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Enhancing Organizational Consciousness to Retain and Develop Knowledge Workers

Attrition is the biggest issue that most companies face today. While it may mean faster employee-development, it also implies extra energy and resources spent towards retraining and re-deployment by organizations. This reality seems more frightening for organizations that employ knowledge workers, who rely on expertise and insights gained from their jobs.

Emerging from the Information Era, it is solely their technological knowledge and competence that gives them the edge. Recent research shows that HR departments’ desperate attempts to tackle attrition have been more on the lines of improving hiring practices, enhancing communication strategies, providing motivational packages and creative benefit plans, and introducing performance-related compensation plans. But there is a real need to understand the profile of knowledge workers from a perspective of their ‘belongingness’ to the organization. To understand this it is necessary to tap the organizational consciousness. Formulating strategies to retain knowledge workers without understanding them would be like treating symptoms rather than the causes. The HR processes cannot be a modification of those used in the Industrial Era, but have to be conscious of the changes at the psychological level of the knowledge worker.

Research indicates that knowledge workers seek to connect and evolve continuously. The feeling of ‘belongingness’ is a state of being in which one experiences value for oneself, being cared for, with a space to express that care, and constantly evolve to fulfill one’s purpose of existence. The feeling of belongingness is no longer an affiliate need but is rather an inherent need. And the knowledge worker’s search within only seems to have intensified over the years.

There are nine dimensions that govern ‘belongingness’ as identified by knowledge workers (Sampath, Kalpana 2001). These are: clarity on organizational vision; professionalism in functioning; rewards and recognition; alignment of values; sense of ownership; exploration and development of potential; material comforts; emotional satisfaction and value for contribution. Organizations therefore need to go beyond existing knowledge levels, into deeper spaces, to enhance organizational consciousness and continuously align all activities to the organizational purpose. Any dissonance is likely to disconnect the knowledge workers from their organizations and allow them to drift.

This concept paper, built on a doctoral research on ‘Understanding the feeling of belongingness amongst the knowledge workers and their behavioral manifestations’, elaborates on the dimensions that HR professionals should address not just the climate of the organization, but the internal consciousness levels of the organizations in order to build an agile organizational consciousness. The strategy so developed would also enable them to evolve the knowledge workers into finer human beings.

The paper explains the inter-dynamics between the nine dimensions and its implications on the organizational consciousness. The applicative use of Belongingness Inventory (reliability score 0.95) is discussed in the light of organizations employing knowledge workers. The evaluation of the HR processes should be based on how such processes have enhanced the quality of the people, and the efforts in creating processes that are agile in responding to the evolution of knowledge workers.

Director: Kalpana Sampath, Arpitha Associates Pvt Ltd, India

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