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Driving your workforce towards excellence and building a close connect with them in an organization, particularly one with a large number of employees, can be quite the beast. However, a comprehensive engagement strategy can be your perfect channel to build that connect with your employees and draw crucial insights into employee behaviour, like what are their expectations and what they are looking for in the organization.
The agendas of the webinar are:
a) How to formulate an engaging employee relation strategy ?
b) Why having a comprehensive employee engagement strategy is good for business ?
c) Understanding the major challenges in building a employee-employer partnership.
d) How to measure whether your workforce is highly engaged or disengaged ?
Join Ubheydeep Singh Anand (Sr. HR Business Partner at Amazon) in a webinar with Mettl to understand how big organizations sustain and become successful by leveraging on their employee engagement startegies.
Recorded on: 18 Jan, 2016 Duration: 85 min
Last Update: August 16, 2016
Moderator: … maybe at least [00:00:02] to comment. And then we’ll kick off this session.
Just to give you a brief about what this session is all about, I will be joined by Ubheydeep who has been a veteran and has had sensed that Amazon involvement as an HR business partner. They both were startup environments when they came in. And Ubheydeep, I think it was a very tricky role for him. Because employee engagement was even more tricky because of processes still striving toward, you know, maturity. Ubheydeep is a certified MBDA practitioner.
We’ve been interacting with a lot of startups now and it’s really a very potent problem for all HR practitioners, business partners, recruitment heads, seeing leads that… Millennials who come and are not really engaged. What engagement drivers worked for maybe a 35-year-old guy just do not work for 22-year-old fresh hire so. And tracking the school is becoming a little tough. So we thought why not get with somebody who has involvement in these environments and knows how the game is being played out there.
So Ubheydeep has joined us. He is online. We have a great presentation for you lined up. We’ve got a terrific response to the kind of things you wanted to listen to, things you wanted to have solutions about. And we have tried to incorporate this in our presentation.
Ubheydeep, so again a little bit about our engagement with Amazon. So Mettl works with Amazon and helps them filter out the best candidates for their entry level roles. I think Amazon uses our aptitude assessment bank and our coding tests for assessing the cultural fit and the aptitude promise of all fresh hires coming in here. They had a great sync with them. Their beloved clients of ours. And, I think, it’s been a really awesome journey with Amazon on board. Ubheydeep, over to you.
Moderator: I think there’s this… there’s an echo problem here.
Ubheydeep: Yeah, yeah.
Ubheydeep: I was on mute so…
Ubheydeep: So I think…yeah. So I’ll start off. A very good morning to all of you. Thank you for participating and being a part of this session. Just to give a brief about this session, you’ve already got an introduction about myself from [00:02:58]. So I’ve had the experience with Walmart and Amazon. In fact, to summarize, my experience is primarily into employer relations and HR VP roles. I think the [00:03:10] we’ll talk about and the thing that we initially planned for was specifically talk about employee relations. But looking at the audience demands and looking at the expectations from the audience, I think I will touch upon a very, very specific thing throughout this presentation. And we’ll talk about engagement per se.
I’ll very briefly start out with employee relations and how employee engagement is a part of employee relations and then we’ll proceed further. I already had done…I’ve already gone through a lot of questions that were asked through the service. I hope that I will do justice to all those questions. And I hope all of you would enjoy and would at least take something from this session. That is something that is my expectation out of it, okay?
So we’ll proceed now. I’ll immediately start off with these survey resources. First of all, there was a survey which was lined up by Michael. And there are three questions where the audience responses were recorded. The first question was on, “How frequently do you conduct employee engagement measurement in your organization?” And it talked about primarily on measurement.
And the startling result was that it’s more than 60% of respondents [00:04:34] it was an annual affair. So it was very startling because employee engagement….
Moderator: Yes. So that’s what I was thinking about, Ubheydeep. Well we are in an era where the best talks about trashing annual appraisals and moving to continuous learning. And having an engagement around what is required every 15 days or something, even once even every week. But here in India, we are still stuck with an annual mode of engagement. And it clearly does not stack up to the best practice, does it?
Ubheydeep: I think a valid point. But there in India, they’re starting to… You understand from this output is that employee engagement is a serious thing or it’s one of the most important things for every organization. Yet organizations fail to measure it annually. If it is that important and [00:05:30] what we want to do and what we are doing as of now. So this kind of points us to the fact that we may not be understanding on, maybe, taking employee engagement to a level where we want it to be.
Moderator: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Ubheydeep: I think we’ll talk about it. We’ll talk about how… during our presentation on employee engagement measurement, how you can effectively do that.
Ubheydeep: And I’ll try to give it a structure. And I’ll try to answer and then correlate it to this particular question.
Moderator: Sure. Sure. So there’s the second question that asked about “Which of the following new age measures will you use to gauge employee engagement in your organization?” Ubheydeep, I mean again, I was just going through the items in the options. So we asked our audiences as to what new age measures will they use, I mean, beyond our survey? Is there any other metric they used?
And some of the new age matrices which are being used, which was the amount of work done beyond normal working hours, which is this specifically important, weekends and evenings. Which is a great parameter to figure out if somebody is truly aligned with the organization. It’s he or she might, on their own will, go beyond the normal working as they stretch themselves.
So the other metric was the number of network connections they have outside of their team, their own team. So if I’m in marketing…for instance, I am in marketing head at Mettl and how frequent and how in-depth conversations do I have with maybe a finance team, with maybe my sales team, with operations, with my [00:07:10]? So that also obviously. And the more networks I have beyond my own immediate team, it tells me…it tells everybody that I am really engaged with the organization.
So we had certain new age factors and again, Ubheydeep, very startling response. Fifty-seven percent of the companies do not deploy any of these measurements. I mean, how does one then, in an era of 2016, figure out as people are engaged or not? How does one do that?
Ubheydeep: I think the other thing, again an insight on that, are we… we weren’t aware of the current tools from HR engagement. That is one thing that we have to really ponder upon. Because I will not touch upon the first point here, but the two points that are talking about network connections and regular structured meetings. One of the two high-impact initiatives which because of its subjectivity, we kind of lose on. And when you see the responses, it’s not more than 15% and 10% of the people would say that they would use these new age metrics. And again the startling result of that, out of these 2 also, 54 people said that they used none of these. So I think again going back to the same thing that our organizations have evolved, our economy has evolved. But I think we’re still trying to replicate what [00:08:31] to do, any of that. So I think the scope of really looking into things in a different manner, into a different perspective. So I’ll touch upon that also.
Ubheydeep: Yeah. So the third question that I came across was, “What was the most pressing employee engagement bottleneck when working with Millennials?” And Millennials have been talked about a lot nowadays. I mean [00:09:03] because we kind of characterizing people as Millennials and…
Moderator: Not Millennials there…
Ubheydeep: The fact that with the regular corporation.
Ubheydeep: Which focus even there and we’re trying to really glean when a lot of things for Millennials is like they have become a kind of customer because that is a workforce population which works in these organizations.
Ubheydeep: But we’ll also try to break that myth that Millennials may not be that different from regular people working.
Moderator: Oh, okay.
Ubheydeep: It may be a perception which has been drawn on what…are you looking at the current framework of engagement and then not population? So a lot of focus of engagement has gone into looking at the people and not looking at the concept of engagement per se which also got evolved with time.
Ubheydeep: So I think we talked about impatience, first of all. That they wish to move the corporate ladder. So I would say, yeah, people are aspirational. They have their aspirations. But we’ll try and understand where these aspirations coming from? What is the source of that or are these aspirations [00:10:13] when valid? So we’ll talk about this stuff.
Monitor their satisfaction. I will not let this [00:10:21] engagement at all. Because we think, given we are trying to relate too many things. We’re trying to directly relate compensation, we’re trying to relate hiring factors. We’re also trying to relate stuff like career movement, attrition to engagement. But do we have a scope of looking at engagement in a holistic perspective, in an isolated perspective in terms of the conceptual definition? One thing that we’ll also touch upon today.
And working with structure. So structure is one thing which is… the current point actually one of the very strong points if you ask me. Organizations have involved, the kind of people who work with these organizations got evolved, the demographics changed. But as structures and the organization structures didn’t change that drastically. We’ll try to bring a lot of best practices from this to here in India. But we did an industrial very clearly and a lot of organizations, industries are doing pretty well. On how the org structure or the structure within the organization helps you correct and build a lot of the elementary things. So we’ll touch upon that also.
Moderator: Sorry to interject here but there’s this considerable population that says monitor the satisfaction is that real aspect. I mean we say all the time that no compensation is maybe not one of the facets. Money does not matter. Challenges…I mean a challenging work profile and an environment that you learn and grow is everything that counts. But hey, I mean it’s there. It’s out there in front. There are people who have voted for this. I work with a lot of Millennials, myself and my team. They are very well aware as to what the competition is saying to people who are in the similar age band, what maybe [00:12:10] saying down the street, what maybe a PolicyBazaar is saying. They have all their ears on the ground. So it’s I think…I mean and you… and I might be wrong and you can correct me if this is the case. But we cannot shy away from the fact that the monetary dissatisfaction is there. It’s a clear and present danger. Now how do we move out of that?
Ubheydeep: Sure. I think, I’ll try to address it through the presentation. And I’ll try to touch upon compensation and engagement and try to link it.
Ubheydeep: And try to answer your question. And a lot of questions which also came from the audience, I’ will also try to answer all of them. The construct of that presentation is also in a way that helps answer a lot of practical questions on the ground. So can we move it… through the presentation [00:13:01] and shall we do that?
Moderator: Two seconds. I’m so sorry, I got a little carried away. Yes, please do that, please.
Ubheydeep: Great. Great. So once again, thank you to all the people for being online and listening to me. And taking your time off for this presentation. We’re going to talk about employee relations. That was a topic that we initially thought that we’ll speak on. But looking at the responses from the audience and a lot of people had questions around the engagement, engagement, and engagement. So we’ll touch upon employee relations broadly. But we’ll specifically talk about employee engagement and the current trends and practices and understanding the concepts and variables applied. Okay. So we move.
So where does employee relation come from? And before doing that… let’s understand the contextual definition for employee relations. We’re talking about employee relations refers to the company’s efforts to manage the relationship between employers and employees. The reason why the concept employee relations came about in the company, I mean, that’s sort of… there has to be a relationship between employers and employees and it just can’t be a transactional affair. So the definition had served us from the fact that the relationship has to be there for each party to succeed.
Employee relations roots are at their industrial relations where industrial relations around 20 years back, you sort of talk about, express about a lot of conflict handling. Industrial relations primarily came from manufacturing setup where people started taking and managing conflicts on the ground. And their focus has been always to manage conflicts in a reactive manner and understand and address that conflict.
Organizations with competition with globalization and industrial relation may not be the best approach going forward. And in the west, especially, people started talking about the employee relation. And in the initial phase what employee relations meant and referred to was how to include fairness into the system. How do you proactively anticipate and manage conflict? So a lot of times in the industrial relations era, people in the HR professionals used to manage conflict [00:15:23]. Whereas employee relations in the early phases talked about the fact that how you proactively did the practices that would avoid conflict and that would include people in the management of the organization, which led to the concept of participative management in its true sense. And it also started talking about basic hygiene, safety, and all of this stuff.
In the current context, employee relations has taken a different meaning altogether. Employee relations have become much more strategic. It has moved beyond sectors. It has moved beyond manufacturing. And the employee relation is one thumb which is like the most important thing even on the CEO’s agenda. And everybody, even at the CEO level, people talk about what kind of people have we hired, what kind of… are people engaged, are people enjoying their work? So employee relations have taken that place strategically in the boardroom.
Employee relation, in the current context, talks about ownership. How can people own up what they are doing and do not construe them as only employees? Employee relation in the current context also talks about sustainability. How do you sustain relationships? How do you build relationship, sustain them, then use it to ensure that the organizations are sustainable?
And then employee relation in the current context talks about an employee being [00:16:55] which can support organizations in different areas. And do not work only in the job which he or she has been hired for. So that “talent fungibility” concept has also taken a huge place. And which actually led to a lot of concepts like job rotations and internal job posting [00:17:16] that people are now encouraged to apply cross-functionally so.
And if you ask me, employee relations and most of the operations related to the organization right now, has been directly related to business outcome. Even in IT, IT sector, you see employee relations becoming a centerpiece of how the IT organization sustains their deliveries, be it a product-based, be it a service-based IT organization. So I think things have changed in the politics and things have moved into [00:17:49].
A particular aspect of employee relations that we’ll talk about today and we’ll specifically address will be employee engagement. Employee relations from a concept perspective is really too broad [00:18:03] too many things. And one of the things that has been constantly talking about, constantly discussed about is employee engagement. And we’ll try to understand the concepts around engagement. We’ll try to break a few myths. We’ll try to introduce new concepts. And these are the combination of some of the theoretical research that I have done. And some of them comes from my own personal reflection while working in some of the bigger organizations.
So going back to the textbook definition of employee engagement and trust me there are many, but this one…this is the one which is like the most common that I could find in multiple websites, multiple books. And it defines an engaged employee as a person who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about his or her own work.
So when I read this definition again and again, I kind of got a little stuck. So if a person loves his job and is enthusiastic about his job, would that mean that the engaged…the employee is engaged? And I try to question myself looking at a few of the engaged and a few of the non-engaged employees in my previous organizations. And what I understood was that there have been not a relationship between work and employee only. Okay.
Just to give an example. I’ve met a lot of people who are really passionate about software development. But I still don’t understand if they’re so passionate about their work and they love their work so much. Why do they prefer to work in one organization for 60 years? And they want to leave an organization in one year immediately? In fact, the challenge is never different. People can say that the job challenges maybe, different, but I think there are much…other variables which we may ignore when we’re talking about employee engagement.
And the other thing that I understood, which [00:20:01] back on employee engagement is the organization [00:20:06]. And that we know either this definition [00:20:10]. The engaged employee is an outcome, not of the two variables of the job and the employee himself or herself. It’s also about the organization and the context that the person is in. Okay? So we’ll try to elaborate and take it further.
Moderator: Sure, sure.
Ubheydeep: So the general perspective on employee engagement is that employee engagement, as we read in the earlier definition, is a component of the employee loving the job and the employee enthusiasm about the job. So these are the two main variables which have been talked about when you talk about employee engagement. So a lot of employee engagement [00:20:46] is talking about job enrichment, job evaluation at a timely sense, understanding of the [00:20:51] of jobs. And we talk a lot about jobs when we talk about employee engagement.
