Someone said, “Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant.” Organizations are successful when they deliver outstanding results as a collective. The employees need to have a common understanding of the purpose of the organization, its values and beliefs. While they go about doing their day to day work, make decisions, prioritise their actions, solve customer issues, win new deals, improve efficiencies, save costs, put their annual plans in place and so on, they need to keep these in mind. When the employees are all aligned in their thoughts and beliefs, they bond very well with one another, respect mutually and become a brilliant unit indeed!
There is no doubt that a cohesive workforce rallies around common causes strongly. Leveraged well, such a workforce can be a competitive advantage for the organization. Employees need to feel happy about themselves and being in the company of their colleagues. How do employees bond well? Is happiness a personal subject or employers create social settings actively for their folks to have a good time together?
Get the foundation right
Many leaders and founders are so passionate about the business, its purpose and goals that they are eternally in a hurry to see the outcome. They inadvertently miss putting the building blocks in place and as a result, the structure starts wobbling after it crosses the initial exuberance of coming together and getting the revenue streams in place. The climb onto the next step on the ladder becomes tough.
The cornerstones of an enterprise are the values, beliefs and its mission. They need to be understood by each and every person in the enterprise. Leaders have to talk about these not only at the time of on-boarding but also time to time, at critical junctures of decision making. While they discuss about a challenge or an opportunity, they need to share their thoughts openly so that all other people involved in the process are able to get a view of these foundational aspects.
When leaders are able to percolate the values down the ranks, the organization recruits right and engages with their customers, partners and employees in the right way. More often than not, the employees make the right decisions along their way.
Promote social well-being
Top leaders of an enterprise need to consistently demonstrate that they are committed to the well-being of their employees and social bonding at work. Many workplaces practise high degree of discipline and undivided attention from their employees when they are operating a machine or materials. Yet the leaders can easily show their commitment to employee well-being by the way they relate to them, connect with them, interact with their families and provide opportunities for them to interact with others, take care of their daily needs.
For example, the soldiers in the Army, migrant labourers, travelling salesmen, seamen and people on project work have to live away from their kith and kin, deal with many stressful situations at work. Their organizations have to find the wherewithal to fulfil the social needs and ambitions of their employees.
Leaders need to believe, their organization’s goals can be better achieved when the employees are committed and aligned with their thinking. The workplace has to be such that they can come together to build their own bonds and find joy and happiness without harming anyone else. Sometimes, we have to provide environments beyond work for the employees such as annual day, family day and so on where they can celebrate their success, enjoy time beyond work and recommit to the goals ahead.
All fingers are not the same
Each employee may not have the same level of propensity to build social bonds. Some of them want to be very active socially, connect with many others, either collaborate or fight, express their opinions, engage in community work and so on while some others could be very private, prefer to maintain discretion and privacy, engage in a limited activities with a small circle of individuals. Human beings are like the fingers in a palm, unique in many ways and different from the others. So, we shouldn’t expect every employee to be active equally on social bonding and at the same time, we must not conclude that such an employee lacks commitment and loyalty.
With the advent of emails and messaging and chat applications, employees sitting 50 feet away from each other are communicating with each other by emails and chats. Conversations on chats and emails could be quick and non-intrusive but they lack the power of in-person face to face conversation where emotions can be are easily conveyed along with the verbal communication. Sometimes managers encourage their team members to drop in an email and let conflicts simmer for some time. While this could be tactical at times, employees get into the habit of staying away from in-person discussions and meetings.
Organizations have to find ways of playing up the social well-being and aligning their workforce better, thus turning out superior results.
Organizations want to get the best talent on board because that’s a competitive advantage hard to replicate by the competition. Do they ask the internal HR team to recruit or get the experts to hire for them?
Get the hiring plan on the table!
Many leaders do not have a good visibility of their hiring needs broken down by the week, by the skill levels and criticality of the role to be hired. Secondly, every organization being a living being, keeps evolving and is different from another by the life-stage it is in. For example, the context of merger with another organization is very different from that of an organic plan of diversification. Speed of hiring, confidentiality of the hiring process and the approach of the top management towards talent acquisition determine if an internal team would do the job or external specialists are to be called in.
If the plans are clear and the organisation’s context is clear, it is easier to decide the next course of action.
Can you get the Specialists in-house?
