The Employee Whisperer
July 28th, 2010
In the OB in Action Case Study - The Employee Whisperer, we discover that a new way of thinking for employee motivation in the workplace is "fun". By "fun" it was meant that the employees were given incentives to laugh while at work and enjoy what they do, to make friends and think outside the box, which the business discussed in this article, Kenexa, is supporting as a new wave to employee motivation in the workplace. The concept is that by making the workplace a comfortable and enjoyable place to be the employee is more apt to look forward to going to work and is also more productive while there. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this case and my immediate instinct was to look the company up on line to see if they had any job openings (lol). This has always been a concept that I have supported throughout my working career because I have seen the benefits of dealing with stress and conflict with humor and lightness as being a more positive approach in the workplace than anger and confusion tends to be. Before we develop some insight into the case in question we need to question the issues that the Kenexa system might have in the workforce in general. Many times something looks so good on paper that we question why everyone and every company is not running with the concepts supported by a system such as the one that Kenexa implements throughout many of the businesses that they work for. What we do not see from this article is the businesses that they may have tried to help but failed within and the reasons behind those failures. Many of the initial obstacles to having a company like Kenexa explore options for improved employee performance through motivation and feedback are some of the basics such as cost, company size, type of business, and management style already in place to name a few. Many companies today are suffering in the wake of the downturn of the economy and do not have the financial excesses or upfront capital required to hire a company such as Kenexa even though the supposed financial outcome could in the end improve the companies bottom line. Another consideration is company size. While the style that Kenexa employs is generally tailored to the business it would seem that larger companies with more infrastructure would have more cause to use their methods for improvement rather than smaller companies without much management layers. We could assume that smaller companies with less layers would be easier to reform but sometime that is not the case when you might be dealing with a specific type of employee or product. Many time there is no movement to be had and other ideals such as increased quality of the product would need to be established as a goal or increased output since promotional incentives or financial incentives may not be possible. Also to consider is that management in place may not be easily retrained to embrace to concepts support by Kenexa for success. Many of the managers in older more established companies come with many years of experience behind them and tend to stick with the “tried and true” methods for management. This often included the need to view work as work and not as fun. The established norm for a business may be seen as a values add more than happy employees. Especially in today’s marketplace where the adage ”if you don’t like it leave - everyone is replaceable” rings true more often than finding value in the employee who is already established and has considerable work knowledge already in place. So what would be alternatives or other options open to businesses that might not embrace Kenexa’s basic mode of reform within a business unit? This is somewhat hard to decipher since we don’t actually have a picture of how Kenexa actually starts or performs the transition within a workplace. But it would naturally be to their advantage to have different scenario’s in place to be tailored to each...
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