clubts2016-Dandrieux

How to restore intention and meaning into collective works

In just a few years, employee engagement has been catapulted to the top of the HR function’s priority list, as it has become fully aware that a company’s competitiveness depends on its ability to convey meaning to its employees. According to sociologist Michaël V. Dandrieux during his talk at our user conference, we must redefine our modes of collaboration in our quest to find meaning in our daily routines. 

Society has undergone more changes in the last 30 years than in the 100 years before that! Sociologist and co-founder of market research consulting firm Eranos, Michaël V. Dandrieux highlighted at our conference that this is a sociological phenomenon that, though quite exaggerated, suggests that we are living in a period of accelerating change. These are, first and foremost, economic changes, as we transition from an economy of abundance to an economy of scarcity, where people are expected to hold great respect for the environment and the resources that surround them. These transformations, brought about by a “saturation” and renewal of social forms, also affect work. In this day and age, they erase the notion of possession and place collaboration and sharing front and center: relationships trump productivity. These new paradigms affect employees’ interactions within a company, whether it may be in the way they interact with each other, or with their superiors. They must also be taken into consideration by HR professionals, who, as active participants in the change management process, play a crucial role in the company’s business strategy.

Work as an opportunity to foster relationships

To embody these changes and give purpose to our modes of collaboration, we must focus on three great transformations: work, meaning, and authority. “Seeing work as units of time, where tasks must be done on a certain day in a certain amount of time, is simply an illusion as time has no beginning or end and therefore cannot be shared. Instead, let’s consider work as space, which can then become a mutual space where individuals come to collaborate,” explained Dandrieux. This approach can be fostered by collaborative tools such as company social networks on which contributing employees can put together group projects. In order to round off our human relations, we must also put into question the meaning we give to work. We shouldn’t, for example, define efficiency by the number of emails sent or files handled. We must instead measure and understand performance through social relations – the founding, yet forgotten, definition of work. “People are happier and work more when they understand that the product of their work matters to someone else, that it makes sense in a social context. Above all, people look to connect with others and share a common goal,” illustrated Dandrieux.

Authority, or the ability to grow

It is an indisputable fact that the new tools made available to companies today provide employees with more autonomy. As a result, their relationship with authority, or managers, is also evolving. This was the final issue raised by Dandrieux at our user conference. “Management means acting in the best interests of others. It means placing someone in a situation where they are set up to succeed. In this sense, authority is not the right to give orders but rather the power to make individuals grow,” clarified the sociologist. The good news is that these new dimensions are integrated into today’s HR tools, which aim to strengthen our human relations. They are now able to help managers adopt this new attitude and, above all, encourage HR professionals to spark engagement, thus adding value to the company. It’s a sine qua non condition: even the most powerful and efficient software is worth nothing if it does not take the employee experience into account.

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