ESOMAR YRA-2011 Preriit K Souda Six people Six lives One hope


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Shorter ESOMAR version of Six People Six Lives One Hope- Listening to Employees
Won Best paper in Below 30 category at ESOMAR World Congress 2011-Amsterdam (Young Researcher of Year 2011)

This story revolves around a professor (fictitious) who attempts to solve everyday professional problems to improve job satisfaction thereby reducing future attrition (a key concern today). However job satisfaction as discovered, is also impacted by overall happiness in life; a large part of which is governed by several factors beyond the office cubicles. But this does not mean that Companies cannot influence this aspect; professional life and policies adopted by HR departments can impact some of these factors to improve overall happiness; thereby increasing both job satisfaction as well as employee retention.

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ESOMAR YRA-2011 Preriit K Souda Six people Six lives One hope

  1. 1. Page 1 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 SIX PEOPLE SIX LIVES ONE HOPE LISTENING TO EMPLOYEES Preriit K Souda ESOMAR Office: Barbara Strozzilaan 384 Eurocenter 2 1083 NH Amsterdam The Netherlands Tel.: +31-20-664 21 41 Fax: +31-20-664 29 22 Email: Website: Publication Date: September 2011
  2. 2. Page 2 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system of any nature, or transmitted or made available in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of ESOMAR. ESOMAR will pursue copyright infringements. In spite of careful preparation and editing, this publication may contain errors and imperfections. Authors, editors and ESOMAR do not accept any responsibility for the consequences that may arise as a result thereof. The views expressed by the authors in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of ESOMAR. By the mere offering of any material to ESOMAR in order to be published, the author thereby guarantees: • that the author - in line with the ICC/ESOMAR International Code of Marketing and Social Research– has obtained permission from clients and/ or third parties to present and publish the information contained in the material offered to ESOMAR; • that the material offered to ESOMAR does not infringe on any right of any third party; and • that the author shall defend ESOMAR and hold ESOMAR harmless from any claim of any third party based upon the publication by ESOMAR of the offered material. Published by ESOMAR, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Edited by: Deborah S. Fellow COPYRIGHT
  3. 3. Page 3 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 ESOMAR is the essential organisation for encouraging, advancing and elevating market research worldwide. With more than 4,900 members from over 120 countries, ESOMAR’s aim is to promote the value of market and opinion research in illuminating real issues and bringing about effective decision-making. To facilitate this ongoing dialogue, ESOMAR creates and manages a comprehensive programme of industry specific and thematic events, publications and communications, as well as actively advocating self-regulation and the worldwide code of practice. ESOMAR was founded in 1948. ABOUT ESOMAR MEMBERSHIP ESOMAR is open to everyone, all over the world, who believes that high quality research improves the way businesses make decisions. Our members are active in a wide range of industries and come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including research, marketing, advertising and media. Membership benefits include the right to be listed in the ESOMAR Directories of Research Organisations and to use the ESOMAR Membership mark, plus access to a range of publications (either free of charge or with discount) and registration to all standard events, including the Annual Congress, at preferential Members’ rates. Members have the opportunity to attend and speak at conferences or take part in workshops. At all events the emphasis is on exchanging ideas, learning about latest developments and best practice and networking with other professionals in marketing, advertising and research. CONGRESS is our flagship event, attracting over 1,000 people, with a full programme of original papers and keynote speakers, plus a highly successful trade exhibition. Full details on latest membership are available online at CONTACT US ESOMAR Eurocenter 2 Barbara Strozzilaan 384 1083 HN Amsterdam The Netherlands Tel.: +31 20 589 7800 Email: ABOUT ESOMAR
  4. 4. Page 4 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 SIX PEOPLE SIX LIVES ONE HOPE LISTENING TO EMPLOYEES Preriit K Souda INTRODUCTION In the last 24 months, many of my friends moved to new jobs. Some changed for obvious reasons; while others had some new reasons to shift. Retention has become a significant issue with Human Resource departments worldwide; just to give an idea of the problem, British companies lost £42 billion in 2009 due to an attrition rate of 10.5%, while in 2010 the attrition rate was around 24%, according to a Telegraph article published in October 2010. It prompted me to think about why people switch jobs and what I could do (if I were a Human Resources-HR manager) to retain them. To understand and gain insights on the phenomenon of attrition, secondary data analysis was carried out on available macroeconomic data ranging across happiness and factors affecting job satisfaction. Based on this, hypotheses were generated