of an ever-changing workforce, sustaining talent is a challenge for the organizations. Further the question was raised to the audience with regards to the expectations that they had from the discussion and it saw active participation wherein the seated HR professionals wanted to understand culture and the different facets of it, how should they contribute in creating engaging culture, what were the key parameters to assess engagement and many more.

David Sturt began his keynote with how fascinated he was with the issues that the HR professionals in India were facing, especially the issues originating from the cultural standpoint. He said that culture is amorphous in nature, and it is extremely interesting to examine because it is invisible. Then he moved on to an example of Cape Town where he grew up and said that unlike the US where he moved in later in life and the country which was said to be a melting pot of various cultures, it was actually Cape Town in South Africa where the label made a lot more sense. And that is then when he realized that cultural norms were powerful influences over culture and that people should not underestimate the power of that influence.

He said that though culture had originally been an HR topic, it has now moved on to become a hot issue for the C-Suite because of the rising acceptance of its importance. And just like any culture around the world that is powerful, the company culture too is extremely powerful. And because employees now spend a majority of their time within the organization, the influence of the company culture has further increased. And now with the CHROs themselves preparing to help the CEOs in creating a powerful company culture, it has become even more important for the organizations to intentionally shape the culture, and which would further contribute to achieving goals, retaining and attracting talent. And so how do the HR professionals set the norms and nurture a culture?

As an answer to the question, he talked about the talent magnet framework that had been developed by OC Tanner which comprised of six elements that mattered the most to the employees: leadership, purpose, opportunity, well-being, appreciation, and success. HR professionals could utilize these to create and shape the culture of the organization.


This is the soul of the company. In most organizations, the purpose is not properly articulated but that does not mean that it does not exist. Sturt stated that it was extremely important that the mission statement of any organization is created around the purpose of that organization. One of the most important takeaways for the audience was the story of Ajay Kaul and the turnaround that he bought at Jubilant Foodworks. He told the audience about how there was no pride for people who were involved in baking and delivering pizza. But all that changed after the 'Delivering Happiness' campaign and the employees were connected to the purpose of the organization of making the consumers happy. For that matter, on New Year's Eve, it is the CEO, senior leadership and even former employees who work on baking pizzas together and ensuring that they are delivered on time.


Sturt talked about how employees are constantly analyzing where is it that the prospects would be better. He quoted statistics from a research conducted by OC Tanner, that over 44% of the employees felt stuck in their jobs. And this 44% also included the high-potentials in the organization. And it is important to provide the high potentials with the projects that would match their caliber and sense of purpose. For that matter, the HR professionals should build a marketplace within the organization that would help match the projects with the high-potentials and helps in retention.


People want to be part of the winning team. He told the audience of an extremely close example of his daughter who plays soccer. She was on defense for a team that did not win. Then she decided that she wanted to win and which is why she moved on to a team that won, and her experience of playing defense for the previous team helped her in that. Another example is that of Qualcomm, wherein they have a huge Qualcomm wall with monitors that highlights the names of the engineers and celebrates their success. That acts as a great motivator for other people as well. HR professionals and organizations need to make people believe that they are part of the winning team.


Another talent magnet proposed by Sturt to the audience was appreciation. He quoted statistics where he told the audience that only 51% of the employees felt that the recognition that they received was authentic and real. For that matter, there are employees who feel that the organizations take their employees and their work for granted, as was discussed. The research also found that in organizations where employees are frequently recognized and rewarded, the retention of the employees was greater.


Wellbeing is extremely important for the employees. Employees want to believe that the organization cares for them. And through the focus group exercise that was carried out by OC Tanner as part of their research, it was found that employees realized that organizations would want them to stretch themselves, but they would also want the organizations to understand that flexibility (especially for the millennials) is important parameter and reflects that the organizations care for them.


Another talent magnet is leadership. It is not just important when it comes to engaging employees but also retaining them. It is important for the HR professionals to help nurture and inculcate the qualities of leadership. And nowadays, millennials more than ever, believe in the concept of shared leaders. Sturt further said that though Eastern culture is different from the West and which is why in the Eastern countries, the leadership is treated with deference but that is now also changing.

Towards the end of the keynote, Ester Martinez invited the groups to share instances where the companies had exhibited intentional actions to shape the culture. The example of Raymonds stood out. Wherein, they motivated the employees within the organizations to participate in the CSR activity of providing sanitary napkins at cheap rates to the women in the villages, and that would ensure that they were ‘The Complete Man', which is also Raymond’s tagline.

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Topics: Employee Relations, C-Suite, #Culture, Employee Engagement

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