Technology and HR in 2021

In my previous article, I had taken upon myself to analyze and discuss the emerging people management trends in 2021. And as for technological approaches, one of the most important trends of 2021, I had left to be discussed later as a standalone piece. Technology is not my strongest suit, yet as an executive I constantly must keep in mind and understand the benefits that technology brings to the business world. The core reason for this is the ever-evolving needs, habits, and work styles of the generation. A more technologically-able business world is no longer a choice but a necessary.

How many robots will you hire this year?

Last week, one of my friends from HR announced to me that we have hired our first robot to our HR team, that we even circulated a welcome message. “How come?” I asked, ‘Is it like one of those C3PO things out of a sci-fi movie, walking around like humans?” “No,” she answered laughing, “This is an invisible robot, existing in our system and database, it will perform the repetitive large-scale operations we have ongoing. It will feed on the data we produce, and by processing that data in the background it will produce results.” The company, to showcase its belief in innovation and to set forth a vision, has apparently named this robot and organized a welcome party – considering the pandemic conditions, of course it was virtual. This robot provides support in the foreseeable processes, high-level and sophisticated analysis and critique of the data is still expectedly up to the individual. So we can take a deep breath of relief. But this is a great example to show the ongoing evolution of the new business world.

You must at once evaluate the benefits of artificial intelligence for your processes and adapt yourselves accordingly to it – not by pushing the individual out by along with the human side, with the individual, by upgrading the positioning of the human.

Towards a better employee experience

You will be hearing more and more frequently in the business world questions about what kind of experience you provide your employees. As I articulated in my last article, personalized approaches are crucial. For such, you need a continuous performance management process that assesses data without interruption. Until now, people have spent most effort to make their achievements visible. Technology makes it possible for everyone’s efforts to be equally visible, and for them rewarded suited to their efforts. This is one of the most crucial areas of operation for new-age HR solutions.

Employee engagement and technology

The use of artificial intelligence algorithms will while increasing employee participation and experience also naturally affect engagement. According to studies, a modernized system combined with decisions based on analytical date increases the confidence employees show in decision objective performance management, detection of areas for improvement with more concrete data, and specialized learning method manage to increase both psychological confidence in employees and employee engagement.

Wellbeing and health is in business

Yes, you read that right. Among the vital areas of operation for technology is applications for wellbeing and health. As we many times have articulated, employee wellbeing is seen as great components of productivity and performance. When we look at applications of well-received companies, we can observe that they accept the continuity of physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing as an executive policy. For instance, integrated coding solutions are used with wearable technology. Feedback on mental health is received through applications based with game-features and solutions are discussed through their findings. Wellbeing and health applications are more and more integrated into the code of business.

Virtual reality is part of the game

Virtual reality, a huge part of technological transformation in business, comes up in HR solutions as well. There are companies where a full day at work is lived through as a one-to-one experience through virtual reality. Similarly, VR is employed in areas regarding learning and training. As terms such as “remote learning”, “remote working,” and “remote interview” are enumerated day by day, we can say that virtual reality application will find more use in the business world. This technology which manages to turn far into near is as good a candidate as possible to fill the distance that comes with ‘remote’.

I have here compiled a few tech-related titles that I have researched and found worthy to share. I embrace all benefits and ease that technology brings to our lives with open arms. Especially as part of a globally expanded company such as Engage & Grow. With unique tools that connect me to Australia at dawn and with England by noon, we enjoy continuous communication amongst ourselves. I know for sure that no AI, no machine learning, no robots or VR can ever replace and fill the need we have for a human. It will only underline further the value of the individual. And the individual will grow the more they feel this validation. And thus evolution will continue for eternity.

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow


People management in 2021

Let us admit, it is a year to be remembered. We spent it learning new things every single day. We learned the rules books never included through our day to day lives. We were introduced to the term ‘pandemic’ and in my opinion, adapted to it in hyper speed. Were there challenges? More than we could count! But one of the hardest episodes in the history of humanity has shown, I hope, the boundaries of the business world regarding flexibility. We must look on the bright side… Losses, worries, issues born from being homebound and mental fatigue must not be the subject of this article. Let us focus on the individual and the ones who direct them, and together assess what kind of a projection people management specialists have made for 2021.

Hybrid offices will be on the rise

The definition of hybrid offices includes both half-home, hale-office settings, and multipurpose office settings. The ‘workplace’ concept can completely shift. Areas open to public use, common conference rooms, desk layouts suitable for multi-use instead of singular desks, will be much more integrated into our spaces. In developed countries there too are measures taken to economize the time wasted on the commute between home and office. Large-scale companies have started to create personalized solutions to maximize productivity for their employees’ home offices. In short, everywhere with wifi that you can carry a computer to is now an office, and this will only get more widespread. From now on, the frames and beloved trinkets that decorated your desk will either decorate your home, or your computer as your wallpaper.