which were validated through primary research (cross-continental survey). For bringing core issues to life, six different pen-portraits were created to visualize different problems faced by employees. We also created a seventh character (The Hope) called Dr. Chuck. He is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (USA) does research on HR policies and is an avid tweeter. HOW IT ALL HAPPENED (METHODOLOGY) Before I move ahead it’s important to mention that not a single dollar was spent on this entire project. I started off with a simple purpose in mind; for a knowledge worker, what can make their life at office better? But life at office is not only about life between the cubicles, it is affected by factors that go beyond the four walls of the office. Hence, I expanded my objective of study to a greater impact - what makes people happier in life with a primary focus of interest on their professional life. I divided my secondary data research into two parts. First the macro level study where overall happiness or satisfaction with life was analyzed. In the second part, I analyzed various office related factors contributing to overall professional satisfaction. For overall happiness, I took an index called Positive Wellbeing Index (yearly) used by OECD and measured by Gallup. Positive Index measures the wellbeing experienced by respondents. Eighteen attributes of wellbeing were used which were condensed into six factors and found contribution (towards Positive Index) using a methodology called Bayesian Belief Network (Precision - 83%). This gave me an idea as to how much quantitative attributes contributed to the Positive Wellbeing Index. Moving on to in-office analysis, I used data available from the various offices of TNS and other companies working in Employee Insights and ran analysis on that data. Data made available was continental data, of which one of the attributes available from the existing dataset was the Overall Satisfaction Index (office). I linked this index with five other attributes like Motivation to rejoin company, Perceived strength of company in market, etc. and found their relative contribution on office satisfaction index using PLS regression. I also obtained continental metadata on opinions of employees on 54 attributes. I used correspondence maps which showed the relative performance of each continent on each of the 54 attributes mentioned above. After having studied all this data, I had a clear view on the problems faced in different countries and continents. But problems need to be solved. Hence I researched several HR documents, articles in management consulting literature and best HR practices used around the world, held talks with HR consultants and talked to people from different geographies about different and innovative HR policies used in their respective countries. Based on this exercise, I came out with a list of possible solutions to various problems. Now in order to find possible acceptance for these solutions, a primary survey was to be used and in order to keep the survey to a manageable size, the most important solutions were kept inside the survey for testing.
  5. 5. Page 5 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 Now I had two aspects on the table, Problems and Solutions. Different countries, different cultures: should I go for different surveys for different countries or a single survey worldwide? I found that several HR departments of various MNCs are converging to similar worldwide practices. Different countries may be at different stages of economic development but basic intricacies of white collar work were similar (unless affected by law or society). Additionally, with MNCs converging to these universal HR practices, local companies are also being forced to be on the same page in order to retain talent. Hence I decided to roll out a single worldwide survey. The survey was launched in six languages- English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. Initially survey links were sent to my contacts in the United States, India, United Kingdom,, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and Scandinavia, and they were asked to pass it on to their colleagues. On the other side, a link was posted on several groups on LinkedIn (alumni networks to HR groups to networking groups for professionals), several IEEE forums, blog forums for business professionals and industry specific forums. OECD, World Economic forums, European Youth Development, and WPP pages on Facebook were also used, in addition to some 50 other Facebook pages. For China, links were posted on QQ while for Japan mixi was tried. Yet posting a link only may not help you capture attention; there needs to be constant activity on a posted link to get people interested. Several techniques were used for that. Finally, I succeeded in gathering around 400+ (433 to be precise) responses in 144 hours. WHAT I FOUND AND WHAT OTHERS SHOULD DO (FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS) Happiness Secondary data analysis on OECD data showed that the Positive Index (Overall Happiness) was being affected by Employment- 38%, Financial Health- 22%, Life (Health)-18%, Work and Leisure- 14%, Support System- 3%, Law and Order- 2%, Education-0.5%. (Driver Analysis used: Bayesian Belief networks.). Dr. Chuck’s tweets, “Professional life being among the most important factors affecting overall happiness and hence influencing factors like, say, health which is linked with professional benefits (insurance, wellness programs, etc.), profession can increase influence of its impact on overall happiness. Hence HR departments should strive to contribute (indirectly) to the overall happiness of their employee.” (See figure 1.)“ Fig 1: Effect of Employment
