Is your organisation ready for the consumerisation of HR?

Forward-looking companies are well aware of the notion that “Happy/engaged employees equals to happy/engaged customers”. In recent years, the emergence of employee experience has become more prominent. HR leaders are turning our heads towards employee engagement, empowerment, workplace design, co-working space and technology.

Companies are now actively striving to engage employees in a more holistic manner. IBM and GE are transforming their HR to create a social, mobile and consumer-style employee experience. This is known as the ‘Consumerisation of HR’. GE’s HR Senior VP, Susan Peters, shared that the firm’s recently appointed Head of Employee Experience is embarking on a new initiative to provide employees an enhanced human-centric experience that is simultaneously driven by technology.

Needless to say, an engaged workforce is the cornerstone to the organisation’s success. Gallup’s recent Employee Engagement research indicated that more engaged teams have 24% to 59% less turnover, 10% higher customer ratings, 21% greater profitability, 17% higher productivity, and 41% less absenteeism. It is important to assess employees’ engagement levels on a regular basis to gain understanding on the following:

  • Employee Motivation: Whether an employee is driven to strive for organisational success
  • Employee Advocacy: Whether an employee would say positive things about the company
  • Employee Loyalty: Whether an employee intends to stay there for a longer duration

The more pressing issue is that our local SMEs do not place a high enough emphasis on employee engagement, resulting in poor employee experience. Reported by Aon Hewitt in 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement study, the overall engagement score for employees in the Asia Pacific region has dropped from 65% to 62% within a year.

  • Singapore’s employee engagement score fell by 4 points to 59%. The decline is significant when compared to the 3-point increase last year.
  • Perception scores amongst Singapore’s millennials fell by 7 points in the area of Talent and Staffing and by 5 points in Employer Brand.

The engagement score dip may be attributed to the lack of progression opportunities within the organisation or that the employer branding is not strong enough to attract fresh blood. Alternatively, the aging population may not be able to cope with rapid technology advances, resulting in low work morale and productivity.

The following emerging trends may assist HR to address employee matters from a consumer and digital perspective to enhance the overall employee experience.


Trend 1: The Workplace Experience

Benefits and a nice physical work space are no longer sufficient pull factors to attract top talents. Companies like Airbnb are taking a more holistic approach to carefully weave in the physical, emotional, intellectual and aspirational elements into their employees’ work life.

“Everything at Airbnb is a continuation of what it’s like to be a guest in somebody’s house”, said Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder of Airbnb. For example, the meal options are rotated to feature the local cuisines of 191 countries across the world. They have also employed the concept whereby employees can work remotely.

The decision is not whether or not to design an open space or offer free meals, but it is about how to give your employees the choice in where and how they do their work, enhancing their overall work experience during their employment with your organisation.


Trend 2: Technology-enabled HR Management

With the advancement of technology, several large MNCs have replaced the conventional year-end performance appraisal process with a more agile, real-time and feedback-driven approach. This system allows for greater employee engagement and lessens the amount of paper work required.

Other companies have implemented digital HR systems (e.g. IBM Kenexa, Oracle Taleo Cloud Service) to streamline ad-hoc tasks for employees. For example, scheduling appointments with supervisors, booking meeting rooms, attending online courses and submitting timesheets.


Trend 3: Employees Benefits and Wellness

Employee benefits and entitlements have been rated as a key deciding factor when seeking for a job. Standard Chartered Bank has recently been commended for its efforts in extending the maternity and adoption leave for all Singapore-based female employees from 16 weeks to 20 weeks. It may be challenging for SMEs to offer equitable leave packages, however The Straits Times reported that a local firm, 3E Accounting, will offer six weeks of unpaid infant-care leave starting next month. Firms are encouraged to carve unique ways to accommodate employees’ needs.

Additionally, large MNCs are cautiously devoting efforts towards developing various wellness programmes. Nowadays, working adults feel increasing levels of financial stress due to high living costs. Suntrust Bank offers employees a financial fitness programme that includes assisting them to save $2,000 for emergency purposes, writing their wills and planning financial budgets. Apart from financial wellness, some companies implement physical fitness targets as a requirement for promotions. This initiative not only stimulates employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but to also motivate them to achieve career goals.

While change initiatives may be financially consuming, SME owners should still look into bringing minimal yet impactful changes within their capacity. SMEs should also create a desirable environment that motivates employees beyond financial incentives. It is not about fulfilling all their requests, but it’s about thinking how you can get to the heads and hearts of your employees with a real brand promise across all touchpoints. Solutions need not be overly complicated. You may not be able to offer what Google does for their employees, but what works well in your company may not work in Google either!

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