The 3 Pillars of Employee Engagement

The 3 Pillars of Employee Engagement

Engaging talents has always been a daunting task.

The top two challenges in engaging employees are: working with multiple different generations under one roof, and employees wanting fast-tracked career progression. Employee engagement leads organizations towards higher productivity, business success and numbers of delighted customers. But how many of us hit this right to the core?

Engaging employees is definitely a topic of concern among talents, which strongly ties to talent retention. Engaged employees have a great sense of ownership towards the organization, are most likely to stay longer than the rest, and contribute immensely to the organization, laying the path to high customer satisfaction as well as repetitive new businesses. Failure to fulfill this dissatisfies talents to certain extents, and leads them to the company exit door. Establishing a stronger brand name, combined with employee engagement initiatives obviously helps in retention.


Engaged employees have the added benefit of becoming your brand ambassadors. Invest in them.

Engagement also determines to what extent employees are willing to go beyond at their work, and what drives them to do so. Being a rationally committed employee to the organization makes one feel connected, and an employee will strongly believe in staying only if this is in their self-interest. I wouldn’t want to rule out emotional commitment in which employees believe in, and loves to be part of the organization for various reasons with a stronger “Sense of Belonging” to the organization.  In your organization, is there an emotional attachment or detachment among employees and the organization?

Categorizing the engagement efforts and linking it with organization strategy and vision can be a first step to success of engaging employees.  To start off, it is good to consider both long term and quick wins as well as key objectives of engagement initiatives followed by structuring the talent engagement pillars. Do not let the engagement efforts hang separately.

short-long-termAlign your long, and short-term goals for engagement.



3 pillars of engagement – Prakash Santhanam / Credit: “101 ways to engage your talents” book

Pillar 1: Communication

Bringing employees together by sharing information and being transparent removes communication barriers in the organization. Engagement efforts within this pillar aims to create crystal-clear information flows, be it top-down or bottom-up. I have personally experienced major communication breakdowns that stems with a vacuum at the mid-level management – key information does not reach all employees.

This is also closely linked with the core values of the organization on how communication is being practiced and managed. Combining both the traditional and modern ways of communicating, the core objective is to emphasize on the transparency and openness of the organization with the employees.


As a leader, your ability to instill trust is directly correlated with your willingness to be transparent with your employees.

Putting the right message across to all employees determines the success of this pillar. Information sharing is essential, and it has to be initiated by the superiors in the organization as a culture. Who should be spearheading and championing this, the communication department, management team, or managers?


Pillar 2: Motivation

Highly motivated employees are likely to perform better and stay more engaged than the rest. Whose role is it to motivate employees? Motivation can be fueled intrinsically or extrinsically. This pillar emphasizes on being a role model and creating positive sparks, along with engaging thoughts among employees. Exploring and understanding employees‘ motivating factors, and customizing it to their needs significantly supports the framework of the engagement model. How can we identify what motivates talents as it differs by cultures and countries? I was once asked by the General Manager to reward the best attendee to eliminate tardiness, yet how many of us agree on this? Is there one formula to motivate, or are multiple channels and efforts required? Go beyond monetary.


Having a comprehensive benefits plan serves to motivate employees beyond simple monetary terms.



Pillar 3: Recreation & Bonding

Bond” is the magic word that brings employees and teams closer. An easy way of getting this done is to organize recreational and bonding activities such as team building, and integrating a simple mobile application that can be engaging and rewarding for them. An engaging activity strengthens relationships among the workforce, and indirectly helps in managing teams and performance. How much emphasis should an organization place on this? Is there a strong belief and awareness to champion this? How do we know that existing recreational and bonding activities are sufficient, or if a more innovative approach is required – especially to cater to the new generation’s needs at the workplace?


Team building – encourage bonding among colleagues in fun and engaging ways!


In a nutshell – identify, classify, and build upon these 3 pillars, and ensure you have success measures on every engagement initiative, alongside ensuring they are being tied up with the team and organizational KPIs.

Click here to view my e-book on “101 Ways to Engage Your Talents.”

About Prakash Santhanam

Prakash Santhanam is an experienced Talent Management practitioner specializing in Learning & Capability Management, Executive Coaching, Talent Engagement and Performance Management. He has remarkableinternational track record, aligning business strategy with talent strategy in reshaping organization leading towards regional and global success. He possesses 15 years of professional experience predominantly in the automotive, information technology and telecommunication industries across Asia Pacific and Africa. He is also the author to the book “101 Ways to Engage Your Talents“. 



Fostering an Organisational Learning Culture

Fostering an Organisational Learning Culture

A key element in navigating change is through learning.

