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Employee engagement for a company culture that can accelerate into next

Employee engagement for a company culture that can accelerate into next

Hope is often held in intangibles. Creativity, for example, is usually considered the last resort of a failing organization, while being the first resort of the ones who succeed. Another such intangible, culture, is vital for any organization to survive amidst the challenges posed by a global pandemic. How can organizations define their culture when there is no physical office for casual conversations and fruitful interactions? Revive employee engagement that was the cornerstone of the office culture, during pre-COVID-19 days.

Why employee engagement matters

The intangible effect of culture on an organization is difficult to measure, but productivity can. An organization with rich culture can have a job turnover rate as low as 13.9 percent, a Columbia University study says. The same report also states that the probability of job turnover in organizations with poor cultures is 48.4 percent. And it impacts the bottom line too – in the form of a 33 percent decrease in operating income and an 11 percent decrease in earnings growth, whereas companies with high-level engagement have a 19 percent increase in operating income and a 28 percent increase in earnings growth. The numbers are from the pre-COVID times, but the question is, are employees engaged enough to give their best in the middle of the pandemic? And how can organizations define or nurture their culture to help their employees be their best? Here are a few methods, while proven, might not be mainstream.

Let people gather and see the magic happen

A workplace that fosters events and informal gatherings is a highly engaged workplace. Such places foster connections that move beyond work and help employees form interpersonal relationships. The relaxed atmosphere where employees feel free to walk and chat and collaborate on ideas in a casual way provides creative solutions more often than not. People with a friend at work are 7 times more likely to engage fully in their work, according to a survey. But how can the physical interaction be replicated to the remote-working culture? The leaders of the organization and teams within have to show the way. Having the management chat with the employees informally is a good way to start. Conducting informal events where everyone gets a chance to showcase their talent (unrelated to work), can help employees shed some of the pressure they’re experiencing on professional and personal fronts. Every associate meets up a leader once a month for a coffee chat….very informally. A movie watched during the weekend, a book read recently, weekend purchase, could be anything for discussion which breaks the monotony of business and increases bond between the employee and Maveric.

Be invested in their future

Caring about the future of its employees is a way for organizations to plant the seeds of good culture. When employees know that the organization has their best interests at heart, their performance tends to get better. To begin with, organizations can be transparent about various developments happening within the business vertical, and convey how they plan to upskill or nurture their employees to take upon the new challenges. While Town Hall, All Hands Meet, happen at org level, account based updates, This fosters an environment where employees feel their importance to the organization.

Once the employees are motivated, it is the job of the leadership to let them prosper. There is no one rule to how to do this – but being compassionate and understanding of the difficulties of team helps. While the quickest way to the solution might be to instruct employees to carry out a set of actions, understanding that it doesn’t help their growth and taking time to make them understand the nuances of the solution is what a leader should do. Mentoring, either officially or unofficially, can help employees on the lower rung to reach their goals and get promoted too. When employees feel that the organization is investing in them as opposed to focussing on the next quarterly results, their focus and performance improve. Some organizations might be reluctant to look beyond the results, but they need not worry: McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index study reveals that the organizations with top quartile cultures post a return to shareholders 60 percent higher than median companies and 200 percent higher than those in the bottom quartile.

Praise them right

The typical culture of tech-related organizations is to celebrate big wins, which happen a few times in a year, and business as usual every other time. Life goes back to meeting deadlines immediately after that. Letting employees know that when they’ve put in their best effort, someone in the organization going to notice – be it only in the initial stages of a project, or somewhere in the middle of it – makes the euphoria of accomplishment even higher in the employee’s mind. Instead of waiting to celebrate these wins until the project is over or for the annual get-together, just hold an impromptu congratulations session with the leaders of the organization. Instant gratification goes a long way in employee motivation. This appreciation can be monetary, the promise of faster growth, or just recognizing the achievement – what matters is that the organization appreciates the work of its employees.