Someone suggested, specialists can be in-house and the talent requirements be fulfilled by this team. This is like a restaurant growing its own crops to serve good food to its guests. Could this get any more unrealistic!
Candidates want an impartial view of the opportunity; they want to build relationships with recruiters who can suggest them multiple opportunities in future. It becomes tough to strike an honest and open-ended conversation when the recruiter is dedicated for just one company.
When the specialist of the infirmary of an organization recommends a certain course of treatment, the employee wants to take a second opinion unless it’s a minor ailment. Similarly the advice given by an in-house recruiter is taken with a pinch of salt by the prospective candidates. Real intent and drive of the prospective talent becomes very opaque for the employer organization.
Cost per hire is never easy to calculate because of multiple hidden costs. Line managers define the requirements, review CVs, hold interviews in multiple stages, in-house recruiters often co-ordinate between the candidates and the line managers, directly with the candidates throughout the recruiting process until the joining is done. All these costs are significant; the way to optimise these is to increase conversion of CV submissions to joining.
Normally in-house recruiters are judged against the interviews they organize. Nobody looks at the cost incurred in the process. The ideal situation is to get an external specialist to generate all possible options, screen candidates well and present the best choices. The metric of conversion ratio is useful for an RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) assignment as well as for contingency hiring.
Arguments here favour outsourcing hiring. When do you build your own team of specialists in-house?
Strategy cannot be outsourced
We cannot ask someone outside our organization to define our context and arrive at the required hiring needs. None other than the top managers can determine which role is critical for the company and which one is confidential. Just in case a company has a consulting partner for business strategy, the top deck plays an important role in defining what’s critical.
Secondly the in-house specialist needs to keep a watch over the machinery which runs the hiring process and delivers all moments of truth to the stakeholders in recruiting. Process Quality is critical for building a sustainable employer brand. Rome was not built overnight. So, the long term outcomes are to be architected in advance, the challenges on the way are to be tracked and overcome on an ongoing basis. The senior folks in talent acquisition have to play these elements of hiring strategy.
Sometimes organizations encounter exceptional demand-supply gaps. Long term views need to be taken about job design, compensation and employee attraction methods. Again, this is a case that needs to be owned up by the company and can be co-created with inputs from the hiring partners.
Leaders have to leverage specialists at the right time and generate the desired business results!
Many organizations and their leaders pride in the fact that they value diversity, inclusion, equal opportunity and so on. It is beyond argument that a diverse workforce has a greater chance to think holistically and hence, innovate; be a greater draw for talent than someone who doesn’t have a stated policy around this. But the moot question is if diversity is a mere buzzword in the organization and a mandated value or it is really being practised and the stakeholders in the organization are able to experience diversity a part of their life at work. So, the bottomline is to live it each day. How do the top leaders do it?
Get the rank and file to see its value!
A value can never be mandated to follow unless it comes from within. The leaders or managers in the organization who are responsible for recruitment of new employees and directing them towards achieving the business results, have to truly believe that a diverse workforce gives them a long-lasting edge in the marketplace. This belief has to be developed and reinforced by a focused approach of leadership development.
Unless the leaders learn to appreciate multiplicity of opinions, work in a collaborative manner with various stakeholders of the business, work on projects outside their own area of work and change roles from time to time, they do not live the spirit of diversity. Over a period of time, people appreciate the contribution made by others in the business; they learn to relate with the thinking of the others and become less critical of viewpoints which are not amenable to their own. A diverse workforce can bring about holistic solutions to real life situations.
Managers who appreciate diversity tend to be picky about the people they hire. They tend to assess a candidate if he or she can adapt well to the culture of working together, appreciate others’ viewpoints and work with the others by the power of influencing rather than by the power of authority. Sometimes, the diversity ratios by education, gender, race, faith etc seem lopsided in a firm and they want to make amends by targeted diversity hiring. Recruiters know, it is not easy to find people who thrive and flourish in multi-cultural environments; at the same time, hiring a certain kind of people in bursts to correct the ratios is not easy simply because of the demand-supply situation. Recruiting right is a critical step towards nurturing diversity in the organization.
Lead by Example
Leaders have to walk the talk. It starts right from the top – diversity has to be visible right there in terms of the mix of leadership talent and the manner in which they recruit people for their own teams, listen to the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders, deal with emotionally challenging tasks, demonstrate maturity in handling criticisms and groom the upcoming leaders. Organizational culture gets defined right there.
