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Abhishek Gavane

Global Researcher for HR Analytics

The Dawn Of Employee Bonding

The Idea

This intensely researched editorial on “The Dawn of Employee Bonding” is a true inspiration from the mythological beliefs of 2013 seen as beginning of new existence after the Mayan’s doomsday. As organizations, we have evolved from the dark ages of trying to realize the benefits of empowerment, teamwork, recognition, people development, performance management, and new leadership styles. Today, one might easily attribute low “employee bonding” to persistent downsizing, which leads to an erosion of loyalty and commitment. Evidently, there is a big difference between putting in place initiatives that have the overall goal of increasing employee engagement and truly seeing the payoffs.

How much are your employees “your’s”

Employee Bonding or Engagement has transcended from being the latest business catchphrase to being recognized by organizations as a tool that positively influences business performance. It has become vital for companies to understand what “causes” employee engagement if they want to influence the “effect” i.e. Employee Engagement. By understanding these drivers and leveraging them, organizations can try and manage engagement levels of their employees. So what drives employee engagement? Several theories have been propounded that focus on the rational and emotional aspects of engagement. Some even focus on the tangible and intangible aspects of engagement.

 

During a recent Management Development Program held by a premier B-School, a Senior faculty quoted a joke: “CEO of a multi-billion dollar enterprise was asked how many people work in his company: ‘About half of them,’ he responded.” During the high tea in between the session, several participants put a more serious face on the problem when they regretted the fact that, in their organization, a significant number of people had mentally “checked out.”

With work practice we have recognized this very well that employee satisfaction and engagement are related to meaningful business outcomes at a magnitude that is important to many organizations. A compelling question is this: How much more productive is an engaged workforce compared to a non-engaged workforce? Companies that do a better job of engaging their employees do outperform their competition.

Engagement Drivers

While there is no one panacea for leveraging employee attachment to his work and organization, there are some broad drivers:

In this editorial we will elaborate each of these attachments drivers and suggest methods, system tools, initiatives and measurement techniques to enhance the overall employee engagement.

Bonding Driver # 1: Escalating Job Attachment

Dr. Shiba’s ‘Total Participation’ concept underlines the principal that people need a purpose in order to feel engaged in what they are doing. People want to be proud of their jobs, their performance, and their organization. In TQM. This is popularly adopted as “My Machine” concept in many Japanese automobile companies across the globe.

It is a workforce management strategy, and some most valued initiatives to enhance the sense of belongingness among employees are listed below:

1.      Spontaneously acknowledge the hard work of employees, be it a success or a failure. Remember, it is the effort that counts, not the effect.

2.      Ask your process managers to report their progress during your company’s regular morning meetings.

3.      Remind your teams that optimizing their processes help create a highly scalable organization that can support rapid growth.

4.      Explain that delegating responsibility to self-managed process teams helps create generations of leaders who can assume greater responsibility as your company grows.

5.      Embrace a Constructive Feedback: Make it safe for executives and employees to receive less than stellar results – as long as they diligently improve. A motto such as this one may be useful in establishing curiosity rather than fear: “Good news is no news; no news is bad news; bad news is good news”. Make it part of your culture to look at negative feedback from customers as early warning signals, and, as the old saying goes, turn lemons into lemonade

Total participation in process improvement and kaizen means that the answers or process improvement ideas come from the employees working on machines, and they are recognized for their contributions. That`s ok in theory, but in reality, some managers have difficulty in loosening the reigns and encouraging and mentoring their staff members rather than trying to maintain full control. Therefore it is important to consider the emotional and human aspects of transitioning to a total participation system. 

Bonding Driver # 2: Instituting Emotional Attachment

People in India are established to be more sensitive and emotional towards any of their deeds, particularly seen now at workplace. This kind of employee disengagement usually increases the closer you are to the frontlines of a company. Frontline employees are often perceived to be less important than middle managers, though they are the drivers of company’s growth. Leaders must show that they value employees. Employee-focused initiatives such as profit sharing and implementing work–life balance initiatives are important. If employees’ association with their managers is cracked, then no quality or amount of perks will convince employees to perform at their best levels. Employee engagement is a direct reflection of how employees feel about their relationship with the boss. Employees look at whether organizations and their leader walk the talk when they assert that, “Our employees are our most valuable asset.”

 

Employees who feel they are listened to, supported, and recognized for their contributions are likely to be more engaged. Employees definitely like to be recognized for their unique contributions. Studies show care and concern for employees emerging as the most important factors influencing employee commitment to their employers. The Department of Labor confirms that lack of employee appreciation plays a critical role in employees’ decisions to leave their organizations.

Support and recognition can mean several things in the background of creating an engaging work environment. In one way, support means that employees are appreciated for their ideas and efforts. Instead of treating employees as wagers, engaging organizations support contributions from employees by listening to them and responding to their ideas and concerns. Although many organizations provide formal rewards and recognition programs for employee ideas and contributions, many employees are eager for more day-to-day informal recognition. Employees who are unused to recognition for their work often remember a single pat on the back from a coworker or boss for weeks or even months. Support and recognition in an engaging environment is a daily occurrence that builds employee self-esteem and creates strong partnerships.

