Are Gilovich’s research findings relevant to organizations?

Recently I was reading a consumer psychology research dialogue by Thomas Gilovich. While the research concludes that people derive more satisfaction and happiness from experiential purchases as opposed to material purchases, what really intrigued me was the underlying concept of how experiences create positive psychological impressions on us and its relevance to organizations and individual employees.

The research indicates that experiences provide greater satisfaction and happiness because they form a bigger part of the person’s identity and memory. If this interrelation of experiences and what it does to individual’s happiness quotient, satisfaction, self worth, social relations and psychological state is extrapolated to their workplace, organizations can definitely achieve higher engagement levels.

What is so magical about experiences? It is proved that experiences live longer in memories and have a strong visual referencing ability, due to which an individual can revisit it any number of times and it does not depreciate in value. Not only this, experiences connect us to others through the story telling power. We are happy when we share experiences. Last but not the least, they are unique and cannot be compared.

How to build experiences at workplace and beyond it? Weaving unique experiences at workplace requires a slight change in perspective and approach while designing and implementing people processes and engagement programs.

  1. As a first step, the organizations should realize that in this competitive world everyone is searching for happiness, including their employees.
  2. Identify the engagement drivers through which experiences can be created, may be not all but some key levers which can play a significant part in enabling employees to seek them.
  3. Think of ways to engage employees at psychological level by redirecting efforts and expenses in building more enriching experiences

Let’s take a few use cases of people processes and platforms by which management has an opportunity to engage with employees at feeling level and beyond work commitments.

  1. Culture building initiatives: These interventions manifest themselves in multiple ways, from formally designed programs on organizational values, credo trainings to induction programs and leadership coaching & informal ones like engaging with new hires even before joining, giving feedback, appreciating employees and building teams. They strike the experiential chord when they are administered with the right intent, at the right time and with right content, addressing individual needs with overall alignment to organizational goals.
  2. Learning and growth forums: Another lever which has become perfunctory and is being utilized more to fill scorecards than thoughtfully creating learning experiences. Employees need to be engaged right from training needs analysis step till the last milestone which could be performance reviews, HIPO development, developmental training and Succession Planning. For this to happen, the process has to come out of paper & presentation mode, done on ground, in real time and customized for each employee.
  3. Rewards and recognition: This is the most neglected platform but can emerge to be a strong and effective engagement tool. The process implementation itself can give rise to an experience. It has some very significant process points which can stimulate and connect with employees at psychological level like:
  • Act of recognition– touches upon the manner in which the employees are recognized. With organizations exploring different modalities from public appreciation to personal notes to involving the families and even taking to virtual platforms. It is imperative for HR to understand the employee demographic and their need for recognition to align the modality.
  • Value & Variety in the award- As the central theme talks about experiences, several other research studies show that Gen Y derives satisfaction and sense of achievement by exposing themselves to experiences. That is what builds their social circuit- runners group, bikers group, guitar gang, bloggers meet up. These are nothing but avenues to connect over similar experiences. The organizations can be experimental with awards types and shift their focus from traditional ones to awarding experiences of choice

There can be several other opportunities which can be availed to create meaningful and valuable experiences in and out of workplace for the well being of organizations and its employees.

Please pour in your thoughts & suggestions.

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