Don’t judge employee activities by participation

These days, HR is more business focussed, looking for tangible ROI from any employee activity. The question is whether high employee participation is a parameter to assess its success.

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What do we really want at the end of every employee activity? Well, it depends on what the programme is all about and what we actually desire to achieve through it. Today, the nature of HR has become rather strategic. Every HR activity has a business outcome. We link it to the desired return on investment or ROI. To make an employee initiative successful, the involvement of the people is necessary. They have to be associated and be contributors, because after all, whatever HR does is for the betterment of the employees and the organisation as a whole.

It is commonly seen that if an HR activity receives an overwhelming response from the employees and witnesses willing participation by the staff, the HR takes pride in it.

But this is not true, mere high participation from employees does not make an HR activity successful.

“The number of participants is not the only parameter to justify the success of a programme. We measure such activities on the three bases – acceptance, feedback & live engagement.”

Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Solutions

A chat with some of the HR leaders reveals that high employee participation is not testimony to a successful HR activity. Rather, it depends on the activity and its purpose. There are different parameters to measure the activity and its impact on the organisation and people growth.

Learning and development

As we all know, learning and development is a very vital part of an HR strategy. In many industries, upgrading the workforce is a must. As per the HR leaders, L&D is a very focused function and narrows down to a particular set of people. Therefore, L&D programmes cannot be measured only by looking at the number of participants. It depends on the demographics of the organisation. If the HR organises a learning activity to develop skills in women employees and the company may only have a handful of them, then, in terms of numbers, the participation will definitely be low, but the learning will still take place.

“Some people may use high participation as a parameter for the success of the initiative. But resources are scarce and the organisation needs focused and qualitative participation with qualitative results, leading to ROI for the organisation.”

Ashish Pinto, HR leader

Ashish Pinto, HR leader, shares that some of the training programmes are very specific in nature. Let’s say we organise a training programme for the equity research team, but since the initiative is open for all, many members of the sales team and other diverse functions attend it. However, only a few equity-research professionals participate. In this case, the participation is high, but the main objective is to help the researchers. So, we have not hit the target in terms of efficacy and return on investment of the programme for the organisation.

“Some people may use high participation as a parameter for the success of the initiative. But resources are scarce and the organisation needs focused and qualitative participation with qualitative results, leading to ROI for the organisation,” says Pinto.

Pradipta Sahoo joins Suryoday Small Finance Bank as CPO“The success of an HR intervention lies in its impact. If it has created an impact in a tangible form, then we can call it a success.”

Pradipta Sahoo, HR consultant & advisor to the board on HR, Bank of India

Pradipta Sahoo, HR consultant & advisor to the board on HR, Bank of India, adds, “The success of an HR intervention lies in its impact. If it has created an impact in a tangible form, then we can call it a success.”

So how do we measure the performance of a learning programme?

There are a few stages to measuring the outcomes of the learning programme.

Stage 1 – Identify the expected outcomes

Here, we should know what we want or what the goal of the exercise is. We need to make sure that the training meets the expectations of the stakeholders and the business, and then evaluate against these expectations.

Stage 2 – Reaction of the participants

Taking feedback from the participants helps to know whether actual learning took place or not.

Stage 3 – Evaluating learning

Evaluation is required to gauge whether the participants were able to grasp and whether the learning benefited them in anyway.

Stage 4 – Impact on performance

In this stage, we need to analyse whether the learning enhanced the performance of the participants at their job.

Stage 5 – Evaluating business impact

Here we measure the impact of the training on the business, which we call ROE or return on expectations. Some people also follow the ROI model to see financial returns.

Employee engagement and wellness programmes

Employee engagement and wellness programmes are very open in nature. Anybody who is interested can participate. Under employee engagement and employee wellness, various activities are organised, such as sports activities, quizzes, team lunches, wellness weeks and so on. However, here also, activities are not just measured on the basis of employee participation. Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Solutions, explains, “We measure such activities on the following three bases –

Acceptance: We should make sure that the activity is liked by the people and addresses all the strata of employees.

Feedback: Formal and informal feedback is taken from the participants about the activity, on the basis of which activities are designed or modified the next time.

Live engagement: The HR team also observes the participation level of the employees and the interest level during the activity.

“The number of participants is not the only parameter to justify the success of a programme,” asserts Menon.

He also shares one example from his own firm, where they organise a wellness week. The first edition had very low participation but the feedback was amazing. After three months, when the team organised the same activity with no modification, the participation gradually increased.

Clearly, employee participation alone cannot determine the success of an HR activity. But is there any HR activity whose success majorly depends on high employee participation?

Code of conduct and compliance training: Every year, companies organise compliance and code-of- conduct training to teach the core values of the company and ethical culture.

Every organisation measures this activity’s success based on the level of participation. This is an activity where one would love to see 100 per cent participation.

We can conclude that quality matters more than quantity. Employee participation is just one indicator to measure the impact of HR activities in major cases, but it is not the only parameter. Employee feedbacks, quality outcomes and fulfilment of objectives make the picture more clear and fair.

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