The initiative enhances employee connect by extending the idea to their families.
The concept of employee engagement has come a long way in recent years, such that organisations now consciously design their engagement initiatives keeping in mind the human subjectivities and behaviours that shape their expectations from the workplace.
Pharmaceutical company Wockhardt designed an initiative to enhance employee connect through engaging with them beyond the boundaries of work and beyond the employees themselves – extending the idea to their families.
Wockhardt calls this programme ‘Engagement Beyond Work’. Each year, it brings together hundreds of family members to indulge in a plethora of activities such as arts, craft, box-cricket, cake-making, Zumba, career counselling and so on. The initiative takes place across 14-15 locations in India. What makes it so unique is the fact that the programme is strategically organised during the summer break of school children, for four consecutive weekends so that most employees and their families can participate.
The programme invites children and spouses of the staff and engages them in various activities. Children of different age groups are sorted and grouped for appropriate activities in art and craft, games and so on. Children also receive career counselling depending on their age group. In addition, there are separate sessions for housewives on diet and nutrition, childcare, parenting tips and so on.
Prem Singh, president, global human resources, Wockhardt, says, “Engagement as a concept is not limited to work place alone. It’s not limited to employees alone. It goes beyond the boundaries of work. It touches the hearts and souls of people. This is what we have learnt over the past three years.”
Singh tells HRKatha that the initiative was conceived in 2015 when he was in a meeting with the senior leadership at their Aurangabad office and the agenda for discussion was to find unique ways to maximise employee connect.
Each year, Wockhardt brings together hundreds of family members to indulge in a plethora of activities such as arts, craft, box-cricket, cake-making, Zumba, career counselling and so on. The initiative takes place across 14-15 locations in India. What makes it so unique is the fact that the programme is strategically organised during the summer break of school children, for four consecutive weekends so that most employees and their families can participate.
It was then that Singh suggested the idea of organising an on-going engagement activity involving the families of the staff, and interestingly the senior management also entrusted it to him. That kick-started the programme, with the first one being organised in Aurangabad for a week. The word spread quickly and by the next week, the others also wanted it. It was replicated across locations by the third and fourth week.
The excitement has been growing across levels and locations, so much so that the company now plans to roll-out the same even during the winter vacations. Sharing the delightful experience from this year’s programme, Singh says, “All our plants and offices could be seen buzzing with excitement and fun, on every weekend, during summer vacations. Participation has been growing and the number has been increasing, year on year! What a display of energy and enthusiasm – it’s a treat to see so many children and families coming together, with ONE purpose – Act it out, have fun!”
The participation has also grown significantly as the initiative saw about 900 children across locations this year as compared to last year’s 750-800. Singh says, “Each year, after the programme, we observe increased engagement as the level of motivation also rises. We feel a sense of loyalty along with a significantly higher level of positive energy when the staff excitedly talks about the experiences through the programme, for days together, even after it has concluded.”
He also shares that there have been instances when he has been told by employees that they plan their vacations in accordance with the ‘Engagement Beyond Work’ programme so that they don’t miss anything.
While this initiative seems to target families of those who are married and have children, Wockhardt has also tried to engage the population which is not yet married and constitutes 20-25 percent of the company’s workforce. Engagement Beyond Work offers concurrent Zumba sessions for young parents and unmarried employees.
Another unique and touching feature of the programme is that it felicitates employees’ children who score more than 75 percent in their board examinations. By doing so, the company truly shows that it cares for its employees, their hard work, their hardships, happiness and success.
Singh shares how a workman from the Aurangabad plant was deeply touched when the company felicitated his son who passed the board exam with flying colours and got admission into an engineering course. “We even put up his picture along with his success story on our notice board. This workman came to meet me when I was in Aurangabad and told me how big an honour it was for him to have his son’s success acknowledged at that level. He said he was deeply touched and took pride in being a part of the company,” Singh recalls.
Although the activities undertaken during the programme may be common the thought and intent behind the initiative make it unique. Singh says, “It has a positive impact and people really look forward to it each year now.”
Wockhardt also has other fun and engaging initiatives such as ‘dandiya’ or ‘garba’ during the Navratras.
This year’s ‘Engagement Beyond Work’ started in the last week of April and has almost concluded, with only the felicitations remaining as a few of the state board results are still awaited.