Bans are out, options are in

In one of the articles I was reading, a sentence caught my eye: “Instead of cutting snacks from your diet, place the apple somewhere more visible.” The more visible apple is defined here as an impulse. Instead of bans, an increase in options is much more heavily emphasized right now to get the new generation working more productively. Supervision systems installed to prevent social media access for employees working from home can be given as one usual example. These are ridiculous bans when it comes to the new generation. As it gets harder and harder to hold onto the talent one has, if you want to make it even easier to lose that talent, go ahead and ban! Or, set correct impulses. By the way, “Apple” as the first impulse in human history is quite need, I must say.

Real ethics

Ethical leadership comes first among the most contemporary trends in people management. And the tracking of ethical values is seen as the responsibility of people management specialists, not legal departments. This is a crucial distinction. In a way, HR is being invited to be more active and operative. What is underlined here is that all ethical deviations from company finances to customer assurances require the intervention and care of a people management perspective. This is large-scale ethical advocacy that encompasses all from any form of injustice in the company to legal deviations, encapsulating any kind of neglect and exploitation, spanning everything from safe workplace environments to correct, fair promotions. HR, the one who must undertake this responsibility, therefore becomes a close strategical partner with management. I see this responsibility as a golden opportunity for HR.

Mentor leaders!

Are you not as bored as I am from the sentence “the definition of leadership has changed”? It changes every year! When an individual is in a high ranking position in a company, they cannot glance past this sentence without looking at what is buried underneath it. The phrase is always the same, yes, but the way it is said evolves. In this recent era, we are in, the focus is definitely on the collaborative, active listening, and crisis-handling aspects of leadership. Basic skills such as inspirational character, guidance, management skills, speed, agility, I do not even need to list such givens anymore. If you ask me, all roads lead to the leader simultaneously being a good mentor. Of course, this should be guided and led by HR leaders. An HR leader is someone able to coach both HR aspects and the management team, and this is invaluable in today’s business world. New age employees need not be taught the ropes and the rules set by others, but instead need spaces they can bring their own interpretation to the work. It is how they increase their chances to improve and help evolve the work itself. They thrive from freedom. Only, it is crucial that they have set missions for the work. That is a mentor’s job: they do not tell you what to do, but instead, create a perspective you can see possibilities through.

Personalized processes

We cannot expect personalization to be uninvolved with people management when it has become the dynamo of every type of product and service. Is it easier to write the name of the customer onto the chocolate or drink you produce than providing your own employee with a personalized experience? You don’t even know the number of customers you have, yet your employee count is always exact. Technology makes it easy to provide a personalized experience. The personalized HR activities which constantly have occupied a high place on the trends lists of the last 4-5 years seem to pick up even more speed in 2021.

There are many more titles I would like to share. Perhaps they will become the topic of the next article. In the next one, let’s look closely at how technology can and will change HR.

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow


Is everyone doing well?

When we all returned to our offices for work a few months ago, we were trying to gauge what kind of world we were going to face in that office. We all knew and hoped that this was a temporary phase and that it would eventually pass. Yet time has shown that the new normal is much more different than we thought. When we define the new normal, we now must label it a much more flexible and turbulent system. Social distancing and wearing masks are not sufficient by themselves. We need to take immediate action to make sure the distance between us does not become an ever-unbreachable chasm.

First, an assessment

Remote working had already become a substantial part of corporate culture at many parts of the globe. At those parts, the transition process during this phase was indeed slightly easier. Though the struggle at homes where the children stay at home instead of go to school daily should be assessed separately. Babysitters could not come to work, elderly relatives had to be isolated, spouses started working side by side. Despite all that, the ones who deem every location with their computer an office were no stranger to the home environment as their office. Ones in quarantine slowly but surely got used to the things they struggled with in the first months, in a way their struggles took on new forms. Once again, humanity successfully triumphed over this test for survival and found a way to adapt. Digitalization was achieved by and large. Meanwhile, the studies conducted during this time showed diverse results from country to country. I would like to draw your attention to the statistics I acquired from the website pazarlamasyon.

