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Engaging Minds and Hearts- The unfulfilled ‘transparent organization’ dream

This blog post has been written by Amer Haleem, Country Manager, Productized Services, Hay Group India

The global business environment is evolving at an extremely rapid pace. Yes, you knew that already. So, you’d probably also be aware of the megatrends that are causing this change and ways for businesses to deal with them. Hmm. Now, I can picture a few blank expressions.

We all know that the world is changing. But, what requires focus are the six powerful megatrends that are transforming the global business environment- especially if we want to keep up with this change and use it to optimize our growth. Here, I hope to provide you with a little insight on that.

The big challenge

First up, the biggest overall challenge. Achieving and maintaining engagement. Over the years, Hay Group’s in-depth analysis has already established that business success does depend on an engaged and enabled workforce. The organizations, which focus on this factor, achieve 4.5 times the revenue growth of those organizations that pay no attention to engagement and enablement. Now, there is little doubt that every organization would want to aim for that sort of growth. This is why we now see CEOs prioritizing engagement. However, in the present scenario, achieving and maintaining engagement is a very big challenge.

The megatrends- what makes them important

Now, to meet this challenge to keep your workforce engaged, you have to be mindful of the megatrends that I spoke of earlier. I am stressing on the significance of these megatrends, as they are fundamentally changing how people work, and what they want from their employer.

To get to the facts straight, our new research identifies five key challenges that companies face to sustain performance now and in the future. Companies are failing to put the right people strategies in place to meet critical business challenges and our data from over five million employees globally, suggests that these are the five key challenges that businesses will be facing over the next fifteen years:-

  • Collaboration
  • Agility
  • Transparency
  • Innovation
  • Productivity

Oh, another big revelation- overcoming all of these challenges will depend on an engaged and enabled workforce.

As the engagement game changes, what can you do to keep up? With these emerging megatrends, companies need to re strategize, to ensure that valuable talent does not walk away.  Here, I will focus solely on the “transparency” megatrend and help you stride through this one with ease.

The transparency challenge

Presently, digital technology has fostered a climate of transparency. Not only can businesses be held to account more easily, social media has made it easier for people to promote their skills and find new jobs.  Organizations therefore need to be open and honest about how they reward, manage and develop their people. However, our research shows a dangerous lack of clarity around reward and development. Less than half of employees (45%) feel that there is a clear and transparent connection between their performance and their pay, and 43% feel that better performance won’t lead to opportunities to progress.

Clearly, every employees’ dream of ‘the transparent organization’ is a stark contrast to reality. So, here are some things that you can do to keep up with your workforce’s expectation:-

  • Assign responsibility for transparency
  • Work with reward colleagues to compare your pay scales
  • Develop a clear reward proposition
  • Create career paths that allow people to reach their potential
  • Review your performance management framework
  • Use your employee survey
  • Monitor external forums in addition to internal sources like the employee survey
  • Establish and monitor real-time, internal feedback channels
  • Assess your leaders’ internal communications

It’s no easy task to put all of these measures in place. But, since this is one of the key challenges of the future- the right time to start is now!

To know more about these key megatrends and ways to deal with them, download our new e-report- Engaging Hearts and Minds. 

Get our e-Report Now >>


Engagement alone is passé. Think ‘Engagement + Enablement’

You want to develop an effective workforce. But at the same time, you believe that engagement is enough to keep your employees involved. Time to introspect, we say.


Every company wants to create an engaged workforce. But how many of them are consciously working to both engage and enable their employees?

In every organization, there are a few select people, who are completely committed to their work and their organization. These are those members of the workforce, who go the extra mile, above and beyond their roles. Not only do they produce work of superior quality, but they also demonstrate the potential to be the leaders of tomorrow. The key word here is ‘potential’. It is therefore, no surprise that organizations too want to leave no stone unturned, in their effort to retain this valuable talent. So what do most companies do to hold on to their high performers? Let’s see. I am sure you can think of the usual employee engagement methods. Surveys, training programs- you know. The works. After all, we all know that our workforce is our greatest asset, right? Wrong.

Organizations may think that they are doing enough by engaging their precious resources. But, here’s a fact. Engagement is not enough. Your efforts to engage your workforce are not enough. This will not keep them from walking out the door.

The ‘frustrated’ employee

Now that we’ve stated some blunt facts, here is an elaboration.  Yes, ‘engaged’ employees are ‘motivated’ employees. But in the wrong environment, these valuable assets can end up as ‘engaged and frustrated’ employees.

Since, these employees are motivated, they do put in the extra effort to ensure they do a good job to match your expectations.  But, here’s what we want you to pay attention to. What if you have a highly motivated employee in a mismatched, unsupportive environment? In this unfavorable situation, it’s only a matter of time, before the negative and harmful feeling of frustration sweeps in.

What do frustrated employees do? Break through, break down or break free?

