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Leaders Should Be Open To Employee Ideas, Else They Create A Psychologically Unsafe Workplace: BI WORLDWIDE

Dr. Brad Shuck, Strategic & Academic partner, BI WORLDWIDE who is coming to India to speak at the ‘6th SHRM India Annual Conference & Exposition’ on 14-15 Sept 2017 in New Delhi will be discussing about “All in to Win: Elevate your Employee value proposition” talked to BW Businessworld about HR industry

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Dr. Brad Shuck, Associate Prof. Organizational Leadership & Learning - University of Louisville, Kentucky and Strategic & Academic partner, BI WORLDWIDE talks about retaining the best talent and achieving work-balance. (Edited excerpts)

What policies can be adopted to retain the best talent in the company?

I believe the human resource community should engage in the conversation about policies, and how policies are enacted across an organization. I would encourage leaders to look at their value proposition and think about what policies would attract the kind of talent they would like to have working at their organization, and once they are hired, what are the policies and communication strategies HR needs to retain those highly talented, smart, and engaged employees. Policies provide guidelines, and employees interact with those guidelines, so leaders need to think about how formal organizational polices and informal norms are experienced and how they shape the organization’s overall employee value proposition. 

How to keep the employee morale high when the hiring is low?

Two strategies for keeping morale high when hiring is low are (a) open dialogue and transparent communication and (b) re-envisioning the value proposition of the organization. Leaders who openly communicate keep the message of the organization in front of employees, which shapes the corporate narrative. This type of communication can help drive meaning in work and organizational pride. Second, when hiring is low, it is the perfect time to re-envision the value proposition of the organization, and to ensure that it is as clear as possible, that it aligns with strategy, and the organization is attracting the kind of talent it needs to transform to the next level.  

How to help employees achieve work-life balance?

This is an area I struggle with at times. In all seriousness, I think this is about life balance, not work-life balance. Work is a part of life, but so are my family, my friends, and community. Work is the most important, but there are also moments when family comes first, which cannot be compromised. This is the value proposition of work, and profession.

When you feel overwhelmed and out-of-balance, and you also do not have control, you can feel trapped, burned out, and exhausted. What was once meaningful work, becomes meaningless, and hard to get through; but when you believe you can influence an overwhelming situation, you have a different mindset that it hopeful and promising that even though things are hard and overwhelming right now, it will not be that way forever. There is a peace in that belief.

How is digital disruption changing the Human Resource sector?

The digital disruption is double edged. On one hand, digital and technological advancements can streamline workflows, automate systems, and connect organisations and people like never before; and at the same time, it can be isolating. I am all for the transformation of HR into the digital age, but we cannot forget that we work with individuals who, at their core, long to connect and have conversations, and who thirst for meaningful interactions. Technology can and will be a great step forward, so long as we do not forget that we work with real people, who have needs that may not be programmable, or always predictable.

How has talent acquisition and appreciation changed over the years?

Talent acquisition and appreciation, or recognition, has changed over the years by recognizing that organisations need a multifaceted approach and strategy. External reward structures can be fruitful, but by themselves they will not motivate at optimal levels. On the other hand, intrinsic forms of motivation alone are not enough, either. I do not believe that pay or cash-based compensation are optimal motivators and the research shows that they are not, but I do believe that external rewards, such as non-cash based incentives, coupled with intrinsic forms of motivation can be the real sweet spot for both acquiring the right talent and ensuring a strategy of appreciation.

What should a leader do to support its team in the changing job scenario? Should a leader be open to debates?

Instead of debate, leaders should be open to listen. We have some recent research that sheds light on this question. In a new study, we found that employees who believed their leader was open to new ideas and listening to those ideas were also more likely to report higher levels of engagement, and also more likely to speak up and use their voice. Leaders who are generally known for being closed to new ideas, in both positive and negative environments, lose out on the benefit of high engagement, and also, they have employees who do not speak up in good and bad situations. These types of environments are often experienced as closed and, psychologically unsafe. Psychologically unsafe work environments have a cascading set of associated problems and issues and have been documented to lead to disastrous consequences. It is not about being open to debates, as much as it is whether or not employees believe their leader is open to new information.

How should companies approach EVP (Employee Value Proposition) to create a win-win situation for both, the employees and the organisation? 

Employees work for varying reasons, and because of that, the employee value proposition is not the same for every employee. There are three non-negotiable components of an employee value proposition: (a) procedurally fair compensation structure (b) dignity in work, and (c) belief that individual work is meaningful. Another critical component that cannot be lost in the process is understanding that each company has its own unique EVP and defining and executing it clearly helps to attract and retain the right people.

Pay employees enough to take money off the table as an issue, and pay employees fairly for their work. Help people see the meaning in their work and believe they are making a difference. Do these things and you’ll have a magnetic employee value proposition.