Positive results come first

  • 77% of remote working employees claim they are more productive when working from home. (CoSo Cloud)
  • 76% of employees prefer to avoid the office completely when they need to focus on an important project or deadline. (Atlassian)
  • 23% of remote working employees state they work longer hours at home than they would do at the field/office. (CoSo Cloud)
  • 53% of remote working employees claim that compared to when they worked at the office, the possibility of requesting time off or using sick days is much lower at home. (CoSo Cloud)
  • 43% of remote working employees take off three weeks or less time for paid leave in a year. (Buffer)
  • Employees with heavily complicated and difficult jobs that require minimum to no interaction with shareholders state that they are much more productive when they are away from the office. (Springer)
  • The first and foremost method of communication for remote working employees is e-mail, followed by texting and video calls. (CoSo Cloud)
  • Even though remote working allows the employee to work anywhere, 84% of employees choose to work from their homes. (Buffer)

Then come the worrying results:

  • More than half of remote workers state that their connection with other office employees has been severed. (CoSo Cloud)
  • 22% of remote working employees find that the biggest issue they face is stopping to think about work outside of their work shift. (Buffer)
  • 19% of remote workers report their biggest struggle to be loneliness. (Buffer)
  • Though they regularly receive confidential work data and information to their remote locations, only less than half of remote working employees claim they have received appropriate online safety training. (GetApp)

Assess needs

Before these trying times, we had small systems of spiritual nourishment we were barely conscious of, such as running into one another, touching without fear, having a drink together, enjoying that sense of getting lost in a crowd, comfortably being close to elders, enjoying time to oneself when all goes to school and work. These systems nourishment our souls. Even the energy from the person we make eye contact with in the elevator actually carried meaning in the ecological system. Now, we are deprived of most of these systems of nourishment or we are much less brave than before. We could say, “We are all on the same boat, somehow we are getting used to it and continue our day to day. Everyone will find their own ways to be well.” Unless you are an executive…

If you are an executive you must question a simple and clear question: is everyone doing well?

Is everyone truly doing well?

A study done by the Royal Institute of British Architects has been published by the BBC. The study claims that the stress levels of remote working employees are steadily rising. Similarly, there is a significant increase in the number of people who think they are in depression. Just because we are no longer under the same roof, is the happiness of remote working employees not your responsibility? Think again:

  • Remote working may not affect everyone the same way. While some may be content with their lives others may be more and more stressed. You must consider each person individually and specifically analyze their wellbeing.
  • The psychological and technical support systems, crisis management teams which we at the start were so heavily enthusiastic about now seem to have been slightly fractured… is it because we have gotten used to the struggle, because the struggle has evolved from crisis into the normal, or because we are tired of it? The answer to these questions is different for every individual, think carefully for yours.
  • As we stay at home and work from home, it has increasingly become harder to establish employee engagement. Employees newly starting work are trying to experience the excitement of entering a new environment and having one’s own desk through computer screens – when in fact how exciting and beautiful that day’s happiness is when one gets to meet their new space and the people in it!

These examples can be multiplied, as long as we stay with the individual, we find the way to meet and understand the individual though afar. Processes change, get redesigned, trends evolve, work methods diversify, this is normal. But when us executives manage to keep the individual at the center of attention, change is much easier to live through. Wouldn’t you say?

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow


Is change the new normal?

Have you realized how we seem to be going through an accelerated evolution? Our daily habits have changed a decade’s worth in a few weeks, maybe months. Whereas 12 months ago we were not even aware of how we were walking on the border of such an evolution. I think the sentence I hear and say most frequently is this: “When will things go back to how they were before?” Do you think we will go back to how we were before? Should we, especially considering UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres’ words, “Let us not return to the past, the past was not good.”

Our sense of change has evolved

People move forward, the institution progresses, looking backwards and doing what we used to do in the past will only be a waste of time. We are aware of this, yet each of us act with a defensive reflex to protect ourselves and preserve our circumstances. Whereas what we have underwent in the last 8 months, the evolution we have lived through combined with Guterres’ words remind us instead that we must view change as our new normal. When becoming the representative for Turkey at the world’s most intensive non profit organization on change management, Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP), this was the outlook I grounded my decision on. If change is in fact the new normal, commanding and directing it must be among one’s strong suits. Instead of “Change? Not again..” we must look for the answers to “How should we direct and manage change?”

The evolution of work life

A few days ago during an online company meeting one of my teammates shared a new trend with the ones at the meeting. Professionals working away from the office environment as a team keep their video conference running the whole day instead of simply for a meeting; when needed they call for one another, speak among each other, work through it on video instead of emails. This way, they feel as if they are at the office throughout the day. We have adapted ourselves to changes, but holding onto something from old habits feels good, perhaps makes us feel less lonely.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic. In almost every country there is an ongoing economic turbulence. Technological advancements continue on with seemingly no boundaries to them, our business priorities change. Once, the borders of the world we saw through our window were clear cut and we would take action according to these clear cut lines. Now our window is the screen in front of us (or in our hands) and there is no limit to it. You can benefit from this new idea during your employees’ adaptation periods. The new normal is always change.

Vision is important, now more than ever

The importance of the mission – which to some seems like an elegant, decorated sentence – is much more powerfully felt nowadays. Despite changes in priorities and application methods, the mission you set forth is essential for the comfort of the journey ahead: it functions as the Polaris of your organization. Change happens under the guidance of your mission and managing change concerns not the end goal but the direction of and command over the journey.