One interesting thing that came up in the survey and which Baveh [sp] also mentioned out was the role of compensation. Okay. Going back to my experiences and going back to understanding the engagement on a practical sense on the floor, compensation plays a part in terms of a person is satisfied or dissatisfied, okay?
But I haven’t seen compensation making a direct impact on engagement. And let’s understand, there’s a difference between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. These are two different things. And if you ask me on a continuum, employee engagement comes with employee satisfaction. So that is if you ask me, I will place compensation at the threshold level after which we’ll talk about employee engagement. Because if compensation is an issue, then the engagement may or may not be in question.
Moderator: Yeah, yeah. That sounds… [00:21:53].
Ubheydeep: The question will be around whether the person is satisfied logistically in his job or not.
Moderator: Yeah, that sounds very interesting, yeah.
Ubheydeep: And that is why I’m doing that question in the survey. A lot of people talk about compensation, but we… As HR professionals, I think there is some part of us to also understand the difference between the engagement and satisfaction.
Moderator: Yes, yeah.
Ubheydeep: And not mix up things and not add up variables when we talk about engagement.
Moderator: Sure, sure.
Ubheydeep: So what we ignore? So the question is if the employee engagement is not a perspective of these two things, an organization is way too big a variable. What do we ignore? Two things that we ignore is that first is the context, the situation the person is in. The other thing that we completely ignore is that all of the variables are control variables. And by control variables, I’ll give you an example. In statistical survey done in research methodologies, when you try to alter one variable and you see the effect of the other, you only can establish a direct relationship when the other things are constant. So for example, you say how much heat should be provided to a worker to boil? The answer that we come up with is 100 degrees, okay?
That is, keeping all other variables like pressure and everything constant. So when you go uphill, to a hill station, the water doesn’t boil at 100 degrees. We need to provide more heat because pressure plays its part. When you go at a high and the pressure goes lower. And that is what we call the control variable. So when you ensure that the control variable is constant and then you figure out the boiling, wonderful water, so that’s a correct interpretation.
In a similar way, in terms of employee engagement, we look at employees’ job and their relationship between here and keeping all other factors as constant. And all other factors, what do we mean by all other factors? I’ll try to touch upon that in a very, very structured manner during this presentation. So I will request all of you to wait for a couple of minutes while we get on to that. Good.
So I will take all of you to one of the problems that we viewed about, that we discussed very often. And a lot of us are married, have children. We’re educated. We’ve gone through the education system in India. So slightly off track, but I will try to take all of you to one of the different discussions altogether.
So the current education system, in most of the countries and especially in India, is being questioned now, okay? Because of the way the current education system is managed, run, and interpreted. So what are the problems that we constantly talk about and discuss in the current education system? The first thing that we assume and we enforce is that [[00:24:40], students are meant to be students and thus they need to study well, which is absolutely logical. Okay. But we as parents, we as teachers assume the people and the students need to study. We call it as a need. If they have to be successful, they need to study.
The other thing that we talked about in current education system is that teachers and the educational system tell the students what is to be written, what needs to be written in examinations. Okay? So you have a boundary built already and you want people to claim their boundary and do not go out of the boundary. And please ensure that you cover the entire boundary.
The third thing is that we very clearly said, if you are a child, it’s your job to study. And you have no other job. Okay? So it’s like the most important thing for a student is to study. We talked about the fact that… and we need very frequent [00:25:38] because of which the online teaching system that are in places that all other students are part of the same place. And we… as HR professionals, we must have gone through various metrics of learning. Some people learn more by action. Some people learn more by theories, some people learn more by practice, Some people will learn more by doing themselves. That is how the concept of OJT, classroom sessions, and all those came.
But in the school setting, what we do is we teach everybody the same test and almost in the same context. All are evaluated at the same scale. So the scale is the same for everybody. So even if you understand stuff, even if you don’t understand it. At the end of the day, you are evaluated on the same scale.
The biggest problem in the current educational system that we talk about and we read the newspapers mostly is evaluation. What about evaluations? The expectation is that all should go well. Okay. Good. That’s a decent expectation. Expectation, evaluations reflects current performance. But the problem, the biggest problem with evaluation is that it only talks about current performance. Or how have you scored well in an examination in that year is something the education systems figure. The education system doesn’t figure out what is your potential. So what can a child become is something that education system is not currently figuring out.
There’s a lack of assessment of potentials. There’s a big lack of assessment of potentials. Sorry? [00:27:16]. There’s a lot of noise [00:27:20] that.
Okay great. Yeah. So the current education system and under the evaluations are the students are evaluated on what they have delivered in an examination or in a practical. But it doesn’t talk about the assessment of the potential for future. And again, in the current education system also, we completely ignore the context and other variables in terms of what would impact, what would have an effect on learning of students, okay?
The reason why I touched upon the current education system and if you go through all these points again. And you try to imagine how the organizations are run. And you try to imagine your own performance management process and the way we look at our jobs. I think there are some correlations which we can build. Our current organizations [00:28:19] sometimes are kind of replicating what the education system is doing. Okay? And a lot of people argue that it is because of the fact that education systems are like these, that the outputs are being built that way. Okay.
But there are a lot of similarities where we talk about these points and when we look at our current organizational setup. Okay? So I think we need to change a lot of things that we are critical about when we talk about education system. But when we go to the organizations, you understand that you are doing the same things or similar things in our own circles also. Okay.
So therefore, something that I put up and I touch upon. The way I view and the way engagement nowadays is viewed by seniors in the HR fraternity and how CEOs are viewing employee engagement as. Okay? One thing is for sure and that with business right now. And employee engagement has a scope of being an outcome of multiple other variables than the job and employee. And that they certainly will discuss that shock in a certain manner.
The other thing that we have to very clearly understand and appreciate the fact That is employee engagement is a serious topic. I think we have…in a few of the organizations that I have seen, I think employee engagement is like the theme that they work on. Employee engagement becomes one of the things that teams work on for two months. Or employee engagement is one thing which people try to relate it with fun. What I understand from employee engagement is that it’s a very, very serious topic. It’s not that simple and it’s not only about fun.
The other thing that is being encountered right now, which is that serious employee engagement practices are actually long-term interventions. We try to address to engagement issues now and then and we try to resolve them in a period of 10 days, months, 2 months, 6 months. Whereas serious employee engagement actually [00:30:28] period of long run are long-term interventions. And they have a very, very big impact from and to culture. I’ll talk about that later.
Other thing that personally I had seen, and I have actually done this mistake a couple of times, is that with the ad hoc, so-called best practices which have been successful [00:30:50] organizations. You may not have a sure-shot answer to address things the way that you work in an organization. Which means that the best practices from there may not be a relevant practice where you are. And that is something that I’ve learned the hard way as an HR professional dealing with me [00:31:09] area and I’ve learned it pretty well.
Moderator: So, Ubheydeep…
Ubheydeep: So the idea…
Moderator: Ubheydeep, if you could just…
Ubheydeep: Yeah. Go on.
Moderator: This is point is really interesting. If you could just dive into some specifics, that would be great. So if we could just come up with a real-life example as to what best practices do not work maybe in terms [00:31:29]. That would be great.
Ubheydeep: I think one of the examples. I would go in to work yesterday and I will try to share the link with the audience here of that. One of the organizations, one of the best, big product, best software in an organization had introduced the concept of giving time off to people from their working hours to work on their own projects.
