Organisations rely heavily on their workforce to compete in today's evolving and unpredictable economy. In order to ensure your employee's productivity is always top-notch, organisations first need to select the right people, put them in the right jobs, at the right time. The career that aligns with your employee's interest and makes them feel engaged, it is guaranteed that your organisation has earned a unique competitive advantage.
Talent management, especially employee engagement, is getting more and more challenging now than ever. Organisations need to take into account the increasing Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (or VUCA for short) world that we currently live in.
What is a VUCA environment?
VUCA is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Some even consider this terminology to be an accurate snapshot of the reality that every business has to face on daily basis.
Volatility is the unpredictable nature of change that moves in a random pattern. The cause of volatility can be due to digitisation, connectivity, trade liberalisation, global competition, or business model innovation.
Volatility can lead to Uncertainty, making it challenging for the decision makers to forecast the future outcomes of an event or issues.
The Uncertainty in combination with Complexity factor cause significant confusion and add another layer of difficulty to challenge the decision makers.
Ambiguity is described as the "who, what, where, how, and why" that are happening behind every issue or event that are in no way the decision maker can be ascertained of.
Various studies have revealed that many organisations rely heavily on their workforce to remain competitive and relevant in today's harsh economy. Having said that, a PwC research revealed that 37% of mid-sized companies' data left untouched in Excel or other similar databases.
The lack of visibility causes the organisations to be unaware of many things that are happening in the now, such as how many employees are there in a team, what are they doing, their level of productivity, what makes them feel engaged and motivated to keep on working. The employees can make a business sink or thrive depends on the level of their engagement.
Disengaged employees are a threat that affects the organisation's bottom line as well as loss of productivity. Thus, it is one of the organisation's top priorities to ensure the employees always stay engaged.
Employee engagement in the VUCA environment
Your company's talent management strategy should focus on overcoming any concern your employees would have towards each of the VUCA dimension.
How do you tackle each dimension? Volatility and Uncertainty often feed on people's fear of the unknowns. As such, the common retaliation that us, the human, tend to do is to come up with “an answer" that we deem reasonable. Such rumours and false statements would increase the Ambiguity to the already complex situation.
The HR department and senior leaders should take proactive actions that based off a simple formula Listen - Respond - Act to diffuse any untrue rumours, or at least lighten the problem.
Listen to the source of the concern
Rumours flying around for a reason, and one way to stop them from spreading is to frequently check in with your subordinates and listen to their concerns.
This action can be done via common methods like focus groups or management feedback which can draw valuable insight about the underlying issues. In addition, new ideas and breakthroughs also tend to derive from these in-depth discussions.
Humanise your response
In difficult times, the employees tend to turn to their leaders for answers or clues on how things are going. A great leader with high Emotional Intelligence is critical during times like this to persuade the crowd and to motivate them, which can eventually keep them engaged and reduce the risk of Ambiguity, Uncertainty to creep up against your staff.
By openly voicing their opinions and comments on the employee’s concerns is a more acceptable action to take than keeping everyone in the dark.
To adapt to changes also requires open, positive and continuous communication back and forth. Furthermore, organisations need to foster an inner culture that encourages agility and innovation. By training your workforce to be receptive to the changing environments, in conjunction with having a great leader that can clearly communicate the goals that the business is aiming for, your workforce will be able to see the situation in a different light.
If such change is positive and brought the company to a new high compares to the past, it is worth celebrating (which is also a great chance of letting your employees know that their efforts did not go unnoticed).
To compete in the VUCA environment, businesses need to be agile. To be agile, executives need the right data to make quality decisions and an engaged workforce to keep the company’s competitive advantage intact.