Employee engagement and change

Let’s consider for a moment what change as the new normal means regarding what to be cautious about in terms of employee engagement.

  • The fact is, you can direct and guide change through effective leadership. Effective leadership is successfully setting forth to the employees the difference between stability and change. The foundation necessary to correctly understand change can be completed through leadership. No matter how much we change, we need to explain to our employees that the core values of the organization are forever the same.
  • Transparency is becoming more crucial by the day, especially during this era… we are stressed, scared, most of us still work in isolation. The remote working environment is very suited for hearsay, misunderstandings, and speculations. A transparent communication management is one of the ultimate requirements of directing the journey. We have to constantly create communication channels, both formal and informal. Technology lends us any device we could desire, we have no excuse.
  • Our abilities too need to improve. Do not disregard the importance of investing into your employees’ areas of development, now more than ever. For you to give them strength in this hasted and mandatory era of evolution will not only benefit them greatly but also will surely come back to benefit you.


    To Change or not to Change… The Only Constant is Change!

    As business leaders and their teams continue to grapple with the challenges arising from a constant and rapidly changing environment, a number of tried and tested change management tools and frameworks are being used to identify and create processes which would support end users in managing the change and ensuring least possible collateral damage to employee engagement scores and ultimately business performance results. These are a few I have encountered:

    1. Lewin 3 Stage Model of Change.

    • Developed in the 1940s, the model is built around 3 steps: unfreezing, changing and refreezing.
    • The process of change entails creating the perception that a change is needed, moving towards the new desired level of behaviour and solidifying the new behaviour as the norm.

    2. Kotter

    • Developed the 8-step model more than 20 years ago.
    • The 8 steps are:
    1. Establish a sense of urgency.
    2. Create the guiding coalition.
    3. Develop a vision and strategy.
    4. Communicate the change vision.
    5. Empower employees for broad based action.
    6. Generate short term wins.
    7. Consolidate gains and produce more change.
    8. Anchor new approaches into the culture.


    • Created by the PROSCI founder Jeff Hiatt,
    • The model is a goal-oriented change management model It is an acronym that represents the five tangible outcomes that are required to achieve long lasting change in organizations:
    1. AWARENESS of the need for change
    2. DESIRE to participate and support change
    3. KNOWLEDGE on how to change
    4. ABILITY to implement required skills and behaviours
    5. REINFORCEMENT to sustain the change

    4. Nudge

    • Developed by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in 2008, based on the principle that small actions can have an influence on the way people behave.
    1. PERCEPTION NUDGES – It is important to have an understanding of employees’ perception of the desired change.
    2. MOTIVATION NUDGES – These are actions which are needed to make employees care about a change.
    3. ABILITY AND SIMPLICITY NUDGES – When change is hard and complex, and employees feel it is difficult to adopt changes then simple nudges are needed by organization.

    5. Briges Transition Model

    • Developed by William Bridges and used by leaders and management consultants for more than thirty years. The three stages an individual experiences during change: Ending What Currently Is, The Neutral Zone and The New Beginning.
    1. Ending – Transition starts with an ending. This first phase of transition begins when people identify what they are losing and learn how to manage these losses. Neutral Zone
    2. The second step of transition comes after letting go: the neutral zone and may feel confusion and distress. The neutral zone is the seedbed for new beginnings.
    3. New Beginning – Beginnings involve new understandings, values and attitudes.

    6. Satir Change Model

    • Developed by Virginia Satir. The model’s premise is based on the following:

    Organizational performance flatlines after a period of growth. This call for change will meet resistance, with a period of chaos to follow. Over time, this integration will lead to improvement.

    7. PDCA – Plan Do Check Act

    • Developed in the 1950s by William Deming as a learning or improvement process based on the scientific method of problem solving.
    1. Plan – The planning stage is for mapping out what is going to be done to solve a problem or otherwise change a process.
    2. Do – The next step is to test your proposed solution. The PDCA cycle focuses on smaller, incremental changes that help improve processes with minimal disruption.
    3. Check – Once the trial is completed, results can be reviewed, analyzed, evaluated, and revised if needed.
    4. Act – Finally, it is time to act. If all went according to plan, the tried-and-tested plan can be implemented.

