The business of human resources has evolved. It’s no longer just about personnel and risk mitigation, although, these certainly still occupy a good deal of the HR professional’s time. Now it’s about engagement, it’s about getting the most out of your workforce and driving business results.
But, even engagement had evolved beyond what it was just a few short years ago. Engagement is about more than the sweet perks, the free food, the ping pong tables, or whatever else has gone vogue since the techies started to introduce new ways to make employees stick around. Engagement is about mind share.
Engagement has become a competition for your employee’s time, attention and energy. The perks in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are about more than just giving your employees a fun culture to operate in. They are intended to remove worry and stress from other parts of your life, to free up your mind, to get you to focus on the job at hand.
Every day, you’re competing for space inside your employee’s mind. You’re competing against a whole host of variables (family concerns, personal issues, menial tasks, the internet, multitasking and a society based on ADD). It’s why Twitter was offering home cleaning services and nanny services to employees, it’s why Google has onsite day care for employees. But even with all of these perks, it’s the work that matters most.
If you want to capture mind share and you’re not in the game of giving perks out, you don’t need to fear. Sure, they’re great, who wouldn’t want to live in Facebook’s newly proposed housing complex (seriously, they are building houses now…it’s reminiscent of the steel workers in the Industrial Age living on site….we saw how that worked out)? In all honesty, the perks are nice, but the employees understand what they’re giving up to get those perks.
It’s not always what it seems to be. There’s an implied understanding that what comes with these perks is more of your time. It’s a tradeoff. Does it work for engagement? Maybe, but what really gets people engaged is challenging work.
If you want an engaged workforce, give them good work to do. Let them tackle real problems and work on real issues. If you want to fight for mindshare you need to give them work that is compelling to them and in turn, you’ll see them free up space for their work.