How engaged is the 21st century workplace?

BL11_NM3.jpg

A culture of merit, a flexible environment and empowering technology are key to engaging the workforce of today

Organizations are made up of people and healthy workplaces are breeding grounds for an efficient and productive workforce. The ‘ideal workplace’ is no longer a myth but a reality that has transcended conventional corporate paradigms. In an economy as powerful as India, a workplace that productively engages employees and offers a friendly work environment is the defining element in shaping an individual’s career, personality, and standing in society.



So what constitutes an ideal workplace? Is it where people go to work eight hours a day five days a week? I feel an ideal workplace isone thateliminates geographical and technological barriers to create a dynamic ecosystem where work travels to people; not the other way round.



For such a scenario to exist– and I believe it does – companies need to bring in more flexibility in the way they function. Innovations in technology and a rapid penetration of internet based systems have led to mass digitization of work and companies should take cognizance of the need to provide a productive, growth oriented work environment not limited bygeography.



I feel freedom to work is governed by four underlying principles – a culture of meritocracy, the ability to manage generational diversity, embracing the advancements intechnology, and nurturing workplace flexibility.



Meritocracy



Organizations that are on the path to success know the importance of meritocracy. Freedom to work essentially comes from true meritocracy, which is aimed at fostering good talent capable of contributing individually and collectivelyto realize the overall vision of the organization.



Meritocracy creates empowered leaders, passionate workers, and an open platform for sharing of ideas and thoughts. Forward looking companies recognize the intellectual and executional capabilities of employees and grant promotions based purely on merit. I am happy to note that organizations are reinforcing their commitment towards meritocracy by creating a performance oriented culture that rewards employees who contribute ideas and take ownership in leading the business towards new heights of success.



Generational diversity



Organizations today are overwhelmed by an increase in the millennial population dominating the workforce. This has drasticallyaltered workplace dynamics with young professionals seeking more freedom and better control over what, how, when, and where they want to work. Baby boomers on the other hand are conventional in outlook and have a different set of expectations.I am not surprised when 70% of HR leaders we spoke to say that managing a multi-generational workforce is one of theirbiggest challenges. As captains steering the organizational ship, I believe it is the responsibility of HR and the leadership team to balance the needs of a multi-generational workforce. Employers should develop a sense of belonging among employees and offer opportunities for long-term growth and personal development. After all, a company can be successful only if it establishes strong workplace relationships for the long haul.

Technology



India– in keeping with the global trend – is witnessing an evolution in technology with theproliferation of smart devices, social media, analytics, and cloud. The SMAC revolution hasimpacted the ideal workplace and 79% of HR leaders we surveyed admit that keeping pace with rapidlyevolving technology to enhance workforceproductivity and performance will be a challenge going forward.Companies are beginning to realize the need to provide more flexibility toemployees to use their own devices. Technologies such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)have enabled organizations to hire remote staff, turning the workplace into a virtual platform with superior connectivity facilitated by the seamless interaction of multiple devices.



Flexible work environment



The expectations of today’s generation of smart professionals have increased beyond measure and organizations are under constant pressure to devise innovative HR strategies that offer more flexibility and convenience. The current breed of professionals demands a host of work arrangements that can accommodate their lifestyle needs.Employers are increasinglyencouragingemployees to work out of their own locations – purginggeographicalboundariesand presentingthe workforce with the much desired freedom to work at their own pace.Then again, remote working offers immense business benefits including significant cost savings, augmented employee satisfaction levels, and an overall increase in efficiency and productivity.



In a survey we conducted to study this trend, 78 per cent of HR leaders opine that the need of the hour is to create more flexible working options to attract a largely mobile workforce. I have also noticed that good work-life balance is emerging as one of the most important factors for an employee to stay with the current employer. Workplace reality is about working ‘out of the office’ – literally so, if you get my drift.



Engaging a progressive workforce

This whole topic of ‘freedom to work’ will have no meaning if I don’t talk about employee engagement. An organization will succeed if it is able to engage every employee in a positive manner, focusing on individual needs and desires. Organizations mustpromote fun at work initiatives and employee friendly HR policies to motivate and engage the workforce.Most of the companies I have had an opportunity to study are already on this path – besides a great work environment and monetary benefits, these organizationsoffer their employees good work-life balance and an open platform to collaborate and work together. Fun at work is not such a difficult thing to achieve; it only requires the necessary initiative and buy-in from the management to implement innovative strategies thatkeep employees engaged and motivated in the long run.



When we speak about freedom to work, I am not talking about doing things in an uncontrolled manner. What I mean to say is work is a lot more than just slogging away at an office desk. I feel it is the freedom of choice given to every stakeholder within the organization that will eventually go on to redefine the fundamental concepts of the world of work.

The writer is MD & CEO, Randstad India.

Published on August 27, 2015

Related

MORE FROM BUSINESSLINE


 Getting recommendations just for you...
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor