Indian corporates employ some of the world’s largest workforce and at the same time, Indian enterprises are among the world’s least empathetic. What repercussions does this have on the employees.
Avik Chanda, advisor and author of the book ‘From Command To Empathy’, which focuses on the pressing need for EQ in the global workplace, talks about millennials int he workplace and how to manage them.
Do you think employee engagement should be one of the top priorities for any company
Absolutely yes. Normative considerations apart, research shows that there’s a direct correlation between a high level of empathy towards employees and correspondingly high performance. The whole rubric of employer-employee relations is undergoing a transformation – and the approach of treating employees as mere units in an assembly line is fast becoming outdated. In today’s context, the extent of a company’s employee engagement does play a role in a professional’s decision to join it.
How does the engagement plan change with millennials joining workforce?
Millennials want mentors, not bosses. They require managers not to be didactic – but to inspire by leading from the front and they expect engagement on an individual basis. Millennials already constitute around 50 percent of the Indian workforce. With this figure expected to rise significantly over the coming decade, the very tenor of employee engagement needs to change – in order to be more effective – from being transactional and process-driven to being more relationship-based, emphasizing on attention at an individual level. From an employer’s perspective, the automatic expectation of “employee loyalty” needs to be replaced with the question: “what can we do to nurture and motivate employees on a sustained basis?”
Do millennials prefer experiential rewards; rather than materialistic rewards?
The jury’s still out on this one. However, studies conducted on working millennials across geographies and sectors indicate that experiential rewards, such as continuous learning opportunities matter as much as pay-hikes and promotions. They also show that millennials tend to exhibit greater attachment to companies that reflect their own views vis-a-vis ecological responsibility and creating a positive impact on the community.
70% millennials switch jobs within 2 years. What can be done to retain them?
One thing that millennials really appreciate is inclusiveness, and the sense that their presence, ideas and contributions really matter in the company’s overall scheme of things. Accordingly, crowd-sourcing of ideas to address a particular business problem – can also go a long way in making employees feel excited to be part of that organization.
But we should also appreciate that this statistic (70% of millennials switching jobs within 2 years) is also a reflection of the underlying changed ecosystem in the workplace. There are far more options and opportunities today, than there were two or three decades ago. Millennials exhibit a far greater degree of risk-appetite and willingness to experiment with their careers, compared to earlier generations. Consequently, ‘job switches’ can often be what in an earlier scenario would constitute a ‘break’ in a traditional career trajectory. And this particular trend is likely to continue, employee retention measures notwithstanding.
Do employers need to bring out EQ to understand employees value proposition?
EQ is an essential tool for employers to understand their employees better. How, otherwise, would the management identify the core strengths of individuals, map them to company’s vision and arrive at decisions such as whom to retain or promote? A key aspect of demonstrating high EQ is to be an empathetic listener – an attribute that top management in Indian companies have fared rather poorly in, partly due to cultural reasons. Employers therefore need to step out of their comfort zone very consciously, create an ambience of trust and transparency, and enable professionals to open up. The important thing for employers is to make high EQ a part of their psyche, their way of life – not occasional excursions as part of an employee-retention drive.
Millennials are more passionate about their career than money. How can employers provide growth prospects for them to stay and grow the business?
Retention and growth go hand in hand. Therefore, measures taken to increase employee retention are also relevant here. Millennials are born learners – and fast at that. So in the hunt for the best talent, companies that provide a wider and more exciting spectrum of learning opportunities will have a greater fan-following amongst millennials. Business growth also needs to be aligned with personal growth – so a clear roadmap, with opportunities for exploring a variety of roles within the organization, with associated promotion milestones would help in keeping high-performing millennials invested in the company on a long term basis.