January 31, 2010

Employee Engagement- A few lessons....

The topic 'employee engagement' always excites me. I have written about it in the past too. But I had some very keen observations about the topic in NHRDN Chennai chapter meeting last week.

The speakers were fantastic; Mr Gurmeet Singh, Marriott, Area Director of Human Resources – India, Maldives & Pakistan and Ms Githanjali Panikkar,Research Director , Corporate Executive Board's (CEB) Human Resources Practice along with her colleague [Really Sorry !!! I can't recall the gentleman's name].

Mr Gurmeet Singh focussed on how the Generation Y is increasingly becoming socially aware, having preference towards leadership and getting inclined towards social connectivity. Recognizing these aspects of the Gen Y which constitutes a major bulk of workforce in any industry is extremely important while implementing engagement activities.

I was already aware of the Marriott's engagement activities as I was an HR intern in Courtyard by Marriott, Chennai. It was a phenomenal experience in all aspects. One of the key observation which I had made during my internship was the direct [and delightful] correlation between guest experience and associate experience. For example: the front office team focuses on check in and similarly, the HR team takes a lot of care in giving the appointment letter to their new joinees. The new joinees are encouraged to take pics of their accommodation and the pics are e-mailed to their parents so that they are aware [and happy] about their kid's accommodation.

Similarly, the kitchen team is passionately involved in preparing great food for their guests and the HR team ensures that there is great food in the associate cafeteria. They serve their internal customers with the same intensity [or maybe more] than the external customers.

Also the fact that some of their HR practices are inspired from other companies and industries speak volumes about the way they embrace learning from other companies too.

A video was played on the fun and frolic culture in Marriott where the Genaral Manager danced with equal enthusiasm as others. The passion and energy was also evident in Mr Gurmeet Singh's presentation.

The team from Corporate Executive Board provided a very interesting perspective on employee engagement. Some of the major learning from the presentation based on a research done by CEB were as follows:

  • The percentage of companies planning to conduct an engagement survey in 2009 were 67% only.
  • The economic slowdown has led to an alarming drop in engagement among critical segments of employees such as leaders and high potential employees.
  • There are two types of commitment namely 'Rational Commitment' and 'Emotional Commitment' , the output of which are 'Discretionary effort'[employee willingness to go "above and beyond the call of duty] and 'Intent to stay'.
  • 6 groups of employee engagement drivers are Senior Leaders, Organization Culture, Direct Managers[a lot of emphasis was given on this point during the presentation] , Corporate Integrity Code, Compensation and benefit plans, Training and development.
  • 10.6.2 theory: With a 10 % increase in employee engagement there is a 6% increase in discretionary effort and 2 % increase in performance.
  • 10.9 theory: With 10 % increase in commitment there is 9 % decrease in him leaving his company.
  • What individual companies do for their employees matter a lot more than demographics in case of employee engagement.
I also strongly recommend everyone to visit their website. Happy reading!!!!

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