It’s time to shed the outer layer and identify core values to enhance and differentiate employee engagement
It is the era of disengagement. As employees re-evaluate their relationships with their jobs as well as their employers, there seems to be a deep disenchantment setting into the world of work. And the fact that it now takes much more than a generous CTC and standard benefits packages to make employees feel positively engaged to their jobs further complicates things.
In these circumstances, organisations are rethinking their long-standing strategies when it comes to employee engagement. As per AON’s 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey, companies are choosing to focus on their employees’ well being even in volatile circumstances. This just goes to show how important it is to cultivate a culture with an engaged workforce that is proud to be associated with the organisation.
But is employee engagement really worth all the time and effort that is now being put in? The shortest possible answer is: yes. The long answer could be: it is worth a lot more! To put it simply in economic terms, employee disengagement is a $7.8 trillion problem. As per Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report, actively disengaged employees cost the world close to $8 trillion in lost productivity, that is roughly 11 percent of the world’s GDP.
A purpose-driven future
Today, it has become critical that organisations step up and solve the employee engagement conundrum sooner rather than later. What is the way forward then? What does the modern employee want to feel more engaged?
Mckinsey recently highlighted in an article how employees of today are more productive, more healthy and more likely to stay when they find their purpose at work. “The benefits of employees finding their purpose at work include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others,” the piece goes on to say.
Back to the basics
During an extensive and in-depth conversation with People Matters CEO and Editor-in-Chief Ester Martinez on talent trends in 2023, AON’s CEO, India and South Asia, Nitin Sethi spoke extensively about the importance of focusing on both nurturing talent and creating an engaged workforce.
Sethi explained how, taking into consideration current and future talent trends, he felt that availability of capital will not be a constraint for growth – talent will.
“Engagement scores have fallen across geographies over the past two years. Organisations have invested millions and millions of dollars in different types of engagement work and nothing seems to be working,” he expressed, adding that the huge amount of money being spent isn’t giving any return.
Sethi further elaborated on what he thought were the two main aspects of employee engagement. One, outer layer or the “fashionable stuff”. These are the things that organisations do simply because others are doing it i.e. it is a trendy thing to do. For instance, bringing pets to work, coupons for spas, bikes and cars on completing a certain number of years at a company.
Second, core factors. Things that directly affect how employees work and how they perceive their jobs.
“We need to go back and understand why we go to work. We want to be happy about the work we are doing, we want to continuously learn and grow and be in an environment where we can celebrate our achievements,” Sethi said, talking about the big picture.
“Companies that are succeeding are the ones that are focusing on the core factors and are ensuring that they are actually enriching the jobs, are allowing employees to grow by learning, where employees are able to create excitement at work through their managers and leaders,” he said, adding that these companies are the ones that are actually creating an engaged workforce.
From an HR point of view, this means that most organisations require a radical re-look at their current talent management processes.
What is your core?
To crack the employee engagement code, Sethi urged organisations to identify what their core values were and work with those.
“Some could be really great at providing job experience, others could be genuine cradle-to-grave organisations and others could be known for giving back to society – companies need to identify their core value drivers, overwhelmingly focus on them and execute it like crazy!” he said.
The most well-known organisations from across industries continue to execute their core values with great dedication and in the process they have been able to create unprecedented impact on not only their own businesses but the industry they operate in as well.
Apple’s dedication towards data privacy - a critical, raging issue in today’s tech-focused world - is apparent from its approach to how it designs its devices and the amount of control it places in the hands of the users. Apple, arguably the world’s most valuable company, also goes the extra mile by providing free access to educational resources that are specifically designed to allow end users to take control of their data.
Another such example is Canva - one of the most popular graphic design platforms in the world- identifies “Be Force for Good” as its core value. To execute this sincerely, the company joined the Pledge 1% mission in 2019 which is a global initiative under which organisations give 1% of their profit/product/time back to their communities. Canva has also donated its premium platform for free to over 250,000 non-profit organisations across the world. Instead of merely paying lip service to causes that seem “trendy”, Canva continues to put its money where its mouth is and truly works towards creating a better world.
The last word
In a nutshell, to execute employee engagement effectively and efficiently, organisations need to singularly focus on understanding what they stand for and championing their employees’ needs through those values. At the end, instilling excitement and innovation into the core work that employees do will always create an engaged, content and happy workforce.