It is an age-old story; a company hires an exciting new employee. This individual is engaged, high performing, loyal and collaborative. The momentum starts out strong and you pat yourself on the back for finding such a great addition to your team. Then a few months go by, maybe a few more, and you notice a slow disengagement by the employee that you were so excited about just a short time ago. Soon, you are receiving their resignation letter which provides some insight into their departure – ‘the culture was not what I expected. The company feels out of touch with its employees and has no clear strategy to keep us engaged.’ You mentally review the things you have done that add value to both the culture and your employees, and you realize that this person has a point. When was the last time that you took a step back and reassessed your approach to employee engagement?
Why should employee engagement be prioritized?
You can find an endless list of companies that offer competitive pay, benefits, vacation days and opportunities for growth, yet also have a hard time retaining staff. It is important to acknowledge that companies that do not create a clear strategy to treat their employees as critical assets have no chance of winning the talent war. It is also important to acknowledge that this is not a one-time solution. Employee expectations change with the times and therefore your approach needs to change in unison to stay relevant. The cultural norms and expectations of “office perks” continue to increase. Pizza parties and pool tables may have been enough a few years ago, but companies must stay in tune with their organizations’ needs and evolving cultural norms to meet employee expectations.
What are some steps that I can take now to improve employee engagement at my company?
There is no catch-all solution to employee engagement. You need to have a good pulse on how employees perceive their place at the company and where there may be room for improvement. There are a lot of different solutions, but you should start with listening to your employees and understanding what they want and need and how they want to engage in the process. Do you know how well your organization is doing by capturing their sentiment in employee engagement surveys? