Category Archives: Workforce

Employee Recognition Is A Must

Rahul Krishna, Manager – Talent Acquisition Group, Espire Infolabs, speaks about one of the best practices of the industry – Rewards & Recognitions.

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Some of the best Rewards & Recognition strategies are those that cost the least. The behavior that is recognized and rewarded is always the behavior that is repeated and widely spread by word of mouth, Simple Virtue.

This is a part of the global Recognitions & Rewards that energizes and engages employees to achieve your strategic goals. Employee recognition is a communication tool that highlights the most important outcome employees create for your business. When you reward your employees, the action and behavior you wish to see more frequently in your employees is inevitably repeated.

Reward programs prove more beneficial to the company than to the employees. Companies which have an effective program in place realize an increase in the average return to shareholders as opposed to companies which do not have ways to recognize employees. Only one in three Indian employees is working at full potential.

Dos & Don’ts: Designing a process in which managers get to select employees who will receive recognition might not be the best thing since the selection would inevitably happen on the basis of favoritism. A Process that single outs an individual, upon the individual contribution you made in the company’s growth, for instance, “Employee of the Month” or “Individual Contribution Award” will be more effective and motivating for employees.

For such recognition programs, each employee would receive a thank you note, hand-written by his Chief Reporting officer. This should spell out why the employee is receiving the honor/recognition.

The note would include the potential for the employee to participate in a “DRAW”. Gifts may range from a movie ticket to a dinner booking with family. Alternatively, it can be cash rewards.

National Employee Appreciation Day: This will be a perfect period to kick off a long-term employee recognition program. These appreciation days are important things when you recognize your employees in a Town Hall Meeting, and explain why the organization has chosen him/her.

As you can see, employee recognition programs are complex, and we need to architect those parameters to filter people. How is one person different from another person? Each program is custom-built to meet the needs of your organization.

In short, you need improve your bottom line as these resources are doing the real hard work and we have to measure our own employees by boosting employee retention and encouraging performance improvement.

For employees who wish to analyze their potential, you need to do the below following:

–  Utilize all your strengths
–  Manage your weakness

Please write these above on a paper and work to improve your own skills and the organization will recognize you as a potential candidate for the Student of the year Award! 🙂 Just joking Employee of the month goes to you, my friend.

Nowhere To Go

Becoming-Indian-

Ankit Chandra, who lives in the USA, tells through this poem how alienated he feels living so far from his country and though he might have all material comforts needed, how much he misses the daily activity which was a part of routine while he was in India. A touching poem, must read. 

I don’t think I know my India any more
And that hurts

there are things which came into being after I left,
and now it takes a while for me to make sense of things…
And that hurts

It’s like something you owned, and it owned you.
something you identified yourself with.
now it seems to be moving on, leaving you behind.
And that hurts

with time, they say, things are forgotten.
But I am not a thing!
When with every morning light, I open ‘The Hindu’ and call home
Home is still somewhere in India, but I seem to be losing my place
And that hurts.

Over the past years, as I came far away,
got stuck in the puzzles of life, struggle everyday,
In the struggle to grow with time, both of us seem to be too busy to catch up
And that hurts.

New roads have come about. New cell phone companies.
Nokia is no longer the leader, and new ways to make money
I feel like a stranger, looking at a foreign land… once my home.
I don’t seem to belong to anywhere anymore.
And that hurts.

Discussing Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati over dinner on weekends
and playing Antakshari every ‘potluck’,
going to pooja every ‘Thanksgiving’,
it seems we are somewhere stuck
By the time we force our way out,
there would be nowhere to go
And that hurts.

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Importance of Employee Engagement

Ganesh Subramanian talks about why the art of employee engagement is of utmost importance to organizations. 

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There was a time when job hopping was a phenomenon that was unheard of. When we look at work in times of our fathers and forefathers, loyalty was a given thing; it was not sought after by the employers. It was nothing surprising to hear a person start a career with a company and stick on to it till retirement.

Fast forward to the late 90s…

…India was a growing economy and opportunities were aplenty. Employees kept changing jobs at will whenever they felt saturated in their current role or whenever they desired better profiles and higher salaries. It is not uncommon to find the youth of today changing jobs once in every 2-3 years or even lesser in some cases. As a result, employers nowadays, look at loyalty factor when it comes to new hiring. But what about the current employees – how to ensure that they stick to the same company and don’t take away the knowledge with them to another competitor? This is where “employee engagement” comes into the picture.

Let us look at a simpler way to understand the term engagement. We hear people say “I got engaged” in a marriage parlance. What this means is that you have consented to live your life with a particular person and you are committed to uphold that relationship. Employee engagement can be understood as something similar, wherein an employee is committed to the job and does not quit the company because he likes the job. To create this feeling among the employees is one of the biggest challenges of HR professionals.