When we look at the role of human capital within an enterprise, we understand and believe that it is human capital which is our greatest asset. Consequently, the key to meeting our strategic business goals and making progress lies in how we manage, inspire and bring out the best in our people.


As an enterprise, training seems to be the obvious answer to the questions of what and how. Training gives us the confidence that we are doing something, that we are addressing issues and taking charge. But this leaves us with one problem – training is a top-down approach.

Are your employees really fully engaged when it comes to training? Think about how you can
improve your programs from a fully top-down approach.


Shifting the focus

Yes, we can help to prepare our people to perform better and be more engaged but wouldn’t it help if we looked at ways where we put the learner in the driver’s seat as well? The idea here is that we continue to provide training in areas required but simultaneously, we create a culture where organisational learning is fostered, and one where the people themselves chart their path. This combination is significantly more exciting.


Take a look at Unilever. Betty Lau, Unilever’s Global Learning Director, Leadership and Business Skills has long been working on a move away from conventional learning towards persona-designed thinking. Why? To craft a user-focused personalised learning journey. It is a major shift in thinking but at the same time, she says it also provides a key point of differentiation.


Some key words to explore in that phrase – user-focused personalised learning journey. User-focused so that the emphasis is on the user, not the training provider. Personalised so that it makes sense to individual circumstances and is need-driven. Lastly, reference to the journey because it’s part of a bigger picture and not simply standalone, unstructured pieces.


Adopting a learner-centric approach

Alejandro Rivas writes about this (being learner-centric) as one of the 10 L&D trends for this year in his ATD article in January. He says, “instead of thinking about the content first, we think about the learner first: performance, experience, workplace, digital fluency… then, we can create an effective training with more collaboration and social activities in order to share experiences….”.  The experience is also so rich in today’s environment as we pick between MOOCs (massive open online course) or classroom training, YouTube videos or shared social environments.

A variety of rich media is including in training today. Harness these solutions!

In today’s world, everything and everywhere presents a learning experience. The quicker we can get to a point where we foster more collaboration between IT and HR to work together and develop organisational plans that put the learner at the centre, the more we foster a culture of learning that works. It’s personalised, it’s driven by the user, it takes into account all kinds of environments and formats, which makes it more real, more dynamic and exciting.


Where to begin?

But any learning technology used needs to start with a plan which means asking the right sort of questions. What are my organisation’s learning and development goals? What is the role tech will play in this? What choices do I want to make? How much do I want to spend? What ROI will I be looking for?


Many of the L&D trends this year show how fast-paced these changes in our environment really are. While this can be dramatically unnerving in many ways and puts us in a situation of constantly playing catch-up, we can embrace the changes that make our lives, our workplaces and our people significantly better.

7 Keys to Building an Effective Team

7 Keys to Building an Effective Team

If you are looking to create a successful and productive team offsite, you may want to explore the following 7 ideas


  1. Open Communication

Announce to the team how this offsite team-building will actually improve business. Set up live business goals for the meeting – e.g. sales strategy and sales goals for the next year, new delivery of ideas, or product/service lines to roll-out.

2. Allow Time for Networking

There should be scheduled time slots throughout the offsite team-building duration to enable everyone to get to know each other. I recommend that “getting to know each other” activities need not be planned; instead teams should be doing this naturally. It could be a late evening sitting at the pool and chit-chatting, or having a round of “antakshri” or karaoke, whatever the team would like to do post the offsite day work!

7 Keys to Building an Effective Team
                                                                                                            Remember to set aside time for networking!


3. Build A Learning Mindset

Build their skills, and self-confidence by providing constant training. Hold weekly, or bi-monthly team workshops to teach systems and procedures for every element in your business. Teach your employees how to get the most out of the time and effort that they are putting in to reap the most rewards. Also, eliminate the need for guessing when it comes to difficult situations – create systems to specifically manage a crisis.

4. Reward the Results

Set clear and realistic targets for your employees, and keep it as transparent as possible. Targets are proven to motivate employees and give them something concrete to focus on. But don’t treat missed targets as an opportunity to punish your team; simply offer a reward (cash / kind) that will drive your team to meet the targets you set in the future. Check out this blog post for ideas on designing an effective employee rewards system.

5. Don’t Miss the Basic Needs

As an employer, the onus to provide a healthy lifestyle to employees is on you. Here are basics listed –

  • Comfortable, clean and well-lit rooms and sitting place.
  • Break areas.
  • A place for quick power-naps.
  • Flexible working schedules as the focus is on work, and not thenumber of hours.
  • Robust recognition program.

Basic infrastructure at work
                                                       Ensure the working environment is clean and comfortable to maximize employee satisfaction and productivity.