Organizations face a variety of challenges due to the dynamism of the business environment we live in. True leaders demonstrate steadfast commitment to listening to diverse views, welcoming perspectives from the others and believing in the fact that diversity strengthens their armour for the long-term. They combine the power of diversity in their team with the other strengths to deliver superior results.
The metaphor ‘World is Flat’ was made popular by the American journalist and author Thomas L. Friedman in his book ‘The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century’. Here the world was viewed as a level playing field in terms of commerce, wherein all competitors have an equal opportunity.
Globalization 1.0, during which countries and governments were the main protagonists. Globalization 2.0 which lasted from 1800 to 2000, was an era where the global market is born and here the “dynamic force driving global integration” is multinational companies. Globalization 3.0 will continue to shrink and flatten the world.
From Outsourcing and offshoring to supply-chaining has enabled new business models to take over and rule the modern economy.
Friedman defines ten “flatteners” that he sees as leveling the global playing field:
#1: Collapse of the Berlin Wall – 11/9/89: Friedman called the flattener “When the walls came down, and the windows came up.” The event not only symbolized the end of the Cold War but also allowed people from the other side of the wall to join the economic mainstream. “11/9/89” is a discussion about the Berlin Wall’s coming down, the “fall” of communism, and the impact that Windows-powered PCs (personal computers) had on the ability of individuals to create their own content and connect to one another. At that point, the basic platform for the revolution to follow was created: IBM PC, Windows, a standardized graphical interface for word processing, dial-up modems, a standardized tool for communication, and a global phone network.
#2: Netscape – 8/9/95: Netscape went public at the price of $28. Netscape and the Web broadened the audience for the Internet from its roots as a communications medium used primarily by “early adopters and geeks” to something that made the Internet accessible to everyone from five-year-olds to ninety-five-year-olds. The digitization that took place meant that everyday occurrences such as words, files, films, music, and pictures could be accessed and manipulated on a computer screen by all people across the world.
#3: Workflow software: This is Friedman’s catch-all for the standards and technologies that allowed work to flow. It is the ability of machines to talk to other machines with no humans involved, as stated by Friedman. Friedman believes those first three forces have become a “crude foundation of a whole new global platform for collaboration.” There was an emergence of software protocols (SMTP – simple mail transfer protocol; HTML – the language that enabled anyone to design and publish documents that could be transmitted to and read on any computer anywhere) Standards on Standards. This is what Friedman called the “Genesis moment of the flat world.” The net result “is that people can work with other people on more stuff than ever before.” This created a global platform for multiple forms of collaboration. The next six flatteners sprang from that platform.
#4: Uploading: Uploading involves communities that upload and collaborate on online projects. Examples are open source software, blogs, and Wikipedia. Friedman considers the phenomenon “the most disruptive force of all.”
#5: Outsourcing: Friedman argues that outsourcing has enabled companies to split service and manufacturing activities into components that can be subcontracted and performed in the most efficient, most-cost-effective way. This process became easier with the mass distribution of fiber-optic cable during introduction of the World Wide Web.
#6: Offshoring: This is the internal relocation of a company’s manufacturing or other processes to a foreign land to take advantage of less costly operations there. China’s entrance in the WTO (World Trade Organization) allowed for greater competition on the playing field. Now such countries as Malaysia, Mexico, and Brazil must compete against China and one another to have businesses offshore to them.
#7: Supply-chaining: Friedman compares the modern retail supply chain to a river by pointing to Wal-Mart as the best example of a company that uses technology to streamline item sales, distribution, and shipping.
#8: Insourcing: Friedman uses UPS as a prime example for insourcing, whereby the company’s employees perform services – beyond shipping – for another company. For example, UPS repairs Toshiba computers on behalf of Toshiba. The work is done at the UPS hub by UPS employees.
#9: Informing: Google and other search engines and Wikipedia are the prime examples. “Never before in the history of the planet have so many people – on their own – had the ability to find so much information about so many things and about so many other people,” writes Friedman. The growth of search engines is tremendous; for example, Friedman states, Google is “now processing roughly one billion searches per day, up from 150 million just three years ago.”
