Enable your people managers to curate a more human-centric employee experience

Today, organizations have to constantly re-calibrate their business strategy to stay relevant. On the other hand, employees have now got more power to negotiate and dictate the terms and conditions of their employment. People Managers are the sandwiched lot caught between those who decide on the strategy and those who execute. They have to grapple with an increasing pressure of executing an ever changing business strategy and manage a new set of people challenges thrown at them by the new world of work.

 

The past two years have had a permanent impact on people’s views about work, workers and working. The post pandemic world has thrown us into an environment that is marred with uncertainty and challenges – from the need to turbocharge efforts around technology adoption to the rising geo-political uncertainties. As a result, organizations are required to constantly re-calibrate their business strategy to stay relevant. Bold transformation efforts are needed, and no doubt, 97%1 of organizations are planning enterprise-wide transformation this year.

 

On the other hand a fundamental shift is happening in the employee to organization relationship. The work contract is seeing a transition with employees demanding a more personalized, technology driven, consumer grade experience at work where they feel more empowered, digitally equipped and self-sufficient1. They would want to deliver the work and manage relationships somewhere between the virtual and physical spaces. These expectations are resulting in a blurring of boundaries between work and personal, professional and social personas and addressing the next leap in the employee value proposition, which is moving from the Thrive contract focusing on wellbeing needs to the Lifestyle contract focusing on fulfillment needs (See Fig Below)

human-centric-employee-experience

 

The role of people managers and leaders in creating a consumer grade experience that is more human, relatable and ensures that employees remain connected to the organisation’s purpose has become more critical than ever. 

So how do we equip our managers to be torchbearers of the new employee experience paradigm?

Managers are the critical ‘bridges’ between the leadership and the employees. However, more often than not, they are also referred to as the ‘sandwiched’ level who have to equally manage the growing expectations of the leadership and the needs of the individuals performing the work of the firm.

 

Mercer’s experience surveys2 across India reveal that 85% of employees (including managers and non-managers) are engaged3. However, despite having equally high levels of Engagement, managers are having less favorable experiences at work than Non-Managers in specific areas. While currently, India employees are more positive compared to the regional and global benchmarks when it comes to manager behaviors, these results will not be sustainable if Managers’ work experiences are not addressed and improved.

 

Here are the top three areas where Managers’ experience in India is not just lagging as compared to Non–Managers but also with respect to their global counterparts:

Career development

Providing a well-defined and meaningful career path is emerging as a critical imperative to improving Manager’s employee experience. Only 66% of managers in India feel that their organisation is giving them opportunities to advance their careers as compared to 72% of Non-Managers.

 

Globally, 89% of employees (Managers and Non-Managers) say that moving to another business unit or geography in their organization is not difficult but surprisingly, only 27% are keen to work in areas outside their functional/technical background and only 37% believe their skills would make them suitable for a role in a different part of the organization1.

 

This highlights that merely allowing employees to move across locations and business units is not the panacea to building better career journeys for Managers and Non-Managers alike. Rather, organizations will have to look at re-skilling as one of the key imperatives for developing employee’s careers. In fact, investing in workforce/reskilling and designing talent processes around skills (hiring, learning, succession, etc.) are the top two priorities for HR in 2022 in India1. Moreover, executives globally say it is the #1 workforce initiative that would deliver measurable ROI in this year.

 

Here are few things that organizations can do to ensure a robust re-skilling program:

 

  1. Adopt a skills development platform; to help Managers identify their skill gaps, setting learning goals for their current role or a new one they’re preparing to take on.
  2. Reward Skill Acquisition; Compensate Managers for new certifications/ skills acquired that are relevant to the organisation.
  3. Facilitate Experiential Learning: Use Job rotations, short-term projects, internal gigs etc. to allow employees to test for interest and fit for alternative roles in the organisation.
  4. Offer external opportunities: Facilitate assignments with partners, suppliers, customers, JVs, etc.

Confidence towards future

Having confidence in the future of the company is one of the top five drivers of employee engagement in India with managers being the key link in infusing this confidence into their teams. However, across India 79% of Managers showcase having the confidence for the future against 82% Non-Managers. This trend is the reverse of global trends where managers are more confident about the future. Manager confidence for the future is key to building a high commitment, employee centric work environment and low confidence can have a negative cascading effect on employees.

 

Mercer’s research4 shows that organizations who have focused on the foundational elements below, especially in the pandemic, have been able to inspire the manager’s confidence towards the future of their company:

 

  1. Clear communication: managers were more likely to feel confident when they understood their company’s goals and felt their organization communicated them effectively.
  2. Sense of collaboration: when managers experienced a high degree of cross functional teamwork, they were more likely to feel positive about their organisation’s future.
  3. Organizational agility: managers who felt they were working in nimble organizations that encouraged innovation and responded quickly to customer needs were more likely to be optimistic about the future.
  4. Effective leadership: when managers trusted their senior leaders were making sound decisions, they were more likely to feel a sense of organizational efficacy.

Co-operation & collaboration

As the pandemic limited our ability to connect in traditional ways, partnering inside and outside the company has taken a greater significance. Three quarters (78%) of executive’s globallyare concerned about the ability of remote employees to build solid interpersonal relationships with colleagues/leadership, thereby affecting overall co-operation and collaboration at work. To truly improve cooperation and foster teamwork leaders must ensure the below:

 

  1. Effective communication of the organization’s vision, mission and goals.
  2. Offer collaboration training to managers (only one in four companies currently offers training on how to lead in a virtual or blended environment)
  3. Invest in enhanced collaboration technology to enable better innovation and exchange of ideas.
  4. Create opportunities that allow informal connections. Getting together outside of work and building strong relationships has a huge positive impact on team dynamics. 

 

The new world of work places a significant focus on the intangible assets – The People. Employees are seeking a sense of joy and freedom to reshape their lives and Managers are key to curate an aligned employee experience. Traditionally, much of the focus on improving culture or the employee experience has focused on how to support individual contributors at the team level. But it is important that as organizations, we craft right experiences for both employees and managers. Engagement trends in India showcase that organizations have been focusing upon on infusing manager’s confidence towards future, improving relationship & support they get from their senior leadership and ensuring their wellbeing, however these efforts need to be continued. Providing motivating experiences for Managers would help organisation’s drive their strategy, assist managers in creating superior employee experience for their teams, leading to a more sustainable and engaged workforce.

1 Mercer Global Talent Trends Study 2022

2 Mercer’s 2022 five-year normative data, an aggregate of company responses from multiple surveys over the past five years (2017–2021).

3 Mercer defines Engaged Employee as one who is Committed, Contributing & Captivated.

Author

Ashish Grover
Ashish Grover
Sr. Associate – Careers Consulting
Mercer Consulting (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Aakansha Gupta
Aakansha Gupta
Sr. Associate – Careers Consulting
Mercer Consulting (India) Pvt. Ltd.

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