Ubheydeep: Which was very…
Moderator: The Google…
Ubheydeep: …much appreciate in media Yeah.
Ubheydeep: Talking about Google.
Ubheydeep: It was very successful and I think people loved it. And the media had talked about it, employees talked about it. And we knew how things were taken there. And the people were happy about it.
Ubheydeep: What Google thought of it, Google saw a lot of ideas for the organization from these people from their time off. Eventually, it was very, very beneficial for the organization. And it was very beneficial for the organization from an output perspective also and from a perspective of engaging their employees. A lot of other organizations tried replicating that and they struggled. And they struggled every time. A few of the organizations, I will not name them, a couple of them that I know of, wanted to replicate this. They actually did that.
Ubheydeep: But it didn’t become successful and eventually, the entire initiative died in a period of two months.
Moderator: Why was not [00:32:47].
Ubheydeep: Because maybe that organization…yeah. Maybe in that organization innovation, more than innovation and more than new ideas, sustaining current sectors was more important.
Ubheydeep: So you already had a product given in the industry. The idea in the organization [00:33:05] was to ensure that you provide class service and maintainability of that product in the market. And the focus is always on out-of-the work customer experience and service. And this organization tried to copy it with the innovation piece was taken really…was given really too much of its importance but it was not important to the organization. So one thing that worked with Google, in terms of engaging employees, didn’t work for the other. And this was a high-level initiative I’m talking about. There are a lot of smaller-level initiatives that we do. So [00:33:44] saying that CEO wishing people brought this on the floors, gives a good feeling. People get connected to the CEO, people will get connected to the organizations [00:33:55] of the organizations.
Another of the organizations, people are so engrossed in their work that they really didn’t click them in their mind. It doesn’t do any harm, but it doesn’t create an impact on employee engagement. So there are many such examples, but one thing that we have to understand is that one thing which is successful in X organization. You should evaluate and figure out whether that is the same context, the organization has the same mission and vision and the same expectation of a deliverable. And the context is same and the culture the same. [00:34:32] pursued in the organization. So that is something that people ponder upon.
A very important thing, employee engagement is something that we take on our shoulder as HR professionals. We see that it’s hard and you get to ensure that employees are engaged. It can’t be. It has to be top gun. It has to be CEO driven.
Moderator: Very fair, very fair.
Ubheydeep: So therefore leaders in the organizations… yeah, if the leaders in the organization are not committed to engaging employees in HR being, or any function for that matter, can’t do anything.
Ubheydeep: [00:35:07]. Just it’s a very last tier intervention. It’s not a practice that has to be supported by somebody. It’s a larger level chain in the organization where the change sponsor has to be the leader of the organization.
Ubheydeep: And as we talked about, nowadays, employee engagement has a direct linkage to the organization’s success. Because people in current setups define these successful pillars of the organization. And if you’re not able to retain people, build ownership, organizations understand that there’s a problem there.
And one important point that I would like to touch upon, employee engagement may or may not have linked to attrition. I’ve seen organizations where attrition is very low, but employees are not engaged. Does that… very little direct correlation of attrition to employee engagement. We should be conscious about that.
Your attrition is an outcome of not having proper employee engagement practices. But it’s not the other way around. You can’t [00:36:17] the fact that attrition is happening only because my employees are not engaged. These two things from a direct correlation perspective have to [00:36:28].
So the questions come in and the primary question. And one of the leaders asked me during my career, “Why should even bother about engagement?” So the straight point that he made was that people are [00:36:41], what’s to deliver? That is what is called a job. As long as they deliver, they’re entitled to their salaries. Why should I wish to worry beyond it, okay?
So from a leader’s perspective, which like the input/output mechanism where I mean being an employee it’s like charging a battery of a robot and you need an output, okay? Is there something wrong with this statement? Something illogical? No. The statement is absolutely logical. The statement would be logical only if your expectations are [00:37:12]. So when the leaders in the organization expect people to deliver something, at a constant rate throughout the year, the statement is logical. The statement, it will only be logical if there’s no competition. So you know you control the market, if you know what you need to produce, you may not go beyond your call. That is it. The above statement would work.
And only if the world is constant, even if the world is constant, in terms of the mind, you know the mind [00:37:43], may not go up, may not go down. The world is constant? Yes. The above statement would make sense. And only if we have programmable minds with the reading capability. Because employee engagement with jobs also talks about being enthusiastic about the job. Okay? Doing the same thing again and again, even for two days for that matter introduces a very, very complex thing called monotony. Nobody has an answer to how to deal with monotony. And we’ll try to introduce more things.
But human minds are not capable of repeating stuff again and again. It only happens when you’re driving your car or you’re doing which is like a bias and a programmable thing which is there in your mind. If somebody asked you to do the same thing in the same way, day-on-day basis, trust me, we are far away from the reality. Okay.
So why engagement? The answer is that there’s a growing…there’s a very high need of growing yet sustainable organization. And the organizations, they’re not saying that you need to grow. The organizations are also expecting them to be sustainable. Okay? The biggest example that you see right now is what is happening with a few of the startups which grew like anything but which were not sustainable. A lot of intelligent organizations now understand that. They need to be growing, but they have to ensure that equal or more focus in also being sustainable.
Need forever increasing productivity, no issue. You’re in a market which is a highly competent. Every organization has so much of competition that there’s an exponential scale of expectations from an organization on productivity and innovation. That is why you need to engage. You need to have less disruptive conflicts. Okay. Because conflicts take out time. Conflicts absorb a lot of productive time from your schedule. Organizations understand that.
Need for being competitive and profitable as I said and I mentioned it above. And they need to add value to shareholders. So basic expectations from an organization. And that is because they want employees to be engaged and build ownership in their work. Need of high ROI which is the same as being profitable and adding value to the shareholders.
And one thing that had changed drastically over a period of years is that a lot of organizations now stress on being a capable business setup . I think that is one good thing that have started happening after the recent [00:40:24] the economy happened globally after the subprime crisis. I think a lot of businesses understood the fact that being a capable business startup is something that we have to ensure on. And the problem with that is that from a cultural perspective, you are to give a message that the right way is the only way of doing things. And people can only understand that if they have ownership with respect to what they’re working and where they’re associated with. If I don’t have ownership with company X, I will not give my [00:40:56] there to the fact that whether I’m doing things in the right way or the wrong way. I will just deliver it. In order for people to understand, they have to do it the right way, employees have to be engaged. Okay.
So we talked a lot about employee engagement not being a component of job and employee only. And there are other valuables impacting it. And the other four major variables which impact employee engagement is the culture. When we talk about culture, we talk about what is the culture of the organization? Is it a culture of respect? Does the organization promote the culture of recognition? Does the organization focuses equally on how things should be done than what it is to be delivered? And how does the culture of the organization doesn’t promote wellness into the organization?
So the culture, overall, has a big impact on engagement and it’s one of those variable which impacts it. So no matter how much I love my job, no matter good I’m paid, if the culture is there to help us with people. Trust me, there’s no point for a person to be engaged. And that is something which is one thing which is very obvious. The money and the respect and enthusiasm for the job may take you only to work 100-meter, 200-meter distance. But you know, for that amount of time, you have to ensure that their track is right. The track is not full of nails. And the track and the environment, the weather should be good. If that is not there, the culture is not there. Trust me it cannot be met upon.