  6. 6. Page 6 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 IN THE OFFICE Based on driver analysis on cross-continental TNS data on employee satisfaction, I found that important attributes contributing to the Job Satisfaction Index are Colleague Co-operation, Salary, Pride in work, Training and Benefits. Further breakdown showed the following as illustrated in figure 2. Fig 2: Job Satisfaction Index Pay, Communications from management and Career Growth are motivators for Asians and Europeans but they are dissatisfied with these. In Europe, Change is viewed negatively. Health, Safety and Adequate time allotted to do work are Hygiene factors for European workers. While they are satisfied with Health and Safety, they are dissatisfied with the latter. Asians are satisfied with the extent of concern for quality by their management and safety. Colleague support is a big motivator for Asians and they seem to be satisfied with this aspect. (See figure 3.) Fig 3: Motivators & Hygienics in Europe & Asia
  7. 7. Page 7 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 Analysis across regions revealed differences and common themes. Let’s look at differences first, through our pen portraits… HATSUTO MORIOKO (TOKYO, JAPAN) Hatsuto Morioko works as a design engineer in a big technology company based in Tokyo. Hatsuto is overworked, clocking almost 12-14 hours every day and is not even complaining. While I worked on this project, I questioned myself whether Hatsuto is one of the few work-committed Japanese employees or is he one of many; isn’t this overwork affecting his overall happiness in life? Rich western countries score low on rest while Japan, though being in the same category, scores high on it. But vice versa is seen on enjoyment. This confirmed the belief that Japan has serious work-life problems and was further strengthened by WHO papers showing work-life problems along with other issues like declining birth rates, long working hours and detached personal life. Hence, Hatsuto is not an odd man out. It’s a problem grappling Japanese workplace (and society) in totality. Dr. Chuck tweets, “Japanese workers need to spend more time on leisure and with their families even on weekdays. Work-life balance needs to be promoted by HR departments in Japan. Organize seminars to promote work-life balance, give access to work-life consultants and give greater flexibility options”. MARTA STEWART (LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM) Marta is always unhappy and attributes her unhappiness to work related problems; wants to leave her present job. She says that she is overworked, gets deadlines difficult to meet, ends up burning the midnight oil and remains irritated all day long. She just wants to get out of this job. According to BBC, one-third of the British population has sleep problems resulting in daytime sleepiness and lack of freshness. Our cross-continental analysis also revealed dissatisfaction with time allocated for given work. Dr. Chuck tweets, “Marta needs to have an honest discussion with her supervisor about time allocated to do the work. She also needs to consult work-life consultant and discuss her sleep patterns.” (See figure 4.) INSIDE THE OFFICE (MOVING ON TO COMMON THEMES ACROSS THE GLOBE..) Based on Cross Continental Survey Fig 4: Factors affecting Job Satisfaction. Shown here are percentage of respondents satisfied(right) or dissatisfied(left) on these attributes
  8. 8. Page 8 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 Survey respondents place salary and colleagues as top influencers on job satisfaction; career growth also figured out as an important factor. When asked about their satisfaction on these different factors, salary and benefits came out as the one with lower satisfaction ratings and highest dissatisfaction. Salary being a very important factor impacting satisfaction, low ratings is a concern. Career growth (another important factor) also showed lower satisfaction ratings and higher dissatisfaction. There is dissatisfaction with senior management and job related training. Though respondents were satisfied with their colleagues, company’s culture showed low satisfaction ratings. Dr. Chucks tweets, “Team chemistry is important; but it’s the company’s culture that influences how colleagues gel with each other. Often teamwork (colleagues) is defined as an influencing factor in job satisfaction but it’s the company culture that influences teamwork. Company’s culture in turn can be managed and moulded (if need arises) which can influence team chemistry and hence leading to overall satisfaction. “ Only 59% of people believed that their work would make the world a better place, indicating a need for companies to project the wider impact of their work which in turn could add pride that affects job satisfaction. Seventy-eight percent of employees feel the need for ethics training while 40% need an open door policy. Dr. Chuck tweets, “Both stem from the dissatisfaction with senior management after 2008. Many people cited the 2008 debacle where senior management was let off with golden parachutes while lower staff had to suffer. Adding ethics training and increasing exposure of senior management to employees will reduce