Read the text version

Published in the August Edition of Sunday Guardian Live.

Many years ago, I was heading the customer management function of a financial organisation whose unique value proposition was its range of financial services that included personal and business banking, home and contents insurance, and investments. Therefore, it made strategic sense to increase share of wallet via cross-selling. The key stakeholder that needed convincing was the frontline banking and call centre staff. They were a team that had a strong duty of care and were keen to Serve, not SELL. They did not want to do a McDonalds ‘would you like fries with that’ approach, which was a huge impediment to making the strategy successful.

Realising this, I changed the internal messaging and conveyed to the frontline team that they had a duty of care to ensure that customers had products or services that helped them. In addition, we made it clear that it was not a ‘would you like fries with that’ approach, but rather customer needs-based solutions. Simplistically, we replaced the four-letter word ‘Sell’ with ‘HELP’.
We also upskilled them and provided them with tools to cross-sell as a team, while also implementing a fun reward and recognition program. This resulted in the team selling 80,000 incremental products in less than a year.

This dramatic shift in staff attitude was based on a strategy that I developed using few key principles that are common to all human beings:
1) Be part of something bigger than themselves
2) Make a positive difference
3) Feel valued, supported and appreciated
4) Have fun
5) Be part of a tribe
6) Aligned to personal values
7) Personal growth

In other words, their job became purposeful and meaningful, where they could make a bigger difference which met their core emotional needs. These seven reasons are a universal requirement regardless of gender, culture and generation type that I have ratified with my various client, employee engagement and national benchmarking studies.

Today’s job market is a confluence of the newer generations of Gen Y and Z that make up for a growing workforce, especially in India, and of Baby Boomers and Gen X who are more experienced and are leading organisations. Their core needs are the same as I’ve outlined; yet, there is a critical difference between their job needs, which has caused a chasm between these two sets of generations resulting in The Great Resignation. To understand this better, let us look at the demographic composition of India now.
India is currently in its ‘golden period’ where approximately 66% of its population is in the working age group of 15-59 years. Of this, 34% are millennials, i.e. people aged about 30 to 45 years. Add to this the growing numbers of Gen Z joining this force. For the next 25+ years, India’s working population is going to be on the rise.That’s definitely good news. As an organisation, you need to cash in on this opportunity the right way by filling the chasm between both generation sets by making their job purposeful, meaningful, aligned to their values and allowing them to make a difference their way by understanding a key thought process differentiating them. The older generations’ temper their core needs with their materialistic, ego and safety needs, compromising to stay in a job that may not be fully satisfying. However, the younger generation wants it all NOW. The Great Resignation is happening because organisations are not providing their key staff – the Millennials and Gen Z – with the seven core needs outlined earlier.

Recent studies show that over 70% of the Millennials and Gen Z in India are likely to change jobs by the end of this year. But similar studies in the USA stated that many of those who shifted jobs under The Great Resignation wave were unhappy even in their new workplaces. This proves that the crux of the problem lies in the leadership’s lack of focus on employees’ core needs. Therefore, it is extremely important for business leaders to proactively engage in a mindset shift.
I often get asked by business leaders: “Why should we worry about employee engagement when staff are being paid to do their job?” Well, these younger staff are happy to forego a mortgage to experience world travel. The monthly pay-check is just a part of what they want from their organisation. Employees today are primarily looking for a greater work-life balance and a significant role to play in the building of an organisation. They are willing to go above and beyond and provide greater discretionary effort as long as the organisation gives them an experiential environment to thrive in.

When it comes to internal culture all roads lead to leadership. Hence, as a business leader, always remember John Quincy Adams’ quote: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Hence, ask yourself as a business leader, what specifically have you done in the last month to tick these boxes:
Dream more
Do more
Learn more
Become more
This is what is required to capture the imagination of the younger generations.