The second thing that I think impacts the engagement is the system which we focus a lot on. It’s about policies and practices. So I always talk about [00:42:42] from infrastructure to what kind of facilities has been provided. The performance management system is a big threat to people, which impacts employee engagement. We will talk about that.
The third variable which impacts employee engagement at a very, very [00:42:56] is structured. Okay. And this survey also we saw the question around how Millennials see structure as a limiting factor for their engagement in the survey. That is what we’ll talk about. The structure has a big role to play. Organizations and I’ll give you a very, very [00:43:14] example. I, myself has gone through some of the government organization which works in a very, very controlled manner. Which doesn’t really…these government organizations don’t talk about employee engagement and when you go there, you see the outcome. People do not respond to you, in this comment about [00:43:34]. You won’t get your queries addressed as a customer. And what is to be blamed? A lot many things, but yes, structure is one of them. Because the structure is very, very huge and very too ladder focused that people’s focus is only to reach the ladder above. Which takes the focus out of the love of their job and the love for their organization.
The fourth thing there that impacts employee engagement is the kind of people that you work with, the kind of company that you have in the organization. Okay. And that is why in one of the survey questions when we talked about networking. We saw a very limited number of people addressing or using it as a matter of even evaluation or even building employee engagement.
So we saw that question there. The networking actually is one of the biggest factors which could impact their employee engagement suddenly. But I think very less organizations right now are really looking at it from that perspective.
Commitment to measuring employee engagement, surveys. So when we say, “Employee engagement,” the first thing that comes to our mind is the survey. And there really a lot of surveys available in the market. What are surveys? Surveys mostly at least are 60% of the population served, that annual, one-time-employee opinion/perception check. Most of the time, that’s not opinion, it’s perception. Okay?
Is it an incorrect, metric? I would say no. It’s one of the best metrics, but there are some problems with the way we are doing it right now. What is the problem? They only tell what the leaders already know. So most of these surveys are very objective. They only ask things that are expected of the question. Which means that they don’t leave room for the people to address their view if they have a different one.
And I’ve gone through five surveys now in my career. Trust me, neither one of them, I could say that the leaders were not aware of what is gonna come around it. Every one of it.
Moderator: So yes, Ubheydeep. I was going through this one beautiful article where I read that surveys is one way for a CEO to understand this… From what he knows about somebody and then maybe hire or fire to fill up on that. So yeah, it’s just a reassurance kind of a thing basis, Right?
Ubheydeep: Yeah. I think… and I know surveys are something which is like a confirmation data points. So if my perception is correct, let me back that up with some data. That is the best way to deal with it. Because the question they’re also built that way, okay? That is one problem.
The other problem with surveys is that they have become an annual exercise. And doing it annually and doing it with such passion had actually become a clear effort of all the HR team members, all the HR professionals. Right? So I remember and I was in during…I was going through my first survey experience, it was like the entire HR team was only talking about the survey, how to execute, what is coverage, or how many people have covered, how many people have not covered, pushing people complete it. For the 30 to 40 days, everything took a bad shape and we only talked about surveys.
And it actually became one of the key result areas for the HR professionals who put it on their annual [00:47:00]. And that they concluded the survey concluded beautifully and they presented the results to the leader in this manner. Okay? So it’s become so passionate for us who talk about surveys and lead surveys, that we forget during that period, all of the things that could impact it.
The focus is more around surveys execution and report preparation and that is what happens in my experience. There are good organizations which actually do a lot of local surveys, a lot of them. But there are equally a lot more which focuses only in one survey execution, preparation of reports, handing it over to the leaders. It seems we missed the beauty of that tool there. That is what I’ve understood.
The other thing that measures employee engagement, in a good manner and very few organizations [00:47:51] use it, are talent interview meetings. So talent interview meetings are basically meetings where leaders come together from different function. And talk about their team and the fact of how their people are responding to the work. And one of the best HR initiatives which are… And talent interview meetings are actually a good source of getting the pulse of the flow. But there are few gaps with talent interview meetings also.
Good, excellent meeting if you ask me, leaders talking about the people, leaders taking out ownership and how they perceive their people. So it’s highly perception driven and our leaders are usually very, very perceptive. Once they make a perception, sometimes it takes a lot of effort to break that image, that perception. And our talent meetings are sometimes late and over crusted by perceptions.
Leaders project and decide which means their employers are not participative of this project which are being discussed. So leaders will project what they think is something that they have deduced and they decide. And nothing wrong in it, but as I said, since the main party on whom you are having a discussion on is not there in this process, sometimes it takes a backseat. Okay.
No transparency. Leaders…Talent interview meetings are very confidential meetings. So we’re talking about employees on the floor their engagement. It has to be very confidential. It may not be the best thing to do. Okay. Because it’s not about you should communicate everything. It’s also about when you’re talking about employee engagement, that you at least share the results with the people with whom…for whom you are having this conversation
Open hour sessions…
Ubheydeep: …again an excellent medium to communicate.
Moderator: Ubheydeep, just to elaborate on your last point. So again, I mean this is part of our incidence, starting up with this very dynamic, HR professional [00:49:48]. We are talking about how they deploy the 360-degree employee engagements over this time around.
And, yes, this transparency was so, such a big issue that maybe after 10 days of deploying and getting results out, everybody knew what everybody…everything about everybody. So I mean it was such a cold, icy vibe after that and the damage is so… I mean the damage is long term. It’s not chalked up. I mean so now our only agenda is to fix that negative vibe, which is traveling in the organization because everybody knows what people said about them.
So yes, transparency becomes this huge issue because of people are maybe not able to even come more than what they expect out of an organization feel. They’re not…if it’s not an engagement issue, they don’t even come out with it. Now how do we, as HR leaders, ensure that there is this sort of fair environment that people can come out with engagement which also such a problem?
Ubheydeep: That’s a very, very nice example [00:50:54]. And the reason why these things become an issue is because we try to level them [00:50:58]. And then they go out and they become a media report. That is, as I said… transparency is actually needed except for the things that you don’t want to portray. Be transparent with what was discussed, at least in terms of what the leader’s perception about the problems. Let the employees confirm back openly without any sort of hindrance, whether their perception is correct or not.
So in the example that [00:51:27] gave, it actually became an issue or it actually became a question on transparency because everything was labelled as highly confidential. And people came to know about confidential thing and then people started talking about it. So in order to avoid transparency, you actually created a big issue. And that is what I think we have to be conscious of as HR professionals that these meetings are led in the right manner and with the right focus. Okay?
Open house sessions, very good way because again HR professional, I am objective, but I also understand that a lot of feedbacks come subjectively…coming subjectively. It’s very important and it is actually very fair. We have become so obsessed with numbers. We have become so obsessed with objectivity that we are now ignoring the beauty of subjectivity. Okay. Just try and have a conversation with your family members and with your loved ones, in terms of numbers and objectives would be. Trust me. People are going to tell you on your face not the way that it has to be.
So when we communicate subjectively, a lot of things get communicated. And that is what HR professionals, we have to… Sometimes it’s our duty to also give that pushback. Saying that why are you shying away from subjectivity? At least share it. Absorb what is relevant and leave what is not. So our love for objectivity is there which is [00:52:54]. But I think not at the cost of some good outputs on subjectivity. That is what I would say.
