Over the last five years, the rigor of disruption based on digital technologies has been phenomenal and unforeseen in the corporate world. From a talent standpoint, the social and emotional meaning of loyalty and longevity is changing. The average time that the individual chooses to spend in the organization has significantly reduced. It is estimated that 59% Indians will seek a job change in the next 12 months. Furthermore, the gross number of qualified people is decreasing, and around 40% of the baby boomers will exit the workforce in the next 4-7 years. This void will not be replaced by digital natives alone who carry a different view of the world and want to work on their terms and conditions.
A workplace ecosystem in the form of the ‘gig economy’ where contingent workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs make a huge part is fast catching up and boasts of around 4 million professionals in India alone. In this business context, companies will need to revisit its talent strategy and also understand the new-age factors that are critical to driving engagement.
Predictors of Engagement
The notion of engagement is undergoing a metamorphosis. In today’s context ‘employee experience’ is becoming a new synonym for employee engagement. It is the concoction of three elements, ‘mood’ and ‘experience’ of the employee, coupled with his/her ‘performance’ that lead to engagement.
Having an engaged workforce is no longer a differentiator, it has become a ‘survival imperative’
Organizations will need to ensure that they provide the most conducive environment to its employees to flourish and feel engaged. While technology is one of the important levers, there are myriad other factors that can make or break employee experience. Earlier, managers were held responsible for driving engagement; surveys like Gallup’s Q12 engagement survey was also mostly built around manager-led engagement, however, now it is a more holistic and experience-driven approach that also focuses on the following factors:
Enabling employees: Enablement does not just mean providing materials and equipment but rather how much control you are granting to your employees. e.g. options of choosing flexi-work. What are you doing to make your employees self-reliant? How easily are employees able to access information about the company policies and programs? Do you have intuitive technology systems in place? All of these are important questions that companies need to answer.
Supporting managers: The ability of managers to provide the right kind of experience to their team members, they need to be ‘enabled or empowered’ enough to deal with their team members. Managers must be empowered by giving them a 360-degree view of the employees, an integrated platform which can give real-time insights about the employees, e.g. mood sensors which can inform them about employee’s moods, behaviors, and performance on a regular basis. They should also ensure work-life balance.
Design simple systems and processes: Until or unless your systems and processes are aligned to creating the simplified experience, it’s not going to work. The key word here is ‘simple’ - today’s employees want that the work should be done in minimum time and steps and simple processes grant them this control.
Map work to strategy and values: Organizations should ensure that there is a direct linkage between strategies and day-to-day activities that employees undertake. This means looking at job roles and aligning them to the organizational road map. It is essential for employees to see how they are connected to the big picture. There should not be any disconnect between the way people experience transactions and the stated value of the organization.
Understand collaboration: As we move away from a PC world, the modes of communication are significantly changing (from emails to messengers to web conferencing to cloud and IoT). The key to fostering healthy collaboration within the organization is to pay heed to individuals’ habits and preferences. In fact, research suggests that by 2020, organizations which support, choose your own work style (CYOW) culture will boost employee retention rates by more than 10%.
Employees as customers
In today’s scenario, employees are like customers who buy work opportunities by using their currency of talent. If organizations want that the best talent should buy opportunities from them, they will need to treat their employees even better than the customers to be able to generate the kind of impact they want them to create. Therefore, having an engaged workforce is not a differentiator anymore rather it has become a ‘survival imperative’ for the organizations.
Research suggests that engaged employees put ‘discretionary efforts’ and they are always ready to go the extra mile and put their wisdom to achieve the coveted organizational targets. It is observed that when engaged employees put discretionary efforts, it results in increased customer satisfaction. Such employees are also more likely to advocate and recommend the products and services of their own company. It is up to the company to ensure that are meeting expectations of their employers as they would do with their customers.
(Insights in this article are curated by Dr. Arunima Shrivasta based on a webinar)