By | December 1, 2011

Tom Dumez, vice president (HR) of Kent Records, discussed employee engagement at a conference in theUS. Excerpts: “Let me challenge you with some statistics. Did you know that 46% of employees are either reactively or actively disengaged, have misguided loyalty, or are actually there mostly to negatively impact your business? These employees cost us way too much money year after year, yet we usually keep them because they have been here so long. Why do most companies historically hold onto the ‘fat’ for so long, instead of trimming it?”
In an era where talks on cost cutting measures are more than just whispers in the office aisles and have moved beyond the water cooler chats, it’s surprising that complacency still exists. But it’s a malaise every workplace is stricken with.
Sandeep Choudhary, regional practice leader at Aon Hewitt, a human resource consulting major, doesn’t mince words when he calls it a disease. “Generally speaking, everyone’s intelligent, obedient and fit for a particular job considering they have fulfilled the requirement spelt out by an organisation. What differentiates the complacent from the driven is the initiative,” he says.
It’s this lack of initiative, which Dumez termed ‘fat’ and Choudhary ‘disease’ that has led to companies take employee engagement seriously. Case in point: National Thermal Power Corporation. The old-world mammoth has quite a few initiatives in place to address and avoid complacency. Among others, it sponsors employees for full time BE, MTech and PGDBM programmes in reputed institutes. “This helps give a fresh start to their careers and avoid mid-career slump,” says an NTPC spokesperson.
Disease Alert
In the workplace, complacency can be defined as a sense of comfort coupled with a lack of interest in addressing key organizational issues or areas that need improvement and growth. Mid-career is the operative word here, as most employees who get disengaged fall in the mid-level management.
Companies are realizing the importance of keeping the employees engaged. Take for instance, ONGC that has launched Gyandhara e-learning programme last year where online certification courses were provided to field executives. “Studies have shown that lack of required abilities and skills cause disengagement. Such factors can be addressed through HR interventions,” says an ONGC spokesperson.
Even private institutions are recognizing the need for such interventions. Sunil Goel, director, Globalhunt, an executive search firm notes that New Age businesses like IT, BPO, financial services and also other MNCs have significantly brought down employee complacency levels.
“Many organisations have idle workforce, which they don’t optimize and utilize properly. Invariably, some become complacent,” he points out. The tricky bit: employees don’t even recognize when they get infected. Complacency stops you from putting in your best and the quality of work inevitably suffers.

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