In a world that’s increasingly turning digital and relying upon automation and new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the like, the human in the workplace is many times lost, and mostly unacknowledged. While organizations are mostly built around processes and systems, great organizations are built around people. So how one reintroduces the human element in the workplace culture is a question that has intrigued many pros. If looked at in a holistic manner, it’s not as challenging as it appears, and there are areas where we can re-imagine the human in the workplace.
Adding the ‘human’ element to Human Resources
It is imperative for organizations and folks driving them to understand, cultivate, and nurture an emotional connect with its people. The feelings and emotions that connect people to their work can have a direct impact on how customer-focused, innovative, team-oriented, or competitive people behave at work. The emotional connect in many ways influences burnout, teamwork, employee satisfaction, and hard measures such as presence at work and financial performance. The oft-used term ‘discretionary effort’ is used to explain ‘going beyond the call of duty’, and the extent to which a team or company is able to get their people to give this discretionary effort makes a difference.
To enable that, the purpose and cause of work have to align with one’s belief. For example – building the best product in the world and using business to change the world for the better.
Most organizations indulge in the first level of connecting with employees like wellness, engagement, and so on. But only a few of them go to the levels of developing good managers and performance systems, and only a handful go to the extent of developing trust and aligning company purpose with individual belief systems. This is something that one must take note of.
Bringing in the ‘difference’
In today’s evolved world, with a workforce that is mainly millennials, there are numerous organizations that are rolling-out certain programmes and initiatives that ensure their talented workforce has a wonderful time unwinding. Most of the workplaces boast of world-class infrastructure and HR policies that are indeed inspired by an “open door” culture – something that ushers in transparency and helps to overcome the barriers that obstruct comfortable interaction between specialists and leadership teams. Leading organizations we see today boast of a colourful and fresh office setup.
This, in turn, sets the tone for employees to be intrinsically happy. Furthermore, the aspect of direct communication with the leadership team through various initiatives like ‘Meet the CEO’ sessions, ‘town-halls’, ‘huddle weeks’, etc. are instrumental in breaking the ice and cultivating a culture that fosters productivity and the attribute of being content at work. What further takes the delight factor to the next level are wonderful opportunities for employees to travel to exotic locations globally to attend these sessions.
An organization that goes a step ahead in “keeping its ears open” and treats employee feedback with kid gloves has a high probability of witnessing enhanced productivity and efficiency, not to forget an amazingly low attrition rate. Laying emphasis on hearing what employees wish for, their concerns and requests, and then deliberating upon them in order to roll-out initiatives is a crucial step in reinforcing the feeling of empathy and the fact that the organization is listening. There are various examples of corporations implementing changes on the basis of the feedback from employees, such as introducing a casual dress code and the hiring of spouses in the same workplace.
Some startups and “young-at-heart” organizations have, in fact, introduced recreational facilities like libraries, internet cafés, Xbox gaming zones, and play areas exclusively for employees, and the results have been fascinating!
In the last few years, the role of the Human Resources (HR) function has truly evolved. Human Resources has always been perceived as largely administrative – administering benefit plans, writing policies, recruiting, and interviewing prospective employees. However, businesses have started including the HR function in the company’s strategic planning activities and the results are definitely showing. HR leaders today are suggesting new policies and initiatives to the leadership team of the company in order to ensure that the company has access to appropriate knowledge and talent in each of the markets where it is active.
Changing the game
The ideal pleasant experience for any candidate should start as they walk into the offices or facilities on their very first day itself. Right from the onboarding experience, that talks about the company growth story, to a tour of the recreational and relaxation facilities in the offices, new employees need to be made comfortable, and the message that goes out needs to be clear that they are not here to add to the headcount. They are assets in their own right, and we want to give them an environment wherein they can progress and express themselves.
State-of-the-art fitness facilities, multi-cuisine cafeterias, health drives all-round the year, sports competitions – all are meant to translate into true-blue employee delight – and that is the secret mantra to success. With an enhanced focus on their wellbeing and holistic fitness, professionals are increasingly looking forward to these amenities at the workplace. Most of the leading players in the industry, in fact, have a medical setup, complete with an in-house doctor, to tend to their employees, lest there be an emergency.
However, it’s not just leisure or unwinding activities that could keep employees motivated. Organizations are coming up with innovative ideas, including hackathons and digithons, on a regular basis that gives their employees a chance to showcase their technical prowess and thus evolve. There are numerous organizations that today are using them as learning and development tools also. Reskilling is the flavour of the season, and that’s a bus no learning and development team wants to miss out on! Reskilling endeavours are considered an investment into talent today and the employees, in turn, reap the benefits of the added knowledge they gain over time.
Furthermore, most organizations are more than willing to offer wonderful opportunities to specialists at global locations, and that is something that most professionals in the IT industry are looking forward to.
In conclusion, to quote Anne Frank, the renowned German-born diarist, “Whoever is happy will make others happy too.” This is very apt if applied in today’s human capital management scenario as, eventually, a happy employee would definitely be a productive employee, and it is these productive employees who primarily drive growth. Following this very principle and ensuring employees remain happy and motivated is key. For players primarily in a business driven by global talent and their performance, the happiness and well-being quotient must be taken with utmost seriousness.
Tanveer Saulat is Co-founder and General Manager of Synechron.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)