Imagine you’ve just invested a ton of time and money designing and implementing an employee engagement survey so that you can get a real sense of what’s going on in your organization because you know, you care. Now imagine the big day is here—you’re presenting the findings and recommendations to the senior leadership group. Overall, the data is quite good (with some pockets of concern), and you’re really excited to get an opportunity to talk about all the good things the HR team is working on and how it’s impacting the business. But your excitement starts to wane as the team starts to focus (over-focus you think) on some of sub-pockets of poor scores on things like career development and satisfaction with your boss. The tone of the meeting starts to shift: “HR needs to do a better job of…” and it goes on.
You know these are important components of building an engaged workforce and you also know that the heads of the groups that are driving the poor scores want absolutely nothing to do with HR in any way, shape or form. And they make sure their teams know exactly how they feel. In fact, they actively choose NOT to participate in precisely the type of initiatives that would address the poor scores. You try and explain why, but no one wants to hear it. You leave the meeting annoyed with a laundry list of things HR needs to do to fix it.
Ever find yourself in that meeting? Yeah, it’s an annoying one. Over the years, I’ve come to accept that there are some parts of the business who are eager for support and some who couldn’t care less. So, I focus on the groups who care. But HR is often still held accountable for good “scores” for everyone in the company. This got me thinking that there must be another model for how HR engages with the business. Last month, as I was complaining to my wife about our lack of cable channels she said, “Why do you always act so surprised that we don’t have all these channels? It’s not like you want to pay for it. You know we only signed up for basic cable.” That’s when it hit me. HR needs to adopt a similar model and offer annual service packages to employees… and if we were getting really crazy, charge them for it! Here’s the menu of options:
The Basic Plan (also know as the “Don’t Bother Us and We Won’t Bother You” plan). If you sign up for this plan you’ll get basic services taken care of like getting paid on-time, ability to participate in our benefits programs, and well, that’s pretty much it. You’ll be automatically enrolled in our annual merit program, but you’ll have to wait until everyone else has been given a raise before you get one. As an additional perk, you won’t get spammed with any requests to participate in any company-wide initiatives. And if you find yourself with an emergency situation on your hands requiring immediate HR attention, you’re going to have to sort it out yourself (unless you purchase our ER insurance program for a small fee every month).
The Deluxe Plan (also known as the “Employee Development Bundle”). As a member of our deluxe employee program, you’ll have access to all of the services in the basic plan plus 12 personal coaching sessions per year. You can use these sessions to work on things like developing your career, getting 360 feedback on your performance or figuring how to better work with Sally in accounting. You’ll have access to special content like training courses, and you’ll hear about upcoming career opportunities before they become public to give you an edge on your basic plan competition. In addition to being eligible for our merit program (before the basic plan, people) you’ll also be enrolled in our rewards program where you’ll be eligible to receive cash and other perks based on your performance.
The Premium Club (also known as the “We Have To Invite You To Join” plan). As a member of the Premium Club, you’ll have access to all the latest and greatest tools and approaches when it comes to developing your career. You’ll have unlimited personal coaching available to you 24/7 throughout the year, along with a career plan tailored to your specific needs. Not only will you have access to special content, you can have content developed specifically to suit your needs. When it comes to new opportunities, you’ll have the right of first refusal for anything that you’re interested in pursuing. You’ll also be eligible to receive extra perks like bonuses and stock options… and have first access to the annual merit pool.
If we did this, and segmented employee responses by plan and the people in the premium plan weren’t engaged, then we have a problem. But if you’re basic plan folks aren’t engaged, you go sell them an upgrade!
Andy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.