    8. Act Steven Covey 7 Habits

    • Developed from his book written in 1989, the 8th added in 2004, is based on the premise that the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions That’s where the seven habits of highly effective people come in:
    • Habits 1, 2, and 3 are focused on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence.
    • Habits 4, 5, and 6 are focused on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, and moving from independence to interdependence.
    • Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement and embodies all the other habits.
    1. Be Proactive – We choose the scripts by which to live our lives. It is important to use self-awareness to be proactive and take responsibility for our choices.
    2. Begin with the End in Mind – Start with a clear destination in mind. Covey says we can use our imagination to develop a vision of who we want to become.
    3. Put First Things First – We must have the discipline to prioritize our day-to-day actions based on what is most important, not what is most urgent.
    4. Think Win-Win – to establish effective interdependent relationships, we must commit to creating Win-Win situations that are mutually beneficial.
    5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – Before we can offer advice, suggest solutions, or effectively interact with another person in any way, we must seek to deeply understand them and their perspective through empathic listening.
    6. Synergize – By understanding and valuing the differences in another person’s perspective, we have the opportunity to create synergy, which allows us to uncover new possibilities through openness and creativity.
    7. Sharpen the Saw – To be effective, we must devote the time to renewing ourselves physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. Continuous renewal allows us to synergistically increase our ability to practice each habit.

    Effectiveness to greatness

    Whilst these tools and models provide important frameworks, processes and systems, end users have reported them achieving limited results in developing and sustaining leaders and high performing actively engaged teams. They appear to be a “means to an end”. In my work as an Engage and Grow Master Coach, our leadership, culture and engagement programmes have proven to be transformational in creating and sustaining long lasting change in behaviours and in improving relationships. The programmes are based on a robust formula which includes the exploration of the 7 neurological motivators and 6 core human needs combined with a methodology of facilitated discussion, shared experience and others teaching others. It is a seamless and synergistic programme to support the outcomes of change management tools and its results prove time and time again, that this is not an end in itself, but truly “an end to a means”.

    Dr. Indira Couch


    Creating engaged employees in year 2020

    Employee engagement is surely an abstract concept. Though it has reflections in the physical – profit, customer satisfaction, increase in job safety rates – we are actually discussing a very emotional concept. On top of this emotionality if you also consider the different ways people connect with different occupations, the situation gets even tougher. Engagement not only changes from person to person, but at times also changes with environmental factors. In short, there is no universal formula for it.

    Keep with the times

    We live in a world that changes in record speed. A process that is perfect for today can be unfit for tomorrow. Employee trends transform along with generational shifts. At this point, the most crucial factor that will bring success – as in create employee engagement – is farsighted leaders and visionary executive teams. I have attempted to explain some key aspects executive teams and leaders must have in their arsenal, we can constantly expand this list with your suggestions and contributions. Because change is a ceaseless force.

    Employee engagement now is a clear-cut business goal

    If you want to attract talented employees and keep hold of the employees you have attracted, there is no option but to develop ‘employee engagement’. This key phrase – perceived ten years ago as more of a high-brow concept – is now the foremost business goal. It affects profit, sales, rates of customer satisfaction. The phrase “sounds good, let’s do something too” is out, “we need to raise employee engagement” is in.

    Your flexible working conditions affects engagement

    During the pandemic, 75 percent of employees have stated that their productivity has increased. If we consider the periods that working from home was not mandatory as well, this is a large percentage. Among the reasons for the increase in productivity are the decrease in distraction and concentration difficulties, the elimination of traffic stress, and the decrease in office politics. Thus, when the pandemic is water under the bridge – when the kids start school – it might be beneficial to reconsider your policies on flexible working conditions. Deloitte just released a very contemporary study showing that 62 percent of new-generation employees are more inclined to remote working. (You can examine the study here.)

    Technology promotes engagement

    According to a study done by PwC in 2018, 75 percent of companies now support their HR process with the Cloud technology. A new version of this study has not caught my eye, but I am sure this percentage has raised during the pandemic. Practices directed to and advantageous for employees, tools for performance management, various discounts, workshops, communication devices turn every working environment into an office through these technologies. Investing in the right tools has become crucial for the world in the year 2020. It is not enough alone, but with the right culture it can create immaculate results.

    It is time to redefine “human”

    Technology is important for developing an engaged workforce but there is an investment much more essential: compassion. 92 percent of workers (Businessolver) state that being shown empathy is the most important binding factor for them. Technology is advancing, yet believe me this does not extinguish the fact that humans inherently seek compassion and appreciation. They want to be valued. A business objective is made possible with the existence of compassionate leaders and a solid corporate culture.

    The engaged employee is the voluntary ambassador for the brand

    You need your employees to achieve corporate branding. A message shared on social media by an employee is 561 percent more interacted with than one shared by a corporate social media account. On average, an employee has 10 times more followers than their employer. Studies show that 41 percent of job seekers value heavily an employee’s perspective. This is incredibly significant. Use part of the budget used to raise your social media follower count on workforce engagement and observe the results. Could there be some who read these sentences and make social media posts obligatory at their companies? Yes, we have seen it happen, but believe me these obligations only create negative effects on new generation employee engagement.

    Isik Serifsoy

    CEO Engage & Grow


    You can tell an engaged employee from their eyes!

    The eyes of a person tell much, but I believe the yes of a highly engaged employee tell much more. I can say I can see the most tangible effect of the programs for employee engagement I have experienced over many years in people’s eyes. But let’s look now at how engagement reflects not in people’s eyes but in daily behaviours and work.

