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Farming In-House Talent

Updated: Sep 18, 2022

Article first published in Human Capital Magazine in September 2021

Happiness at the workplace implies that the employee enjoys the work and the workplace – they have the freedom to decide, connect well with the environment and are happy with the rewards and the recognition.



BY SHIKHA VERMA |

SEP 03 2021

COVID-19 has undoubtedly intensified workplace challenges with its devastating effect on the mental and emotional health of individuals. While we are gradually gearing up to return to the office, we need to be cognisant of the impending energy and focus levels. Studies indicate that a stressed person is likely to take 20 times more sick leaves impacting the overall efficiency and productivity. According to a survey conducted by the Personal Group, there has been a 20% drop in workplace happiness in the last three years. Therefore, it makes strategic sense to insulate the company against such harmful effects of the pandemic. We are witnessing an uptake of ‘Happiness & Wellbeing’ as an Engagement focus across organisations today. Happiness at the workplace implies that the employee enjoys the work and the workplace - they have the freedom to decide, connect well with the environment and are happy with the rewards and the recognition. Let us cling to the fact that Happiness breeds loyalty and also garners appreciation. Happy-Connectors Some companies and institutes have been proactive in planning webinars and sessions to arrest immediate concerns during the pandemic. However, in order to leverage it as a competitive advantage, companies would need an integrated plan to foster happiness which will strengthen the ‘culture muscle’, and thereby, cultivate better leaders. According to research, happier people are 12% more productive and can influence 7 more lives positively on average, acting more like a ‘Happy-Connector’. A happier individual means a positive attitude, being self-aware, higher focus and energy levels and highly engaged at the workplace bringing in a definite surge in productivity. A study carried out by Dr Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School and Dr James Fowler of the University of California in San Diego found that individuals who associate themselves with cheerful people have a happier demeanour, and consequently, a better sense of well-being. HappyConnectors also act as Brand & WellBeing ambassadors, hence potentially improve productivity, well-being and engagement by 7X. A ‘Happy-Connector’ is someone who is gifted with people skills and resilience, is enthusiastic and can also enthuse others, demonstrates exceptional collaboration and communication skills, is committed to the well-being and is willing to go beyond the defined KRAs (Front to Mid-Management Level). Culture and Leadership are inextricably linked. Leaders are not merely shaping the micro and macro culture, they can influence it for the better or the worse. Creating tertiary branches involving employees instead of relegating it to the HR or the Leaders can ensure reinforcement of the requisite traits/behaviours on a regular basis. Employees take pride in representing the organisation as its ‘Culture Ambassadors’ thus creating more meaning. While Meaningfulness and Autonomy form the foundation of ‘workplace happiness’, it also provides a ‘holistic experience’ making it a segue way into organisational growth. H&W For Talent Development & Culture Building The work canvas has evolved drastically placing ‘Employee WellBeing’ as one of the top asks from employees, thereby making it an employer branding imperative as well. While ‘Workplace Happiness’ has drawn attention, it is admittedly viewed more as an engagement tool instead of a Talent Development or Culture Building process for Business Success. The problem is not the classification as much as it is to do with how we end up grossly underutilising its potential due to a limiting outlook. ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’ as originally stated by Peter Drucker, we cannot make the mistake of leaving it unattended while working towards business continuity. Employee Engagement is said to have started back in 1990, the concept was introduced by Kahn in his article, ‘Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work’, more as an academic management theory. Kahn concluded that the freedom to ‘bring oneself ’ into the work makes people more engaged with the work process. In short, engagement as originally denied was all about bringing one’s personal skills and interests to the job. Pre-Covid engagement meant ‘going a little beyond’ to create a good feeling and a sense of being taken care of. However, a lot has transpired during the pandemic alone and the way forward appears to be more focused on the individual’s well-being, allowing them to bring his/her interests to the workplace as well. Formulating a well thought out Culture Strategy, co-creating wellbeing, developing essential human skills by deploying an inside-out approach