the mistrust of Senior Management.” ALEX ZHANG (EUROPE) A few months back, Alex took up a lucrative job as a factory manager for a retail chain. A young employee, he had barely completed his education but managed to get a transfer when his company opened a new plant in a European country. He was to lead a bunch of native workers (some young, some elder to him). He left the job in four months. He attributes his failure to the country’s work culture. Was this the reason or was there some fault on Alex’ side? Let’s look into issues concerning colleagues. While it’s obvious that the majority (91%) would like to consider themselves sincere to their colleagues, sincerity ratings fell down by 20% when asked about sincerity towards them. Eighty-nine percent of respondents were comfortable working with multinational colleagues and 80% didn’t mind having a supervisor from another country. Dr Chuck tweets,” Dislike for people based on nationality is thing of the past”. Yet around 56% of respondents were uncomfortable working for a supervisor (like Alex) with lesser qualifications. Age does not seem to be a concern between colleagues except when your supervisor has counted lesser birthdays than you (53%). Dr. Chuck tweets, “Companies should take into consideration age/experience and education before placing him/her in supervisory positions. In cases where the supervisor has educational superiority but has counted lesser birthdays, onus lies on young managers to respect age differences and avoid getting into age conflicts. Similar advice holds for managers like Alex where they need to give respect to employees with higher education while putting in more efforts to earn respect as an able supervisor.” Fifty-two percent of respondents showed interest in having forums providing them access to network with their colleagues worldwide. Dr. Chuck tweets, “Usage of such forums needs to be emphasized further by HR departments as it not only eases off collaboration issues but also creates a closely knit social structure which can help retain employees.” Ninety-one percent felt the need to update their professional skills. This indicates that white collar workers are becoming aware of the need to update. Sixty-two percent said that they had indicated their desire to update to their companies. Yet when asked if they would like to go to college to update their skills, only 38% showed interest while 28% were unclear. On the other side 77% were interested in attending seminars and other short duration learning events. Fifty percent of respondents who had attended some kind of seminar found them useful in daily work. This indicates that employees need short doses of skill update and not the longer ones like a college degree. Dr. Chuck tweets, “This raises the need for Executive programs (that have been on rapid rise lately) and HR departments need to tap in on this trend. A tie with a university can also be helpful for companies who wish to keep their employees updated.” Employees can also get on-job skill updating in innovative techniques by involving academicians in live projects where academicians bring in their innovative ideas and employees learn on job. Fifty-five percent were fine with their work related travel while 21% were neutral. There was no clear opinion on the use of teleconferencing as 31% liked this option and an equal number disliked it while the others remained neutral. One possible reason can be technical glitches that make teleconferencing an unpleasant option or another possible reason can be the belief that meeting in person is more effective than the virtual meetings. Dr. Chuck suggests dual usage of physical travel and teleconferencing, saving money while also giving employees a chance to interact in real.  
  9. 9. Page 9 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 Flexibility has been gathering a lot of interest lately and 84% of respondents prefer flexible working hours while 70% are ready to adjust their time for project needs. Dr. Chuck calls this as a mutual give and take. This is an important finding for companies which do not believe in flexibility or despite being in rule book don’t enact it. ADAM PAYSON (NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES) In talking about hiring and firing, one person who is always at the top of my mind is Adam Payson. Adam recently got a job in a financial company dealing in currency trading. He had been unemployed for the last 18 months. He worked for a big financial giant that fired him during 2008 debacle. An extremely talented and successful analyst from Dallas, TX was let off as the company could not afford him. Had I been the HR manager, could I have retained a talented guy like him while still not impacting the balance sheet? Fifty percent of respondents were satisfied with their company’s hiring policies and 61% wanted to be a part of the process by acknowledging the need for employee referral programs. Dr. Chuck tweets, “Employees want to have a say in who joins their company; colleagues affect their overall satisfaction and hence need to be facilitated by HR dept.” On the other side, 56% were neutral on their company’s firing policies. This response is not shocking, given that there is optimism on the American economy’s revival and Indian/Chinese companies have not yet adopted hire/fire policies to the extent adopted by the west. Dr. Chuck tweets, “Firing needs to be explained to an employee (like Adam) with an honest discussion (honest exit interviews). An interesting solution that has been used by several companies is to send their employees for say a 6 month partial paid leave for social work (instead of firing them).” Forty percent of respondents showed their readiness for this option while 33% might consider this. This option can help companies retain their talent (like Adam) during a downturn; can also enhance its social brand equity. Because firing affects employee morale and productivity, some of the ways to avoid firing can be- reduction in salaries, allowing employees to work part-time in non-competitive industries, cutting benefits and reducing their hours of work or sharing employees between departments.    