    1. You can see it in the way they try to contribute to the work.

    People have their own mission statements, yes, but they also have their own potentials. Some do not fit their mission statements and look for ways to go beyond and contribute further. Some may call this pragmatism, but believe me – the difference between alacrity and pragmatism is easy to see. Do not take the wind out of the sails of someone motivated. This would be a critical mistake.

    2. You can see it in how they share their opinions with ease.

    The era we are in now is definitely one of intellectuality. If you are able to keep people who are unafraid to speak their opinions on your team, you should be proud of yourself. Employees who share their opinions comfortably are usually engaged employees. They do not abstain from respectfully arguing on topics they do not agree on. As there is no true path for progress when we all say the same things, I find it essential that we keep such employees close.

    3. They can ask for help.

    Who do you go for help? To who you trust, of course… To the ones you believe can help you. Employees who are not scared to ask for help when they are stuck are open to progress, they choose to keep the system working and open instead of letting it plug up. This is an invaluable characteristic.

    4. They naturally act as mentors.

    Having natural mentors in the organization creates a more valuing atmosphere. The quality of a natural mentor, most valuable for new employees, is seen most in the most engaged employees. For them, the sharing of knowledge is a gift that comes along with their devotion for the company. And they enjoy sharing.

    5. You can see their pride.

    They talk about their company to their family and friends, are enthusiastic about bringing candidates to the company’s application process and they recommend their workplace to others. They react to the social media posts and promote communication and interaction between the company and the public. When they find someone valuable to the organization they make it their mission to present them to the company. This passion is indeed one of the most beautiful and enjoyable proofs of employee engagement.

    6. They share their career plans and look for common ground.

    Employees usually make their career plans according to their own instincts. Companies who are able to parallel their employees’ career plans are always at a definite advantage. If your employee involves you in their career plans despite you (!) and sees their progress at your establishment, this is very precious indeed. You can pave the way for them, make them into a trustworthy candidate for a leader. Means they are serious about you.

    7. They harbor the perfect amount of ambition.

    The word ‘ambition’ is a bit intimidating, I agree, but we must agree that success has an adequate amount of ambition in it. Hardworking attitude, the desire to succeed, the tendency to become a part of the success created, these do not exist in one with no ambition. Do not think that this emotion only develops by someone forcing it onto another, and tip your hat to the right dosage of ambition.

    8. Their rhythm is different.

    Of course it does. The time they take to answer, to create solutions, even their walk has a different rhythm, and I think this is something needed in an organization. I have always found it great when such people enter the room with positive energy. I like their pace, because it allows for progress.

    Do not make the mistake, however, of thinking that these characteristics are of the people themselves, instead of buildable traits. I have met many people who start a program with “what are we doing here?” and leave with “I wish we did some more of that..” Yes, some people are hard to engage, but it is a delight to work with engaged people.

    Isik Serifsoy

    CEO Engage & Grow


    I won’t ever return!

    Our manners of working differ completely from one person to another. When we add our cultural differences into the equation, the reality that I explained in my last article — how equal to yet different we are from each other — comes even clearer. Yet there appears people who I cannot fit into any culture, or any setting that can be described as corporate or professional. I call these people “the I-wont-returners” and in this article I hope to discuss and understand them, starting with my own experiences and moving forward.

    What is being communication-handicapped?

    You know some people have better communication skills than others. When they meet someone they have a much easier time creating avenues of conversation. They are the ones that start and continue the conversation, and add to the energy of the group. If you are unlike these people I mentioned, they make your life easier as well and take on the responsibility of leading the communication. And so communication happens, even with one-sided efforts… But this is only meaningful until a certain point. What differentiates communication from transmission is the collective efforts of two sides. It has many components including talking, listening, answering, explaining, understanding and taking care. People labeled as communication-handicapped one or more of these components are faulty, and you can right away know that it is a hard path to thread on. Admittedly, you don’t prefer to expend energy trying to communicate with them. Definitions aside, I-won’t-returners are different. The trick is to understand and do business with them.

    For the ones who don’t pick up their phone

    As clear from their name, they will not return – not your calls, not your efforts. As a contemporary definition “returning” here can be seen as answering, saying “I heard you and I will return your call/message/email.”
    I will share a well-fitting example here. Once upon a time, I had to meet some executive of some electronics brand, once iconic, now long gone from the market. Naturally, I called first, I emailed. Back then people’s personal cellphones were not all so available for work, I kept calling from the internal company line. To no avail. So I tried the company call center, they directed me to call the internal company line. When I told them I tried, they responded “Yes, he does not usually answer his phones.” I asked what to do, and what I got was “Keep trying.” There was no suggestion from them to inform the executive, to make him return my calls, and I did not ask for it. That meeting did not end up taking place. C’est la vie, when the company with the bitten apple logo took the tech world by storm, there was no company to meet anyway. Was it what I observed that created such a collapse? Of course not, but I am sure the hiccups in the workings of the system and culture have had an effect on the result.

