Business Today

Employee gets more real

Three new ways to look at employee engagement
Pankaj Bansal | Print Edition: Aug 4, 2013

Pankaj Bansal is Co-founder and CEO, PeopleStrong
Pankaj Bansal is Co-founder and CEO, PeopleStrong
The Survey is back again, the most democratic way of collecting data - going to the employees themselves to understand Perception-Aspiration-Reality (PAR). The past three years' studies were focused purely on the perception and aspirations of employees, but this year's result clearly shows that the employee is looking at hard-core reality with meaningful returns for her career as well as a well carved-out path to meet her aspirations. This year's survey has shown three unique ways of looking at employee engagement.

Casualty of the Boss:
The age-old theory that managers are the fulcrums of employee engagement has been challenged. The employee is on the path to becoming her own boss. Interestingly, the decision to stay with a company or leave is being insignificantly impacted by the employee's supervisor - only 16 per cent of the respondents were seeking a job change out of dissatisfaction with the supervisor, which is a sharp decline from 22 per cent last year.

Workforce trends have forced employees to become independent, individual contributors. Workplace changes, such as reporting relationships, remote working of teams, and customer onsite roles have enabled the change of role across the board.

Meaningful Aspirations: The good news is, the workforce is showing signs of maturing. Reality-driven indicators have become more important than purely perceptiondriven indicators such as social recognition and workload. The order of priorities has changed to make 'payperformance connect' and 'learning opportunities' the most important. These factors can be hard-coded and their return on investment calculated by the HR function, through both budget and impact.

Sixty-five per cent of the respondents were more kicked about higher job responsibilities. This single data point provides a huge window to SMEs and entrepreneurial companies to attract the right talent. The higher order questions being asked by employees gives them a great chance to tap into a talent pool that was practically non-existent a few years ago.

At the same time, I would like to point out that the employer brand still retains its charm. Hence, large companies will do better at attracting talent by creating the right perception in the mind of the employee.

GenNext Spring: Interestingly, the survey throws up an Arab Spring-type quotient of its own. People have become more aware and are clearly demanding 'value-based leadership'. Forty-three per cent of the respondent employees believed that their senior management adhered to ethical values (against 71 per cent last year). As a fallout of that, 53 per cent employees are satisfied with their current jobs (against 70 per cent last year).

Full Report: The Survey for Best Companies to Work For

We need to carefully observe and reflect that corporate play is different from the ways of the film industry. In that world, perception drives everything, and Fridays - when films open - are all important. But for an organisation, each moment of truth is a reality. It would be very shallow if the entire corporate play were only focused around perception. HR needs to move its priority in addressing the current employee through tightly linked metrics for productivity and performance, capability building, and remote and virtual work management. In order to satisfy these parameters, HR has to ensure that hygiene activities are seamlessly carried out to give themselves bandwidth to do meaningful roles for business.

I would like to conclude on the note that the supervisor needs to make his role more meaningful in the life of the employee. The magic wand has started to lose its power - the role needs to be reinvented and refurbished. Employees are far more aware today, and the need for value-based leadership is greater than ever - the speed of change externally is very rapid and organisations need to keep tabs on this to evolve and grow and meet their numbers. Jack Welch appropriately summed it up: "If the rate of change inside is less than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight."

Lastly, this is the chance for entrepreneurs and start-ups as they have a great opportunity to create the rising India story; employee trends support that movement. All the best.

Pankaj Bansal is Co-founder and CEO, PeopleStrong

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