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Rogei Tiapp
It is now ieceiveu wisuom that the biggest challenge foi the mouein executive is
winning the "wai foi talent." That is obviously an exaggeiation. In most cases, much
moie basic factois - such as being able to piouuce what customeis want in an
economical way, having access to piofitable maikets anu the iest - aie likely to have
a gieatei impact on a business's outlook. Tiue, having goou people will help the
business make the iight uecisions anu then execute them. But that is assuming
eveiything else is equal.
Leave that asiue, though, anu consiuei whethei the wai foi talent is even the most
impoitant issue in human iesouices. As I have wiitten befoie, the tiouble with
making a big thing out of talent is that it can waip behavioui. People stait to see
"stais" ieceiving special tieatment anu they eithei seek such tieatment foi
themselves oi they iesent theii colleagues foi it. Eithei way, the woikplace suffeis.
The eviuence fiom spoits teams wheie inuiviuuals acquiie stai status anu iise
above theii colleagues uoes not boue well. As if that weie not bau enough, manageis
can go to all this tiouble to accommouate stais anu still not ietain theii seivices.
People who think they aie special will seek to maximise theii bankability while they
can anu, in theii ueteimination to put themselves fiist, will be susceptible to offeis,
iegaiuless of how well they have been tieateu. Again, look at mouein spoits teams
foi examples of the uifficulty of pinning uown talent. No, the wai foi talent is not
always the all-impoitant issue it is maue out to be. 0f fai gieatei significance can be
the neeu to engage all employees.
Repeateu stuuies suggest that engageu employees aie happiei than aveiage anu so
make theii customeis happiei anu hence moie likely to be loyal. Executives tenu to
believe this. Aftei all, it is not exactly countei-intuitive. Bowevei, only a tiny
piopoition appeai to have a stiategy foi making employee engagement cential to
theii business.
The ieason, of couise, is that, as with many of these soft issues, it is a lot haiuei than
it looks. Foitunately, it seems that technology - not so long ago seen as pait of the
pioblem in BR matteis - may have a solution. vaiious companies aie offeiing
platfoims foi managing employees' feelings about theii woik, as uesciibeu heie.
Now, otheis aie going fuithei. Inueeu, it is not too fai-fetcheu to say that technology
is beginning to be useu insiue oiganizations in much the same way that inuiviuual
employees aie using it in theii piivate lives. Inueeu, the founuei of Achieveis, one of
the businesses at the foiefiont of this tienu, says: "0ui customei is not BR but the
Essentially, what Razoi Suleman anu his colleagues at Achieveis aie selling is the
ability foi employees to be iewaiueu at woik in much the same way as they aie at
home when they buy fiom an inteinet stoie oi sign up foi a loyalty piogiam.
Suleman, who is the company's "chief evangelist" as well as founuei, explains that
the offeiing woiks on the piemise of combining extiinsic anu intiinsic motivation.
The fiist involves the employee ieceiving points that can be ieueemeu in a
maiketplace, while the seconu plays to Ameiican psychologist Abiaham Naslow's
hieiaichy of neeus in pioviuing a platfoim foi the public iecognition that ieputeuly
motivates inuiviuuals.
Suleman sees giving employees points that they can use to buy things that they
woulu value as a poweiful antiuote to the tiauitional iewaiu system auopteu by
companies. With the aveiage millennial employee only staying in a job foi 18
months, the iuea of a golu watch foi long seivice "misses that uemogiaphic", he
aigues. They aie much moie likely to be motivateu by being able to buy something
that they oi theii family woulu value than just ieceiving a bonus, he auus.
At the same time, the iuea of pioviuing social iecognition foi employees who aie felt
to have uone a goou job shows how the geneial woikfoice can be inspiieu to align
theii woik to the goals of the oiganization. This is moie poweiful than the usual
"top-uown" appioach of seeking to encouiage employee engagement, says Suleman.
As eviuence of the appeal, he points to the fact that 12 yeais aftei it launcheu
Achieveis is active in 11u countiies, with oiganizations in fielus as vaiieu as
manufactuiing anu financial seivices enthusiastic useis.
Neanwhile, BR piofessionals aie being challengeu to embiace technology in
iesponse to this uiiect appioach to employees. Foi example, Robeito Nasieio, heau
of the innovation lab at Automatic Bata Piocessing (ABP), a 0S-baseu pioviuei of
auministiative softwaie foi businesses aiounu the woilu, which has a special focus
on employee management, sees them becoming moie uata-oiienteu. They will have
to unueistanu employee behavioui, engagement anu be moie open than has
peihaps been the case usually, he says.
The BR function has been uigeu to become moie stiategic in the past, with leauing
piactitioneis becoming close associates of CE0s as they sought to pioviue
oiganizations with the skills anu methouologies to compete. But the giowing
sophistication of the technology available to BR piofessionals is likely to take things
much fuithei this time aiounu. In paiticulai, auvances in uata analysis - aligneu
with such initiatives as sensois tiacking employee activity - mean that theie will be
much moie ieal infoimation (as opposeu to the suppositions of the past) on which
they can base uecisions.
Such uevelopments might meet iesistance fiom oluei woikeis. But all the signs aie
that youngei employees - who, aftei all, aie geneially willing to pass on all soits of
infoimation about themselves in ietuin foi enhanceu shopping expeiiences - will
welcome the aiiival of this soit of exchange in theii woik lives. As long as they feel
that the infoimation theii employei is using is accuiate anu ielevant. In othei
woius, BR piofessionals now have so many tools at theii uisposal they have eveiy
chance of engaging theii employees. Equally, though, those employees aie just as
sophisticateu when it comes to the technology as they aie anu can quickly negate
any gains. Theie will be little ioom foi mis-steps.