Okay. Good medium as I said open house sessions. A few things, gets executed without end objective. If they’re going into an open house, conducted open house, coming back, two or three points, done it. Whereas an open house meeting, one of an excellent open house meetings that I saw one in one of the organizations that I worked with. Was that before the open house meeting, the leader understood and very clearly articulated what is the end objective. He wanted to understand how on the floor people perceive their immediate managers. So even if it was an open house session, the people spoke about a lot of other stuff. The leader always gives the direction with that the conversation to managers. Because the end objective was very clear on what he wanted to execute. And the leader was very, very [00:53:51] actually get out [00:53:53] straight out of that open house. And the people spoke about their managers.
Trust me, this was one meeting where managers were not worried. And I was very glad to be a part of that organization where it was happening. Leaders, managers were not worried because the leader was so open in understanding the sentiment of the floor. People are interested that there would be something that could be taken care of.
Ubheydeep: Other things, open house sessions lack structure. It goes and it loses focus because there is nobody to moderate sometimes. As an HR professional, when the open house session is happening, I think it’s our duty to ensure that the structure remains there. And we keep on moderating it. It may sound as very transactional, but I think that we can actually do pretty well.
And a lack of follow-up action plan. Sometimes open house sessions happen, gets executed, and nothing is done after that. So it’s just a good way to tell people, “We are listening but we are not doing anything about it.” So people appreciate that you’re listening, but after two or three open houses, people also understand that you’re only listening. You’re not doing anything about it. It’s our duty as an HR professional to ensure that open house session, no matter how subjective they are, they should have a follow-up action plan. Okay.
So coming on to the fact that what are the effective ways to measure engagement, of which methods we can explore better. As I said, surveys are brilliant metrics. Surveys are very good metrics to understand pulse. But a survey can be focused, in-house survey. You need not always go out think of another survey. I’m not saying they are bad. I mean these surveys are very useful, but try and understand which variable is impacting engagement in my organization.
If it is culture, have a small focused, in-house survey built which only talks about culture. So that you get out of it what you want to listen to. And trust me, building surveys is not a job of an HR professional. It’s a technical piece. You will need people who have an understanding of statistical analysis, building questions, talking about reliability and validities of questionnaires. You can take help of outside consultants. There are many who can help you with building relevant questions of what you want to measure. But I think the regular, in-house surveys are not annual. Regular, focused, in-house surveys is something that we’ll give you a lot of help on. But as I said, try to figure out which variable you’ll want to be measured… which variable you want to measure. If you try to measure everything in one go, it becomes a problem and that is what sometimes is the problem with annual surveys.
Moderator: I’m so sorry Ubheydeep, to interject here. I thought I’d pick up this question towards the end, but it was highly relevant to what you just said just a couple of points back. So I thought I should just align this question with the topic at hand. So Keith one of our audience members, asks us this question that, “Do you believe that current metrics like third-party surveys on the lines of great business to work, are effective, and they measure employee engagement levels the way we can understand and enhance it.” So essentially, if I’m not wrong and maybe Keith can correct me if I am. He… I’m just… what he’s trying to ascertain here is that whether they are standardized in a respect that any and every company can use it? Or should they customize their employee engagement surveys to suit their own needs or should they use a mix of both? How should they go about this process in case they’re utilizing the third-party-vendor surveys here?
Ubheydeep: Okay. So Keith to answer your questions, surveys by these organizations are very, very clustered, scientifically-validated tools. So are they good, are they relevant? I would say yes, they are, 100%. A lot of research goes behind these surveys. These are not ad hoc surveys which are built by organizations. Surveys, Gallup surveys, [00:58:07] to work. And these surveys and these tools have taken a lot of research work. And these are very much relevant.
But as I said, the problem is not with this survey. The problem is that you execute it one time. You get what you want to hear, but you do not follow up. It’s like how do you dive deep into a problem? You understand the problem. You understand, therefore issues because of this problem [00:58:34] matter. So you go into one issue, dive deep into it, understand what is that issue.
Similarly, an annual survey by these organizations statistically, scientifically are good tools to give you an indication of where you should look at. But leveraging these surveys for very deep understanding of the root cause of the problem will not give you the results. Because these are surveys which give you validated information. But they only give it to you at a certain level of depth. Okay? So if you want to dive deeper and understand what actually at a floor level impacts people is something that you have to do with your own… if needed, with your own inner survey, figuring out and talking about that variance only.
Second thing, these surveys are…these surveys sometimes doesn’t give a scope of people to say what they want to say. And they only drive people in a direction which they want them to drive on. Which is there’s nothing wrong in it, but I’m saying that sometimes the States have the freedom of opportunity to speak up, okay. So the way to look at these tools is that these are good tools, validated tools. Use them, but use them to understand the deep pulse. When you have to understand what is impacting the deep pulse and you are to understand the variables which are leading to this output, or this survey output. You have to figure out your own ways.
So to answer you very, very crispy, and yes, there are very useful. These are statistically, scientifically validated things. But how you could use them is something that is up to you in your organization. It has to be used in the correct manner and used with the correct calibration.
Now great. So I’ll proceed further. I think the other way to ensure that engagement is measured properly and when we’re talking about measuring of engagement, it is actually an HR agenda. Measurement is an HR agenda. So I think as an HR professional, we should be very, very expert in measuring employee engagement. Employee engagement per se may not be our agenda. It’s an agenda of the CEO. But measuring it effectively, sometimes that is our agenda. So the effective way to do it is that you ensure that you figure out what is the best way to measure and execute it in the end.
As I said, open house meetings are a great way. I love the beauty of subjectivity sometimes. I’m very objective, but I will not lose the value of subjectivity or objectivity. And open house meetings are great forums. If you have a clear agenda of what you want to talk about or where do you want to steer this open house to trust me. Open house meetings are one of the best forums to give you an insight of what is happening. And what things you should work on to get things done. These are the actual voices of your associates.
Moderator: So you pointed it in the government, Ubheydeep, and open house meeting. I mean, does it happen every quarter that Amazon and what is… what… And do you have a specific timeline on that or is it a random opportunity?
Ubheydeep: I think good, evolved organizations like Amazon and Walmart and a few of the organizations that my friend works, I think open house is a regular state of affairs. Some organizations at the leadership level, it may not be a bad organization they’ll have an open house. A functional leader can do it for their leader and their leaders can then steer it. So I’ve seen companies who meet on a monthly basis, some on a biweekly, some on a fortnightly basis. And people do it with a lot of passion. In a few of the U.S. countries, if you ask me, a lot of open houses are happening nowadays. And a lot of leaders conduct open house end to end.
Just to give you an example. Our CEO and founder Jeff, [01:02:40] ensures that he’s a part of the regular open house meetings. And that is the amount of value that they give to these meetings. And I think that gives a message. And a lot of the evolved organizations, successful organizations are now very, very pro-open house meetings, if you ask me.
One of the things that we should explore on, only with a structure and a clear agenda. As I said, open house meetings are like a two-edged sword. You do it, you do nothing about it, it will lose its sheen. You do it with a structure, with a clear agenda, it will give you what you’re expecting. Okay?
