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Employee Engagement - The Litmus Test

That is the true litmus test and only if that happens, would employees down the line feel passionate about their jobs, stay committed to the organization and put discretionary effort into work. To understand this better let us look at two anecdotes:

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CEO’s and Human Resources Heads, obsessed with achieving a high rank in employee engagement surveys, need to understand and ensure that their senior folks freely collaborate and support each other, in an otherwise competitive environment. That is the true litmus test and only if that happens, would employees down the line feel passionate about their jobs, stay committed to the organization and put discretionary effort into work. 

To understand this better let us look at two anecdotes:

The first anecdote is set in the early ‘90s and is about Atul who joined a large auto manufacturer as Head of Corporate Marketing. Three months after joining, he was scheduled to travel to Japan to meet with the collaborators. 

Some of the other function heads, on learning that this was Atul’s first trip to Japan, offered to guide him and share their experiences on their visits to Japan. They cautioned Atul about there being very few English signage’s in Tokyo and went on to give him a detailed layout of Narita Airport, right from disembarking to passport control to baggage pick-up and where to catch the limousine bus to the hotel. And they also shared their insights on Japanese culture, business etiquette and the kind of well-packed gifts he needed to carry to Japan. 

Needless to mention, employees, down the line, in that company were equally supportive of each other

The second story is set in the early 2000’s and is about Rohit who joined as Strategy Head in a well-known Information Technology company, which consistently ranked amongst the top ten in employee engagement surveys. 

Within two months of his joining, Rohit, and the other function heads and the CEO, were scheduled to travel to the corporate office in the US to attend the quarterly board meeting. 

He spoke to the CEO to know more about what usually transpired in these board meeting and if he needed to be ready with any presentations. The CEO asked him to check with the other function heads and look at their presentations. Accordingly Rohit spoke with the others over lunch and received the same response from all of them – that the board meetings were more about questions being asked by the Chairman and other Directors and it was the CEO who made the presentations, if any. 

During the board meeting, Rohit was surprised to see that every other function head had come prepared with a slick power point presentation lasting 10 minutes. Rohit apologetically shrugged his shoulders when the CEO nodded towards him indicating that it was his turn. Fortunately the CEO covered for him telling the Chairman that since Rohit had been there only for two months, he had asked him not to work on any presentation.

It is obvious that in such organizations, too many silos evolve over a period of time.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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employee engagement employees Magazine 13 Sep 2021

Jayaram Easwaran

Author, Consultant, and Independent Board Director at Jindal Stainless

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