In The Enemy of Engagement, Mark Royal and Tom Agnew identify three things that could happen with highly engaged, but frustrated employees. Number one- these individuals could break through the barriers in their path and reach their goals, through sheer perseverance. Number two- these high potential employees could break down in the face of the obstacles and simply reduce the amount of effort they put in. Or number three and the most likely of all, they could just break free and move on to greener pastures.

So, what’s the solution?

Here’s what we suggest. Identify the ‘missing link’ and do something about it. Engagement is not enough; employees need to be enabled too. To frame it in one phrase, think ‘engagement + enablement’.

Our extensive research displays that organizations are not focusing enough on ‘employee enablement’, which essentially involves creating an environment conducive for getting things done. Enablement could take on various forms, such as supporting employees in reaching their goals, removing needless barriers to productivity and ensuring that the right people are doing the right jobs.

The best recipe for success in the workplace is a combination of engagement and enablement. Engagement can help create feelings of motivation and commitment to the organization, and enablement will help sustain this.

Take the case of an online money lending firm, which was undergoing a massive strategy and brand change, during the time it decided to have an employee effectiveness survey done. The survey ensured that all the employees’ concerns about the changes were sufficiently addressed, by linking the effectiveness parameters to the key performance indicators of the business. The result? The survey confirmed that 49% of the employees expressed a desire to work for the company for more than 2 years, as opposed to only 27% of them just six months ago.

So, here’s what every organization can do to retain its talent. Study various parameters, such as performance management, employee empowerment, the availability of resources and training opportunities, the degree of collaboration present, and structure and process of the work. Only through an elaborate process like this one, will you be able to identify the barriers to employee effectiveness. And as we all already know, step one of solving any problem, is to acknowledge that you have an issue at hand, which needs to be fixed. Our first piece of advice- take the crucial first step.

Read more about keeping your workforce switched on in our Employee Engagement e-report,

What’s better than employee engagement?

While many organizations proclaim that people are their most important asset, a good many fail to act as though they really believe it. But that doesn’t make it any less true that talented and engaged employees can provide the most sustainable source of differentiation; a competitive advantage that competitors simply cannot replicate. Tapping into the energy of engaged employees has become all the more important in a climate where organizations are straining to do more with less.

But, here lies the catch. Many companies enjoy high levels of engagement, yet still struggle in terms of performance. High employee engagement alone does not guarantee an organization’s effectiveness. From a motivational perspective, leaders have these employees right where they want them – but when it comes to allowing them to be as productive as they can be, they are missing out. The truth is, engaged employees need to have the confidence that the organization is doing all it can to promote their success, rather than having to worry about obstacles in the form of non-essential tasks or procedural red tape.

What employees need is enablement– systems that support them in achieving their goals. An ‘enabled’ work environment essentially points to two do’s. The first, ‘optimized roles’, is to ensure employees are aligned to their job roles such that their skills and abilities are being put to good use. The second relates to a ‘supportive environment’, where work arrangements are structured in a way to facilitate, rather than hinder, individual productivity. For true enablement, employees must have all essential resources at hand that are required to get a job done – information, technology, tools and equipment, and financial resources.

How can your organization listen for signs of a gap in employee effectiveness? Here’s my take on it:

  1. Managers must combine engagement (the use of motivational tools), with enablement (the act of providing employees with effective resources)
  2. Managers must listen carefully to their teams for common frustration themes, and address them by prioritizing goals, advocating for resources and minimizing workflow disruptions
  3. Employees are likely to feel better about staying late or coming in early if they are working on tasks with a clear purpose and are given the authority necessary to make decisions
  4. Instead of waiting for the annual review to discuss performance, managers should create a culture of dialogue about goals, priorities and challenges throughout the year
  5. Organizations must provide adequate training, support, and discretion to grow—and not hold employees back with excessive procedures, decision processes, lack of resources and overly narrow roles
  6. Interdepartmental communication must be strengthened
  7. Managers need to identify where individual goals are competing with shared goals and must work to eliminate, or at least minimize these obstacles

Effectiveness, when implied as a result of both ‘engagement’ and ‘enablement’, has proven to impact the bottom line.  Our research with hundreds of companies shows that organizations in the top quartile on engagement, exhibit revenue growth 2.5 times more than those in the bottom quartile; but those in the top quartile on both engagement and enablement achieve revenue growth 4.5 times greater!

Employee Performance Employee


Customer Satisfaction Financial Success
Increase in employees’ above performance expectations Reduction in turnover rates Customer satisfaction rates Revenue growth
High Employee Engagement 10% 40% 71% x 2.5
High Engagement + Enablement 50% 54% 89% x 4.5

Companies with high engagement levels also demonstrate 40 per cent lower turnover rates than those with low engagement; but those that both engage and enable employees display a 54 per cent reduction in voluntary turnover rates.

Clearly, this shows just how central employee engagement can be to an organization’s success – but only when combined with appropriate levels of employee enablement.