The poor economy has caused people to get either stressed by doing the “work more with less” routine OR it has caused people to question their job security in fear recent layoffs. As an HR pro, you have probably given your managers the standard speech about how they need to be more visible and communicate more with their teams. If they are great leaders, they should already know that. So, where am I going with this? I propose that you tap into peoples emotions during this month. Find out how emotionally engaged they are in their NCAA March Madness brackets. Wait a minute. Before you EXIT out of this post, let me explain…
Understanding emotional engagement is tough. There are thousands of surveys and assessments you can try. There are just as many that work, as there are that don’t work. However, being more aware of your surroundings and work environment works better than any survey or assessment. Use your awareness to tell you something about the state of your company’s engagement level. Watch for signs and signals, not HR metrics.
One sign that might tell you of an engagement issue is your people’s level of involvement or enthusiasm about their NCAA March Madness bracket. Here is my breakdown into 3 levels of enthusiasm to watch for as an HR pro:
Level 1–Many departments, including HR, has a bracket contest. Your boss plans to cancel work at noon and throw a party to watch the opening rounds. Regardless of your interest, all people will show up for free food and happy hour with the boss and other senior leaders. This level is like achieving a black belt in Karate. It is hard for enthusiasm to get to this level. It can take months or even years to get your employees this enthusiastic about March Madness. Sometimes major changes and culture shifts need to occur. When a company is at this level, employees dare to disagree with the boss to tell them their team sucks and why their team is better. This is a good level to be in.
Level 2–There might be an office bracket competition, but people are doing it to pass time or find something non work related to do. It is also a good conversation starter to network with the higher ups. But overall, they could care less about the bracket and who wins. Two things could be going on at this level. People are either really busy doing value added work OR people do not want to talk to anyone more than their job requires them to do. Be cautiously aware of what is going on during this level. Things could be good OR starting to get real bad.
Level 3- People have no idea it is March Madness. When some enthusiastic person brings it up, they get shot down with a work request to do more with less. The local HR person even set up a policy that outlaws NCAA brackets and betting pools. If your company is in this level, fix it or get out fast.
So which Level is your company? I have worked in all three. Currently in Level 1, but who’s counting? Rock on with March Madness!