I used to work in an ad agency then. One day, I was summoned to the CEO’s office to discuss the case of Rahul, the hot shot Account Director we were luring away from the rival agency with a hefty salary package. Those were the days of high attrition in advertising agencies – too many jobs chasing too few people. Two days later I heard that Sunil, the Account Director in our Mumbai office had resigned. I breathed a sigh of relief. Sunil was a poor performer and his departure was no loss to us especially since we already had hired Rahul to replace him. A week later I met the HR manager of the rival agency at a party. He came up to me and said, "We were planning to ask Rahul to leave since he was a poor performer. Thanks for solving my problem. Sorry about pinching your star employee." Both agencies had exchanged one poor performer with another and paid each of them a hefty increase in the bargain. Does this sound familiar?
Attrition among the employees is a challenge that every sector grapples with. The response of employers is to focus on improving compensation, adding some innovative benefits and then doing surveys to learn what everyone else is doing. A huge salary increase may dent your operating margin but will not be a deterrent for any employee to stay on. It is the intangible elements that are differentiators.
Brands are adjectives. What are the adjectives your employees would use to describe the workplace? Would they match the list of adjectives the leadership team would use? It is not the Corporate Communications department of your organization that owns the Employer Brand. It is the employees – both current and future, who really own it. The organization needs to connect with employees at an emotional level. If you want to improve your employer brand, make your employees feel special. The emotional connect with the employer is shaped by the emotions they experience at the workplace.
When a leader communicates the company’s performance metrics like profitability, share price, productivity, sales numbers, they connect to the employees at the head level. This is necessary for a leader to do, but not sufficient. When leaders are able to paint a vision of the future that inspires and helps people to dream, they are leveraging the intangibles that shape perceptions.
How do your employees feel when they are rewarded? I know of some organizations that have a neat table that tells the manager about the monetary value of the gift that goes with different categories of "rewardable" actions by employees. Rewards are not about the monetary value but how it makes the employee feel when they are being rewarded. If there is no surprise, mystery and fun in the award, it is an opportunity lost. A simple handwritten note of appreciation from the manager or the colleagues can enhance the intangible value of the official reward and make the employee feel special. Intangibles create the differentiator.
The tangibles appeal to the head. The heart is attracted to the intangibles. If you want to build an organization with employees who are deeply engaged, passionate about their work and love the company they work for, then you will have to focus on intangibles. Engagement, passion, love are all emotions. Emotions are hard to generate with data, logic and cold job descriptions. If you want these from employees, ask them to tell you how many leaders model these behaviors?
Data generates belief, emotions generate action. Think about it.
This article appeared on The Economic Times. Please find the article here.