Are you Engaging your Employees?

India Inc is marching ahead and amidst all the technology, FDI inflows and global competition that one hears about, it’s the human capital, which is central to any company’s long-term strategy.

However with the globalization of the Indian economy and the realization of the developed world about the availability of talented manpower at a discounted cost, opportunities are abundant for the talented employees.

Today, neither employees nor employers expect long-term relationships. Employees want to move from organizations to organizations , to further their career ambitions, to wriggle out of out of unsatisfying situations, to leverage experience in one organization for a better job in another. Employers, on the other hand, don’t want to be saddled with employees who fail to meet the demanding expectations of the organization stemming out of stiff competition or retain stagnant employees who have reached the end of the learning curve journey and do not add much value to the organization.

However employers have a real struggle on hand with a competitive market, a well informed and demanding customers and shrinking margins. They have to retain their employees, keep them motivated and trained to meet the challenges of competition. However the expectations of the employees are always on the rise. Rarely have we heard of employees accepting the downturn of the company and reducing their salaries. A few companies tried this by force in 2001- 2002 when there was a recession in the IT industry but without much success. Irrespective of the fortunes of the company employees want an increase in their salaries, career growth and a rise in their standard of living and status.

Employers are at a cross road. By not giving into the demands of the employees they run the risk of losing talented employees as the less talented are more likely to stay. To meet the challenges of competition and deliver superior results they need talented employees to stay on. But to give in to their unexpressed demands and keep increasing employee costs adds to their costs and makes them less competitive in the market.

It’s the synergy that comes from people working together and gathering creative ideas that leads to long-term organization wealth creation. That synergy “above and beyond” behavior is evidence of employee engagement.

It’s a delicate balance that HR managers and organizations will have to do.
Employee Engagement
Employee Engagement is a result achieved by stimulating employees’ enthusiasm for their work and directing it toward organizational success. It’s the passion that the employee brings to the job. Its the commitment and the “never say die” attitude and the zeal to succeed.
Engagement calls for striking a new bargain with employees:
• Organizations invest in creating the conditions that make work more meaningful and rewarding for employees.
• And employees, in return, pour extra effort into their work and delivering superior performance.
Engagement can be at different levels:
• Intellectual
• Physical
• Emotional
The engagement challenge is about how an employee feels about the work experience, about how he or she is treated. It has a lot to do with emotions. Research after research have concluded that employee emotions are fundamentally related to—and actually drive—bottom-line success in a company.
There is a constant struggle to win trust and establish credibility. You can have the best of the programs in the world—all of it can be lost in a second if the organization does something to destroy the credibility it has built.
It takes a huge commitment in time and energy for organizations engaging their people. But relative to some of the other investments they make, it has a pretty good return.
James K. Clifton, chairman and CEO of the Gallup Organization, told the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation at its Thought Leaders retreat in 2002 : “I think the next decade is going to be about the emotional economy of the workplace,” he said. “HR has an enormous opportunity to provide organizational leadership by increasing the number of engaged workers….HR is the only one with the answers to increased worker engagement. The question is whether companies and organizations will now turn to HR for their strategic leadership in this area.”
Employee Engagement at APC India

Employee Engagement is woven into the overall Talent Management & Development framework

At APC India we strive to ensure that our employees are Intellectually, Physically and Emotionally engaged.

Intellectual Engagement

We believe that every employee in the organization has the innate ability to be creative. We also believe that creativity, continuous improvement and innovation is not the responsibility and privilege of only a few managers and that it’s the combined responsibility of each and every employee in the company. With this objective, we strive to harness that creativity in the employee through various programs and processes:

v Suggestions Scheme
v Six sigma projects
v Lean projects
v Positive Work Groups
v Small Group Activities
v Continuous Improvement Projects

Every year there is a competition in each one of these projects / programs where employees showcase their talents, their achievements and their contribution to the company. It’s the proudest moment of the year for the employees and the company.

Physical Engagement

We strongly believe that a well informed employee is more productive, disciplined and empathetic towards the company. We also believe that participative management and decision making is the key to the progress of the company. Towards this send we have the following programs / processes, which foster better communication between the employees & the organization & also let employees have a say in the management of the company :

v Employee Committees
v Monthly Communication meetings
v Quarterly Townhall meetings
v Intranet
v Newsletter
v Employee Bulletins / Notice Board

Emotional Engagement

The key to the success of any company is the emotional engagement of the employees. With their “heart & soul” behind them, employees can achieve anything and overcome any challenges. We would like to make “Work as as source of fun”. In this regard we have the following programs that foster “Fun @ work” :

v Employee Assistance Program (Emotional Counselling Service)
v Fun Club
v Annual / Anniversary Day
v Ayudha Pooja
v Family day
v Annual Picnics

Through all these programs, we have ensured that we keep our employees happy, fully engaged and highly productive.

What better way can it be with an attrition rate of around 10%, an Employee Satisfaction Index of 75% and being the winner of the “Highest Hardware Manufacturer exporter” award by MAIT and STPI for the fifth consecutive year.

“Life at APC, its more than just a job…………..”
About the author: Ramesh Ranjan, is the Director Human Resources – Global Supply Chain & Manufacturing of American Power Coversion India Pvt. Ltd. He has worked in companies like Chevron Texaco India Pvt. Ltd, Praxair India Pvt. Ltd, Co Systems India Pvt. Ltd, Indian Herbs, ITI Ltd spread over a span of 22 years. He was the past Hon. Secretary of the National HRD Network, Bangalore Chapter.