#Asia Now these ‘F’ words are welcome at any workplace

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Facebook, friendly banter, finance and fun — these tools are time-tested by big and small companies and there is no doubt they work, says the author

The author Vivek Patel is a Local Search Specialist at E2M, a digital marketing agency in India. He covers local search optimisation, link building tactics and social media marketing services.

No company can grow without the growth of its people. But with the change in employer-employee dynamics in the social media era, employers have to relearn everything they know about motivation. No, that pay raise won’t stop your employee from joining another company.

If you have read countless articles that give the same tips over and over again on motivating Millennials, you would know that they are big on flexibility, transparency, feedback and work-life balance.

So now, we are going to look further than the obvious. We will understand why despite serving the best coffee (for free), giving paternity leave options, having an open office environment and hiring life coaches, employees still complain about your workplace.

People-focussed growth: myth or reality?

Every company is required to keep aside an employee engagement budget which is mostly spent on annual picnics, lunch, small contests, team-building activities. However, a lot of workplaces skimp on these activities thinking team building or people growth is just plain hogwash.

Also Read: The real reason you should hire Millennial talent

If you have been reading The New York Times, the tales of horror at Amazon wouldn’t have escaped your notice. Even attractions like BroomBall, Bagel Mondays, Beer Fridays and a pet-friendly office environment don’t seem to have worked their magic on the Amazonians.

Despite that, the company is growing from strength to strength. Does that mean that people-focussed growth is just a myth, something that the new breed of HR managers and management degree holders have come up with to justify their roles?

Now let’s examine the other side of the coin – Google is a big believer in people-focussed growth and its entrepreneurial culture works wonderfully for the employees. Alibaba’s Founder Jack Ma has a people-centric and problem-solving approach in business as well as in the workplace.

Twitter, Edelman, Wegmans, Nike, Walt Disney, P&G – all are examples of successfully growing companies that have a great culture focussed on a people-centric approach to branding.

Could all these companies have it wrong?

The answer is no.

Weak people-management impacts the bottom-line, leading to less productivity, high turnover costs and increasing operation costs.

Let me cite a very strong case in point. Groupon folded its operations in 2011, firing 300 full-time staff in China. Apparently the company lacked total understanding of the market. Couldn’t the local staff have helped the company, if only it had cared to listen?

Many companies think that the reason their company is not growing is because their employees have stagnated.

The truth is you grow with your people. If you find your employees are under-performing, train them to make them perform. Understand that your average human employee is not a clock that you can wind and make it work all the time.

A mindset where you treat your people as ‘resources’ is truly detrimental not only to your employees’ but also your company’s growth. It is true that everyone is replaceable, but replacement comes at a cost. And what if the new hire turns out to be an under-performer too?

This is the time when you have to understand it’s not the employee but you that has failed as a company.

Motivating Millennials

So what is the solution?

Team building and a good HR team are good for starters. In fact, we have progressed to a point where these are a given for any company. But you would be surprised how many companies fail at both.

The solution is to care, really care. Whether you have 60 employees or 6,000, every person in your company should feel cared for.

Also Read: Millennials aren’t who you think they are and that’s a good thing

If you wish to retain great employees, start focussing on people and prosperity will follow.

Millennials are already a motivated lot. The new generation hasn’t gone to the dogs as everyone likes to believe. Don’t let their devil-may-care attitude fool you for a second. They care. They might not be vocal about it. Since they seem to be less hung up about things like social and political correctness, and more interested in gay marriage and immigration, it is assumed that they don’t care about old-fashioned things like value or acceptability.

You need to understand that they are just as excited about a new change or a new product as your top-level management. That new girl in sales may have a great idea for your development team. That website developer may have a great sales idea, but they were never invited to those meetings and so those ideas never came forth.

This might sound like a corny tragic tale, but the truth is its outcome can be tragic for your company, too.

Ignoring your employees is worse than underpaying them, as it directly affects their self-esteem. And good employees value their work and self-respect more than the next paycheck.

Another much-talked-about problem with this generation is job hopping. We are facing an all-out talent war in the US, the UK, Asia and many growing economies: employee retention has become a concern for everyone. From Oslo to Berlin, talented employees are flying out to any place where opportunity strikes.

The only way to retain top talent is to empathise. Trust me when I say this, people find it easier to leave jobs when they are undervalued than when they are underpaid.

Tools to make it happen

The best part about Millennials is that you don’t need lots of money to keep them motivated. The right use of social media and friendly banter will do the magic too.

Many companies use forums, company blogs and social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to promote employee engagement. Retail company Zappos uses a Twitter hashtag #insidezappos to keep conversations flowing amongst its employees.

Recently, Cisco celebrated a fun fundraising event: its very own ‘Movember’ where employees were seen spotting all kinds of moustaches. It even held a competition to find the best moustache-owner. A speaker was invited to shed light on men’s health. Cisco is big on fun and friendly banter and apparently people like working there.

Organisations are slowly beginning to understand what makes Millennials tick.

You can think of them as the 4 Fs – Facebook (social media), friendly banter (open communication), finance (not necessarily pay raise but paid empathy leave and loans at the right time) and fun (no explanation needed).

Your workplace would suck big time without these. These tools are time-tested by big and small companies and there is no doubt they work.

Also Read: How tomorrow works

I would really like to hear stories of employee engagement or perhaps some good team building games that we can try here at E2M. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at writers[at]e27[dot]co

Image Credit: Anchiy/Shutterstock

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