Modern employees have modern expectations – a dramatic shift from the old style of working is underway. As a result, organisations must value their employees by actively working on bettering company culture, and looking at practical and efficient ways to manage employee experience (EX).
In order to understand how this shift in priorities is affecting traditional businesses and explore the best ways to ensure workplace productivity does not dip, People Matters, in association with Batik, organised an exclusive webcast on EX, engagement & everything that matters: Unlocking workforce productivity.
Here are some insights from the session:
The many definitions of productivity
COVID-19 drastically changed the way we work – apart from making work from home mainstream, it has highlighted the need to focus on the workforce’s wellbeing and mental health.
“Since Covid, agility and adaptability have become paramount to ensuring a motivated and connected workforce,” said Pramey Jain, Founder and CEO, Tartan. Vicky Jain, Founder and CEO, uKnowva, looked at the issue of productivity with a ‘big picture’ lens. “Productivity, simply, is ‘output by input’ i.e. how much you can create versus how much you consume,” Jain said, adding that disruptions in human evolution, from the agricultural revolution to the AI age, have in fact helped improve productivity. Hybrid-working has resulted in creating convenience and comfort, but has depleted trust, engagement, and loyalty, he added.
Shivangi Narula, CEO and Director of Skilldify, had a different but interesting take on workforce productivity. “Productivity is all about great leadership,” she said, adding that one of the reasons productivity has taken a hit is due to gaps in communication.
Employee purpose vs an employee expectations
Taking the discussion into the realm of an organisation’s purpose and changing employee expectations, Vidya Sagar Gannamani, Chairman and MD, Adecco, spoke about the pillars that define what people opt for in life i.e. autonomy, mastery and purpose.
“Is the purpose of the organization aligned with each individual employee’s purpose?” he asked. “Organizations must provide people the opportunity to master skills they would truly like to master, and give them the autonomy to operate,” commented Vidya Sagar.
“Millennials want better work culture, purpose-alignment, the right environment to create more value, growth opportunities, challenges and recognition,” said Vicky. Shivangi agreed, calling it the GenZ fancy. “Employees of today want things quick – they want to become managers, have teams, and become leaders without the 10-year career ladder,” she said.
Strategies to increase employee engagement
Some quick strategies to meet the new employee expectations that were discussed included:
Flexibility: “As a hybrid employer, we have a day out where we work out of a café, we allow flexi-time, and focus on work achieved during one man-day,” Shivangi shared. Open working hours and giving opportunities to people to build their personal brand helps engage talent.
An environment that lets employees thrive: In core industries, the engagement needs are more traditional. In a manufacturing setup, safety, ergonomics, and a comfortable environment to perform to the best of one’s abilities can ensure a high level of productivity. For cognitive workers, it is about managing stress levels i.e. setting up spaces to feel safe, secure, recognised and rewarded for delivering meaningful work. “Striking the right balance is the best strategy to get people to perform at their peak,” Vidya Sagar advised.
Communication & collaboration: Vicky emphasised on how having a value system centred on effective and continuous communication is of paramount importance. uKnowva’s open door policy helped with this. “When we were facing an issue with regularizing training sessions, senior developers suggested they could train teams themselves. People started holding sessions that were not initiated by HR or management, and now collaborative learning has become a religion,” he said. Pramey reiterated that communication is most important for HR – it helps them know what employees are thinking-feeling-looking for.
Inclusivity and reach: Building and using the right tech tools is crucial to increasing employee engagement. 60% of Uknowva’s workforce is based outside of Mumbai, and so they implemented a collaborative tool to engage with the remotest of employees. Pramey said tech can be used to create the right safety nets that allow from financial help to family help, to right rewards and recognition etc.
Human touch: The most important aspect of all is mutual respect. “Remember that if someone wants to leave, wish them well and don’t ruin the relationship. Never get too attached but ensure you are doing enough for each other, with mutual respect,” Pramey said.
HR’s role in enhancing EX
Vidya Sagar said the modern day HR needs to perform two important tasks. Firstly, with leaders, there must be an honest discussion about what is required going forward from an organisational point of view, what capabilities are readily available. Secondly, providing a balanced perspective as to what organization needs versus what individual employees need, and working on how to provide that environment will be critical.
For this, HR must define what according to it is a ‘successful employee’ and aim for someone who is a cultural fit. This can help people create a personal brand within the organization, and that can usher in a positive change. “Unlike earlier times, feedback is now considered positive. Today, we are in the ‘Era of the Extrovert Employee’ - everyone is vocal about their needs and HR needs to listen,” Shivangi said.
HR deserves best-in-class solutions
Pramey lamented the fact that unfortunately in today’s hectic world of work, HR ends up getting too caught up in day-to-day work, often not having enough time and mindspace to focus on the larger purpose. But getting tuned in to team and culture building, devising ways to connect with people and super-skilling are a must. We must remember that the function’s role has transformed and it is now an equal partner in the organization. The new-age HR needs to have all the tools in place to manage this wave of change. It needs to be equipped with the best-in-class solutions to support employees at all stages. And when issues of disengagement or productivity come up, HR leaders should be empowered to take decisions and act fast.