Factor in the burnout

One of the major reasons for burnout is the feeling of being a cog in the machine. This happens when employees fail to recognize their contribution to the organization’s growth. Holding regular update sessions with the leaders of various teams and letting them know how their team has made a difference, can then cascade down .. Organizations can also implement a goal-tracking system that clearly shows how the organization and the employee’s goals are aligned. Wouldn’t it encourage an employee to know that the code they worked on, is helping a sizeable number of people somewhere in the world? Employees start seeing themselves as problem solvers instead of just being programmers or managers, and they will invariably find more ways to add value to their work.

Even after constantly engaging with the employees, some might still face burnout due to their workload or complications in personal life. Considering the extent of the effects of the pandemic, team leads must guide them while figuring the best way to stick to the deadlines. It can be a tightrope walk, but the employee loyalty resulting from this can more than make up for the small hiccup.

Keep an ear to the ground

Burnouts are not easy to spot, and so are systemic problems. Creating an open-door policy (or open-call policy during the pandemic) can help employees express themselves freely to a certain extent, but that is not enough. Leaders across all levels, . should keep an eye out for small signals, as they are partially responsible for the emotional well-being of their employees too; like a normally calm employee sending angry emails, or the most talkative contributor in meetings offering a few words. Get on to an one-on-one call, assure the employees of their worth, and ask them how can the organization be of help. Let the employees know that the organization is not just interested in their productive efforts, but their wellbeing as a whole. This increases the org hygiene.

Accelerate to the next

Fostering a culture of creativity, innovation, and high performance can only happen with a dedicated and motivated workforce. Putting the needs of employees at the core of the organization’s values ensures a positive work environment. And when employees know they are taken care of, they tend to do amazing things.

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Accelerate into the next with Work-from-Anywhere

Accelerate into the next with Work-from-Anywhere

A few months into the pandemic, it is clear for everyone that work-from-anywhere is here to stay. While some organizations like twitter have rolled out the “Work from home forever” policy, Amazon recently signed leases for a total of 900,000 feet of office space in six cities around the United States, citing the lack of spontaneity in virtual teamwork. Which one is the correct way? Does either of the approaches provide the right answer, or is the answer somewhere in the middle? An analysis by McKinsey finds that the potential for remote work is concentrated among highly skilled and educated associates in a small number of industries, occupations, and geographies – and lists certain industries like finance, software and others as the ones where the capacity to derive advantages from ‘work from anywhere’ policies is high.

Where exactly is ‘Anywhere’?

Anywhere with a good internet connection, that is. In certain cases, associates are working from remote hill stations while others try their best to find a quiet corner from home. While some managers fear that ‘working from hills’ will reduce the output of their subordinates, reports suggest the contrary. Moreover, keeping associates safe at this time is the best course of action for companies. The human element is the key to success, putting the associates and customers of an organization on par. When coupled with adequate support in terms of security and maintaining the work/life balance, work from anywhere policies can let organizations reap the rewards of having a content workforce in future.

Is Work from anywhere the only way to go?

Yes, and no. While certain skillsets make it easy for the work to be done remotely (coding, software maintenance, generating reports) it does not mean that people working in those positions want to work in a secluded way, i.e., working from anywhere but office. It is better to evaluate cases and provide multiple flexi-time options, until it is safe for associates and customers to return to physical workplaces. In fact, more employers are seeing better productivity from their remote workers. Some chief executives even express confidence that remote work can continue. Multi-layered support and associate engagement initiatives across various regions are vital in this regard: steps like daily wellness check-ins of associates can help ensure their health and productive engagement, while providing augmented health insurance for associates takes away the financial anxiety encountered by some. Core team of leaders should be consistently monitoring the situation and convey appropriate contingency plans, and hold regular catch-ups for consistent associate communication covering updates on the company policies. Helping associates, be the ones on bench or those assigned to a project, in upskilling themselves across various businesses through project shadowing, internal projects and high-touch training can keep the morale high.

