By Pritvhi Shergill, Chief Human Resources Officer, HCL

For every organisation to succeed there are certain fundamental prerequisites. Progressive organisations of today place a pronounced emphasis on putting the Employee First. Though at a superficial level, creativity and the ability to arrest attrition might seem to be two completely separate concerns, an in-depth analysis concludes that a common string connects them together. Organisations that truly instigate innovation, consistently welcome ideas from every employee, irrespective of his/her role, enjoy a higher degree of stickiness with people who value freedom to ideate, decide and act. This practice automatically translates to a culture where employees feel valued as active stakeholders in the growth of the organisation.

The search for creativity and innovation in employees of an organisation divests the onus from the leader to generate all the ideas. When the employee becomes an active participant to seed new ideas, organisations see a multiplier effect in performance. This is because today’s average front-line employee is well informed and brings insight in his/her approach to solve problems and can address challenges which addresses the market dynamics sometime better than more experienced managers. This happens because we see that interaction between the front-line employee and the customer is what drives the ‘real value’ add as they are closest to the customer’s context.

We see that Generation Y or millennial employees especially observe their professional life as an extension of their individual beliefs and value systems. Hence they are passionate about taking ownership of activities that are beyond the outlined description of work. Many companies are encouraging individual employees to step up and use platforms they have invested in to tap this personal dynamism and align it with the larger organisational goals. It’s the responsibility of the leadership and HR to serve as an enabler to employees to use such platforms as this generates grass root innovation and inspires personal accomplishments leading to significant collective contributions from every employee in the organisation.

Inverting this pyramid of leadership also cultivates a spirit of intra-preneurship within the organisation. Contrary to perceived norms, today it is possible to harness an entrepreneurial spirit even within organisational constructs. For this to happen the work environment and organisational culture has to be conducive towards nurturing innovative ideas that lead to value creation. These ideas might be business / mission critical or lead to technical / process work improvement or help grow organisational capability. In order to sustain value creation across these and other areas, it is necessary to have the right platforms for successful ideas (and some that failed!) to be rewarded and recognised.

Every employee should work in an environment that is transparent so as to be able to discuss his/her abilities and challenges with colleagues, reporting managers and leadership teams. This experience further reinforces an employee’s trust in the organisation and its culture. Consequently, through experience he or she shall be assured in terms of the available support for new ideas and feel empowered to start fresh ventures like a new service line or suggest new ways of working. Over a period of time, these ideas can be harvested into multiple projects and programs with appropriate guidance and mentorship from senior management.

Needless to say ensuring consistency in the culture that enables, engages and empowers employees at the workplace is key. It can be achieved by an authentic sense of purpose and self-belief that transformation will enhance value. Ownership and self-sufficiency to drive change is a way of working for people in such organisations, irrespective of their seniority (both in terms of actual work years and years spent in the organisation).
By ensuring that we put the Employee First at the workplace, organisations see a workforce emerging that never puts the Customer Second.

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