Employee engagement is passé! Help people actualize.
Traditional modes of employee engagement will not help companies channelize the passions of their workforce any more. Period.
The day and age we live in, the millennials who will soon constitute 80% of our workforce, the disruptive opportunities that lay in front of each one of us, all point towards one thing – people today seek mission critical assignments, they want to make a tangible difference to the world they live in, they want to utilize their craft for meaningful work.
Gone are the days where you could engage people with transactional discussions like ‘We are headed in this direction, tell how you will help us achieve these milestones and these are the rewards you will get for your services’.
Instead companies need to re-orient the conversations towards transformation. For example: “You have this unique skill, we want to achieve XYZ for our clients or consumers, let us see how we can together make them successful and how your work can be a distinctive journey of self-discovery, and fulfillment”.
The new-age mantra is that companies will have to put talent at the center of this conversation.
By simply sharing vision, leadership involvement, communication, recognizing employees and managing their performance you will only disengage people further because it is one way and only one party is achieving its objective of ‘actualization’. The other is left in a perpetual state of ‘want’.
The new model of employee engagement therefore calls for recognizing people for their unique skills and craft. The shift in engagement today demands platforms for self-expression, experimentation, innovation and actualization.
Does your company have the first mover advantage in this space? If not, here are some questions that will help you refine your ‘new’ and ‘engaging’ engagement strategy:
Are you helping people build their personal brands? Are they shining examples of what they have become after joining you?
Are you checking for their aspirations before staffing them on a project, department? Are you giving them variety, or avenues to apply for different jobs in the same company?
Are you investing in elevating their craft not just providing learning & development programs?
Do they understand your mission before they even join you?
What platforms do you have that allow people to innovate?
How are you giving wings to your people’s entrepreneurial dreams?
Do you allow them to independently run their functions by giving the guidance on budgets, team size, results expected?
Why are hackathons just a technology company’s forte? Why can’t consumer companies hack their next product or service? Do you have a similar forum where the best minds in your company coagulate to create a new future?
Can people build personalized careers in your company? Are they shaping their careers as per their aspirations or as per how your company is taking shape in this rapidly changing world?
Last but not the least; are you aptly rewarding your people? This has no reference to salaries and performance bonus but it refers to helping your partners in success generate wealth and wellness from this work relationship. Are you genuinely invested in their future – personal and professional? Are you helping them become what they aspire to become? (look out for my next blog on ‘wealth and wellness’)
The idea is not to begin all of these at one go, but to choose the ones that are closer to your business, situation and people experience. It is about time that we converted our brand ambassadors aka our people into inspiring leaders, people growth and community champions, fast-trackers, and achievers in their own right.
Take the first step, help people actualize! Take them from ‘almost engaged’ to “highly-engaged”. The journey will be worth it.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.