Invest in a highway to anywhere

Investments into and adoption of industry leading IT infrastructure and security platforms are paramount when it comes to the ‘work from anywhere’ culture. A 2020 survey by AT&T Cybersecurity and Enterprise Strategy Group reveals that only 40% of the enterprises can successfully address around 90% of security events and alerts on a monthly basis. The 2020 Future of Work survey by Xerox shows that IT support (35%), inadequate workflow solutions (27%), lack of communication and collaboration tools (22%) and lack of cloud-based solutions (10%) were the highest scoring pain points of shifting work remotely. Investing in simplifying these issues should be the primary concern of any organization.

Reconfigure the delivery path

Swift reengineering of the delivery approach is another priority while adopting the work from anywhere culture. With associates in different locations, time zones even, communication and collaboration becomes difficult. Using multi-channel communication tools across all business and project stakeholders to dispense timely information and insights will help in maintaining the confidence of customers. Also, project delivery plans need to be relooked, with updates from associates keeping the remote locations in mind.  Easy access of project resources and program health metrics enable timely updates to clients and stakeholders alike, keeping them on the same page. Creating a proactive feedback engine keeps 100% alignment to the objectives of the customers.

The road (to anywhere) ahead

While remote work might not be the only way going forward, its importance for associates and their employers increase. The pandemic has made organizations let go of their previous hesitations and dive in on the remote work culture. While some are still trying to exert old norms in the form of new tools, the ones who succeed are those organizations that value the time of their employees. With proper assistance from expert service providers, organizations can accelerate to the next shift in workplace norms and see an improvement in the efficiency and job satisfaction among their associates.

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Establishing a Culture of Effective Employee Engagement to Accelerate Next

Establishing a Culture of Effective Employee Engagement to Accelerate Next

There is no doubt that Employee Engagement has been the secret sauce for improving employee productivity and loyalty in workplaces. According to the Gallup study, business units filled with engaged employees are 22% more profitable than those who aren’t.

That is why organizations must create an employee engagement strategy that can scoop in positive corporate culture allowing employees to feel fully involved, enthusiastic, and more willing to contribute to the company’s success. Yet on the flip side, if employees are not engaged, it can result in negative repercussions on issues such as customer experience.

In recent times, the pandemic has forced organizations to place a robust employee engagement strategy as working from home became the new normal for employees and keeping them motivated to work hard. In trying times, employees might struggle with feelings of uncertainty, isolation, and demotivation, etc., while remuneration is always a good incentive to engage workers, as it isn’t always the Be-all and End-all for driving all employee engagement initiatives.

Before moving ahead, let us first understand the different pulse types of employees in terms of engagement:

  • Highly Engaged Employees: These employees are always at the top of their works, self-motivated, passionate about the company’s goals and vale. They will go beyond their limits to make the company’s name stand out from the crowd.
  • Almost Engaged Employees: These kinds of employees require huge attention and focus because they easily get driven away with little distractions like tempting offers, work-pressure, etc. These are employees who love their work but have not achieved their full potential yet.
  • Disengaged Employees: The employees who are not too keen on their work fall into this category. They are only working for money but are seldom involved with the company’s vision. Though they can easily be retained by increased paychecks, they lack passion and motivation in them.

Let us see what various employee engagement research organizations have defined an engaged employee as –

  • Gallup distinguishes between employees who are “Actively engaged” (loyal and productive), “Not engaged” (average performers) and “Actively disengaged” (ROAD warriors, or “Retired On Active Duty”).
  • Sibson Consulting differentiates “engaged” employees (those who know what to do and want to do it) from “disengaged” employees (those who don’t know what to do and don’t want to do it), “enthusiasts” (those who want to do the work but don’t know how to do it) and “renegades” (those who know what to do but do not want to do it).

