In today's changing times of Digital transformation and its effect on the economic landscape, it's more important than ever for organizations to have engaged and productive people working for them. We have heard about the adage - old wine in a new bottle -but in this case both the wine and the bottle need to keep changing as employees needs are dynamic and keep changing. End of the day when employees are loyal and engaged in the Company, they tend to be more productive, become better leaders and thus have a direct correlation to the profits in the company.
On the flip side of course when people do not feel motivated or being valued, it has an adverse effect on the organization. Additionally, research has shown that engaged employees want to contribute, perform better, and are more receptive to changes and willing to walk the extra mile for the benefit of everyone around them. But keeping employees happy is not always easy; it's easier said than done because happiness is primarily an individualistic pursuit which varies from person to person. Money, empowerment, learning etc. are some vectors that define happiness for people. And because you spend half of your active hours at the workplace - irrespective of family, friends and your social circle, often many times your workplace decides the quality of your lifestyle and outlook towards life. Happy employees are always content and feel a sense of accomplishment in their work life. They find a huge sense of gratification from their work which drives positive synergies, reduces stress and creates a happy working environment.
Communication is the Key
As an Employer, we need to set clear expectations with our people, including what is to be done, when it is to be done, and what the outcome means to the individual after they complete their responsibilities. Within these expectations, you need to set clear boundaries, demonstrate healthy leadership and provide sound and crystal clear directions. This should be defined by the Employee KPI - Key Performance Indicators and KRAs - Key Responsibility Areas. It's important to have a buy in from the employees on the key parameters and subsequently a consistent method of evaluation needs to be followed across the organization. Increasingly, we are seeing a need to define mundane things like login times, lunch and coffee breaks and the likes to sustain effective business conduct. More clarity around these expectations lead to fewer concerns and hence better productivity.
This also means spelling out rules, regulations, policies and procedures. While you can usually accomplish this by creating a comprehensive employee manual, a good employer or manager will demonstrate by leading by example and being in "personal touch" with employees.
All Managers and Leaders need to lead by example. One more important aspect is around confidentiality of Employee details such as Compensation, Increments & Promotions,. As Mangers and Leaders we are the custodian of this critical information and it becomes even more important to safeguard this from getting publicized which happens in many organizations. This breach of trust leads to dissatisfaction and disintegrates employee morale.
Our employees must feel valued and wanted
It's often said Praise in Public and Reprimand in Private, this saying holds good even today. As an Organization we need to be encouraging and effusive in recognizing the good work of our employees. It's always advisable to communicate and thank our employees for doing a good job and let them know that we value them and their employment. Respect undoubtedly should be a key tenat and value we must practice in our interactions with our employees. Especially when things don't go as per plan, leaders must demonstrate restrain, avoid impetuous behavior and base their actions on facts and avoid bias. The ability to provide direction, guidance and mentoring is very important in such cases. It goes a long way in maximizing employee potential. There should also be a clear process for performance measurement and improvement. A guiding document that details the areas for improvement, objectives to achieve and support needed to be successful.
It's equally important to have a career development discussion that outlines the employees’ aspiration and leads a path to work on the various competencies that are needed to fulfill their aspirations. We have a huge responsibility to our employees and their families and hence building a meritocratic environment which fosters the fulfillment of our employees’ hopes and dreams is very critical. It's important we allow the voice of our employees to be heard, empower them, provide social security schemes, health benefits and other fringe facilities that demonstrate our recognition of their untiring efforts. It's also important to create simple clear Company policies and manuals for employees to use. It is vital to have procedures for handling every imaginable scenario, including family emergencies. Most importantly we are all a people’s business and the ability to build a rewarding collaborative environment with opportunities to bond and create respectful human relationships with our colleagues helps in the spiritual and mental wellbeing for all.
Create a hyper efficient work Environment
The importance of a vibrant and relaxed workplace for the digitally native workforce cannot be under emphasized. Gone are the days when employees would conform to a traditional 9-to-5 workday, losing precious hours of sunshine while being confined to windowless cubicles. These people are raised in a different era than their predecessors, so naturally a different approach is needed to address their needs. The physical layout of the office is important to maximizing productivity. People need enough room to work, entertainment and gaming zones, picture galleries, sleeping pods, yoga rooms, nursing rooms, crèches - the list is pretty exhaustive. The workplace has become a metaphor of home comfort and more. Add to it flexible work hours, work from home facilities and the likes of providing invaluable work life balance and you are viewing a completely different paradigm at the workplace.
Get People Engaged
Engaged employees are assets to organizations. Engagement can be driven by having regular meetings and forums where everyone can voice their opinions and concerns. This becomes a great platform for collating feedback and suggestions grounds up which can be used in devising critical policy and strategy decisions. This creates a culture of inclusiveness within the organization where the power of every individual is harnessed to grow the organization. Manager One on Ones', skip level meetings, Brown bags, Employee Surveys and Town halls are good initiatives to keep employees engaged. Hosting employee events and encouraging participation from families and close kin is proving to be a good lever for sustained motivation and employee morale. Finally, have CSR activities driven across the organization which provide an opportunity for employees to give back to society. Research indicates that people have a fulfilling feeling and have better lives when they volunteer to serve the society at large.
Eventually when all the important vectors line up and the difference is marginal, it is ‘Culture’ that trumps everything else. It’s hugely important for organizations to build a culture that infuses desired behavior amongst the workforce and lays down values and norms that permeate every strata in the organization. Most importantly culturally values should be strong and align to the strategy of the Company because that defines the successful and consistent execution of the company strategy. And this defines the fabric of the organization and if properly defined and adhered to - provides the strongest bond between the employee and the organization. Respect, integrity, Winning attitude, Collaboration, Social responsibility etc. are great norms and beliefs that people relate strongly to and which provides the most defining and impactful reason for association with employers. A strong culture eventually builds the emotional connect that sustains an organizations relationship with its employees.
I have also learned one important thing: it's the small things that really make a big difference. So it is important to listen to our employees and provide them the motivational impetus. Thus builds loyalty and commitment to the organization. And when you have a happy and productive workforce that is eager to contribute, the organization will always have the steam to propel forward with force and purpose.
Human interaction and engagement is a complex phenomenon and hopefully some of the tips stated will provide a panacea to the problem of employee satisfaction. Les celebrate our workforce and always strive to keep them happy.