6. Offsite Events

Are overnight events allowing the team to enjoy and relax, having dinner, drinks, music etc, and truly bonding. In my experience, good teams tend to end up staying late, and talk over or brainstorming new, innovative solutions to recurring problems, and work through existing business problems. These sessions are invaluable as team members work together to work out existing problems, setting the scene for new opportunities, and building real relationships in the process.

7. Last But Not Least

Remember it’s important to keep the momentum rolling. If you fail to come out with an action plan, then you will plan to fail eventually. You may have a list of ideas from the offsite meeting, but have no clarity on executing them. Ensure that action planning is clear to all members with identified goals/actions, associated responsibilities, measurement criteria, and timelines of completion. And all of this is documented soon after the event.

This post was guest written by Saloni Kaul, a human resource specialist and corporate trainer.

The Power of Analytics in HR

The Power of Analytics in HR

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

You start first with imagination. Think about what it means to step inside the mind of your employee and see/feel/experience what they are going through, what questions they are asking themselves and what issues they need resolved in order to be happy at work. Then imagine being in a position to address this, without them realising what you’re doing.


How would this improve the employee experience? In what way could you reimagine employee feedback being obtained? How could you provide unified yet automated employee support? The stuff of dreams? Not anymore.


We’re talking about the world of data analytics – quantitative and qualitative techniques and processes that can ultimately enhance productivity and improve the business. It involves extracting data, categorising it and then analysing it for patterns. So if you’re working with data, you need to perform analytics at some point.



                                                                                  The days of sifting through hardcopies of spreadsheets and tables are over.


Big Data, as a term, has been bandied about for some time although the concept is still very new to those in HR. The area it seems to have made most impact is talent acquisition where companies have handled thousands of resumes every year, using machine learning (producing faster and more accurate hiring decisions than humans alone).


What does analytics look like applied to HR?


Like many other areas to which analytics applies, it’s really about figuring out how to solve problems. In HR, this means considering how you could use data and analytics to:

  • improve the employee experience;
  • develop talent;
  • automate employee support;
  • move into the Cloud;
  • improve how we receive employee feedback;
  • take advantage of machine learning.


The more data you have, the more insight you can derive from it, assuming you can extract and process the data well.  Done right, it can mean many things to those in HR.


First, it can aid on-boarding and retention by helping to develop a particular company culture and create a great work environment. Faced with high attrition costs and recruitment fees, doing this means you retain your employees longer.


Second, it can mean your ability to predict when employees are likely to resign (like in Facebook’s case), thus enabling you to take proactive steps to mitigate. Why rely on gut feel or wait until the situation implodes? Machine learning involves a “range of statistical techniques that allows companies to layout complex problems, spot patterns and come up with predictions”.


Third, it aids in talent acquisition where your company can go through thousands of resumes and create a shortlist of prospects.



                                                                                                              Ease your hiring process with data analytics.


Fourth, data analytics helps with one of the biggest issues in HR – performance and engagement.


How do I get my talent to perform at a higher level?
How do I see what’s preventing that from happening?
How do I begin to understand the issues on the periphery?
What can I do to bring the team closer together?
How can I make them all see one unified vision?

Big asks but that is exactly why it makes sense to use analytics in HR – so you don’t just guess your way through the problem. Instead, you allow yourself to be guided forward with facts and figures.




In this way, SelfDrvn uses data-driven solutions to provide valuable insights through a range of touchpoints including employee pulse surveys, reward and recognition programmes, peer feedback loops, goal-setting, wellness games and leaderboard competitions. It’s easy to think of HR analytics as purely the responsibility of HR but it is not. Application and analysis ultimately benefit the organisation as a whole.

How Can Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Help You?

How Can Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Help You?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides professional counseling where you may address a wide range of personal issues in an environment of understanding and strict privacy.

It provides you with confidential, professional consultation for problems and challenges you may be experiencing.

If you’re wondering whether EAP is for you or not, here are three benefits of using an EAP:

Identify Mental Health Conditions

It had almost been a month that Reena was not her chirpy self. She didn’t feel like getting out of bed, was feeling irritable at the drop of a hat and on most days, didn’t want to meet anyone. Till one day, one of her colleagues suggested she take some help. Upon her insistence, Reena visited her EAP counselor.

After a one hour conversation, her counselor helped her understand that she was exhibiting symptoms of depression. More than anything else, Reena was relieved to hear that there was a name to her mood issues and that it was treatable. She started working with her counselor, learnt new mood management skills and built an internal system of taking care of her mental health. Within 2 months she could take back control and her depression was much more manageable.

This is not just Reena’s story. We’ve met countless such clients, who have benefited by learning about their mental health conditions and working on them.

