HR leadership in an era of instant gratification

Employee programmes must meet demand for instant gratification – without becoming a drain on HR resource

HR leadership in an era of instant gratification

by Takashi Sato

We live in a more immediate and ‘like-driven’ culture than ever before. With digital platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, we’ve been spoilt by convenience. Only ‘on-demand’ and ‘right now’ will do.

Naturally, we take this need for instant gratification into the workplace. However, for HR teams, this can be a logistical nightmare and a drain on resource. Coordinating quarterly annual review processes is time-consuming enough, without needing to deliver on growing employee demand for round-the-clock feedback. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to cater for these needs. So, what’s the answer?

Back to basics
HR teams should encourage colleagues to share more positive feedback among themselves. This fosters a more collaborative working environment, increases motivation, and reinforces company values. And, of course, if employees take more responsibility to recognise and reward one another, it alleviates some of the pressure on the HR function. Leaders need to create a forum for this to happen – and, ideally, it shouldn’t be something they need to excessively moderate or it just becomes another task. Clear expectations must be set that this is a forum for celebrating success.

Make it real-time
To tick the box for instant gratification, the focus should be on celebrating small wins as they happen. It's all about recognising moments-in-time outside of 360-degree reviews. But how can you encourage people to break away from their busy day jobs – however briefly – to say a few kind words? Public recognition carries more weight, so empowering employees to do this will make them more likely to give praise in the moment. Taking this one step further and giving them the ability to gift small rewards to one another – for example a cup of coffee – can further boost engagement. Integrating this capability into employees’ day-to-day working tools and platforms (e.g. Slack) makes it even easier for feedback to be given in real-time.

Look into the window of success
Enabling peer-to-peer feedback can be an effective way to uncover hidden talent from across the organisation. So, it makes sense that HR teams should monitor conversations to identify emerging trends in the workplace. Does it tell you anything about the values the workforce feels most passionately about? Are there unsung heroes whose achievements go above and beyond the topics covered in their appraisals? Is there great work happening in one part of the business which could be replicated elsewhere?

According to Gartner, 70% of business leaders agree that employee engagement is critical to achieving business results. And, by 2020, 20% of organisations will include employee engagement improvement as a shared performance objective for HR and IT groups. Companies on this journey will be looking for more specific ways in which they can motivate the workforce and improve business performance.

Programmes established must meet employee demand for instant gratification – without becoming a drain on HR resource. This requires a fundamental culture change. Companies should be focused on instilling a culture of celebration which unites the wider workforce. This will ensure ‘on-demand’ workers feel satisfied, and employee engagement takes place in a sustainable and scalable way.

Takashi Sato is the Managing Director at Unipos Europe, an HR real-time feedback and recognition software born in Tokyo, Japan.

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