How to tackle workplace consumerism

Employees are consumers too, and careful investment in them helps retain them and create a better employee base

0
6669

Employees are consumers who are their own brand and with technology bringing information at their fingertips, what has emerged is an empowered workforce that is more savvy and well informed. This has been the case since at least the early 2000s with the advent of the internet. Now more than ever, companies need to step up to be more transparent, agile and capable of providing their employees more choices.

As James Earl Carter Jr., the 39th president of the US said, “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns.” For any company, its employees are at the heart of everything it does, whether it is the senior management or the junior employees. Keeping them engaged and happy will ultimately lead to a better customer experience. As for employees, with the markets opening up and more ways to diversify their skills, they are defined by what they do and not only the organisations they work for.

“There is a need for organisations to be far more in the listening mode, far more responsive and to be far more agile, in terms of adjusting to their employees’ requirements.”

Rahul Sinha, CHRO, Pidilite

Customisation

Offering support and shifting the focus to the employees, who are champions of the company brand will promote a better employee-client interaction and thereby boost the brand value. “Today it is all about customising the offering as much as possible, while keeping the principles of fairness and transparency intact. This is especially true for support policies where the need varies on the basis of the life stage the employee is at,” opines Divya Mohan, head – HR, supply, transformation and sales, India, OYO.

Employees know what they want, and the relatively younger workforce, to some extent, are quite vocal about what they expect from their place of work. As much as cohesion and interaction between the HR and marketing team will foster a better employee experience, it is imperative for a company to constantly review performance and adapt accordingly. “There is a need for organisations to be far more in the listening mode, far more responsive and to be far more agile, in terms of adjusting to their employees’ requirements,” say Rahul Sinha CHRO, Pidilite Industries.

Agility, adaptability, inclusivity

An agile working system has been on the rise, and this is enabled by tech and anchored in the employees’ sense of self-worth and security. Human resources needs to adapt accordingly, notes Sinha and many companies, such as Pidilite invite employees to give recommendations towards their policy making. This includes a host of policies ranging from maternity/paternity leave, medical benefits, travel policies, to name a few. “HR has to work equally hard in terms of getting the expectations of the people right, which means (they) need to spend a lot of time in terms of backlogging and explain why some things are okay and why a lot things may not make business sense,” continues Sinha.

As employees have the tendency to be a brand in themselves, technology has also a big role to play. Inclusivity is also at the heart of such organisations, which have an empowered workforce. “Often, we think technology is a solution. It’s not a solution; it is an enabler,” notes Gautam Srivastava, head – talent management, performance & engagement, HDFC ERGO General Insurance. He emphasises on the fact that employing ‘design thinking’ is crucial for employees and customers alike. “A lot of companies are at different levels, in terms of digitization, while at the same time we need to see whether we are really looking at leveraging design thinking,” he points out.

“Often, we think technology is a solution. It’s not a solution; it is an enabler.”

Gautam Srivastava,head – talent management, performance & engagement, HDFC ERGO General Insurance  

Most of the time, the company makes an error in identifying the ‘problem statement’ and their solution does not do much for the problem at hand. Srivastava uses the example of employee productivity to elaborate his point. A tool tracks employee productivity and shows their productivity by monitoring all systems and understanding them. This is not the problem statement, its identifying what the company can do to increase the productivity of an employee. Identifying the problem makes it easier to find a solution and address the immediate problem of productivity. This will also make it easier to design and employ the relevant tool needed to address (in this case) employee productivity through HR-management tools.

As employees are also the consumers, digitisation enables them to be aware of what’s happening around the world. Therefore, they will naturally want to be part of an organisation that satisfies them and makes them feel productive. The conversations between colleagues have also changed from small talk and superficial subjects to topics, such as salaries and bringing in competition to the table to keep up with the changing times.

Transparency

“Today it is all about customising the offering as much as possible, while keeping the principles of fairness and transparency intact.”

Divya Mohan, head – HR, supply, transformation and sales, India, OYO

It is imperative that companies become more transparent. Just like the new crop of recruits who have their own voice and are not shy of using it, companies need to develop and employ their own voice. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work in current times. Businesses need to be more agile. “The role is now to understand the expectations and closely match them to the EVP so that the talent, both existing and prospective sign up for it,” suggests Mohan. As a result, companies also need to start adopting a flexible compensation structure, keeping in mind that their employees are consumers as well who lend their talent in exchange for competitive compensation packages, more than often measured in terms of work satisfaction.