The other effective way to measure engagement is that when you make leaders accountable for declaring how they perceive their employment…how they perceive that engagement in their own team. Make leaders declare that. I see engagement as a problem or as 50% or 60% of the problem in my people [01:03:37] basis. Let leaders understand. Go to the ground, figure out. Let leaders not be dependent on tools only or HR interventions only. Drive that behavior into the leaders, oral deliverables. Saying that you have to be responsible for telling you what you perceive. So that we can well [01:03:55] with that. It’s actually become… Because leaders most of the times are very capable people. They know. They’re very intelligent. And that is the biggest thing that we have to learn. Leaders are very receptive. Leaders are very prospective. So they have a view on everything. Just take out their view from them. Okay.
So which brings me to the last slide of how can we effectively engage. As we talked about four variables and we’ll also talk about solution on those four variables. So if the problem is the culture, try and address that first and then move on. Try and take engagement at a very, very scientific topic and smart about their in-house practices. What kind of culture would ensure that people are engaged? Make leaders the accountable for people matters equal to their deliverables. Ensure that leaders take people issues at the same level of significance as they take their own deliverables.
Build a culture of respect without exceptions. Whatever the scale of the organization, whatever is the phase of the organization, whatever the [01:05:05] of the future, respect is one thing that doesn’t…that can’t be compromised. You can give infinite amounts of composition to people. You can do any number of things, but if your culture doesn’t promote respect for people, engagement is very, very far often which would not be even visible. Yeah.
And from a culture perspective, tell people that the right way, the only of doing things. There’s no other way. So if you want to deliver, the only way to deliver is the right way to do it. It brings a lot of ethical stuff in the organization and the organization becomes ethical and people respect ethical environments. Okay.
From a system perspective, ensure that your policies and practices are updated and are fair. And more stress upon the fact they’re updated. In one of the organizations that I have come to know is that they have very fair policies but the policies were not updated. So people will always should [01:06:06] about the fact that organizations have moved on but our policies are still the same. Okay.
A performance managing system has to focus on potential deliverables equally. In many of these organizations, this is changing. For example, in Walmart, we used to talk about ratings, but we also used to talk about potential. What is the potential of that person of reaching further levels or doing other jobs? What kind of flexibility that the person offers on the table? So a lot of PMS discussions usually revolve around deliverables and potential equally. Okay.
Communicate and tell these people are more potent. So that they are confident that they have been recognized for their potential. Imagine yourself trying… So I have a kid, okay. And I know a lot of kids in the family. You talk to them in their studies, they will respond to you. They’ll respond to you like a kid. Talk to them on what they’re interested in and how creative they are at and look at the conversation that they will have with you. One of the my nephew enjoys paintings a lot. Okay. If you want to get into a conversation with him about what can he do with painting in the future, he can talk to you for hours. And he can talk to you and talk to also about very, very serious stuff. So when people are being spoken to, communicated to, about their potential, it actually engages them. And it actually gives them the reassurance that you are valuing them and you are valuing their potential. Okay.
From a very, very operational perspective, promote cross-functional movement as a plus factor for employees. In the current sectors, employees’ career growth only from a level one to level up. Build a culture where you give equal importance of moving on to different functions irrespective of the level. Okay.
Which brings on the structure. For that to happen, your structure has to be lean. To other levels, take a look at their work engagement and only think about levels and what levels they want. Organization structures have to be in a way that they are well power centers. Two functions that are reporting directly into CEO investigative reporting to other leaders gives you a message on what is valued most. Okay.
That is why sometimes why you see HR is not on the board seat of the organizations, whereas HR research has a seat in the boardroom where organizations value each function equally. And they even give HR more importance. So then the HR professional I think we kind of live with it really better.
Span of control to be optimal. Optimum for leaders spend quality time on the people. Give them enough time and space to spend time with people. With a team of 200 people of 1 leader, you can’t really spend quality time. So your structure has to be in a way that leaders have the scope of building connections with people.
And the fourth important thing, the kind of company that they work with, company of people that we work with. A more competent person doesn’t breed insecurity and I’ve seen that especially in an organization like Amazon. I have the privilege to work with a lot of competent people and highly competent people. Does it scare me? I thought it would but it doesn’t scare me. It actually pushes me. It actually gives me that push to work harder to do something beyond my work. So that the company [with which you work, the company of people with which you work also has an impact on how engaged you are. Okay.
Importance of networking and cross-functional learning. I think networking is a great opportunity. Organizations are like communities. They give people an opportunity to network with each other, but in relationships with each other. We only talk about deliverables, job, employee, leaders. I think it’s a community. You spend almost 60% of your day in the office and you go back to home and you only sleep actually after spending [01:10:12]. So in a way, an organization startup… is a setup where you’ll spend maximum amount of time. It’s a community. So in the community, people would love to talk to each other. People love to interact with each other. So build that culture. Okay.
I think I’m good with this. [01:10:32], I think thank you for this forum and I would be glad to take questions [01:10:38].
Moderator: Sure. Because we have a barrage of questions coming your way. So Gorav asks you a very pertinent problem and how to deal with it. So he says that they’ve considerably come across situations where employees are satisfied with the work and the organization and everything around it. But they still ask for unjustified salary increments as they have an offer in hand. Obviously, this might be a little change into the topic, but if you could just answer this in terms of employee engagement. As to how we could motivate the employee to stay within the organization and the situation, that will be great.
I mean, so yeah, it’s a very important problem. This happens all the time. On the face of it, they say everything is good, everything is hunky-dory. But then they come up with an offer and they say that, “You match it or I go.” Not but.. I mean what in engagements can we do to maybe proactively tell the HR this is my direct line somewhere or I might move on sometime soon. How could this help?
Ubheydeep: I think Gorav that’s very, very practical problem at hand, which a lot of HR professionals are working on these days. To answer that, Gorav I think we first of all need to learn and understand that these two things are different and will not be linked to each other. So people moving out because of compensation may or may not have a linkage to employee engagement. Just like you have a cold and you’re trying to treat the cold with a certain medicine.
I would say if you are building that link of engagement with this, the current practice and the outcome, review that again once, that is one. The second thing is that, do they normally in the market okay. And I’ll give you an example without naming the organizations. A lot of old Indian [01:12:22] in your organizations are not best [01:12:24] masters. But they engage their employees pretty well. Okay. I could give you examples of a lot of organizations who are talking about compensation and then their percentile payout in this forum may not be appropriate. But I know some very, very good organizations which do not pay a bond, but their employee engagement and initiative and people spend a lot of time. Okay.
And in fact to give you an example, I think companies in manufacturing setup [01:12:53] like Asian [01:12:54], IPC are often organizations which pay pretty well, which do not pay at 90 percentile. But the way that they engage their employee is brilliant. So my answer to you would be if people are purely leaving because of compensation, it can be a variable of this sector that you are in. It can be a variable of the current economic scenario where a lot of startups are coming. Or go back and evaluate out of the four variables that we discussed about which the variable is something that you could work on or you could convince your leaders on to build an [01:13:29] that compensation becomes a secondary factor for people to leave. Okay.
I may not have the context to do better for your organization but I would say the good other ones understand the variables and see what can be the implications. Is it a problem with one of the variables that has been discounted for, have not been looked at? Or is it a scope of building a particular variable in a very, very effective manner? So to answer that, I think go back and look at those four variables and think about it once. Which are the variable you can place your bet on to make compensation a secondary factor?
