A round-up of the Engagement Forum 2015 by Ron Thomas, Managing Directorr, Strategy Focused Group

20 presentations were done, executive panels and roundtable topics were all a part of the format.

This past week we concluded the 2nd Employee Engagement Forum organised by Informa and held in Dubai. It ended on a high note. As conference Chair, my closing thoughts were that we had covered engagement from every vantage point imaginable, we had heard successful case studies and met some of the most successful international HR leaders in the region. “But in the end, you as an attendee must make it happen. You most of all should be engaged because if you are not, your chances of success are limited.”

We all read about the level of engagement within organizations- we look at leaders, we focus on managers and lastly it is the employees that get the brunt of the focus. However, I feel that we as a profession must be engaged with what we do in order to carry this forward. Granted engagement starts at the top and it trickles down from there. Granted this is not owned solely by HR but we are the custodian.

Is HR a calling for you?
The only way that this profession moves forward to being an integral part of the organization is for human resources to be engaged with the profession to the point of almost being a calling. I read a recent article about Southwest Airlines. They get an enormous amount of resumes but they are only looking for driven people.

In their 2014 employee survey, when they asked whether people felt like their job was “just a job,” “a stepping stone,” or “a calling,” nearly 75% selected, “a calling”.

A career calling is a passion project; it is something you do tirelessly. When you are consumed with it time and money does not apply. It is something you never tire of –  you live, eat, breath and sleep it. People that blog for the most part do not get paid, however their time and energy is spent pouring over idea, blog topics and getting the narrative in tip-top shape. If it were a “job”, time and energy would probably matter.

Our key in HR is to have people that Human Resources is a calling for and not just a job with another project or initiative that they are in charge of.

Enthusiasm sells
Have you ever noticed how well things go when you are excited and feel great? Your enthusiasm sells. If you can’t tell it with enthusiasm, you can’t sell it. To get people excited about your corporate initiatives you have to enhance the narrative. That enhancement for the most part charges up the emotions and it is contagious. Underlying all this is making the business case, but the enthusiastic narrative is the driving force.

We heard presentations where marketing played a big role and their engagement initiatives were branded with all the accompanying marketing material. The head of wellness at a regional conglomerate walked us methodically through how they engaged their workforce with wellness initiatives. All of their senior leaders work-out and set the example for this initiative. Their enthusiasm has caused ever increasing participation rates throughout the ranks.

The new HR Capability
While this capability may not show up in the new skill set for HR Business Partners, it is a key component of successful people. Engaging, enthusiastic people create an aura around them. The people in your organization that have this capability always stand out. If they are in leadership positions, their departments stand out.

We must create that same level of enthusiasm in Human Resources. We should move away from the lifeless, staid department if we are going to win this “war on disengagement”. We have to create a level of excitement backed by facts. That level of excitement that uses a methodical process in problem solving. That level of excitement that will allow us to become the embedded HR consulting practice that gets things done, all the time bringing our excitement and enthusiasm along as the guiding light. Let this become the success model that is structured into every facet of your department.

So as 2015 closes down and the faint beam of 2016 is off in the distance, make this is the year that you pull out all the stops. Show the excitement that comes from getting things done. Show the excitement that this will be your department’s year. All the stars have aligned and it is up to each of us to move it to the next level.

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon