Case Study: An Engaging Insight

Case Study: An Engaging Insight


Frederick Herzberg's book, "One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees?" is indeed significant. Herzberg has stressed that addressing concerns that make employees' unhappy at the workplace are not sufficient to make them happy. This is clearly evident today since organisations are focused on enhancing salaries and remuneration, while employees are motivated by work challenges, recognition and responsibilities. The COVID 19 pandemic has brought forth a different set of challenges and responsibilities for the employees and the organisation. However, the biggest challenge is how both of them blend together and rise to the occasion.




Rahul is the Manager at Lotus Consulting Pvt. Ltd (Lotus), a company that deals in recruitment and training solutions for the health care sector. He is presently in a fix over the ways of engaging his employees to ensure optimum performance. The current pandemic-driven crisis had triggered fatigue and work alienation within the organisation. And he needed to rethink the employee engagement strategy to keep the workforce engaged. He was aware that as per the KPMG 2020 report, 75 per cent of the organisations had redefined their employee engagement and organisation communication strategies to cope with COVID-19.


Like everyone else, Rahul too was caught off guard by the disruption. He studied the action plan being carried out by other companies and came across a recent survey on old age homes by a public health institute which had also listed their accomplishments in keeping the elderly safe and healthy during the pandemic. This proved to be enlightening since a vulnerable group living in a particular shelter home group was observed to be more secure than all the other safe homes. The employees of this care home group were seen to be better engaged and motivated to ensure the safety of the inmates. They took utmost care to adhere to government guidelines and had also shifted to the care home to prevent the transmission from outside. In order to reduce the boredom and loneliness among the elderly inmates, the employees helped them to connect with their loved ones through video calls and kept them engaged through activities such as yoga and laughter sessions to boost their morale. When Rahul read this, he recalled his services as a volunteer in various public, private, and trust-based old age homes as a part of his company’s CSR efforts to give back to the society. For a greater insight on how the care homes had achieved this, he approached Mrs. Shanti, who has been an inmate at one of the old age homes for the last six years.


Rahul: Hello Shanti Ma’am. How are you doing? How is the COVID-19 situation at your end?


Shanti: Hello Rahul. By the grace of God, everything is OK so far. However, I am not liking the present situation. Earlier, I used to venture out, was able to meet my family members and friends, but now, I am confined to this place. The uncertainty of the future is frightening. Life has become monotonous and black and white, and we go through the same routine every day. It has become hard to pass time and watching television has also become stressful. Throughout the day, they show death figures, and the stories of old and co-morbid people dying makes me feel as though my death is also fast approaching. Hence, I have stopped watching television. I am glad that the staff here are treating us like their family members and go two steps further to save us from transmission by using all possible means.”


As Rahul listened to Mrs. Shanti, he imagined similar feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion among his own employees. Owing to the economic uncertainty, the employees were very low on morale and worried about their future. Although, as a leader, Rahul tried hard to maintain transparent and persistent communication with his subordinates, he was curious to know the differing people management strategy at the old age home.


He contacted Sahil who managed the administration to understand how the care givers had kept themselves and the inmates safe.


Quoting the WHO report on mortality and rate of infection in inmates which was significantly high in old age care homes in western countries as compared to those in India, Sahil stated, “In India, jobs are not high paying in NGOs when compared to the corporate, and hence, employees in the NGOs are not motivated merely through monetary benefits. We recruit individuals who are compassionate, demonstrate a sense of responsibility and believe in reciprocity. We need people with core values who are aligned with the vision and philosophy of our organisation. We ensure that there is a close rapport among all our elderly occupants. We see them as a part of our family, and this has made us do all things possible. We socialise our new employees to practice and believe the elderly inmates as their own family members.”


“Absolutely, I have seen the commitment and compassion that they exude at work. Even your inmates have spoken very highly about the care givers.”


