Average office worker spends her 8 hours at work. That makes one third of their day and their lives. People physically being in the office, does not mean their hearts and mind are there too. You can motivate employees physically being present by giving salary, but hardest thing to do is to appeal to their hearts and make their time at work as enjoyable as possible. Environment where people work, coworkers and their interrelationship plays an essential role for meeting that purpose.
Especially in collectivist societies like Azerbaijan, the feeling of community and group, contributes to the work and life satisfaction of employees significantly. Understanding the importance, companies, both local and multi-national, try to engage their employees in social activities that would make them feel like part of a group, better a family. For example, travelling on weekends to countryside is a common practice used by companies operating in Azerbaijan. However, as it got too common so that people do not get excited about it anymore, I will give you examples of slightly different group activities that would fire up group spirit!
What do you do for a living? It is one of the first questions people will ask to know you better. Even businesses try to learn in what area their customers are working to draw more accurate customer profile. Then why not use the same question to know your coworkers better? Of course, you work in the same company and you know their department and position. But do you really know what is their job? What she/he does daily? What are the challenges of their positions? If not, it is best to start asking. Employees learning about each other’s job is one of the activities Azerbaijani companies use to help employees socialize and understand each other better by witnessing their daily work life.
One FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) company in Azerbaijan that uses retail sales channel where sales representatives visit markets weekly to distribute products, has a tradition of engaging other departments, as well as, managers of those departments, to do sales once a month. They assign each sales representative one or two employees from other departments and they spend a day by doing sales and distribution. First part of the day, company coordinates a small event to discuss the company issues, listen for feedback from employees and award the distinguishing performances of the previous month. Then, everyone goes to their assigned distribution regions with their sales representative, it can be central or rural parts of city, and spend the day doing completely different things written in their job description. This event is very effective, as employees get to know each other better by accompanying each other during the day and working as peers. Secondly, as sales plays an essential role in company success, different departments can see the challenges of salespeople themselves, not judge their performance by sitting at the office.
One of the criteria for motivation and drive is the growth potential. And if company does not have much to offer in terms of personal and professional growth to employees, there is a high chance of failure in talent acquisition and retention. Companies need to take talent development seriously if they want to see more employee engagement. And since employees are often left with little time after work to spend on self-development, job seekers prefer companies that offer professional, as well as personal development opportunities.
Companies seeing the need is willing to invest in development of their employees, but what other benefits they can reap from this investment in trainings? Socializing and icebreaking among coworkers. As an employer, if you do not want to spend money on both socializing events and employee development, best choice you would have is group or company level trainings and seminars. In Azerbaijan, trainings are seen as additional activities outside work hours. Most companies with vision provide trainings, seminars, webinars, to motivate their employees and encourage them to learn in groups.
For instance, in Azerbaijan, banks with several branches finances seminars and trainings to bring together people who work for the same company, but have never met. Practice shows that these kind of events are effective for employee engagement and contribute to employee relationships significantly. They stimulate group spirit and create a common themes employees can talk about and express themselves, as employees will discuss these events with attendees, comment on what they liked and disliked, tell others who could not attend what happened and that has a huge potential to create a bond among employees.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”- Winston Churchill. Working, learning, developing yourself is good. But at one point you will see that you become self-centered. What you do in 24 hours is either for you or your family. If someone asks you, what you did something that had zero benefit for you, but for others, you may not have the answer. Companies, no matter how strong their relationship with capitalism can be, see this trend of “self” as threatening and encourage their employees to do something for community as well. In management theology, it is called CSR- Corporate Social Responsibility. Doing something for the society, but as a company.
CSR became popular due to its positive contribution to a brand image as a PR tool, however, its impact on team building among employees is undeniable. Above mentioned activities get employees close together, however, CSR activities goes beyond that and create an emotional bond among them. Many studies prove the positive relationship between CSR activities and employee engagement, loyalty and motivation. Understanding the importance and benefits, many established and quite large companies in Azerbaijan like Kapital Bank, Bakcell, International Bank of Azerbaijan, organize CSR events with the contribution of their employees. To encourage other companies as well, National Confederation of Employers in Azerbaijan awards best CSR events every year.
To conclude, companies in Azerbaijan, as a country very close to collectivist culture, has an inclination towards providing events to stimulate its employees socializing, icebreaking and outgoing, as long as it has financial benefits as well.
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