Strategic Alignment With the Employees

What is Strategic Connect/Alignment between the organization and its employees?

Strategic alignment is the intrinsic alignment of the employee’s personal values and goals with that of the organization. A higher strategic alignment typically means the employees are better aligned with the org strategy and are contributing toward a common objective. Strategic planning and communication are important functions of an organization’s sustenance and help allocate resources to ensure that everyone is working towards one shared vision.
When employees do not feel the connection with their organization’s goals, mission, and vision, misalignment happens, which leads to a multitude of problems, not restricted to: low team performance, confusion in the workplace, organizational silos, low employee productivity, low employee engagement and hence retention, difficulty in attracting top talent, missed targets, and poor employee experience. To ensure that a strategic alignment is established between the employees and the organization, it is essential to understand the components which constitute and, hence, influence the strategic alignment as an engagement driver.

What are the components of Strategic Connect?

Three sub-dimensional drivers influence the value of Strategic Connect as an engagement driver that impacts the eNPS. We can consider them to be the building blocks of Strategic Connect. They are: Brand Image: Whether employees feel proud to work for the brand. Vision & Strategy: Are the employee’s personal values and goals aligned with that of the company? Leadership: Does the employee believe in the organizational leadership to take them in the right direction and uphold the organizational values?
In order to understand the impact of these first dimension drivers on Strategic Connect, a deeper analysis of the underlying factors impacting each of these first dimension drivers is required. To facilitate this, The Empuls Pulse Survey model considers second dimension engagement drivers that influence each of the first dimensional drivers of every engagement driver.

Brand Image

According to SHRM, the 'Brand Image' dimension reflects what the organization communicates as its identity to its employee. It encompasses the organization's mission, values, culture, and personality. A good employee brand image essentially translates to the brand communicating to both existing and potential employees that it is a great place to work.
In the Empuls Pulse Survey, there are three second dimensional engagement drivers that impact the Brand Image. They are how an employee perceives their organization is performing in : Socially Responsibility Organizational Performance Customer Satisfaction or Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Social Responsibility: Do the employees perceive their organization to be socially responsible?

Do the employees consider their organization to be socially responsible? In a world that is increasingly becoming aware and responsible about societal issues and environmental sustainability, working for a socially responsible workplace is taking precedence. Research has shown that being socially responsible in a community is a key employee engagement driver, yet only 10% of SMBs invest in them. Hence, the need for organizations to be socially responsible is also becoming important as employees want their employers to reflect larger purposes and stand for values like inclusion, empathy, and environmental preservation. Therefore, being perceived as a socially responsible brand becomes an essential second dimensional engagement driver that impacts Brand Image, which, in turn, impacts the engagement drive score of Strategic Connect.
1.1.1. Best Practices to improve being socially responsible: Our best practices are based on the industry’s best practices and research suggestions from SHRM, Josh Bersin, and HBR. We propose a Plan, Do, Measure/Check, and Act framework based on the Demming cycle to ensure that the insights and recommendations have the desired impact on the eNPS.
Go beyond “cheque book” philanthropy and engage your employees. Make them co-own and feel that they are your partner in being socially responsible.
Plan and Do:
Plan: Creation of a CSR program and related initiatives Do: If your organization does not have a CSR policy or program, the first step is to create one. Studies show that employees generally want to feel like they contribute to more than just a company's bottom line. Run a survey on Empuls or have a department/team-specific focus group discussion to understand the causes that are close to the hearts of your employees. Choose a few that can be readily acted upon. You can also thematically work on a few, say Q1 for environmental sustainability or October for Mental Health-related volunteering. Time needed to act: 2-4 weeks
Activity oriented Plan: Involving employees in activities that contribute to societal welfare gives them a hands-on experience of the organization’s CSR initiatives. Do: Step 1: Identify areas and opportunities that involve active involvement of the employees, such as volunteering for a cause, fund-raising for a cause, clean-ups, collection drives for food and clothing, day visits to old age homes or refugee centers, etc. Step 2: Create a core group of employee ambassadors to drive the CSR initiatives. Step 3:Role of the employee ambassador: Ambassadors can help plan and coordinate community involvement activities and gather feedback about the program from their colleagues and peers. The group can help develop programs that promote service through volunteerism. Step 4: In cases where you have multiple office locations or work in a remote setup, create regional teams to enable employees who stay around the same city/town to work together on these CSR initiatives. Time needed to act: <2 weeks to begin/complete depending on the type of activity chosen
Others: Plan: Partner with local NGOs and other community-driven organizations. Do: Have an understanding with them to have your employees on the ground with them for a day/week to be involved in their activities. Time needed to act: 2-4 weeks
Plan: Policy change to allow volunteering Do: As a company policy, mandate/allow a few hours/days of volunteering to employees based on their tenure in the firm. Time needed to act: 2-4 weeks
Plan: Creating an social impact assessment report Do: Create a social impact assessment report to holistically track, monitor holistically, and evaluate the impact that your CSR initiatives have. Make it readily available for your employees to see. Let it be both broad and deep. Cover quantitative metrics such as the number of lives impacted, money donated, hours volunteered, as well as qualitative metrics such as lived experiences: beneficiary stories, testimonials, and employee experience. Time needed to act: 4-6 weeks
How to manage the above Plan and Do? – Choose an owner for whichever plan and do options are chosen. Let them be the super admin for the activity. -The super admin should add the option as a goal for the upcoming quarter and communicate the same to their supervisor.
  • They should also define clear metrics to define the progress in the initiative.
  • A quick discussion with other employees on understanding what would be the challenges that would stop the team from achieving the goal should also be gathered, and accounted for while implementing the chosen plan.
How do you handle the Communication of CSR activities? Communicating the various CSR activities done by your organization is paramount to ensure that your employees are aware about them.
– Empuls: Use the Empuls Townhall to keep your employees abreast about the various activities being undertaken. Create Employee Ambassador groups to facilitate employee conversations around the various initiatives being taken Encourage employees to post updates (even live ones)whenever they participate in any CSR initiative Institute a reward or recognition that can be given on Empuls for the employees who volunteer
– Company Newsletters/Website/Social Media Handles: Publish CSR activities undertaken as periodic reports on all these communication channels.
Measure: Anytime an action from Act is implemented, get employee feedback by running a 1 or 2 question survey on Empuls. Publish the survey results to both create transparency with your employees as well as seek feedback that can be incorporated in the Act. Continuously track and monitor the impact of the steps taken on the remaining responses of the current Pulse survey run.
Act: Use the survey inputs to improve on the plan and progress towards the desired outcome.

