Crafting Workforce Experience (Wx) by Communicating Impact
Older management theories seem to propose that work is a transaction. People turn up at work, we pay them and the transaction gets completed. However, research indicates that people crave for their work to have meaning and positive impact.
Irrespective of whether one is a janitor or a CEO, the magnitude of one’s contributions to the organization and to the community at large makes a difference. A study conducted by BetterUp Labs in 2017 found that 90% of professionals surveyed would gladly take a 23% hit in their future earnings, if only they could find work that is more meaningful. (That’s a whopping $21,000 per person.)
People feel a sense of being respected and valued if they know the larger perspective around the work that they are doing.
Some of the aspects that they value are:
a. Being heard: Everyone wants to be listened to and their ideas given a patient hearing. Open slots with leaders and providing people with ‘office hours’ is an emerging trend to help everyone express themselves and get some facetime with leaders.
b. Being aware of the importance of their work output: Whether it is an intern who has worked on an urgent client report for 24 straight hours, or a person repairing rail tracks at night, being aware of the importance of one’s work output instils a renewed sense of pride in one’s work and improves motivation.
c. Being provided with the right information and goals: Understanding beyond immediate tasks and being told the larger goals that one is contributing to unlocks higher productivity.
d. Being invited to communicate openly: Psychological safety in communication and being able to candidly express positive and constructive feedback builds trust. People are more likely to listen to differing perspectives once trust has been established, and the true impact of what they are delivering at work can be communicated.
Leaders can make sure that people are aware of the impact that they create and take pride in it by:
1. Engaging and inviting feedback about goals, ways of working, and support needed: Cargill Foods has implemented ‘everyday performance management’, where daily on-the-job conversations between managers and subordinates are encouraged
2. Enabling people to have a voice, irrespective of hierarchical positions: Semco’s model where workers could set their own production quotas and profit sharing down to factory floor level, instead of reducing production has led to people voluntarily working overtime to accomplish targets
3. Helping people understand the value they create: During the current pandemic, employee engagement has actually risen, because more business leaders are talking about the value creation by employees. People at the frontlines, who keep the supply chains running and various facilities operational, as janitors, warehouse staff or medical personnel are being
appreciated for their contributions to minimizing disruptions.
4. Having meaningful and respectful interactions with people: Accenture’s focus on respecting personal time and engaging with employees’ ‘whole self’ at work is reaping dividends. People are encouraged to stay off email after work hours or during vacations. At work, efforts are made to involve employees in conversations that include some aspects of
their non-work lives at well.
The story of the three bricklayers, where one of them mentioned he was laying bricks to feed his family, the second one said he was building a wall, and the third one claimed he was building a cathedral clarifies how knowing the impact one’s work will create makes it more meaningful. As a leader, if you truly want to take your organization a step ahead, learn from the wisdom of Simon Sinek and ‘Start with Why’.
Founder of eleventHR Consulting.
Sumit has been working in HR & HR consulting roles for 16+ years across sectors and verticals and specializes in organization design, wellbeing, storytelling & design thinking, and performance management. In his career with consulting firms such as Aon, Deloitte, and Accenture, he has successfully led programs aimed at total HR transformation for clients.
Recently, as Associate Director for India Consulting at Deloitte, he worked with clients on cultural transformation and HR process and policy design. He also organized and spoke at conferences and events about a variety of topics relevant to HR today.
Now self-employed, he works with clients across the globe on a variety of HR solution areas.