Rahul observed. Sahil continued, “During the lockdown, we announced a mandatory twenty-four hour stay within the old age home and none of the employees complained since they understood that if they go in and out, they will put the inmates at risk. Their selfmotivation to ensure that their inmates are safe, as also the concern over their wellness super sanctioned everything else. Further, we consider ourselves as a trustbased organisation. Our vision is ‘to make a remarkable difference for the elderly’. We hold this as the sanctum sanctorum when decisions like these are to be considered and assert it as well. Even the senior management who weren’t required to do so, came and stayed with us to boost our morale and communicate the need for urgency to ensure the safety of the inmates. The old age home had to be made totally nonporous for anyone and everyone.”


Going back to Lotus, Rahul immediately decided to implement the insightful learnings in his organisation. In the last year, they had only managed to break even and had finished the existing projects. He realised that he needed to spend time with his staff to build trust, and communicate with them with a personal touch. Also, the first step that was required to be taken by him was holding informal meetings. He understood that meaningfulness and a sense of accomplishment at work led to a higher level of concordance, which was evident among the staff at the old age homes. But the problem lay in ensuring a higher level of concordance among the employees working for a corporate organisation. It is a myth that people only work for money in the corporate, and not for the company’s vision. Individuals are driven by their self-interest, values, and intrinsic motivation. And hence, it is essential to make them realise their competence and relatedness towards the work they do. They should be working not because they have to, but because they want to. Hence, the key is to convert the ‘have to’ into a ‘want to’ attitude among the employees. As rightly mentioned by Prof. Sumantra Ghoshal over creating a context around the employees by giving them a larger purpose to pursue, providing the necessary support, building trust in the value system, and nurturing selfdiscipline will lead to a higher level of concordance among engaged employees.


Rahul said to himself, “Now, the time has come to ignite concordance!”


Dr. Jallavi Panchamia is associated with Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar. She has researched and published papers in journals of repute in the domains of organisation culture, prosocial behaviour and mental health. She has been conducting MDPs and training sessions in the area of HR analytics and Interpersonal effectiveness. 


Dr. Mahaveer Golechha is Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar. His areas of expertise are Human Resources for Health and Healthcare Management. He has a Master's degree in Health Policy Planning and Financing from The London School of Economics and Political science (LSE) and Diploma degree from LSHTM, UK. Dr. Mahaveer also has a Masters and PhD from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.


Analysis by Ravi Mishra, Senior Vice President-HR for Global Epoxy Business, Aditya Birla Group



Rahul is in a dilemma over the right ways to enhance his company’s performance in the wake of the poor morale of the employees owing to the fear psychosis. His thoughts are shifted between balancing the pain and fear of employees and infusing positivity to enhance employee participation and contribution towards the sustenance of business performance. Research has proven that employee engagement is hugely responsible for optimum performance. Rahul intends to understand the impact of the pandemic on employee morale in other organisations, and thereby, impart some learnings and implement the same in his company.


It is a fact that employees can consistently perform at their best when they are fully engaged. However, the fast-changing dynamics in large organisations render it difficult to engage them. Also, every organisation is different in terms of life cycle, business, sector, the economic and social background of people, their expectations etc. Also, people have different levels of motivation basis their position and hierarchy in the organisational structure as propounded by Maslow’s theory of Motivation.


Professor Sumantra Ghoshal’s viewpoints about setting the context to pursue the people to align with a purpose are highly relevant. However, they remain subjective to the individual’s personal and professional journey. And more so among people who are at the midlevel of the socio-economic pyramid. Though people hailing from different levels in the pyramid reflect varied tangential viewpoints, they can be always persuaded to implement the given agenda.


Shanti has expressed extreme satisfaction with the service and the care and commitment from the employees at the shelter home. However, Rahul failed to understand the level of stress on the caregivers since they were unable to provide physical and emotional support to their own family members amidst the pandemic. While a company may be good for its customers and stakeholders, it may wield a different approach for its own employees. While employees join an Old Age Home owing to their aptitude in social services, one cannot ignore their basic instinct toward their personal and family fulfilments. Sahil has presented Rahul with the larger picture, but it is equally important to learn how Sahil is getting along and addressing the engagement needs of the caregivers.