High-Performance Organization: Do the employees consider their organization to be a high performing one?

High-performance organizations have the organizational and people capabilities to drive financial and operational performance to execute their business strategy. From a financial performance perspective, it encompasses the organization’s financial credibility and profitability. From an operations perspective, it encompasses the tools, technology, and culture that help people perform at their best and move towards a common goal. Employees feel a sense of pride and want to work in high-performing organizations as such organizations allow them to function at the best of their abilities and enable growth. Hence, being perceived as a high-performing organization becomes an essential second dimension engagement driver.
Creating a high-performing organization is a journey, not a destination.
1.2.1. Best Practices for being a high-performing organization
Plan and Do: Plan:Establishing Organization Culture Code Do: Does your organization's leadership have clarity on what your culture is? Do you have concrete steps towards achieving the same? If not, the first thing to do is define your organization's fundamental cultural values and some associated goals. Next, create plans to achieve these cultural goals. The next step is to develop metrics to measure the growth in each of these cultural values. The last step is to collate and publish the cultural values and the metrics as a culture code handbook and make it accessible to your employees. Time needed: 4-6 weeks to create and publish a culture code.
Plan: In case you already have a culture code, understand and improve on it. Do: Step 1: Establish a common understanding of culture and have metrics for measuring the knowledge. Establish high-priority culture goals and have a plan of action towards achieving those. HBR’s research shows that high-performing cultures are characterized by an ability to align (gain clarity on vision, strategy, and shared employee behaviors), execute (move in the agreed-upon direction with minimal friction), and renew (continuously improve at a pace that exceeds competitors). These ̬three factors are also referred to as ‘organizational health.’ Companies use this definition of culture to find the specifics that matter to them and the right tools to measure those specifics. Step 2: Start and prioritize a few changes: research shows that it is impossible to meaningfully change more than five aspects of an organization’s culture in a year. Step 3: Integrate the culture change efforts with business improvement initiatives to ensure that both happen in tandem. An example for this: an organization wanted to build a culture of developing people and hence included peer coaching from high performers across its organization in its sales stimulation program. Time needed: <2 weeks to begin the exercise.
Others: Diversity: Studies and research show that diversity (including ethnic, racial, gender, and heterogeneous skill sets) lead to high-performing teams and organizations. Plan: Initiating diversity hires and evaluating status-quo on diversity Do: Apart from initiating diversity in hiring, evaluate your current teams and see if a slight revamp can lead to teams having more diversity in some way. Time needed: <2 weeks to begin the exercise.
External Communications: Plan: Improve external communication Do: Invest in PR to focus on stories around the organization’s financial performance as well as culture code. Such news should appear in reputable media periodically. Also, dedicate a portion of your social media communication for speaking about your organization’s financial and cultural goals. Involve the leadership in these activities. Time needed: 4 weeks to begin the exercise.
Internal Communication: Plan: Improve internal communication Do: The management team members can take turns to frequently have informal and formal conversations and communication with the entire organization, focusing on the financial growth, company vision, mission, and values. Open-house discussions, AMAs, and From the founder’s desk mails are some options to consider. Setting up appreciation and awards for people who uphold the organization’s cultural values while performing at their best will act as an encouragement as well as an example for others. Time needed: <2 weeks to begin the exercise.
How to manage the above Plan and Do? Create a two member team, one from HR and one from the leadership to take ownership of the entire initiative end-to-end. They should use the pulse survey insights to clearly define their goal, the timelines for implementing the action, and a plan to implement. This should be made a part of their KRA.
How to communicate? Announce the creation of the two-member team focussed on this goal The two-member team along with other HR and leadership members should use the Empuls Townhall to interact and facilitate discussions around your organization’s purpose, core values, and growth. Additionally, use Empuls to create awards and to recognize high-performing teams and individuals who reflect the organizational values in their work.
MEASURE: Anytime an action from Act is implemented, the two-member team should get employee feedback by running a 1 or 2 question survey on Empuls The team should also continuously track and monitor the impact of the steps taken on the remaining responses of the current Pulse survey run. Survey results should be published on Empuls to create transparency and facilitate conversations.
Act: Use the insights from the feedback survey to improve on the plan+do.

