Role of HR in employee engagement
Bad times; a very close friend of mine has been very upset for a couple of days. When asked, she expressed discomfort in going to her workplace. Almost 250 employees have been let go in her company (a billion dollar organization with over 60,000 employees across the global) which has resulted in a chaos and insecurity amongst the minds of the employees including her. She had been badly pleading me to join her to a movie or restaurant or any place that will make her feel better and different from the uneasiness of her workplace. Surely she is not ENGAGED.
Well the issue here is not only about my friend getting jittery rather it’s the anxiousness that must have gripped several of her colleagues. Definitely many of them would be edgy and unwilling to work knowing that the next person to be let go might be his/her next neighbour or unlucky themselves. This is the next bigger problem her company faces.
Here we are the spine of HR interventions- Employee Engagement. Non HR professional often feel employee engagement is nothing else but the games or events which HR guys drive. In actual terms engagement has more to do with their willingness to work whole heartedly with dedication & contribute to the success of the organization. For instance, a game or an event by my fellow HR guys will not bring any respite to their anxieties or wistful states of seeing their colleagues depart. What will work will be some empathy towards the gone and a sober display of seemingly difficult efforts of retaining the existing lot. This might include consulting random employees, publishing notes on different hobbies to pursue, training for other skills etc.
In my opinion keeping an employee engaged to his work is a herculean task which needs the support of all the verticals in HR. Even a smile at his/her manager’s face helps in rooting them to their seat. Gone are those days when employee would be happy with a 30-50% hike. In the VUCA world employee expects opportunities and technology advancement. They are competitive, aware and learners. Money is just a by-product which they are sure they will earn in abundance (specially our ambitious IT professionals)
In my recent rondavu session with one of the new joiners, I was perplexed by his concern that he does not feel very much involved in the team as he feels his team of 4 is unresponsive to his efforts of starting a discussion on the world politics or the ensuing chaos in the BIHAR elections. How do you calm this gentleman now?
I introduced him to another group of thinkers in my organization so as to give him a vent to his disgruntled thoughts. Also, consulted with the manager if he could be given access to the social sites like twitter to get instantaneous responses he expected from the surroundings. Off course we just can’t reprimand the others just coz they are lesser sensitive to the world happenings. Atleast, the person is continuing and giving his best with no complaints for the team.
The moral of the story is all of us being at the front with the employees will have to be more sensitive towards the employees. Not that we pay heed to all of their cries but at least the minimal to keep them running their best. What we speak and what we do for engagement cannot be transactional any more. We need to be random and at toes in responding with what employee expects. Networking is one arena where we all need to share our stories and conundrums. This will help in building a strong empowered HR teams to which management would look for driving their employees towards the goals.