Every organisation is different. Hence, Lotus needs to ascertain the most common cluster of dots to design the strategy for employee engagement. It would be relevant to conduct an employee survey with a mix of closed and openended questions to understand the issues in the heart and mind of people. Rahul should share the outcome of a survey in a town hall meeting, and subsequently, arrange a focused group discussion to decide the priority, time-bound action plan with measurement of success and periodic communication to share the success.


Another dimension to the true success of this model is measuring the impact on the other side of the index - the tangibles and intangibles that shall prove the relationship between the level of employee engagement and its impact on the organisation indices.


We should not forget that employee expectations are highly dynamic in nature which organisations need to constantly review and continue to scale, since older interventions are institutionalised and bear limited impact. Like the S curve – which begins with a downward approach before curving upward - work should be initiated to draw another set of interventions. At times, due to external or unprecedented threats like the COVID-19 Pandemic, organisations must be prepared for an immediate course correction in plans.


While Rahul’s intentions of intervention are spot-on, its success depends upon the quality of the plan, its execution, and periodic reviews.


Analysis By Rohit Hasteer is the Group CHRO for, Prop and




Rahul wants to rethink the employee engagement strategy at Lotus Consulting and is clueless on the ways of engaging his employees, and more so amidst the pandemic that has further triggered fatigue and work alienation. His approach appears to be in the right direction where he is trying to engage his people by aligning them with a higher purpose. When employees are intrinsically motivated they become psychological ‘owners’ of the organisation and drive performance and innovation through ownership.


One of the best ways to engage employees to ensure optimum performance is by helping them understand the purpose of their role, its linkage to the overall business strategy, and the impact of a job not-well-done. If people do not see what their job is translating to, they may not find their job meaningful and hence may be unwilling to put in the required effort. Communication is the most powerful tool that Rahul can leverage here to ensure people are motivated; especially in an uncertain environment. This can be achieved through all-hands meetings, company newsletters, townhalls, etc. Likewise, while approaching any project, leaders can underline the importance and objective it aims to achieve. For instance, Lotus Consulting works primarily for the healthcare sector and is directly or indirectly working for a noble cause; especially in today’s time when healthcare professionals are seen as superheroes. Do employees understand this? Do they know how they are contributing to the society? Rahul should definitely look at focusing on these aspects.


He also needs to understand that every individual is different and has different motivators. Extrinsic rewards like money, incentives do motivate, but may not be enough to keep an individual committed for a long time. Hence, Rahul should look at tapping the intrinsic motivators which can range from a good work environment and the Long-TermIncentive-Plans (LTIPs) for greater autonomy at work & job enrichment.


Rahul has also observed that the COVID-19 triggered crisis has triggered fatigue and work alienation among employees at Lotus Consulting. This could be due to the looming uncertainty and ambiguity looming. Employees may also be stressed about the safety and well-being of themselves and their families. He should therefore try to dispel some of these fears by giving an empathetic hearing to the people and look at ways in which the organisation can help the employees during these times. Say, for instance, an insurance cover which bears the medical expenses of employees and their family members may provide tremendous respite in such times and can help employees focus on work without having to fret about the treatment cost. Leaders should connect with people and reassure them that the organisation cares for them and keeps its people informed about the business strategy and how it plans to mitigate risks during pandemic. At the same time, it may be a good idea to cheer the mood of people through small celebrations or fun activities/games as these can help relax the environment and engage people in such sullen and restrictive times.


Lastly, Rahul should definitely look at recognising people who display the right behaviour and values and are willing to work for the larger organisational objective. This can come through a simple pat on the back or appreciating the person in front of everyone. Not only does this go a long way in making the person feel valued, but also inspires others to emulate these behaviours. Boosting workplace motivation to build an engaged workforce is not a mean feat. However, the journey becomes easy if organisations are able to connect the employees with their vision, mission, and values.







0/3000 Free Article Left >Subscribe