Employees seek more opportunities to grow, and performance-based appreciation.

How does an HR engage millennials/current generation?

Well, I will start by saying that we the Millennials are different from earlier generations. The millennials have greatly varying expectations. What they expect out of their employee engagement experience will differ for everyone. Millennials are even changing the way the things are done as they are highly technologically driven and socially more active. They are extremely skilled, highly adaptable and very confident in their multitasking abilities. Hence, when it comes to engaging this bunch, we as HR need to put on our thinking hats and get into their shoes. For instance, let’s look at some of their work- related attributes.

Millennials love to work in teams, they want to work on new and complex problems that requires creative solutions; are always interested in proper feedback on their performance. They seek constant feedback that is structured, has clarity and is specific to the situation.

I remember an interview that I took where we found the candidate quite suitable for the position. To be honest, it was an easy hire, the candidate was barely 25 years of age. The day she joined us, she took me to a side and posed a question which made me happy and astounded at the same time. She enquired about the learning curve in the long run. I liked the fact that she was looking to keep growing and got a little worried that she might want to switch sooner if her expectations were not met. To keep millennials engaged we need to understand and map their frequencies and match them. Proper feedback that is structured, situation-specific and has complete clarity to avoid any misunderstanding is the key engagement driver for Millennials. Since this generation mostly looks for instant results, they often want instant feedback on their performance. We encourage constant feedback (both verbal and documented as required) to employees on tasks completed for instant gratification.

Biggest challenge an HR might face in driving engagement across all levels?

Employee Engagement is every business’s backbone. Employee engagement often poses a problem for HR when it comes to employee participation. A prolonged lack of employee involvement may lead to a feeling of disconnect which creates a negative spiral that affects the entire organization. As an HR, I suggest that organizations should stay vigilant to any signs of employee disengagement. Some major cues to look for include lack of initiatives, over-indulgence in unhealthy behaviours at the workplace, observing silence during important meetings/matters, lack in sharing learning activities. Further, the employee communication channels being unclear pose a huge problem in driving employee engagement. We need to ensure that frequent feedback is provided to the employees with even faster actionable interventions.

What according to you are the qualities an HR professional must have?

HR as a function has a frontline strategic role in any organization. This department essentially holds hands with every other function, spinning multiple plates at times. Remarkable HR leaders are people-oriented, tech-savvy, and strong business advocates. I believe that the following qualities are must-to-have for a successful career as an HR professional:

  1. Capability to empathize. HR leaders listen, understand and solve people’s problems day-in and day-out by getting into the shoes of others. It builds trust. By being trustworthy, HR function becomes the pulse of the organisation. This helps to drive organization-wide initiatives, where HR has the responsibility to create a holistic connect and overcome resistance within the enterprise through a softer influence rather than following an assertive top-down hierarchy approach. 
  2. Capability to facilitate clear communication between employers and employees. It requires a sharp but polite, focussed yet constructive communication skills to relay information clearly and effectively to the workforce at all levels. Whether during a talent acquisition activity, or a conflict resolution intervention, HR professionals need to be unambiguous and steady in their conversation. 
  3. Ability to create win-win propositions for stakeholders by embracing complete transparency in actions and decisions.
  4. Be extremely passionate about what you do, where you work, and live by the values of your organization. 
  5. Capacity to be innovative. Think and design creative and unorthodox approaches for each assignment/project. HR professionals need to be competitive and stand out from their peers to support their organization’s strategic/transformational initiatives. 
  6. Capability to be strategic. Since HR function does not operate in a vacuum, HR leaders need to understand and add value to their organization’s strategy. HR professionals reflect a sense of ownership by aligning their work with overall enterprise vision and goals.
  7. HR leaders need to have high ethical values since they have access to a great deal of confidential data and information on sensitive issues. HR professionals are ethical and moral compasses of their organizations.  

What are employees’ expectation from an HR in the coming decade? 

In today’s world when things are changing at the speed of light, employee expectations are also evolving really fast. Before discussing how the employee expectations are shaping up, it is paramount to understand that unaddressed employee expectation are a major reason for reduced morale in the workplace which leads to lower employee engagement. When we are working with Gen-X, and Millennials there is a specific set of expectations that every HR professional should keep in mind: 

  1. Provide full clarity regarding the role/nature of work responsibilities. Be completely honest in conveying enterprise expectations from the employees. 
  2. Help them understand and imbibe corporate value. Connect them with the company culture. Support them to assimilate. 
  3. Motivate your employees to challenge themselves and improve. Make them self-reliant. In the future, employees will seek more responsibilities to satisfy their work diversity needs, opportunities to grow, and performance-based appreciation.
  4. Millennials want more control over their life, whether personal or professional. They look for more mobility, flexibility, and freedom – they cannot be tied to cubicles, would not like to be micromanaged, would need more autonomy, and would need a flexible work schedule.

What is your personal achievement as an HR professional?

Being a successful HR leader is an accomplishment in itself, and to be honest my greatest personal achievement as an HR professional is the trust, respect, and affection that I have gained from my colleagues over the years. If I talk in more tangible terms, I have driven key organizational initiatives such as

  1. Got the organization certified as “Great Place to Work”. 
  2. Succession planning. 
  3. Large scale change management project within the organization 
  4. Drafted organization-wide incentive plans and framework for the sales team.
  5. Created Rewards & Recognition platform “My Idea” based on 40 million ideas based on 20 years of operation.

How do you engage your Gen X employees (aged 39-54)? 

First of all, Thank you for this question. Why I really appreciate this question is because it is a very relevant question for my current role. Gen X constitutes most of the population of our organisation and is quite settled in their profiles. This population has a very specific set of expectations and need a different strategy than Millennials

  1. This crowd looks for stable work profile, however, they seek opportunities that provide constant involvement and appreciation
  2. Gen-X are seasoned professionals and value Learning & Development sessions/programs that are specially customised for them. The key to engaging Gen-X employees is to be aware of what type of learning interventions they want from the workplace.
  3. They are a little hesitant when it comes to embracing emerging tech, yet their resistance can be overcome by helping them take a leading charge in new initiatives. 
  4. Another factor to keep the Gen Xers motivated is recognition, through promotions, growth, and lucrative incentives.
  5. Also, as they possess a diverse hands-on experience, keeping them involved in the projects with the younger generation will give them the chance to mentor their junior colleagues and share best practices that will keep the Gen Xers engaged.

Disclaimer: The responses to the questions are solely the views of the interviewee as a professional and do not reflect that of the Organisation he/she works for.

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