On talking with several HR consultants, the need for temporary or project based workers came out in discussions. But 63% of respondents rejected this option which is obvious given the lesser security this option holds. Yet with changing economies and profits pinching companies, this option is becoming a hard necessity to swallow. Dr. Chuck’s research reveals that companies need to increase the monetary incentives given to temporary employees to make this option worthwhile. Companies do not have to give employees long term benefits, leading to massive savings. PRAKASH PATEL (MUMBAI, INDIA) A week ago I saw an interesting article in a magazine which reminded me of Prakash Patel. He recently changed his job. He wanted to be a senior manager after being manager for the last two years but his organization was not giving him growth. He is an extremely dynamic and performance oriented guy. Prakash is a big loss for any company. But what can an HR dept do when they are unable to give vertical growth? Career growth is an important factor affecting satisfaction and has very low satisfaction ratings. There are operational issues in getting everyone promoted at equal rates. Dr Chuck tweets, “Instead of vertical growth, horizontal growth should also be considered in which employees gain exposure to various departments, leading to an increase in their overall knowledge about the company’s operations.” Forty- seven percent of respondents showed interest in this option while 38% will consider the option. Sixty-five percent of respondents also approved of having an internal job/project board where they can apply for jobs/projects that interest them. Internal job boards can also help in facilitating horizontal movements; hence easing off the pressure to give vertical growth. Pay and benefits were found to be the most important attribute and one with the lowest satisfaction ratings. Forty percent of respondents showed interest in variable pay while 38% showed interest in considering this option. Dr. Chuck tweets, “HR depts. should promote this option with greater interest given that respondents are ready to take risk on pay while still enjoying the safety of having a job. This option can also be used when companies are unable to give career growth to young dynamic workers (like Prakash) but wishes to retain them.” Regarding benefits, health insurance appeared to be the most valued benefit. Sixty-four percent believed that health concerns affected their work life while only 37% wanted their company to track their health (possible reasons can be mistrust and privacy issues).
  10. 10. Page 10 – YOUNG RESEARCHER AWARD 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 Dr. Chuck tweets, “Introduce a point based tier/stage system (like a videogame or a layered cake with various stages-which is customizable by employee’s preference). (See figure 5.) Employee needs to gain certain number of points based on performance to reach these tiers and maintain on that tier; result of which they get related benefits. Figure 5 RADHA SINGH (BANGALORE, INDIA) Lastly, let me introduce Radha Singh, a corporate lawyer who works in one of the high courts of India consulting mainly on corporate discrimination cases on gender bias. She had left active practice due to her pregnancy but joined back a year later but fell three years behind her male colleagues; forcing her to join her junior’s law firm as an assistant lawyer. Her story sparked the need to ask about gender issues in my survey and look for possible solutions on issues concerning women’s career growth. On gender issues, 64% believe that gender did not affect work productivity but 65% believed that maternity leaves affect women’s professional growth. Additionally, seventy-four percent of respondents considered the gender of their supervisor irrelevant. On breaking up these findings on the basis of gender, women were expected to rate higher on being discriminated or having stronger views on women issues. But the differences in male and female opinion were marginal (8% - 10%). Dr. Chuck tweets, “Today’s younger generation feels that gender bias belonged to the past and are hopeful of what lies at future workplaces”. In order to reduce maternity’s effect on women’s professional growth, work and time flexibility can be offered while women employees are on their maternity/post pregnancy periods. Maternity aid (financial) can also be used to help women pass through early ages of child. Due to population decline in several parts of the world, these steps can be helpful not only to women employees but also to society in general. Shared parenting concepts like paternal leaves can also be considered in addition to help from Work-Life Consultants. Finally Dr. Chuck tweets, “Follow my advice and you can retain your future generation of employees”.