Kenneth is an HR - L&D professional with 16 plus years of rich learning experience spread across different Industries, Technology, E-commerce, Telecom, Airlines, and Hospitality. Awarded as 101 Top HR Minds (India) 2019 and a certified NLP Coach, he is a well-rounded expert in Envisioning, Strategizing, Leading and Managing a robust gamut of HR and L&D framework, contributing to both MNC (Wipro) and Start-up ecosystem (Ola & LogiNext). Adept with a hands-on approach, he has grown passionate about achieving business results through people by imbibing and adopting a collaborative work methodology. A key contributor in winning the BM Munjal award for LogiNext for 2 consecutive years for achieving business excellence through L&D program, Kenneth is currently the VP Human Resources (L&D) at LogiNext Solutions. His obsession includes exploring multiple ways to build a flexible and agile Learning Infrastructure, governed by the use of new-age cutting technology (AR & VR, AI, ML, Bots). Thus, nurturing a culture of future fit employees by building a well-crafted Blended Learning approach in the form of gamification, mobile learning, experiential learning, design thinking, Storytelling and contributing directly to companies bottom-line result.
As easy it seems on paper, maintaining a flourishing employer-employee relationship can be challenging, especially if organisations don’t focus on the right components. A successful partnership between an organisation and its employees stands on some core pillars. Let’s understand more about these in this column by Kenneth W Wheeler.
The employer-employee relationship gone wrong can be devastating, we all know that. Organisations do have certain pieces they execute to ensure this engine is well oiled and runs smooth. However, it is observed, that the situation on the ground does not often meet the eye. What are the factors that contribute to this average equation between the two most critical pillars of any organisation? And why the employer-employee relationship and its importance is of more significance in the age of Industry Revolution 4.0 than ever before?
The Business World around us is constantly shifting gears in an epic pace, primarily contributed by:
- Rapidly changing ecosystem
- Fast-evolving customer and employee behaviour
- Influence of Diversity and Inclusion
- The influx of new-age cutting edge technology
- Evolved skill set at a global level
- Impact of the digital wave
- Rise of millennials workforce [to be 75% by 2025]
Considering these factors, in my opinion, the 5 components mentioned below form the revised foundation of a successful employer-employee relationship.
- Replace the word Relationship with Partnership
- The transition from Employee Engagement to Employee Experience
- Invest heavily in L&D and make it a part of Employer Value Proposition
- Keep eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) at the centre of every Employee Interaction
- Re-evaluate the merit of Rewards and Recognition
Let us dive deep and understand each of these components in detail.
Replace the Word Relationship with Partnership:
I have always promoted the choice of ‘words’ as being significantly powerful. When we are picky with words, it helps channel the desired mindset, which transforms into more meaningful emotions and action. A partnership is much more powerful as it elevates the equation of joint or equal ownership, responsibility, and feeling of belonging to the organisation’s success and failure. Partnership DNA can easily help convert employer-employee conversations to ‘our’ company, ‘our’ vision and ‘our’ success. It is a different playground and serves the best interest of both the partners involved. For example, organisations can leverage the emotion of ‘Intrapreneurship’ where one sees themselves as CEO of their own department.
Few startups keep their ESOP distribution pool open to 35% employees. Starbucks terms every employee as a ‘Partner’ – it simply changes the lens with which an employee sees his role in the organisation. Another example would be where HR of some organisations keep all newly drafted policy under probation for 1 month, in that time period it is accessible to all employees for suggestion on changes – how powerful is that to foster Partnership?
The Transition from Employee Engagement to Employee Experience:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
HR and other relevant stakeholders must jointly take ownership to think, enhance, and enrich the employee experience. Every touch point in the employee life cycle generates an experience which could be either good or bad – we must care to make it a good one, not once, but all the time. Why must we not be excited to ensure that every employee who comes to work in the morning goes back home, feeling just a little better, a little happier and a little more accomplished than how they started their day? Picture this, the CEO while passing by one of his direct report desk hands her a cup of coffee and says “Hey Geetanjali, I just thought you needed one good cup of coffee and by the way the progress report you shared yesterday was loved by the client, thank you and well done” – what experience does this create? What impact?