Customer Centricity: Do the employees perceive their organization to be customer centric?

Research says that organizations with high levels of customer satisfaction also have more gratified employees. How an employee perceives the customer satisfaction levels of their organization impacts their connection with the organization's brand image. Therefore, customer satisfaction becomes an important second dimension employee engagement driver.
1.3.1. Best Practices for having high customer satisfaction
Plan and Do:
Plan: Develop customer literacy: Customer literacy means knowing who the customers are and why they are buying from you. To help employees become customer-centric, they should be able to pass a customer literacy test that addresses these questions: Who are the five major buyers in the markets you serve? Who are your firm’s five major customers or most important market segments? If the market includes major potential customers who do not buy from you, why not? What is the customer value proposition of competitors that attracts and keeps their customers? Why do your target customers buy from you? What combination of service, value, reputation, product features, convenience, innovation or quality keeps them coming back? How do you ensure that your target customers have a positive customer experience? What do you do to build connectivity or intimacy with your target customers? Do: Create a customer literacy training program for all your employees. Time needed: < 2 weeks to begin the exercise
Plan: Measure and track the firm’s share of targeted customers, and contribute to their value proposition: Customer share—also known as a share of wallet or share of a customer—is replacing market share as the key measure of success. Customer share is the proportion of money your target customers spend with you compared to what they spend with your competitors. It provides a direct indicator of your firm’s reputation among its best customers—and it doesn’t just happen. Do: To please customers, employees need to know how customers react to their experience with your firm. HR can step in to help develop ways to identify, gather, distribute and utilize concrete customer data. Time needed: < 2 weeks to begin the exercise
Plan: Create a customer satisfaction index and monitor it. Do: This would start with conducting a customer satisfaction survey, collecting more insightful customer feedback through forms, FGDS, and in-person conversations, evolving a mechanism to address the friction points, and keeping track of customer satisfaction at every step of the process. Time needed: 4-8 weeks to begin the exercise
Plan: Creating a communication channel for customers to reach out. Do: In case the customer feedback is negative and addressing the fundamental issues at an organizational level would take time, create a customer hotline to create a communication channel for customers to reach out to complain. Time needed: < 2 weeks to begin the exercise
Plan: Aligning HR practices to the customer value proposition Do: The most value-creating HR practices are designed to meet the needs of customers and ensure that they have a positive experience. That is, HR needs to make sure that the firm’s employee staffing, development, rewards, communications and governance practices all work to recruit and encourage the skills and motivation needed for customer commitment. Such HR practices will build customer loyalty over time. Time needed: 4-6 weeks
Plan: Have L&D and events involving customers Do: You can invite your customers to be a part of both L&D programs as well as events (workshops, webinars, podcasts, seminars, panels) as speakers and participants. This will give them an insider view on what you are doing as an organization to serve them as well as let your employees know how they feel about your organization. It generates goodwill with both sets of people. Time needed: 4-12 weeks
How to manage the above Plan and Do? The customer success team should own this as a part of their KRA, define their goals for the quarter, and be measured against it. The customer success team should create a Customer champion partner for every customer and ensure that this partner checks-in at least once a month with the customer to understand how things are going.
How to communicate?
The customer champion partner should send frequent communications to your customers to gather feedback on your services or products. Publish customer testimonials and praise on Empuls and also your social media handles.
Measure: – Track the frequent customer feedback to understand how your interventions are going. Run a survey on Empuls to gather employee feedback on the initiatives taken.
Act: Use the data gathered to tweak on the plans and continue improving.