By Shiraz Khota
With the world gripped in a state of unprecedented uncertainty following the disruption of the pandemic and the transformational impact of technology, companies are facing an uphill battle with attracting, motivating, and retaining top talent.
According to Shiraz Khota, Human Experience Management Sales Leader at SAP Africa, the past two years have shifted the goalposts for every company wishing to build a high-performance culture.
“Employees today expect more from their employers than ever before and are willing to walk away from jobs if they feel companies fall short in their efforts, as can be seen by the Great Resignation. In response, top companies are investing in new tools and technologies to improve their human experience management capabilities, with a focus on personalization, diversity, and inclusion, meeting employee expectations.”
The Great Resignation is a phrase coined in the US that refers to the nearly 50 million people who left their jobs in that country in 2021 alone. Since then the trend has been observed in other countries around the world, most notably in Europe, where nearly half of all Dutch workers recently indicated they are likely to leave their jobs.
“In South Africa, the Great Resignation has taken a different form,” explains Khota. “Where in the US it was mostly lower-wage workers that resigned, in South Africa, it has been mostly skilled professionals seeking more favorable working conditions, higher pay, or more flexibility in where and how they work. This has understandably put immense pressure on businesses to attract and retain their top talent.”
One of the most significant changes in modern workplaces is the growing importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I). Khota says there is now near-universal recognition that having people from diverse backgrounds helps to build stronger teams.
“This has prompted employers to pay close attention to how they engage and nurture diverse employees, particularly the younger generation, which is quickly becoming the majority in the workplace.”
Given the importance of D&I and the value it can bring to the workplace, companies are advised to consider employee satisfaction from the perspective of each individual employee.
“Decades of science have proven that socially diverse groups are more innovative, better at problem-solving, and make better decisions than more homogeneous groups. But with most companies operating on a hybrid work model and considering South Africa’s broadly diverse population, keeping track of D&I can be hard without the requisite tools and technologies in place.”
One of the biggest modern challenges with building and managing high-performance teams is the vast difference in work styles and expectations among the different generations. For example, Baby Boomers have a different approach to their work and to how they use technology than their younger Millennial counterparts, who are typically more comfortable with technology and collaboration.
“It is critical that organizations offer a unique and personalized approach to employee engagement,” says Khota. “A 23-year-old graduate entering the workplace has a different set of career growth aspirations and expectations than a 55-year-old, who may be more interested in stability as they approach retirement. Understanding what each expects and tailoring the employee experience to match those expectations is crucial to retaining and motivating your workforce.”
Khota adds that this level of workplace personalization can be hugely tricky, especially in bigger enterprises with high staff counts. “Organisations can empower their employees by investing in tools and systems that automate learning and development and enhance career planning. This ensures closer alignment between the organization and its employees, leading to improved retention and higher job satisfaction rates.”
Advances in human experience management tools have made it easier than ever for organizations to track and measure employee sentiment toward their jobs, the company culture, and their overall employee experience.
Khota says employee feedback should be solicited regularly to better understand employee sentiment and ensure company activities and policies are aligned to employee expectations.
“Companies must invest in employee experience management tools to become better listeners. This enables leaders to foster a listening culture and make decisions based on employee expectations, ensuring that each employee’s individual needs are well understood and met.”
He adds that the transition to hybrid work models has made it more important than ever for organizations to implement systems and processes that keep the pulse of their employees.
“Human experience management solutions can bring employers and employees closer together and help ensure that everyone is working in alignment with broader personal and company goals. Companies that implement the correct mix of technologies, systems, and processes supported by a strong, inclusive culture will beat out their less-attuned competition for top talent.”
About the Author: Shiraz Khota is Sales Director Africa, SuccessFactors (HCM Cloud) at SAP