#10: “The Steroids”: The steroids are wireless, Voice over Internet Protocol, and file sharing and are used on personal digital devices like mobile phones, iPods, and personal digital assistants; on instant messaging; and on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Digital, mobile, personal, and virtual as well as all analog content and processes (from entertainment to photography, to word processing) can be digitized and therefore shaped, manipulated, and transmitted; and these processes can be done at high speed with total ease; mobile can be done anywhere and anytime by anyone; and can be done by anyone.
Friedman argues that the winners will be those who learn the habits, processes, and skills most quickly—and there is nothing that guarantees it will be Americans or Western Europeans permanently leading the way.
One advantage that the billions of people that have only recently joined the “playing field” enjoy is that they do not have to “worry about all the sunken costs of the old systems.” They can skip stages of development. Chinese use more cell phones than Americans, in part because they “skipped over the landline phase.” The world’s economy is changing, and that change is largely being driven by individuals rather than governments because individuals can now meet and interact using online services. People used to rely on visas to travel to areas with opportunities, but now, people can collaborate and innovate remotely without having the need for travel.
As we stand today, the world on one side is trying to adjust with an ageing Japanese and European population and on the other side, the millennials are becoming the primary driving force in rising economies like India. This successful transition in the workforce regime has been possible for a number of factors like seamless connectivity, the older generation finding it difficult to keep the pace with the technological development and innovative ideas taking over traditional ways of running businesses. There are younger CEOs and older people are reporting to them. We are moving from the norm of seniority to meritocracy. Thus, making the world flatter in the process.
The ugly heads of people with extreme beliefs and religious fanaticism keep propping up time and again. But ideologies and beliefs which are far flung from the ground reality are finding it difficult to suppress information. The new and more open world is about information, the real deal is now in the terms of meaningful data. The shift in power is now in terms of who has the right information at the right time or so to say before-time. That is the reason why data analytics, machine learning are becoming indispensable for any firm.
We are moving towards a world with more efficient labour, optimised productivity and assisted intelligence. With cryptocurrency, the world is shrinking further and further. Technologies like blockchain are promising enough to make transactions more secure, yet transparent and cull down the barriers of information.
The world today is flat, technologies will make it flatter as we move ahead. With the rise of Industry 4.0, Globalization 4.0 will kick-in and completely wipe out the barriers. Automation and Artificial Intelligence are bound to play a crucial role in this regard.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is pretty much here. Though enterprise adoption is still low, it is just a matter of time that they will feel the market pressure. Unless the leaders wake up to this reality and ask their direct reports to adapt to these changes, they will be forced to compete with players who have greater strength, speed, agility and cool quotient. Their customers would no longer be returning back to them! Sounds scary, but we have many examples – Kodak, Nokia, Polaroid, Blackberry, Motorola, Postal Services and so on. HR function in an organization is no exception to this phenomenon.
Which parts in HR can be revved up by AI?
Right from getting the right talent on board to retaining and developing them are not easy when we operate in a dynamic environment. Time to hire continues to be an issue for many CHROs and CEOs; this becomes a significant challenge when critical positions or strategic roles in the company are open for long. Many organizations do not have a clear measure for this metric; neither do they review this consistently. Besides, quality of hire is another important critical consideration that the Board is concerned about. There are many such dimensions for the HR department to deliver results.
Each organization has its unique context and hence, its own priorities. Most often, organizations do not deploy adequate energies in a structured process of strategic planning. It calls for intellectual bandwidth and belief of the top leadership team to drive this process forward. Once this process is carried out, the organization has its priorities listed, some of which the CHRO owns up and addresses himself or herself. The leadership team in HR has to deploy its best possible resources, efforts and attention to address those priorities.
Develop Innovation culture in HR Team
AI offers several opportunities for the CHRO either to improve process efficiency or transform a process. It can communicate employer brand proposition to the target audience easily, help attracting the right talent, engage with passive candidates, assess quality of match for the talent who has shown interest and set up discussions with potential hires. Further AI tools can crawl the web and social media to do reference checks and develop passive candidates. For employee engagement, AI tools can play an important role to recognize efforts and results, build and spread positive vibes within the company, grow voices who advocate the employer brand and pick up spots of bother at an early stage.
The team has to believe that new technologies can make a difference to their effectiveness. Then only they can fathom the possibilities and explore ways of leveraging them. This stems from a culture of innovation rather than sticking to traditional methods of carrying out the tasks. The organization might lose the edge in attracting right talent or the cost per hire could go up; retaining the top performers could be a challenge; employee costs might not remain in the optimum range; the employer brand might lose its sheen. We need to continuously innovate!
What are the possibilities?
Chatbots can enhance efficiency in answering questions of potential job applicants to improve efficiency of recruiters and strengthen employer brand by the speed of response and uniform experience delivered to the target pool. Bots and other such AI tools can bring speed and accuracy in screening and assessment of applicants in large hiring exercises. Tech tools are available to facilitate communication within the organization, hold company-wide townhalls, showcase performers, and generate 360 degree praise for the stars in the company. Companies are solving challenging issues by facilitating collaboration among employees. Tools are there to check organizational climate, track performance and carry out mundane yet important tasks such as marking attendance, assigning tasks, submitting reports, setting meetings, reminders, expense claims and so on. Plenty of possibilities indeed!
The leaders have to identify the strategic priorities, build the culture of innovation and spur the team to keep making progress in leveraging AI in the priority areas.
Bill Gates said, “The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people. If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become some mediocre company.”
“When you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work”, said Steve Jobs.
Who are the Toxic Superstars?
Organizations do their best to attract Superstars and retain them. They deliver top-class productivity, set benchmarks in the organization and inspire others. Their number is small but they deliver high impact. They become the blue-eyed boys or girls for a manager, earn highest bonus and set on a fast-track career path.
The problem arises when one such A-grader is toxic corroding the fabric of the organization. Such a person is normally focused on one’s own interests, own goals to meet, earning bonuses and accolades for self rather than for the team. These individuals walk the extra mile to learn and adapt to the situation, but are sharply focused on their own requirements. They de-prioritise goals of the team and purpose of the organization over indirect outcome of one’s actions. They firmly believe, “I am right and the others are wrong”.
How do their Managers deal with them?
Managers find it very difficult to reprimand them for this behaviour. They are willing to overlook the attitude issue in the name of rough edges. This is all because of the track record and the results that a superstar delivers.
Goals and budgets for the quarter and the year are important. Because these superstars contribute significantly to those numbers, the manager does not want to upset the performer with a reprimanding conversation. Moreover, many managers are not sure how the conversation would take shape and do not want to upset the applecart. They do not want to risk damaging their working relationship with the performer and losing the person from the team.
What should be done?
Tough task for the leadership team to call a spade a spade! This calls for open communication across the rank and file. The norm in the organization should be clear to all. The values of the organization have to be lived by the leaders and the employees should be able to see them. In this kind of a situation, it is highly unlikely that a toxic superstars will be bold enough to act in a self-centred way on a consistent basis harming the ethos of the team.
Secondly, some organizations encourage their troops to be super-competitive and are quite fine with the skirmishes that a top performer brings to the table. In those situations, the toxicity may not be about the attitude of one-upmanship, rather it could be about lack of integrity and honesty. The leadership needs to recognize these behaviours and take a stance on this. Most importantly, their stance needs to be visible in the organization.
Last but not the least, leadership ability of managers across the organization plays a very important role. Most often, the front-line managers and their supervisors hold the key to the way behaviours of superstars are observed and promoted. While the top leaders set the tone, the behaviours of the managers on the ground on a day-to-day basis determines how a superstar is dealt with. They need to be able to build high levels of trust and open communication with their sub-ordinates. They must be able to leverage their relationship with the superstar to discuss violations from code of conduct and toxicity in their behaviour. This is the most important aspect and most difficult to operationalise.
Rome was not built in a day. As an organization matures, they do better!
Apple Computers introduced Macintosh in 1984 as a premium product against a serious and respectable IBM personal computer. Steve Jobs predicted that Apple would sell 50,000 of them in its first 100 days. But, Apple sold 72,000. The marketing manager said later that they would have sold 200,000 of them if they could have built them! So, they started producing 110,000 a month, but the sales dropped. The data around early adoption was not an indication of mainstream demand in the market. This was a huge setback. Forecasts did not work!
Decades have gone by. We have a hugely improved ecosystem to track and measure business on a real time basis. Huge amount of data are being generated and recorded; information and insights are being gathered each day. Are organizations using these to predict business results?
Given the fact that human resources make a huge competitive advantage for an organization, HR team must leverage technology to predict the likely situations in future and execute its plans accordingly.
