Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Resolving concurrency of engagement issues and directing limited HR bandwidth

There are several industries where having a distributed workforce based in branch offices or stores is a common scenario.

Interestingly many of these also have a relatively higher degree of attrition compared to workforce's concentrated in few work environments.

Another myth is that we actually can use demographic information to determine homogeneous employee groups. We believe demographics should be replaced with motivators.

We have been studying these for various facets on employment experience for the last three years now. We have theorized to create a model for effective people management in such scenarios and are trying to present this in a simple way.

Some key people challenges in a distributed workforce scenario

  • The primary engagement channel is supervisor. It is impossible and cost prohibitive to provide either HR support or any other form of support on a full time basis to branches/locations
  • While corporate offices / HQ’s create policies / guidelines , the implementation is always driven by regional HR with the local manager as the fulcrum point
  • There is known variation in interpretation / adaptation of such policies/guidelines and generally the reason for such is business context/contingencies. In many cases they are not implemented or ignored as well. 
  • Most events / information that head offices receive are in a lag fashion and there is very little that is concurrent or that will help resolve issues while they are occurring.

The current preferred method of understanding the degree of engagement is a sampling based voluntary survey once a year and analysis and actions arising from that have a lag by about 3 to 6 months.

So by the time you have acted on feedback many who actually gave feedback have left.
The data used for decisions is largely a gut feel or anecdotal data and many times generalized from a single discussion.

Some questions have emerged from this study
  •  How do I know if policies/guidelines are being followed consistently everywhere
  •  Can I know how well my employees are engaged or are disengaged at different points of their life cycle
  • How do I know of issues / challenges which may be de motivating to people as they happen so that I can do something about them
  • Can I really get some early indications of dis- engaged employees especially the high / moderate  performing ones so that I can take some corrective actions to prevent where possible this category of attrition
  • How do I best use the limited HR bandwidth that I have at my disposal to direct them to the spots where it is really required. 
  • Can I convert some of my lag indicators to lead indicators on performance potential
  •  How do I know where I am failing to provide the employment experience that I promised during hiring to the individual.
I will try and answer these questions in the next post using a method we think works after having tested this across multiple companies .

Meanwhile - please give your comments