Different techniques have been practiced and tested in employee engagement. Games, recognition, rewards, team outings, career development initiatives, like training programmes, interaction with the senior management, etc. are some of the ways by which HRs of various companies try to keep their employee engaged. There is no one right technique for employee engagement as companies are different, the sectors they operate in are different, organization culture is different and so are the employees. What works for one company may not work for another. Therefore, it is imperative for HR professionals to understand the pulse of their employees and customize and design employee engagement initiatives that will help their company.

Often employee engagement surveys conducted inside companies do not serve the purpose for which it was designed. Lack of interest in the survey and a general lackadaisical attitude among employees make the survey a futile exercise. This is where interaction with the team leads or business heads of various divisions helps. They can give a reasonable response about the general problems that hamper the productivity of their divisions. When a deeper introspection into a department is done, more often than not, one can find that the causes of dissatisfaction among the employees are the subtle/minor things which others feel are unimportant. Rectifying these minor irritants is sometimes just enough to win back the trust of the employees.

To conclude, employee engagement is more of an art than a science. Understanding the emotional pulse of the employee can go a long way in retaining a talented, productive workforce.

The How of Happiness

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Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore, writes on What makes us happy? How can we become happier? Is happiness sustainable?

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology addresses these fundamental questions in her book “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want”, a book of strategies backed by scientific research that can be used to increase happiness.

Our individual level of happiness springs from three primary sources:

  1. Our Genetic Set Point:  50% of our happiness derives from a genetically determined “set point”. Those of us with low happiness set points have to work harder to achieve and maintain happiness, while those of us with high set points will find it easier to be happy under similar conditions.
  2. Our Life Circumstances determine only 10% of our happiness. In our quest to become happier, many of us focus on changing the circumstances of our lives in the misguided hope that those changes will deliver happiness. Research shows that trying to be happy by changing our life situations ultimately will not work because we human beings readily, rapidly and remarkably adapt to positive circumstantial changes
  3. Intentional Activities – The remaining 40% of our happiness is determined by our behaviour – intentional activities that we can call “happiness strategies.”

We cannot alter our genetic set points; changes in life circumstances don’t have a lasting impact on our happiness, but we can increase and sustain our happiness through these happiness-increasing strategies.

Expressing Gratitude – Counting your blessings for what you have or conveying gratitude and appreciation to others

Cultivating Optimism – Practicing to look at the bright side of every situation.

Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison – Using strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems and compare yourself with others.

Practicing Acts of Kindness – Doing good things for others, whether friends or strangers, directly or anonymously, spontaneously or planned.

Nurturing Social Relationships – Picking a relationship in need of strengthening and investing time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming and enjoying it.

Developing Strategies for Coping – Practicing ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship or trauma.

Learning to Forgive – Keeping a journal or writing a letter in which you work on letting go of anger and resentment toward the one/s who have hurt or wronged you.

Increasing Flow Experiences – Increasing the number of experiences at home and work which are challenging and absorbing.

Savoring Life’s Joys – Paying close attention, taking delight, and replaying life’s momentary pleasures and wonders, through thinking, writing, drawing, or sharing with another.

* Committing to Your Goals – Picking one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devoting time and effort to pursuing them.

Practicing Spirituality

Taking Care of Your Body – Meditation, Physical Activity, Smiling and Laughing

It is important to choose happiness strategies that address the source of our unhappiness, that take advantage of our strengths, talents and goals, that can be adapted easily to our needs and lifestyle.

happiness

How to Stay Happy Despite All Odds in Office?

Happiness is a wonderful gift, free for anyone willing to accept it!

Happiness

How many of you have pondered over work-life balance? How many times in a day do you remind yourself to manage time better? Yet, terms such as ‘time management’ and ‘work-life balance’ continue to remain merely terminologies in your life, as unachievable as ever! However, leading a happy personal and career life is not completely impossible. As Shiv Khera very famously said, ‘winners don’t do different things; they do things differently’; so, do you have to do a few things differently in order to achieve this goal.

prioritize1.      Try to do one thing at a time

‘Prioritize’ is the word you should always keep in mind. While social media handles are useful, they can be extremely distracting. Try completing the tasks at hand prior to logging into your social media profiles. Alternatively, visit your profiles after having completed a task. This will give you a sense of achievement and you can derive some strength from this achievement to tackle the bigger and more complex tasks.