Moderator: Sure. That’s great. Another question we have is from Sumitra. And she asks you there are these surveys are very…they always have answers in an objective option format. Right? She believes that a subjective annual survey tool is more practical. But then again the challenge is that [01:14:30] it would be [01:14:31]. But then again, even when I read the question it sounds intuitively correct to me that why don’t we have a subjective annual survey instead of an objective annual survey? Doesn’t it lend…I mean, yeah, the process might more exhaustive. It might take a lot of your bandwidth. But don’t you think it would be a little more pragmatic to have a subjective survey and then understand the points of the organization in greater depth?
Ubheydeep: I think Sumitra has a great point and that is what we talked about initially. I think she has a valid point. Value and subjectivity to surveys may be very difficult to manage and administer and to even action on it. If you want to leverage subjectivity and you want to leverage the benefit out of subjectivity, don’t do the surveys is something that I would suggest. Do it with open-ended meetings. Do it with letting people talk. Okay. If the organizations are setting up so much an open culture nowadays, work on that open culture. Let people speak of, right, instead of wrapping it down. And do it at a level that are fair. Because I understand where Sumitra is coming from, which is very, very valid and very, very correct. But the practical implications are very [01:15:49] wouldn’t be able to administer or take any value out of her subjective survey. You won’t be able to manage and pick out data. So if you want to leverage objectivity, do it with other modes which are regular or which can give a voice to the employee instead of a survey.
Moderator: Another question, another question, another very interesting question we have is from [01:16:14]. That you’ve talked a lot about open house sessions and the idea sounds fancy., But how can we, in HR, ensure that employees speak up and very honest in front of the leaders? I gather that it’s more of a leadership stance that business even the line leader has to ensure that this happens and less than…and less of HR. But how do you ensure that the leader is up to the task when it comes to conducting these open house sessions? And how can HR ensure that there is a lot of honesty in these sessions?
Ubheydeep: So yeah. That’s actually a particular problem where you have to… [01:16:55] out of building an effective business partnership with the leader. I think on making the leader understand the value of their [01:17:02] is one piece. The idea is not fancy. Trust me, it’s not fancy. You try and do it once, twice. Don’t lose hope and keep on doing it. Trust me, you will not look at it in a fancy manner. It’s actually very, very operative, very, very effective.
How to build leader’s confidence on the floor or how to ensure that the leader’s sincerity is there on the floor while doing an open house session is something that we as an HR professional have to figure out as a business partner. And ensuring that the leaders’ priorities shift under this. To keep on feeding leaders with feelers, with information on what is happening on the floor. Making leaders understand the outcome, it may have. So in a nutshell, you have to convince your leader to be proactive and responsible for leading these meetings.
The other thing that I would do want to… would give you an advice is that if you think that your leaders are not effective, the next question comes in. Should we as HR professionals do it? I would say you can do it, but open house meetings are much more effective and actually they do engage in output only when the leader is committed. If the leader is not committed, I think then there are other ways to ensure that your leaders become accountable. And you take the help of your own HR leader to build that accountability into the culture. That’s more of a cultural there [01:18:32] personality chain that you have to break around with effective HR business partnership. But open house session, being a fancy thing, if I have proofs in my opinion, no, it’s not. It’s actually very, very helpful and this is my experience.
Moderator: Yeah. So there’s another very important, very, very interesting thing which is coming from Shikan. And there’s a lot of studies…there are a lot of studies, I personally have read about but have not been able to pinpoint towards a particular metric as to how to do this. But I’d like if you could throw some light on this.
So he asks that the challenge is to convince the business leaders to take up employee engagement, and yes, since you have talked about engagement and you have also said a lot of things about it. But they’re mostly bothered about business outcomes and numbers. So is there a direct relationship between engagement and outcome on the balance sheet? If there is, how do you measure it and how do you communicate it to your CH2 level people? How do you actually come out [01:19:33] that hey, our engagement went up by 20% and here’s the outcome on the revenue. It shot up by 21% of whatever. So how do you do that actually?
Ubheydeep: Okay. So this [01:19:46] answer to it Shikan, thank you for that question. One of the things that I said in my presentation is that most of the employee engagement initiatives are practiced as long-term interventions. And we are again trying to figure out the best way of doing it. I would say the best way of building that ownership is only through a culture and a top-down approach. If your leaders are not committed, then we have a problem not with the employee engagement but something else.
So differentiating the fact that whether it is a priority which is there or not is different from the fact that whether employees are engaged or not. If your leaders are not committed to it, I think the only way that you can help it is that [01:20:32] convincing them.
How to make an objective for employee engagement? I would say take your time. Figure out what tool works best for you or what combination of tools works best with you. I may not have a concrete answer to your queries right now. In the field, the organization that I’ve seen surveys have used for ages now. And the organization has also evolved with surveys. So they make use of the surveys pretty well. But that has to come with time. Okay. So there is no one answer to how you can make an objective and build in employee engagement metric as a part of their own goal sheet. That is something which you have to run on, evolve with, and figure out what is the best metric and in what forms of metrics had gone.
One way of looking at it is that these four variables to try and make an objective for some of this stuff from these four variables into that goal sheet. Making, building targets around a few things, okay? Things like how many opportunities or how many open house sessions has the leader conducted. Okay? Things like how much… So attrition, remember attrition is a direct… if not a direct, even a partially correlation with attrition. Build your attrition metrics into it. Okay.
Talk about how many people grew into the system and you talk about potential. When you talk about how many people in the leadership hierarchy grew, from his directing. It’s around the metrics that you can build in slowly, slowly. So I’m saying [01:22:01] variables first of all and then we could make a target objective for it. Do not rush it because one organization is doing it. Because a few of those metrics have ever been used by organizations is also because they have done so many things around for them ages now. So you have…basically your organization contexts, evaluate that. Which metric can be delivered? Which metric can you hold and [01:22:24] accountable for initially, and which you can bring further?
Moderator: I think we are way beyond our timeline of an hour. I suppose we should wrap up the session now. There are a lot of unanswered questions and I assure the audience that all these questions will be mailed to Ubheydeep. And Ubheydeep and I would most definitely be answering to all your questions personally through email. We have in here your email addresses and not one question will go unanswered. But it’s a wrap as of right now.
There is this important webinar we are having next week with Vandana Tilwani. She is the Head of Talent Acquisition of GroupM Media and she’s going to talk about “Social Recruiting Tools, and How to Go Beyond Your Traditional Recruitment Channels and Sourcing Channels.” And they’ve done a great job at GroupM. And she’s going to give tremendous insights on how to leverage social channels as a tool. It’s on 22nd January at the same time 11:00 a.m. I am not sure, but I will be moderating that session too. So I’d love to see you again in that webinar. And yeah, that’s a wrap. That’s a wrap for now.
Thank you so much for coming in. It was a pleasure hosting you on. And I’m sure Ubheydeep also loved the questions that came his way. There many more, Ubheydeep, so you’ll have to answer them too. But thank you, Ubheydeep. Thank you for taking time out to address the audience. The audience has been lovely. We had some great, terrific responses from your presentation. We’ll be sharing the presentation slides with everybody in [01:23:55] from now. And thank you. Ubheydeep, any last words?
Ubheydeep: Well, thank you all for your time. I think… thank you for the respect that had been extended. I truly appreciate it. I may not have that much of experience when I saw a few of the [01:24:12] here. But I think we all have every bits and pieces we learn from each other, I think. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Thank you for extending this respect and I hope this session had been useful to you.
Originally published April 2 2018, Updated June 16 2020