    What do “I-won’t-returners do?

    • They read the emails, the other side is notified that they have opened the message, but they feel no need to take action regarding this. For them to respond, you need to be the buyer, not the seller. Recent feedback from companies suggest that they see customers getting no returns as well. If they do not even return to the customer, the person ahead of you is definitely a won’t-returner.
    • The new age medium of communication WhatsApp created a new system. The person across from you reads your message, but you are not notified that they do. It is understandable for a youth in their teens. It is a foolproof method for them to tell their parents they hadn’t seen their texts. I was a teen too, I raised one as well. But at work, I don’t understand its meaning. Is it the tendency to buy some time? To avoid work? The fear of communication? What do you think?
    • They hear the phone ring, don’t answer it, and don’t call later. They are either busy, didn’t hear it, didn’t see it, forgot, etc. We are human, yes, we all do it sometimes. But we need to agree this is a topic worthy of careful consideration. It is a matter of discipline, of principle. If there is a golden rule to communication, this is it.
    • After countless emails you’ve sent when you finally got a hold of them on the phone, you realize they haven’t read your emails, even if you received a “delivered” confirmation. Perhaps you aren’t so important among all their work, perhaps they read your email and forgot, perhaps it went as spam, etc. How easy it would have been to simply say, “I received your email, I am not interested, thank you.” Or “I am interested, but I will be able to respond to you next week.” For some reason, this does not happen.
    • The contact us email addresses on company websites are especially unreliable. You can’t even guess, what you write might be heading directly to some trash, to a deep black hole, who knows. In this case, the won’t-returner becomes not the person but the institution. Even if the ones doing the work are human.

    One of the CEO’s – I can’t remember the name right now – who I follow and appreciate immensely once set a rule for the people they work with, instructing them to respond to all messages within the hour to prove they have received it, and to send the appropriate response within 24 hours. This rule I found impeccable.
    As you might have guessed, I wrote this inspired by a won’t-returner…
    I sincerely hope for all of us, day where we hear each other, or at least attempt to do so, and embrace all that works with such discipline and understanding. The business world grows thanks to your efforts.

    Isik Serifsoy

    CEO Engage & Grow


    Employee engagement and superpowers!

    Subconsciously or perhaps consciously, everyone envies superheroes a little bit. Think of pushing away someone you don’t like just by looking into their eyes ☺ Isn’t that fun? Or simply raising your hand and flying somewhere that you would normally get to in 30 minutes by car. Or reading someone’s mind just by looking into their eyes! Admit it, everyone wants superpowers. But for some reason, powers and characteristics that already exist within are overlooked.

    Yet findings from studies on employee engagement reveal the power of engaged employees to help the company soar. Wasn’t soaring what you wanted?

    What do the numbers say?

    As Engage & Grow, when it comes to employee engagement analyses we predicate things on Gallup’s findings. According to Gallup, customer satisfaction is 10 percent higher in companies with higher employee engagement. If we consider that customer satisfaction is one of the primary objectives of organizations, this is a substantial percentage.

    Yet there are three more numbers that peak executives’ interests much more. In companies with high employee engagement productivity is 17% higher, even higher still is revenue at 20% and profitability at 21%. As you can see, employees with higher engagement actually contribute to their companies with their own superpowers.

    Let’s look at the numbers again, this time on the negative side, and see what low engagement triggers in companies: The turnover rate in companies with low engagement rates are shown to be 25%. So in the corner of the employees’ minds exists always the idea of a better job. If you cannot engage your employees you are already complying with a lapse in quality of about 41 percent. This is a horrific number! You face 37% of your employees not showing up for work in the morning. If you ask me, this number may increase as the next generation takes their place at our tables and in the game.

    The last numbers I will share are spine-chilling: Low employee engagement causes 50% more work accidents — if someone doesn’t enjoy the work they do, if they aren’t committed to their workplace, they are much more fallible. In risky lines of work, engagement is seen as a corporate dream and causes countless injuries and deaths.