Predict : he or she the Right Fit
Organizations have huge amount of data about their employees : their personal details, education, family background and so on. They also have data about employees’ performance and behaviours. Hence, they can correlate all these three dimensions to determine the typical profile of an employee who is likely to be successful with them. We can learn who is likely to fit well with the organizational culture and the demands of the job. That’s the power of predictive analytics!
Not many organizations in India have been able to leverage analytics. They can deploy a tool that sifts through employee database and performance data; studies the patterns and generates insights. Management team can go through them and apply their combined wisdom to validate the insights. This can give rise to a model to map employee performance with his or her profile. A recruiter can sharpen his or her search better while attracting candidates. The model can prescribe preferred educational qualification, university, city of origin, age profile, family background, personality traits and so on.
Optimize Hiring Cost
Wrong hires or sub-optimal hires cost an organization dearly due to the missed opportunities of generating superior results when we recruit the right people. Such costs could potentially be eliminated if we deploy tools to define the ideal employee profile. Thus the cost per hire can be optimized.
Secondly, big data technologies such as natural language processing help us read the applicant profile and match it with the requirements of the job. Most cases in India generate a huge number of applicants in response to a job advertisement. These technologies help a recruiter stack-rank the applications and hence save valuable efforts. Traditional methods of sifting through a pile of applications on a first-come first-serve manner gives us a very low return on our investment of human efforts.
Focus Engagement Efforts
Looking at the trend of performance results of the past, we get an idea of the likely contribution of an employee. All of us want to be a part of a success story and nobody wants to be on the losing side. When the results go downhill, the concerned employee and his or her manager get together to reverse the trend. When this happens for many people in a team, HR team needs to intervene. Early warning signs are critical to engage with employees and their managers at the right time. The idea is to spot the smoke and douse the fire rather than taking action when the bridge is on fire.
Similarly, it is important to spot the corners of happiness and the green pastures at the right time. The HR team must reward and recognize people and teams when the going is good. They have to build a conducive environment for success to repeat. Again analytics of performance data holds the key. For large organizations, this is super critical.
Organizations have tools and systems to track employee interactions as they carry out their day to day tasks. These tools can learn what employees are looking for and at the same time, they can compare these needs with what the managers are feeling, thinking and doing. There will always be gaps between needs of employees and the experience delivered to them. HR team needs to keep a tab on the gaps continuously and initiate actions when the gaps widen.
Traditionally, business leaders relied on annual employee surveys, their gut feel of the ground reality and opinions of their direct reports. These methods sometimes do not yield the right results. Modern tools help managers recognize good performances and offer instant feedbacks. Peers are able to express their gratitude towards others, help others as subject matter experts and express their views and opinions on an issue. Analysing results of these conversations tell us who the top performers are and how they are feeling. Also, these results show what their managers are thinking about these performers. These tools can help us identify the gaps and prompt us into actions.
Opportunities of using analytics in HR are plenty. Leaders have to believe in their power and deploy the right tools in their day to day business practices.
Employee attrition means the loss of employees either through voluntary retirement, resignation, or when the company itself decides to cross cut. Losing employees every now and then is a normal part of the company’s life cycle. You cannot really force people to keep working in the company if they want to pursue other opportunities.
However, a high turnover rate is not good either. When your employees leave just after a year or less after getting hired – then something is not right. Your company is not simply losing good talent, but is also wasting money and resources as well.
Hiring and training employees require time and resources. And if they don’t stay long enough, then that investment simply goes down the drain. There are additional expenses for the separation pay and temporary contractor costs that add up to your business expenses.
Aside from expenses and loss of investment, losing employees causes inconvenience and instability for the company – production/processes can halt, and the remaining employees have to take over the workload of the resigned employee. There are however several ways to minimize employee attrition and avoid all the inconveniences that come with this. Below are just five ways:
Offer better compensation and benefits
This has always been a major issue for any employee – the salary. If your competitors are offering better rates, then your employees would most likely be inclined to go after it. You’ll lose good talent, and waste resources on training and molding them.
Aside from the salary, employees are also after benefits. This includes dental and health insurances, tuition assistance (for those who have kids), longer maternity/paternity leaves, work flexibility (allowing them to work from home), stock options, gym memberships, and even childcare services.
