Employee Engagement Is A Challenge

Gone are the days when one was married to the company. In the good old days, people joined an organization at say 20-22 years and continued up to retirement. The thought of shifting 6-8 jobs in a career span of 30 years was surely unheard off. Cut to today, and the thought of staying with one company for more than 4-5 years starts to be disturbing.

So what’s this trend about constantly moving jobs? Why do people do it? We all know that change is difficult, yet every few years we put ourselves in this situation. Why so?

Well, my personal belief is that people want their ‘Perceived Marked Value’ to constantly increase. And the moment you feel that for some reason of the other you are stuck or getting stagnant, the doubt starts, the constant inner nagging and there you go looking out for your next job.

So what is this Perceived Market Value? It is your skill sets, intelligence, experience that you gather  and the value-add you bring to the table. As conscious and ambitious employees we all have an instinct or a gut that prompts and reasons with us. It’s this instinct that congratulates us, nags us and tells us when it’s time to move on.

The more new skills you develop, the more value add you create for yourself and your company, the more you are growing and doing new things your happy and self-assured. You know that your competencies are increasing, you are learning and in effect, your Perceived Marked Value is going up.

But the moment you feel that you are suffocating or that in the past 1 year you have not really done anything worthwhile or new or added no value to yourself, you will start to look elsewhere.

Herein lies a problem. What can companies do in such instances? Not every role, all the time can keep teaching you new skills, and developing you. Not every project can send you on site or pay you huge bonuses. Does this mean that companies are in constant threat of loosing their best assets at the smallest sign of stagnation?

Well like they say, prevention is always better than cure. As HR leaders, we need to analyses, diagnose and provide solutions proactively and not wait for attrition to happen and then retain the top performer. Employee Engagement is a challenge. The best way that I propose is through ‘Career Dialogues’ an open and frank HR discussion with the candidate.

As HR, we need to find out

Real reason the candidate wants to join us

What are his/her motivators – is it money, on site opportunity, clients he/she will work with

Technology the person will be exposed to

Kind of projects he/she wants to be involved in

Skill sets he/ she is looking to build

Time frame he/she plans of staying with us

Compensation he/she is looking for

Network he/she is looking to build

Once we have this information, HR then needs to get back to the candidate with details of

How long the project being offered will run

Will it involve on-site opportunities?

Skills which he/she will develop

Clients he/she will get to work with

Rewards of a job well done

This discussion is very critical as it will set the right expectations for both the candidate and the company. E.g. HR shares with Mr. X that as part of a project he will need to travel onsite up to 60% of the time, it will last for close to 2.5 years and he will be working with the best in the telecom industry. On his part Mr. X will share with the HR team his aspirations, goals and expectations saying that he is looking at developing skills in areas of XYZ, build up on his network, work on new technology and is looking forward to the project and working with us for the next 2.5-3 years. This way we are both clear of our expectations from each other.

At the end of the project, if Mr. X decides to move on it will not come as a rude shock to the company as expectations were clearly set at the beginning. In case we do have a new project coming up in the next few months, where Mr. X would be a good fit, we could it to him.

In either situation, both parties are happy. Mr. X since his expectations were met, he developed new skills, expanded his network and worked on world class technology. The company has also benefited from the expertise of Mrs. X.

A strong bond of trust and healthy respect is built between both parties, which will pave the way for future interactions


brinelle (1)

The author is an alumna of Goa Institute of Management and currently working with Citi Bank as an HR Generalist. She has also worked with The Times Group.