2.      Keep at least half a day in a week only for yourself

Do_Nothing_DayKeep some think-time. It might seem inconsequential at a superficial level; however, once you start practicing it, you are bound to understand its value. Do nothing of consequence in these few hours. The deluge of information nowadays are bogging down people in ways that are unknown to them. During these hours, try to resist the urge to seek more information. Turn out the noise – yes, your cellphone is part of your noisy world. So you may consider keeping yourself aloof from it.

network3.      Network offline

While hanging out on G+ and chatting on FB is a great thing, try and build offline relationships. Social media is definitely a good place to keep in touch, but real relations are built only in a personal space. Try and find the time to meet up one-on-one. Catching up with old friends can give you unparalleled happiness.

4.      Forgive yourself

It’s a good habit to take yourself seriously, but you must refrain from judging yourself too harshly. Keep your expectations realistic. You become your own enemy when you take yourself too seriously. Let go of some expectations and you will see that things are falling into place.

meditate5.      Practice deep breathing

Whenever you are too overwhelmed with emotions, take a deep breath. Additionally, for all the fast trackers, yoga and meditation for 15-20 minutes is a must in order to achieve wonders. Of course, if you can extend the time limit to 30 minutes, nothing like it. But make it a point to start your day with a few exercises.

Are You a Good Boss or a Bad One?

Gurulakshmi Iyer- Hait strongly believes that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave their managers! To this end, she delves a little into the quality that makes a person a good boss or a bad one. 

Conflict

If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Bill Gates

bill-gates“Boss Calling” flashes on our cells and we jump out of our seats to answer the call. None of us are leading an absolutely free life – either we manage others or we are being managed by others. Simply put, either we boss around or are being bossed by someone else. Since subordinates mimic every move of their bosses, it is very important for managers to keep this in mind. Their work profile includes not only to projection of power but also setting a particular path for their subordinates to follow.

Do Bosses and Their Behavior Matter?

According to a study, the average boss adds about 1.75 times as much output as the average worker. The culture of any organization percolates from its top management. The style of leadership followed in an organization starts from the CEO’s office. The ripple effect of the leader’s style either helps in bolstering or undermining the cultures and performance levels.

A few years back, I had attended a Culture Building Programme. One of the exercises in the Programme involved collecting feedback of co-workers. Surprisingly, 65% of the feedback offered was for managers! It’s then that I realized the Halo effect. Employees give prominence to certain trait in their bosses and the whole evaluation in the employees’ mind happen on the basis of that. Every move, every decision of a boss is mimicked and scrutinized on such trait and yes, bosses really do matter.

leadership-skillsThe best bosses work relentlessly and use their power to their advantage. They control the organizational performance by tuning in to the people. Bosses who fail to do so not only make their lives hell but also ruin the peace and happiness of their subordinates. Almost 90% of attrition is directly or indirectly because of lousy bosses. People adjust to any moods and moves, but not to impossible bosses.

James Meindl’s research on “the romance of leadership” shows that the leaders get far more credit and blame than they deserve. If you are a leader in your organization, this is a part and parcel of your life.

If as a boss, you aren’t able to present negative feedback as constructive criticism, you are bound to spoil the morale of your subordinates and ruin their desire to work with you. At the end of the day, it’s your work that will suffer!

“Know how to project power, since those you lead need to believe you”.

Bob Sutton,Stanford Management Professor

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The Happiness Advantage

This post has been written by Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore. Ms. Andrew believes that happiness increases business outcome in several ways. Read on to find out.

happiness-advantage2

Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage makes the case for the fact that “the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce”.  His research of a decade shows that happiness raises nearly every business outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as countless health and quality of life improvements.

Happiness-AdvantageIn an experiment to test the ROI of investing in happiness at a Big 4 accounting firm, he found that a brief 3 hour training on positive psychology and a non-mandatory invitation to create a positive habit for 21 days created a high ROI not only in the short-term, but in the longer term as well.

He suggests that we can begin to do two things on our own.

First, to recognize that happiness is an advantage at work. This will encourage us to seek happiness in the present instead of waiting for a future success. As a result, our brain will have more resources necessary to accomplish work.

Second, we can literally train our brain for higher levels of happiness at work by creating habits. These change the pattern through which our brain views work.

  • Gratitude Journal – to write down 3 new things that we are grateful for each day;
  • Positive Experience – to write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience that we’ve had in the past 24 hours;
  • Exercise – for atleast 10 minutes a day;
  • Mediate – for atleast 2 minutes every day, focusing on the breath going in and out;
  • Random acts of kindness – to write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on the team.

We can take the time to be grateful, focus on positive experiences, exercise, meditate and do random acts of kindness in order to create The Happiest Workplace.

The UP Experience

Shawn Achor is a lecturer at Harvard University, where he has studied with pioneers in the field of positive psychology. He is the co-designer of Harvard’s ‘Happiness’ course, one of the most popular in Harvard history. This article is adapted from his blog The Happiness Dividend, HBR Blog Network, June 23, 2011.