These perks make your employees lives more comfortable, and it can allow them to save money (especially for health-related concerns), have more family time, and basically have a good work-life balance. With such perks, mood and contentment in the company will go up and thoughts of leaving will be less likely entertained.
Improve your office space.
The office space itself can also affect your employee’s mood and productivity. Cubicles and drab hallways could be uninspiring (especially for employees who are tasked to do creative works), and lack of proper equipment can further hinder productivity.
You have to give your employees some space to unwind and chill, or get inspiration from. Offer a different view, or some refreshments (such as juices, coffee and biscuits). If it is not possible, allow them to work remotely from cafes or nearby coworking spaces.
You have to make sure that your employees are comfortable when they are at the office, and that they can process anything they need to get the job done fast. This includes providing them with a decent PC/laptops (especially if you have web developers and designers on the team), printers (including their inks and toners), sticky notes and all other kinds of stationery.
Improve company structure and organization.
Lack of structure and organization in the company can cause a lot of confusion, and this can take a toll on your employees. When tasks and job positions are not clear, disagreements and tensions can arise on just about any project – this can cause stress and frustration. If this continues, you’ll be losing your best people in no time.
Improve employee engagement.
For some employees, it is enough that they feel that they are truly part of a family within the company. Team buildings, outings and parties can strengthen not just employee to employee relationships, but employer to employee relationships as well. Recognizing their hard work (through employee of the year awards and other incentives) can also boost their spirits. This also improves their relationship and loyalty to the company itself. Aside from that, giving honest feedback and listening to their concerns are also great ways to improve overall employee engagement. It tells them that the company actually cares about their growth, and that they have plenty of chances to improve on their skill sets.
Make your vision and direction clear.
Another way to boost loyalty among employees is to communicate the company’s mission and vision clearly. If they know the driving force behind the business, it gives them the inspiration to move and work better for the company – having the same mission and goals in sight. There should be a shared vision that can inspire them to be focused and committed to the company.
Although you may not completely stop your employees from quitting and walking out the door, the best thing you can do is to just minimize this from happening. This is why you should know what could possibly motivate them, and how the company can be more helpful in their lives.
Only 60 out of 500 companies in Fortune 500 list of 1955 were in the same list in 2017. Successful companies in an era could not demonstrate the agility to stay the course. They were the best in the world; had the access to the best resources – financial, knowledge, expertise, technology and so on. Yet 88% of the global best fell from the charts. This proves us one thing – leadership is at the foundation of the company’s success.
The choices made by the top leaders from time to time and the behaviours that they show determine the course and the future. Organizations face challenges on daily basis, especially in the dynamic, uncertain and volatile world of business we live in. There are multiple forces that operate on the business. Some of these are visible while some of these are hard to anticipate and comprehend. The leader has to deal with all these and keep his or her flock together on the right path.
Stay Calm in the hours of Crisis
Countries have faced assassination of their popular leader, war threats to wars, unprecedented natural calamities, mishaps and accidents leading to loss of lives and unsafe living conditions. Companies have faced crisis of extinction, loss of reputation, lawsuits pushing them to irrevocable losses for years and so on. There are several other crises which are smaller compared to the ones deliberated in public view. They occur more frequently and challenge the head of the business with stressful situations. These may be small in magnitude when viewed from a distance but are equally testing of the leader’s ability. He or she has to protect the credibility of the business, keep the flock together, identify the weak spots, fill the cracks, act on the guilty, strengthen the systems and processes to avoid the pitfall and provide the much-desired confidence to the stakeholders about the future. All of these need to happen quickly and seamlessly.
Needless to say that the leader has to bring the team together, work with them overtime to not only find the solutions but also to communicate all over. The leader comes under high levels of duress to deal with emotions within the organization as well as outside. Staying calm helps in spotting the cracks, anticipating situations and developing the plan. Organizations cannot endure the ordeal unless the leader is adept in the hours of crises.
Build. Protect. Reinforce
Companies hold exit interviews. More often than not, the most important reason for people leaving the organization was better opportunities. The stated reason for leaving could be better salary, better opportunity, higher studies, relocation or personal reason, but the real reason is something else.
Somewhere in the core of the heart, a few things go out of sync with what the employee experiences at work. The noise grows louder and over a period of time, it snaps a few chords in the heart. The opportunities which were not very appealing earlier start to look shiner and brighter. And one fine day, the innings comes to an end. It is the leader who has to be in tune with the ground reality, gauge the noise levels and take actions to cancel the noise at the right time.