The Behavioural characteristics of engaged and disengaged employees are:

Engaged Employee Behaviour Disengaged Employee Behaviour
Optimistic Pessimistic
Team-oriented Self-centred
Goes above and beyond High absenteeism
Solution-oriented Negative attitude
Selfless Egocentric
Shows a passion for learning Focuses on monetary worth
Passes along credit but accepts blame Accepts credit but passes along blame

A Business Strategy to Adopt

If you’re ready to rethink your employee engagement strategy, then this is the spot-on track to address it. Because an unengaged employee can never contribute in a meaningful way.

So, how can you drive employee engagement in these challenging times? Let’s dive in!

  1. Promote Transparency and Open Employee Communication An untold story and invisible path can always lead to uncertainty and can drag down morale in the workplace. Organizations should treat their employees as stakeholders and hatch an open communication atmosphere where employees can share their goals, expectations with leaders, in turn helping them in reaching their career objectives.This type of environment can lead to motivated and engaged employees which can accelerate your business growth, better performance, and higher customer loyalty
  2. Keep your Expectation Clear
    It is better to set your expectations right from the beginning. If your employee knows the process, expected targets and organization goals, then they will be able to deliver and perform their best. This means focusing on the key concrete performance management activities, such as clarifying work expectations, getting people what they need to do their work, providing development, and promoting positive coworker relationships.
  3. Help Employees Develop to Their Full Potential
    One of the most essential elements of drafting your employee engagement strategy, is to make sure in is in line with potential development. Employees that are assigned to do meaningful work that suit their interest and experience are more productive. The best way to find out your employee’s expectations, is to use the performance appraisal process. It helps in identifying areas where an employee needs development and helps you formulate a plan to provide them with the necessary training, classes, or on the job experience to help gain the needed skills.

    By creating this environment, you will be providing a culture of ownership and will enable the front-line teams helping your organization in its transformation journey.
    At Maveric, we run various programs to have help employees grow in their career. A few notable initiatives are–

    Career Lattice:
    Instead of the conventional Career Ladder progression and Linear paths, at Maveric we encourage Career pathways for growth and development. Career lattice enables employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their employee’s skills and knowledge that leads to upskilling and steady swimming into other streams. Implementing career paths can also impact the organization by improving productivity, morale, career satisfaction and reduce turnover.

    Career Conversations:
    “Employees used to expect to work for a project or boss. Now, they’re looking for a coach,” says a recent study by Gallup. “Because they don’t want to be satisfied with just their roles or their jobs. Your employees want personal and professional development, for the immediate and for the future.”

    The Career Conversation initiative at Maveric was devised to understand an employee’s growth trajectory. It’s important to have career conversations, as you get to know each of your direct reporters better, learn what their aspirations are, and plan how to align individual aspiration to Organization goals”.

  4. Celebrate victories and recognize your employees
    Your employees are always putting their best foot forward, especially in these times of uncertainty, so it becomes vital to recognize it. The best way is to celebrate victories irrespective of their size are – making announcements of the target achieved, organic traffic exceeding expectations, etc.

    These recognitions and employees’ praises can accelerate the overall organization performance, better quality, and becomes a guaranteed reputation for success. Moreover, recognition of small wins and efforts goes a long way in driving employee engagement in every setting.

    At Maveric, we recognize and appreciate in a timely manner, enabling talents to clearly understand the expectation and make it a conducive environment to deliver their bests in. It enhances delivery impact and sways in a positive reinforcement of behavior as we value the acts on Impact, Customer Intimacy, Creativity and Experimentation.

To wrap it up
The values that you will be embedding in your Employee engagement culture will lead a long way. The strategies shared above are most needed when a new normal becomes the daily norm. It is your workforce that can make a difference in how your business gets through to it.

So, it’s important to look for ways to engage your employees even when your organization is going through a rough patch. Because an unmotivated employee can make or break a business. If you think and treat your employees as 9-to-5 robots, they’ll start behaving like it. Instead, find the things that make them tick: their hobbies, interests, family, etc… and try to consider each one of them while creating your employee engaging culture.

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