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Sarahah is the latest rage in the world of social media. Designed with the purpose of offering positive feedback and constructive criticism it has 300 million users and counting. What makes it exciting and possibly intimidating is that the comments are anonymous and therefore it is for the user to make sense of what is being said and decide whether to use it or just ignore and move on. As with any such open medium, there is much trolling that comes with some useful feedback.
Corporates have been using their own version of Sarahah for a while; it is called the 360 degree feedback. Deployed using technology that enables one to solicit feedback from stakeholders all around, it is essentially a tool to enable development of the individual. Feedback in this case too is anonymous but in most cases users do get a sense of which group is it coming from- Customers, peers, Leaders etc. The idea of course is to reflect on the feedback received and then creating a development plan of sorts.
There is an opportunity though for a Sarahah like platform to be deployed by Corporates. Where does one see this opportunity? With Leaders surely to begin with. Sarahah could become the ultimate 360 tool for CXOs, offering them organization wide feedback without fear or favour.
The biggest challenge that organisations face these days is the complexity that they seem to be inherently creating for themselves as they move towards competing better in an uncertain environment. This has resulted in the distance between Senior Leadership and employees, only increasing. Our global engagement research validates this, clearing calling out Senior Leadership as a key driver of engagement but at the same time warning us on dropping satisfaction with perceptions on senior leaders on how they are being involving and inspiring of employees at large. If anything many leaders seem to be unaware and ignorant of this reality as they continue to assume that formal means of communication are delivering. Also through the few questions received during town halls or virtual connects, leaders assume that they are creating an environment which is open and transparent.
Unfortunately this is not the case, data tells us so.
Leaders need to have a better understanding of on ground realities and challenges as they navigate their organizations through significant external challenges. The buzz that they receive from their immediate peers or subordinates might have its own colour and need not contain the complete picture. Customer issues, collaboration challenges, process breakdowns are all issues that impact employees on the ground every day. Some of these might have a significant impact on innovation or market share. Often it is too late by the time Leaders hear of these challenges, competition has already captured turf or processes have broken down in a manner that it significantly impacts organizational outcomes. Most importantly, the workforce today, comprised increasingly of millennials, is keen to be heard, keen to share feedback and prefer being part of organizations where they believe leaders are open to ideas, and criticism.
The future of work is one where specialised people skills will co-exist with automated AI-based processes as colleagues in peer communities that will deliver innovation and customer service. While we create real time outcomes through AI and machine learning, it will be equally imperative to drive real time people enablement through open listening- Sarahah or otherwise
By Ajith Nair, Director- Culture & Engagement Practice.