Bonding Driver # 3: Culture Attachment

The bond between an employee and the organization is cemented when the employee identifies with the culture of the organization. An employee is engaged and motivated to stretch beyond the call of duty if he/she finds the work environment enabling and supportive. Leaders must communicate a clear vision. People want to understand the vision that senior leadership has for the organization, and the goals that leaders or departmental heads have for the division, unit, or team. Success in life and organizations is, to a great extent, determined by how clear individuals are about their goals and what they really want to achieve. In sum, employees need to understand what the organization’s goals are, why they are important, and how the goals can best be attained. Clarity about what the organization stands for, what it wants to achieve, and how people can contribute to the organization’s success is not always evident.

Each employee needs a solid job description and a clear set of performance expectations. Even more critical is their understanding that their individual goals are connected directly to the organization’s goals. Unfortunately, less than half of employees are satisfied with their organization’s system for managing their performance. Some organizations do an especially good job of creating alignment early in an employee’s tenure with the organization. For example, new team members at Toyota are given a thorough orientation that clearly defines how their roles and the decisions they make tie into Toyota’s overall approach and manufacturing philosophy. To attain this alignment, leaders need to help all employees see the bigger picture and understand their roles relative to it. They also need to show how an individual employee’s actions affect other departments and external customers. Building a strong sense of alignment with strategy requires a good communication system and strong accountability. Employees should be kept well informed about the changes that affect their work groups so that they aren’t confused or surprised when those changes are introduced. Additionally, when organizations provide a clear sense of direction and keep employees well informed, employees are able to make the best use of their time, resources, and budgets, and, therefore, don’t get off track when setting priorities or “spin their  wheels” when taking action.

Bonding Driver # 4: Increasing Pride - Social Attachment

People want to be proud of their jobs, their performance, and their organization. Leaders should strive to maintain a company’s reputation and demonstrate high ethical standards. Studies show that, when employees work in teams and have the trust and cooperation of their team members, they outperform individuals and teams which lack good relationships. Surveys indicate that being cared about by colleagues is a strong predictor of employee engagement. Thus, a continuous challenge for leaders is to rally individuals to collaborate on organizational, departmental, and group goals, while excluding individuals pursuing their self-interest.

The need is of a platform where all employees could get together and talk about their feelings, share knowledge and actively participate in various cultural and outbound programmes to promote interaction. At Ranbaxy as club initiatives, they came up with a wide range of activities for employees, such as sports tournaments, annual cultural events, adventure activities (trekking, walkathon, and bicycle rally), yoga camps and blood donation camps. Employees’ participation in these events has been overwhelming and this programme has been responsible for creating a high-appreciation and high-morale environment.


Engaging Women Employees

The women employees nowadays are a part of top and middle management. Companies that do not make effort in retaining their women employees have already lost some of their business or will certainly lose out in the coming years. Providing them more meaningful tasks depending upon their comfort level, affirming their contribution, giving them an open, collaborative and innovative environment, engaging them in challenging tasks, keeping the doors open when they feel the need to work after delivering the baby or raising their kids and coming up with the options to help them take care of their family, especially kids can keep them motivated to work and perform their best.

Moreover, women prefer working in the environment where there are least hierarchies. Therefore, designing the work that engages everyone equally can help a great deal in engaging and retaining women employees

Bonding Driver # 5: Boosting Career Attachment

A significant driver of employee engagement is having career advancement opportunities. 

Create an organizational culture that values employees’ experience and their contributions. Help employees understand that advancement is more than just moving up the company ladder. It also means amassing a portfolio of experiences and skills that can help them with their future careers.

Younger employees tend to want to progress quickly, so it is important to manage their expectations by clearly communicating what it would take (e.g., what competencies or project skills are needed) for them to be promoted to the next level.

Talk about opportunities for growth, development, making an impact, and creating meanings in their jobs. When an organization truly values employees’ skills and abilities, and pays them accordingly, then it is easier for employees to see that they don’t have to climb up the career ladder to be paid more.

Hold managers accountable for developing talent — Encourage and reward managers for developing their employees and provide resources and support for managers to develop their employees.

Leaders should provide challenging and meaningful work with opportunities for career advancement. Most people want to do new things in their job. For example, do organizations provide job rotation for their top talent? Are people assigned stretch goals? Do leaders hold people accountable for progress? Are jobs enriched in duties and responsibilities? Good leaders challenge employees; but at the same time, they must instill the confidence that the challenges can be met. Not giving people the knowledge and tools to be successful is unethical and de-motivating; it is also likely to lead to stress, frustration, and, ultimately, lack of engagement.

Conclusion

As it is an established fact that there is a clear link between organizational performance and employee engagement, every organisation seeking sustenance and growth in the ever changing world of work quickly respond to the needs of employees along with designing and implementing a customized process to increase the levels of employee engagement. Since the mantra of success of any organization is the higher involvement, engagement and dedication of employees towards their jobs and their continuous performance to attain more, it is necessary to keep their spirits high, motivate them to perform their best always and generate a breed of satisfied and dedicated employees. Employee Engagement is not a onetime process that can quickly bring results; rather it is an ending process that will go on till the existence of an organisation