Employee Happiness – 6 Myths & Realities for you

I have spoken extensively about employee happiness and how companies seek to improve their profits with happier employees. However it is important for all of us to know where our energies should be focused to get the best results.

Myth 1: Great people management can keep the employees happy.

Reality : You cannot make a person happy or unhappy by great people practices. At best, you can keep them well engaged. Happiness is personal to every individual but as office is like a second home to every working professional, having a great work place plays a critical part in keeping the employee happy, but is not the only reason.

Myth 2: Following bell curve strictly speaks about the ability of the company’s great HR practices and their adherence.

Reality: Traditional HR practices of keeping strict bell curve were based on the ability to pay out to their employees based on a fixed percentage of top, high and average performers. This math created a compulsion of sorts in most of the organizations to follow the bell curve strictly. Such a practice ended up suffocating a lot of great performers as the fixed percentage based bucketing did not allow several of them to be suitably recognized. This normally resulted in creating an average performing organization where a lot of potentially good performers leave regularly or not taking efforts to perform high as they feel their abilities not recognized due to such rigid systems.

Myth 3: Bell curve is necessary as the payout to employees happens based on the commitment given to them, which is predefined based on their performance rating.

Reality: The chicken and egg story repeats itself here. Just because we plan to distribute the available funds to employees in a fair method, we device the bell curve under a notion that the management defined numbers only are the right mix of performers. Most of the progressive companies have junked this old model and have abolished the bell curve. The only decision what management has to take here is that the payout finally happens only based on the funds available with the company and not with a predefined percentage. Surveys reveal that most of the employees feel happy to get right acknowledgement of their performance instead of money with unfair acknowledgement.

Myth 4: Great organizations can keep employees engaged and happy all the time.

Reality: It is not possible for any organization to keep every employee engaged every time. Even the best organizations have failed to keep their infallible image over a period of time. It is generally seen that happiness of individual employees has more selfish motives and in most of the cases not necessarily aligned to the organizational goals. However, great organizations most of the time are able to create an environment of engagement where individuals understands that their alignment with organizational goals is directly linked to their benefits which would in turn make them happy.

Myth 5: Employees look for a brand name to feel engaged and feel pride

Reality: Brand only gives the initial feeling of safety and engagement. However just like a platoon of army commandoes, they get engaged only with a great team and their leader. This ultimately is very local and personal and overwrites the value of brand quickly. It is rightly said: Employees leave their managers and not the companies.

Myth 6: Good policies and a lot of practices in people areas means a great people oriented company.

Reality: A company can only create a framework of practices and policies on which ultimately people have to walk upon. Only good and caring colleagues and great leaders make a great people oriented company, everything else supports that.

What would you like to add to this list? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by IndiasGreatest.com ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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