HR Thought leader: Shubh Saha, Head of Technology and Analytics at Future Group Speaks on Employee Engagement

HR Thought leader: Shubh Saha, Head of Technology and Analytics at Future Group

What are the top 2 or 3 goals your organization set for med to long term?

Our greatest challenge is growth. 2015 we set our goals to achieve 5X growth in 6 years. The implications are profound. In last 20 yrs, our people, performance, process and technology mechanisms have got us to a certain point, X was delivered in 20 years. So same thing cannot give us deliver next phase growth which is 5X. It has to be done differently and we need new ways to help achieve these goals.

What challenges does HR or people function face in achieving these goals?

The biggest challenge is that goals set as a business, needs to be delivered by people. When we say people, there are two things. There are new functions that have come up as business analytics, customer experience and technology led retailing. When you have these new functions, technology is a key pillar of support. These need to be supported by new skill sets, which is not present in the organization now. So I have to attract top talent and retain them in these areas.

When it comes to traditional or already existing organizational functions, these have to be thought of differently. I need to identify new skills or upgrade our existing talent. My biggest assets are medium to high performers and medium to high potentials. These are the people who will continue to deliver, so I need to retain and hold on. I need them engaged and need to engage them with their growth, learning opportunities and so on.

How do you propose to engage your top talent? Have you been measuring engagement in your organization? How do you think you can do it in the coming days?

Engagement has been important for us. In light of the growth agenda, it has required significant focus and have renewed our focus in engagement. We now have a dedicated focus on employee engagement. It is not a fun activity and it is a serious activity. How can one enable people to collaborate across geographies, linguistic barriers and align people to a single organizational goal i.e. growth? Hence, we want to measure engagement more actively.

What is the difference between real time engagement Vis a Vis traditional annual engagement surveys?


Issue/ concern with traditional engagement Real time engagement
Engagement is an ongoing, 24 by 7 phenomenon, not a once-a-year activity. Organizations conduct annual engagement surveys, which ignores that fundamental principle This is a round the year or periodic measurement, which captures the mood or likeness or engagement over a time period, not at a single point-of-time
Engagement measured in the traditional manner keeps the information within the hands of HR function. HR decides the forum, extent and manner of sharing the information related to the survey People managers can observe the ‘pulse’ every moment, as and when someone responds. The drivers of this ‘pulse’ is also readily available. It gives the complete picture of what works and what does not

HR remains the process owner, but not a guardian of the surveyinformation and results

Surveys take about three months, from survey administration through results publication. The socialization of the report by HR takes another three months. Thus, people managers get only six months to drive large culture/ behavior change and cannot check the pulse in an ongoing manner It allows people managers to react or take actions, as required – some quick wins or some longer term actions
Engagement forms part of scorecard of people managers. If this once-a-year score is not the correct reflection of engagement, the scorecard itself is then incorrect! Like, business performance, engagement progress (or lack of it) can be monitored continuously and feedback mechanism can be used even for employee engagement
Surveys are long and carry the fatigue element. HR spends a significant time ensuring completion! There is no survey, and hence, no fatigue.

Why did you choose n!Gage? Was this customized to your needs?

As an organization our mantra is speed. Do it at the speed of thought. When you say, speed, it needs to be done on the go. Easiest possible accessible mechanism, which is mobile, real time features, hence nGage. We added few driver questions based on internal requirements and we built it into our native HR platform.

How can technology enable the future of work?

Technology in the coming years will primarily consist of social mobile, cloud, analytics and intelligence. These are the five pillars of tech of the future. Mobile app or ease of access enables information to be literally at my fingertips. Cloud enables accessibility anywhere, not restricted, less maintenance and don’t have to carry the burden of non core activities. Analytics includes data points I can collect real time for engagement and measure it. Any thing that can be measured, can be managed. Intelligence includes machine learning, robotics or bots where repetitive tasks can be automated. This is where the future of work lies.