Sorry, You Cannot Buy Employee Love With Money Alone

Image credit: iStockphoto/nd3000

HR leaders worldwide are focusing on employee engagement to motivate the workforce under the new normal. But Asian leaders have a disadvantage.

Gartner’s Global Talent Monitor 4Q20 indicated that only 12% of Asia employees reported a high level of discretionary effort. It is lower than the global average of 16% of employees who are willing to go above and beyond their defined job responsibilities, according to the study that surveyed more than 20,000 employees from over 40 countries.

A high level of discretionary effort is a good indicator of employee engagement. It means talents are more willing to help others with heavy workloads, look for ways to perform the job more efficiently and be more likely to stay in the job. The study found that among those with a high level of discretionary effort, 57% also reported a high level of intent to stay in the job, but only 23% said the same in Asia.

In addition to a lower level of employee engagement, HR leaders in Asia also deal with increased employee stress and burnout due to the pandemic which is further amplified by the new hybrid working environment.  

Not everything is about money

To catch up with the lower employee engagement, Asia HR leaders don’t have to spend millions.

The Global Talent Monitor indicated apart from compensation, work-life balance and stability are the other two essential attributes influencing employer selection. The firm’s senior director analyst, Rob O’Donohue, noted that employee burnout and well-being are becoming other key priorities in the new hybrid working environment.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of managing employee well-being, and the lessons must be taken forward to shift toward a more healthy, balanced, and sustainable approach to maintain momentum,” said O’Donohue in his recent research.

The question is how. O’Donohue turns to the “feel-good” hormones — dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins (DOSE). By creating an environment where DOSE is naturally released, organizations can energize employees and help them reduce stress, avoid burnout and maintain momentum, resulting in healthy and engaged employees.

Maximize mini celebrations

O’Donohue noted dopamine has a significant impact on us feeling pleasure. Humans release dopamine when being rewarded, or simply “knowing you are working toward the goal and on the right path, your body will release dopamine.”

“Knowing the key role that reward and focus have in helping to keep motivation high, executive leaders must ensure their employees are reminded that they are working towards their goals and making progress,” said O’Donohue.

One way to create an environment that triggers dopamine is to provide frequent and mini celebrations during a high-intensity sprint.  

Aiming to help Malaysia executive leaders to reward and appreciate employees in a hybrid working environment, eGift system provider Giftee Malaysia has recently partnered with HR application altHR. The partnership allows altHR users to easily offer small e-Gifts like coffee, ice cream, or restaurant vouchers to their talents through their existing HR system.

“Providing recognition beyond monetary compensation helps employees feel valued and appreciated, and an eGift system offers a great way to celebrate your team and their accomplishments meaningfully,” said Kathryn Lee, head of Digi-X, the developer of altHR.

On top of helping other organizations digitalize and motivate the workforce, altHR is also practicing what it preaches.

“At Digi-X, we place importance on recognizing employees who have gone the extra mile to help their teams and our customers,” said Lee. “Through eGifting and other modules within altHR, it allows us to easily connect with, motivate and engage our team members with small tokens of appreciation.”

Integrating appreciation and listening within HCM

This partnership may offer a simple feature, but it demonstrates the strategic role of human capital management (HCM) tools.

O’Donohue noted the formula to trigger the release of DOSE also requires organizations to build a gratitude attitude and offer rest and recharge at the workplace. Putting these theories into practice means business leaders need to use HCM tools better to measure an individual’s performance and listen to the voice of the employee (VOE).

“Drive greater adoption (of HCM technology) by embedding solutions into the daily activities and productivity tools of both employees and managers,” suggested Gartner’s Jeff Freyermuth, senior principal research analyst, in his recent research.

Freyermuth said more existing HCM tools are expanding their offerings; business leaders can evaluate their existing applications and concentrate on the synergies between previously isolated and discrete activities.

Instead of spending on technologies, leaders can enhance employee engagement by implementing a “continuous and more personalized approach to employee listening, performance, and development by providing the proper cadence, tools, and activities that align to the organizational culture,” he concluded.

Sheila Lam is the contributing editor of DigitalWorkforceTrends. Covering IT for 20 years as a journalist, she has witnessed the emergence, hype, and maturity of different technologies, but is always excited about what's next. You can reach her at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/nd3000