Business is about people. Whether it fails, flourishes or just breaks even, the fate of a business is determined by people. The most important of whom are the people who work for the business.

Employees as resources

Human Resources replaced Personnel Management thirty years ago to emphasize that employees are quantifiable assets, worthy of inclusion in company balance sheets. This changed the way employees were perceived. It became all about the money they were worth, and not about them as real live people. HR functions took on a new oeuvre of negotiating with people, and organizations saw HR as the medium to transact with their employees.

Business as employee-centric

Managing employee expectations is about giving employees more than they hoped for.  As businesses work to create better customer experiences, they are trying to do the same for their employees. It’s vital they do for two reasons. First because employees are internal customers. Second, because the millennial workforce believes in leaving a positive impression on the world around them.

Though HR works tirelessly to be more employee-centric, results often fall short.  Probably because HR is rarely seen as a business vertical or a value center.

Technology changes perceptions. It was largely believed that new tech would help garner better market share. However, perceptions changed and technology is the catalyst again, providing the metrics that have turned the spotlight back onto people.

To succeed as a business unit, HR should inspire employees to be more productive and behave more positively. The pay-off will be evident in lower attrition rates, internally and externally. The logic is simple: employees who remain with you happily will inspire your customers to do the same.

Employee engagement refers to how emotionally invested your employees are in committing their time, talent, and energy to support their organization’s initiatives. 

Efforts to engage employees must mirror what business does for customers by creating an environment where employees:

  1. Have work experiences that enhance their work value,

  2. Can acquire lifelong skills to enable independence,

  3. Gain vital skills and knowledge for the future, and

  4. Take pride in being part of a larger group of talented people

People at the heart of organizational design

People are driven by their expectations. Employees share similar basic expectations regarding their jobs, responsibilities, and salary. However, each employee also has a unique set of expectations. This is defined by their aspirations. Their personalities, together with individual skill sets and abilities, determine these aspirations. If businesses plan to engage their employees, they must outstrip these aspirations. 

Go from employee-centric to being people-centric. The first step is to design work processes that resonate with how your people experience them. 

  1. Redefine HR processes so they’re easy to follow, and save time. Simplifying and personalizing HR processes is a people-centric move. Your employees would much rather create value for your organization than struggle with faulty processes and system flaws.

  1. Rethink HR functions so they reflect your brand identity and organizational goals. HR teams have an important role to play. They are strategically positioned to interact with people at every stage of your business. With their reach across designations and business units, HR can impact how business plans and strategies are implemented.

  1. Renew HR focus so efforts to keep people engaged are not relegated to being a stand-alone effort. Though it’s possible to create a plan to engage employees, it becomes a wasted effort if there’s no follow-through with policies and practices at every level of the business. Without the support of the organization and active employee involvement, HR cannot deliver positively on employee engagement efforts.

Employee engagement is a mindset that has at its core, the questions why, what, and how. Without answers to these questions, every activity or event planned to engage employees will end up being just another entry in a long list of integers. For employee engagement efforts to be viable, it’s important to see your team as thinking and feeling people, with hopes and dreams for their work and life.

Employees do more than render business outcomes. They are a community of people, who when nurtured, can rise above the mundane to meet challenges with innovation and creativity.

Keep coming back to the Made My Day blog for more in-depth information on making employee engagement work.

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