Why must we not be excited to ensure that every employee who comes to work in the morning goes back home, feeling just a little better, a little happier and a little more accomplished than how they started their day?
A well-thought employee experience strategy goes a long way to creating happy achievers in the organisation which converts into a massive positive force to be reckoned with in due course of time. Employee engagement leads to motivation whereas employee experience leads to building memories. Memories tend to stay with us longer and perhaps forever (good or bad) – let us contribute to creating great ones, it is so worth it – right?
Invest Heavily in L&D and Make it a Part of Employer Value Proposition:
“You don’t build a business; you build people and people build the business” – Zig Ziglar
Enough can’t be said and emphasized about this component, not because it is my professional interest and background but simply because the skills, in general, are becoming or will soon become redundant with the advent of new-age tech. Employer and employee partnership can be so much more fruitful once the realization to assess the future skills is understood by the organisations and then put the might of their investment in upskilling, cross- skilling and doing everything they can in their capacity to ensure all their employees. ‘Future skill proofing’ plan is a priority that must be tabled in a timely manner. It also contributes towards building a culture of growth which will foster a feeling of psychological safety, continuous/ongoing self-learning and development and confidence about the future for each employee – that is a cool recipe for great employer-employee partnership, isn’t it?
Keep eNPS (employee net promoter score) at the Centre of Every Employee Interaction:
To strengthen the employer-employee partnership, a core part of organisation culture must be to passionately promote employee NPS. Importantly eNPS must be more real-time as opposed to once in 6 months or once in 12 months as is the case in most organisations today.
How would it turn out if the Finance head does a finance review once a year or a Business Head speaks to his Sales team once in 6 months, you get the picture right? A more real-time measure of employee NPS will contribute majorly to a more acceptable, open and trust-based partnership. All managers and management must drill deep and think NPS in every step, action, difficult situations and policy that they shape up for employees. Taking employee pulse feedback is never meaningful if the results are not shared in a transparent way and more than anything the organisations need to ‘Act’ on the feedback and showcase visible implementation changes at ground level – Can we transform into an ‘Employee First’ thinking and doing?
Re-evaluate the Merit of Rewards and Recognition:
Rewards and Recognition are critical for employee motivation. One of the core human need is a sense of accomplishment and appreciation – Rewards and Recognition support and elevate this core human behaviour. What is important to highlight is that Rewards and Recognition are two individual components under one title, however, both have a visible difference in their impact on employee’s morale and motivation. Both must be wisely and evenly used to derive the optimum impact of powering employee satisfaction. Unfortunately, most companies miss the point and devote heavy focus on reward alone while underplaying or completely missing the Recognition part. For me, ‘recognition’ has more compelling gains to offer in creating a significant and distinct culture for employee satisfaction/ motivation and workplace productivity.
I say so because:
- A reward is greatly influenced by incentives in the form of cash mostly. Recognition is strongly driven by emotional connect, thus more lasting impact.
- A reward is more subjective to have an influence as a short-term impact, while ongoing efforts to promote Recognition, build for long-term employee loyalty, making them internal evangelist.
- Reward mostly is restricted to top performers; recognition can be given to any employee even for the small successes achieved at an individual level.
- Most employees would prefer a simple Recognition gesture of receiving ‘a pat on the back’ rather than a tangible reward.
For me, ‘recognition’ has more compelling gains to offer in creating a significant and distinct culture for employee satisfaction/ motivation and workplace productivity.
Employee recognition is not rocket science and despite the undeniable benefits, it remains a mystery of how easily it can be done, yet it’s done too little, done badly, or not done at all – why?
To Wrap Up:
Let me quote Henry Ford who said: “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”
That is the ‘How’ and ‘What’ of all the five components I have called out reflects – loud and clear!
Employer-employee relationship/partnership must stem from the organisation’s ability to get the employees’ point of view and see things from the employees’ angle as well as from what an employer feels is in the best interest of the business. Organisations must become genuinely interested in building a world of an effective and fruitful employer-employee relationship. If done so, both parties work in partnership and reap huge success for themselves, the customers, and the larger ecosystem involved.