Employee engagement gets appified; Come on Letssamvad!

Employee engagement, communication and feedback are the oft repeated buzzwords today, in any organization that has a large workforce. More often than not, only lip service is accorded to these concepts, without any tangible process being put in place to institutionalize them and thereby weave it to the organizational fabric. In the absence of a structured and automated feedback system, both the subordinates and supervisors fall prey to the perception trap. In most cases, perceptions are and can be deceptive and may lead to incorrect appraisals and quickly foster employee disengagement. HR practitioners are coming round to a common view that an annual performance review comes way too late for an organization to take measures to address a problem with an employee, because by then the major part of the damage would have already been done. According to Gallup, almost 33% of employees in leading organizations are actively disengaged. This results in not only productivity losses but it also adversely impacts organization culture. It is not that all of these disengaged bunch are the bad fish, many of them are actually old stars or potential high performers, caught in the ambush of ‘so-called’ victimization by superiors and peers. In the light of the aforementioned facts it is imperative that a regular feedback system should be put in place to turn the workforce into a more engaged unit. The feedback system should be robust, ongoing, scalable and intelligent enough to throw actionable results. In the absence of such a system, employee expectation is set on anecdotal recollections of performance. This often results in grandiose self-appraisals or fosters unrealistic expectations from the management. On the other hand, supervisor evaluations are either hard KRA output driven or purely perception based. To weed out subjectivity from the appraisal process many innovations like maintenance of “Critical Incident Diary” or quarterly feedback sessions have been tried out in the past but they met with limited success. Annual appraisals are still the rule and not an exception. HR axperts aver that capturing structured feedback becomes a chore and gets discontinued after the initial enthusiasm dies out. So, we have employees rogering their organizations, in employee engagement surveys like Q12 run by Gallup. Perhaps, in many of these companies Q12 survey is the only time the HR function connects with the entire workforce. Sensing this gap many Fortune 500 companies like GE have started their own in-house instant feedback platforms — PD@GE (Performance Development at General Electric). Sniffing a big opportunity many startups in the West have floated apps that squarely address this void. To check out a few of the successful ones you may have a look at 15Five, 6Q, Hyphen and Vibecatch. In the Indian app space, the pioneer in this domain is Samvad, a startup based out of Bangalore. It is run by two passionate ex-IBM executives Manmeet Singh and Vipin Ravindranath. “Samvad” is a Sanskrit word that means ‘conversation’. The Raison d’être of this app, according to the founders, is to enable a meaningful and continued engagement in an organization, utilizing technology as an enabler. They had done extensive ground work for the past 18 months and the app’s beta version was piloted in January this year, in select large organizations. Post rave reviews & feedback from CEOs and the HR fraternity a full commercial version was launched earlier this month. Samvad is hosted on the cloud and is available on both Android and iOS mobile operating systems. In the current avatar, it is recommended for mid to large sized organizations that have 100+ employees. Shortly, a lighter version would be available for SMEs and SOHOs. For enterprises there is an option of SSO (single-sign-on) to enable smooth adoption. It is worth noting that app customization and downstream integration to existing Employee assessment tools can be enabled as, by and large, Samvad’s technology follows an open architecture. The deployment is almost plug-and-play which means that the app is ready to use within 24 hours TAT, for any organization wanting to do so. The benefits that can accrue to an organization are listed below:
  • Helps an organization adopt the culture of open and continuous feedback
  • Enables all of workforce to get on a platform where a continuous conversation can happen on the performance of an individual
  • Give feedback to anyone in the organization and retrieve the same for annual appraisal discussions
  • Give anonymous feedback to anyone in the organization (Employees don’t have to run to Glassdoor.com, for airing their frustration!)
  • Seek feedback from anyone and everyone in the organization
  • Rate the feedback that is received
  • Appreciate a colleague and let their department or functional colleagues know the good work
  • Dashboards for HR to know the Feedback statistics
  • Analytical reports & MIS
The app can be downloaded from Google’s Play Store or Apple’s AppStore, but the services can be availed only when user licenses are bought. It doubles up as a multi-purpose employee communications and Feedback system that ties-in with the organization’s legacy HR platforms. So, instead of subscribing to multiple service providers for niche apps like TapMyBack for employee recognition or GetHppy for employee engagement, HR managers can have a single window solution via Samvad. Every Indian employee can relate to the famous Hari Sadu ad by popular job portal Naukri.com as most of us would have had the experience of working under a bullying boss who is always upset. These kinds of bosses contribute to employee disengagement and attrition. To compound matters in today’s world, there are forums available that can blow the organizations reputation to smithereens, if the bad managers get listed on the portals like eBossWatch or RateYourManager etc. Even Naukri.com is piloting a similar service to list the ‘Hari Sadus’ to forewarn the prospective employees. If you do not want your organization to be caught napping while company management feedback gushes out into the open fora, it is advisable that Employee Engagement is taken seriously and an enabling platform like Samvad gets integrated in your scheme of things.

Samrat Sinha

Samrat Sinha is Head Capability Building &amp; Channel Engagement, Tata Teleservices <!--more-->Samrat Sinha is Head Capability Building &amp; Channel Engagement, Tata Teleservices Limited. A seasone

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