We changed the entire area of our terrace in the company premises and converted it into a fully functional gymnasium, managing rights given to a branded company with personal trainers available for 18 hours (BPO). In the first month our HR Manager tried hard to get the registrations for the gymnasium, motivating employees to work out during their break time through posters, danglers & all sorts of promotional activities. However, there were just 7 registrations which included the MD and the VP.
The company decided to give it another shot and kept it functional for the next one month but there was no change, hence they decided to close the gymnasium.
What makes or breaks an initiative in an organization are people’s interests and preferences. Sometimes the HR department thinks that they are launching the best practices in their companies; however they get a major setback when the so called benchmarked best practice fails. And then they ask- “If it worked for the other company, then why not for us?”
The answer lies in the diversity of people and their choices, tastes and motivating factors. Some will be happy with a sport/games facility in the workplace, but others who may be avid readers might want a library instead, health freaks would opt for a gymnasium.
A forum member also posted a similar story about how the HR department launches new activities and how the employees do not participate in it. Then the entire blame for its failure falls on the HR people and rightly so!
Here are some facts which will help you in introspect on the HR initiatives as you try to put yourself in their shoes and think from their perspectives before launching any new motivational/ recreational/employee engagement activity.
Employee participation: Employee turnover was becoming higher every month, and all other activities were not giving the expected results, so we implemented a system of suggestion boxes at all the floors and asked for agents/CCE opinion on what would they would want the company to do to retain them. We got almost 500 plus suggestions and out of that more than 300 employees asked for similar things- More monetary rewards or gifts. One can also demonstrate in a credible way that the program saves, the organization, money and gets all the senior management support that you need.
We started some new initiatives such as ‘Star performer’ of the week or month, punctuality award, attendance award, and many performance oriented awards and they were given ipods, LCD TV. Employees who won two consecutive awards were given pen drives, Nokia/Samsung/Sony handsets, cameras and anything else they asked for. The attrition in 2 months time came down from 17% to 6 %.
Study their behaviour: Every individual is unique, has a variety of behaviours, value system and that is why their motivational requirement also differs from each other. HR department needs to go down to their level sometimes- feel, think like employees and then start working on new initiatives. Studying the people and their interests and behavioural patterns is very important to get the profitability and performance in the long run.
Communication: To ensure employee participation, the message should be communicated to them properly. Employees are keen to know what is in store for them, so they need to be informed and showed what are the benefits of the program/activity that the company is introducing. Clear communication with well-articulated words can do wonders. Don’t let your employees feel that it is just a passing fad like many others, keep it running, teething troubles will be there but long term benefits will also keep flying. Try it. :)
Incentives: The primary approach to high work and home demands with limited discretionary time for fitness is to move to the “incentive solution”, give incentive to the people to participate on their own terms and in their own time. Yes, some people would like to join an activity in the evening after office hours. If they want to play a game of Snooker after 7 pm to de-stress then why not, let them enjoy.
Focus Groups: Create some focus groups and re-frame the issue of participation, ask them for their opinions on relationships, connectivity, self-care, sleep, recreation, stress control, stress management, positive attitude, understanding others, communication skills, breaking monotony of work, engagement of employees and then let them decide what they feel is the best for their own teams. Composing focus groups can actually enhance the participation level for various activities which the HR alone may not be able to induce.
So, get going and increase the level of participation with small changes here and there and then measure the results, I’m sure if implemented properly these recommendations can go great guns, says an experienced HR professional.
Ciao till we meet again….. :)