Empower your employees to improve co’s bottom line

TNN | Jul 11, 2018, 04.00 AM IST
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S V Nathan
The 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report shows a profound shift in organisations. It is the rise of the ‘social enterprise’. It reflects the importance of combining management of stakeholder expectations along with profit and revenue generation.Three major factors have contributed to this shift: The power of the individual is growing with millennials at the forefront, businesses are being looked up to for filling the leadership vacuum in society, and technological changes are creating major impacts on society, with increased opportunities to achieve sustainable growth.

It falls back on the leadership to relook at the way an organisation works through — creating meaning, communicating it and addressing purpose in all that it does. It means redesigning programmes, digitalising processes and creating a culture that builds a social enterprise for today and tomorrow — something that millennials seek — a meaning and a purpose to work, beyond profits.

A few transitions have been made that are significant. One that instantly comes to mind is the performance management system that has fundamentally transformed the way we look at assessing performance and conducting appraisals. A deeper focus on technology, and making the connect easy and instant create meaning. A rising population of young professionals constantly seeks feedback. Appraisals are no longer year-end exercises in futility that fit a bell curve. Meaningful conversations and updates on an individual’s performance creates engagement. An agile performance management system is needed for a development-focused and feedback-centric conversation.

This brings us to the subject of employee empowerment. Employees need flexibility. With organisations becoming increasingly agile, mobile and digital, there are different ways in which increased freedom and autonomy are provided to employees. This includes a choice of projects that professionals are offered to work on for a certain period, remote working and flexible hours to help employees manage their personal responsibilities, and avoid difficult commuting conditions.

Today, it is not uncommon to have part-time work arrangement especially for new mothers and fathers or even caregivers. Such flexible working conditions, coupled with a culture where professionals can set their priorities, their own pace and flexibility, give employees a sense of empowerment. In such cases, it takes a lot for an organisation to allow for such changes and encourage it. Often, it is a culture that has to come from the top.

A natural derivation of the flexible work conditions is the gig economy. There are other names such as temporary experts, contingent workforce or specialist workforce deployed for a short duration. This structure includes professionals working on project-to-project, contract and part-time basis. It has changed the face of the traditional employment world as we know it.

But with challenges come many benefits, such as immense cost-effectiveness, added expertise for a specific project due to availability of a more condensed talent pool, and a variety of solutions and ideas. Building culture in a moving population becomes even more challenging.

Work is changing as is the workforce and the workplace. In this environment, it is very important that leadership and HR leaders strike the right balance between focusing on the bottom line and investing in the broader social ecosystem, starting with an organisation’s own employees.

This calls for ‘elders’ to let go of some pet of beliefs and rituals, and to adapt. It also means that acceptance is at one end and setting clear expectation of performance at the other.
Changing times, changing expectations and changing employee practices make it an interesting time. Times are changing and trust is the key to culture. A sage advice from my audit professionals is trust but verify what is happening around.
The author is partner and chief talent officer, Deloitte India. Views are personal
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