Resolve Every Day Life Challenges

An unresolved conflict with spouse, challenges faced as a working mother, loss of interest at work, irritability without any reason or feeling under-confident at meetings! Everyday life presents us with many such challenges.

More often than not, we have the resources to handle such challenges. It could be our own coping mechanisms, speaking with a friend or consulting a colleague.

But sometimes that might not be enough. A colleague could have a conflict of interest, a supervisor might be hard pressed for time or a loved one might not be able to understand your work situation. You might need a different perspective, an objective analysis or a patient listener. Your EAP counselor can support with all of this and help you alleviate your every day life stress.

Learn New Skills

Have you ever felt you can’t concentrate on anything? You can learn mindfulness techniques to live in the present moment.

Do you want to feel more confident? Learn exercises such as power posing to feel powerful from within.

Or are you struggling with your spouse’s anger issues? Assertiveness skills will come in handy.

These are just some examples. Your EAP can help you learn behavioral skills to level up your work and personal life.


Source: Santulan

The Future Of HR – Towards Consolidation

The Future Of HR – Towards Consolidation


Digital transformation is not only disrupting established business models. It’s disrupting time-honored career paths as well.

Once, an ambitious professional could take a straightforward path to build experience and reputation in an area of business anywhere from the work-station to the corner office. Anything beyond that was already mapped out for them. However, traditional corporate silos and the career paths leading to the top of them are changing as emerging technologies become crucial to every aspect of doing business.

We live in a digital world where continuously advancing technology has been influencing the day-to-day lives of humans. Digital technology has influenced various fields globally including, but not limited to: education, economy, politics, and business.

With digital technologies like mobility, social networks, automation, big data and cloud computing now deeply implanted into every aspect of our professional and personal lives, today’s HR Mentors/CHROs/HR leaders need to possess a completely new set of understanding on business and HR to sustain the transition, and succeed in this digital era.

Another interesting trend is that in the last two years, a rough estimate indicated that about 300 CHROs have moved from one company to another, or have taken up a self-employed status for various reasons. Change is the new normal.

During our discussions with several CEOs of large organizations, it was found that in CEOs perceptions, especially in the HR domain, that there is no great difference in terms of skill sets needed for execution of HR activities in the organizations between Number One and Number Two.

To understand the implications of this change, we did a survey with our known people through attending various HR conferences in India and overseas, alongside having detailed discussions, analyses, and assessments with HR professionals and practitioners. We asked senior and middle-level HR managers of many large and medium-size organizations in private sectors one question: How do they spend their 8 hours every day in the office?

As a result, it was expected that in-house HR function are broadly getting divided into two parts:

1. OPERATIONAL: Tech HR, which is technology-led HR processes to achieve high productivity and efficiency. 95 – 100% of the HR processes are technology led today. In fact, the entire HR experience is technology-led from Recruitment & Selection, Onboarding, Performance Management, Induction Training, Compensation etc.

2.STRATEGIC: Governance (Organizational and Policies), and Compliances (labors laws, Industrial and employees relations). Organization design, structuring, designing and revising people policies, Compliances, employee relations and industrial relations and HR Audits. These are primarily strategic and technical HR functions designed to achieve effectiveness.

Learning & Development is increasingly becoming a coordination function, delivered through internal and external HR mentors with hands-on expertise. Some training modules are also available in-house and on online portals. Small bytes of learning can be accessed through video or skill-sharing sites. Face-to-face training designed to build up confidence, experience sharing, interactions, on how to work with the group, and the art of getting things done through team members will continue to be imparted through classroom, or off-site formats to bring in hands-on experience to participants.

Many of us are realizing that the past is no longer an indicator of future certainties. This makes career planning, and career development somewhat of a challenge.

We feel that the demand for HR professionals with expertise in these above two functions will increase. Especially for Number 2, as this constitutes rare experience and therefore, the importance of the HR function will increase tremendously.

HR will increasingly apply design thinking concepts for studying working activities and work-lives of the employees, to develop interactions, systems, and tools to make their employees’ work and lives better.

Therefore, the capability, capacity, and commitment of HR professionals will be put on trial in years to come. This profession will be in great demand and will be under great stress to deliver results in supporting the operations of organizations, with the ultimate goal of staying commercially viable in the marketplace.

It is foreseen that employment in the service sector will grow through direct and indirect, third-party roles. These third-party roles have already touched many millions in India. In a nutshell, to stay relevant, it is found that organizations who wish to increase the value of personal experience will have to constantly upgrade themselves in keeping to the context, content, and technology that is churned out before them.

Rakesh Seth: Chief HR Mentor, Corporate Trainer, Author, Writer, Speaker, Visiting Professor.

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