Business Leaders have to partner with their HR Team to get all people managers to build harmony in the team, push them to greater heights and nurse the injuries at the right time. They have to build strength in the team to be able to endure tough terrains and at the same time, keep their heads steady while cruising at high altitudes.
It is not enough for the top leader and the HR Team to advise and preach to the managers across the organization. They need to see the prescribed behaviours demonstrated by their bosses and feel inspired. Like a gardener builds a conducive environment for the plants in the garden to grow well, the leader has to nurture the managerial talent in the organization to flower forth.
The layers of managers in the organization drive their teams forward towards the goals of the day, week and quarter. However, what separates one organization from the other is the manner in which the teams are driven, the principles used for rewards and recognition, the way conflicts are dealt with, the way opportunities are seized and the focus on all stakeholders of a business. World’s best organizations stay course if their leaders do the right things!
It is the leader who builds a great team, challenges them, protects them and reinforces regularly. Easier said than done! It takes a lot of character and hard work to sow the seeds of success in an organization.
In the last couple of years, developments in VR (virtual reality) and AR have gone beyond sports and entertainment. Niantic released Pokemon Go in mid-2016 and it became a global phenomenon. Samsung Gear and Google Glasses came out in 2013. Though they have been there for a few years, Pokemon Go demonstrated the real power of AR to the world. Since then, the world of business has started piloting this technology.
We hear about Boeing using AR for intricate assemblies in an aeroplane and Agco using this to inspect components and sub-assemblies in the manufacturing of farm equipment. Several other industry sectors have started using it for delivering superior experience to their customers – prospective as well as existing ones. They are able to convert sales enquiries better, provide do-it-yourself help to their customers, enable their sales and service technicians to follow check-lists and bring them upto speed quickly. We see AR tools being used in hazardous work environments to access them easily and detect issues if any. Workers in the warehouses are able to reach the bins and niches to store and retrieve components quicker than ever before.
How can HR leverage AR?
HR Team helps the business leaders attract, develop and retain talent in the firm. In each of these steps, they are required to provide a realistic view of the firm – its culture, purpose, people, products, and environment; at the same time, give a sneak peek into the future. Would it not be interesting if a potential employee can take a quick tour of the company – its work areas and real people interacting with one another, solving problems, developing new ideas and so on without physically travelling to those locations?
AR can help us assess suitability of a job applicant when we show real life situations at our workplace and ask him or her to respond to those. Rather than describing hypothetical situations or theoretical issues to a candidate, it is better to understand how the person reacts to them and accordingly assess if we will be able to engage the person meaningfully, offer a career path and leverage his or her talent in our company.
Training and development is another important responsibility of the HR team. AR offers a huge opportunity for us to simulate work situations and hence, explore ways of dealing with them. Nothing can be more effective than this to train and develop employees.
What stops us from using AR?
There are multiple challenges on the way. To begin with, it is not on the agenda of the leadership team and hence, not deliberated. The Business Owner or Leader has to take the first step of proposing the change and taking it forward. This is easier said than done because there are more pressing issues crying for attention normally.
Secondly, it is not easy to go off the beaten path. It calls for courage and strong leadership to explore new avenues when the current practice is not a disaster. Companies and leaders who look for greater efficiency and want to climb a few notches higher on the journey towards excellence, can only muster the courage to experiment with something new.
Real challenges on the way are cost of these tools, battery life of the device, internet connectivity and security of the data gathered in the process. Another big obstacle is the mind-set of the employees that some jobs could be lost due to the use of such tools. Some of them also complain of health issues and ergonomics. Over a period of time, we will see improvements in all these aspects. We need not wait for the perfect world. Cost-benefit ratio and usability are the two key determinants for early adoption.
Where do we start?
First things first, the leadership team has to believe that AR is the way forward and their organization must take advantage of this technology. Then comes the next crucial step of building consensus among the managers in the next layer of the organization and evaluating options for a pilot. Once the pilot is installed, the leaders have to prepare the organization for adopting the new way of attracting talent, presenting the opportunity, assessing applicants, engaging employees and training them.
Smart organizations think long term and ahead of their peers. They will lead the way!