like ‘Happy-Connectors’ can prove to be a game-changer. Farming In-House Talent - #FutureLeaders Fundamentally, when an organisation starts stimulating a purpose-led mindset through ‘collective creation’ the culture shift ends up nourishing the Talent pool and shaping #FutureLeaders in the process. The uncertain world requires a new kind of Leaders for the future – Bold yet Empathetic, Courageous yet Humble, demonstrating higher levels of selfawareness, agility, positivity and civic-mindedness. Happiness and wellbeing @workplace promotes the reinforcement of these essential human skills for Future Leadership. Designing processes for co-creation of culture, allowing them to bring more of them enhances their experience and cultivates a purpose-led talent. There are too many people at the workplace today that one cannot trust. Simon Sinek says, “It’s very easy to identify the incompetent in the team, ask anyone and they’d point out to that one person, similarly it’s very easy to identify who is that person who is always going to be there for you when the chips are down, a person you can trust.” Trust and Respect serve as the bedrock of a thriving organisation. Conventional approaches are not really giving the desired results during unprecedented times, drifting companies to a more purpose-led approach. The #newnormal has uncovered the need for a ‘Community Mindset’ within the organisation. Purpose backed by co-creation develops a better sense of self, fosters healthy relations and also enhances one’s overall ability to cope with unprecedented times making it authentic. Authenticity Drives Real Workplace Transformation For a starter, ask yourself the following questions:– Q. What is your company’s culture like & is there a need to reevaluate and re-define? Q. Are your values explained as Behavioural constructs for employees to emulate? Q. How are you reinforcing the same? Q. Do you have a Strategy in place to foster ‘Happiness & Wellbeing’ at your workplace? Q. Have you defined the roadmap and the practices for the same? Q. How can you involve the employees in co-creating a happy workplace? Q. How it be synced with the Leadership Development within the organisation? Q. What will be the end-toend process/roadmap to institutionalise such a strategy? Emerging Story Of The Culture Change Authenticity gets created when we hold interactions with employees in an attempt to understand how they feel in the company (employees’ experience) and the common need of the workforce. Deborah Ball, Dean of School of Education at the University of Michigan says, “It is not just a listening tour, you find gold nuggets, work with them, clarify them, integrate them and continually feed them back’. Borrowing a phrase from design thinking, she terms it as collective creation.” To make businesses revive and thrive we need to pivot and adapt - make employees a culture ally. April Armstrong has said, “Culture change needs to come from and be modelled by from the top.” This is what we have always assumed. While they pioneer the culture shifts, it is actually the employee who serves as the backbone of business and acts as a catalyst of change. Every organisation has change agents who tend to go untapped, and once identified and honed, they are the ones who can drive the envisioned culture change. If your ‘purpose story’ starts with the employee and ends with the customer, you have got it right. The sum-total of ‘We’ comes from the value we are assigning to every ‘Me’ Sharing few practical steps that can be undertaken to execute the same:– 1. Nomination & Selection of the Happy Connectors (HC) (a.) Have a structured screening process in place around core qualities (b.) Appoint HC’s considering 1-20 ratio 2. Define the Leadership Behaviours for Future (a.) Align teams to the selected group of Happy Connectors (b.) HC is required to plan various activities under defined themes E.g. Improve Communication, Connect & Collaboration 3. Establish Accountability & Ownership (a.) HC’s plan and execute end to end (b.) Under the guidance of an assigned Mentor (at Leadership Level) (c.) HC is required to monitor and track the plan (monthly) 4. Process flow and Reporting structure (a.) Define a framework to share progress reports (b.) Keep a defined periodicity (monthly-quarterly-half yearly-annually) 5. Incentivise to Galvanise (a.) Support by formulating an appropriate R & R scheme for the ‘Happy-Connectors’ Creating an appropriate R & R scheme around “CLAG=ConnectLearning-Agility-Give to Grow” motivates and gets woven into the very fabric of an organisation as its ‘Culture Muscle’. The pandemic-driven crisis has created a classic quandary where employees need to bring their best to work during the most difficult times. To get a better committed workforce, we surely need to evolve organisations to be Purpose and Belonging-driven with far more authentic efforts at the granular level providing heartful experiences. Happy-Inspired employees can raise the game and make the businesses thrive.


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