Modern organisations have begun to look beyond employee engagement to employee enablement. While engagement keeps employees loyal to the organisation, it cannot guarantee higher performance. Enablement ensures that employees are more self-driven to function at a higher level.
Employee engagement ensures that the team is dedicated to the organisation’s goals and interests.
With enablement, employees move beyond the stage of just being engaged with the company goals and interests. Instead, companies provide them the necessary tools and guidance to continue to learn, develop and produce quality results. Without the right training, resources or even the necessary skills, workers cannot be expected to perform at a higher level. Employee enablement ensures employees continue to deliver high-quality results. Unlike engagement, it is not a top-down strategy aimed at the workforce. Instead, the employees hold the reins to their own careers and can progress according to their need.
Organisations have moved from employee satisfaction to engagement and then to experience. Individuals today look at everything as an experience, be it in the professional or private life. Right from the moment employees climb on-board, till the moment they retire, everything needs to be a positive and memorable experience.
“The important factors to maintain the ecosystem are clarity across the organisation, measuring the right HR metrics, building capabilities and having an active feedback mechanism in place”
However, enablement is not just about creating employee experiences. It seems to encompass much more. According to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Report, 2019, one of the biggest challenges today is to improve upon employee experience.
This is what the report states, “Eighty-four percent of our survey respondents rated this issue (employee experience) important, and 28 per cent rated it urgent. But the concept of employee experience falls short in that it fails to capture the need for meaning in work that people are looking for.” The report calls for a need to capture the ‘human experience’ at the workplace. It implies building on the aspirations of the workers to connect work to making an impact on the society along with the organisation.
This is exactly what Rajkamal Vempati, head-HR, Axis Bank, believes in. She says, “Companies are the service providers and employees come to leverage their skills to gain new experiences. These days, employees are equal partners in the business and not passive partners as they were before.”
The same trend can be seen in learning. An enormous need has been observed in organisations to change the way people learn. According to the report, 86 per cent of the respondents cited “changing the way people learn” as an important issue. The reason for this is easy to understand. Work demands and skills requirements are evolving. Also, organisations are finding it challenging to hire people from outside, given the lack of adequately-skilled personnel in the market.
“The hope is that, over a period of time, there is a pool of people who are forever learning. Roles these days are evolving and people are increasingly acquiring new skills. Even at the senior and middle levels we have seen movements across verticals”
As learning is becoming more integrated and personal, there has come about a need for HR to reinvent itself accordingly, by supporting continuous learning, providing incentives, and focussing on helping employees identify and develop new skills.
Enablement in this sense has to be flexible to reinvent according to the needs of the employees and the needs of the market. Moreover, it has to have an impact beyond work, in the personal sphere as well by creating a well-rounded ‘human experience’ for employees.
Organisations now are moving towards this trend and a few are already running along this path to provide such an experience for their members. Saba Adil, chief people officer, Aegon Life Insurance, explains that the idea is to provide a facilitating ecosystem around the employees so that they can meet their goals and objectives. She says, “The important factors to maintain the ecosystem are clarity across the organisation, measuring the right HR metrics, building capabilities and having an active feedback mechanism in place.” The ecosystem, as she explains, is the entire collaborative team that runs across the organisation.
Rajkamal concurs and says that it is important to provide the infrastructure for employees to learn and to map everyone’s skill quotient, which consists of how much they learned on the job and what skills they have acquired. “The hope is that, over a period of time, there is a pool of people who are forever learning. Roles these days are evolving and people are increasingly acquiring new skills. Even at the senior and middle levels we have seen movements across verticals.”
Employee enablement has to focus on creating a well-rounded experience for the employee. The current idea is to reinvent learning and experience, to have a positive impact on society, beyond work. People look for meaning in their work and organisations will have to provide that. As the industry is shifting towards employee enablement, senior leaders and managers will have to adapt to this way of working and it is HR that has to lead the way.