    Do not look for a superpower in Planet Krypton

    Executive teams have certain typical behaviors regarding employee engagement. There are some that confuse the phrase with employee happiness and consider that ‘the employee has no intention of working’ if the work doesn’t bring them happiness.
    There are executive teams that have experienced truly engaged employees, seen their benefits, and internalized the joy of leading such groups. The moment there is a drop in engagement rates of the company they announce code red. It becomes a joy to work with them for us as well.
    There are executive teams that demand to discuss price first when we tell them about employee engagement. We see this all over the world… Of course, there is a price for every job that is done, but what is the point in asking about its budget when you don’t yet know what it will bring and how it will benefit you?
    There are companies that have managed to create an engaged community themselves, incorporated it into their corporate culture, and built their system based on the human factor; these companies have bright executive teams. Working and discussing our team-oriented solutions with them is a completely different experience. In highly engaged companies supplier engagement to is high, and you are especially pleased and satisfied with your work with them.
    If it is a client I personally value companies seen as an owner-managed business yet open to growth thanks to its missions and their executive teams.
    They are aware of the long path ahead of them and that their biggest advantage in competing with their rivals is their employees. We work with them in all corners of the world and together carry out many successful projects.

    In search of superpowers…

    When writing this article, I started with two sentences written in the content recommendations from my social media agency…
    How is the atmosphere in companies where employee engagement is high?
    Teams feel energized and empowered in the positive atmosphere of companies that have highly engaged employees. It becomes a pleasure to go through a process, and you feel motivated and enjoy being a member of that team.

    In companies with highly engaged employees, teams soar! Productivity and profitability increase. Isn’t this all that management teams and shareholders are looking for?
    What is it that you are looking for? What superpower do you need to grow? Or do you already have a team that has such powers?

    Isik Serifsoy

    CEO Engage & Grow


    Everyone is the same different

    Twenty years prior to this, globalization was only a charming vision. There were companies who had succeeded in going global, of course, but their numbers were few. It seems to me that globalization which picked up its pace with the addition of internet technology to our lives is now our complete reality. Even the local’s value increases directly proportionally now to its power on the global market. Developing new and different markets ignites pace and amount of production. Now a very important part of competition is being ‘worldly’. Well, have you ever considered that being worldly simultaneously means to be able to manage differences, that managing differences require a cultural change and that it is not as easy as it seems?

    Companies that feed off of differences

    If you look at the contents of studies on employee engagement, you will definitely come across concepts such as comprehensiveness, management of differences, equality. These are essential factors that establish and solidify employee engagement. Differences enrich the work and the workplace, yes, but there are various complications that cultural differences can bring about. Cultural differences may cause conflicts. This clash environment causes performance, and naturally productivity as well, to decrease. What is it that causes the conflict? Different traditions, cultural habits, manners, behaviors and unfortunately, the norms imposed on us for decades… Before and beyond all this comes ignorance, which I will especially underline. In truth, ignorance is the insidious beast sleeping under every evil and conflict in the world. It dirties your corporate atmosphere, cripples teamwork, and prevents you from working well with other, different people/markets/companies. In short, it stops you. The ones creating conflict may look human to you, but they are simply reflections of your culture.

    Differences starting with communication

    During the first few years I started working as a coach in the Engage & Grow team I had felt that my colleagues from different cultures enriched my perspectives on work and people exponentially. Our job was to connect people to each other, to their work and their companies, so all our senses worked and improved towards this. This growth changed completely the way I viewed the companies in my own market as well. While meeting with my teammates at Spain in the morning and connecting to our headquarters in Australia in the wee hours of the night, we had started living not only the psychological but also the physical reflections of being different. Morning in one continent, midnight in another. National holiday in one country, regular workday in another. One a Muslim country, another region is on Christmas break. Some prefer not to work after-hours at all, others work at night and want to share when an idea hits them☺. When we run into each other in one country or another some of us hug in delight – I mean pre-Covid-19 – while others prefer cool and collected handshakes. We are all the same and so very different. This enriches us, and of course brings along a responsibility to consider many sensitivities at once at all times. And this does not happen with simply saying “we grow with differences,” it is necessary to make it part of the culture to embrace differences.

    Look inside, what do you see in you?

    Look both inside yourself and inside your company. Take time, in fact grab a magnifying glass and stare at it long and hard.

    • To be able to manage differences one’s inner scales of justice must be immaculately balanced. Are you certain your are?
    • Even if with good intentions, do you tend to try and provide convenience to your female colleagues considering that they may have trouble doing certain tasks?
    • Are you sure that cultural differences between your employees are important for the work and that for both sides it can be easy to misunderstand one another?
    • Do you evaluate feedback from a customer with a foreign cultural background within the frame of their own cultural habits , or are you heatedly defending yourself?
    • Have you ever considered that someone who doesn’t show the reaction you had expected is from a culture where emotions are suppressed more than they are expressed?
    • Are the profiles of your employees and customers surprisingly similar? Is this due to your preferences or some miraculous coincidence?
    • Take a look at the points you say ‘These are my limits.’ Is it values or definitions in the forefront of these decisions?

    I know the answers to these questions are not at all easy. Neither is building a comprehensive company culture… When you look at companies who have managed to do so, aren’t you fascinated by the color and light that they exude? Because they are beautiful to behold.

    Isik Serifsoy

    CEO Engage & Grow

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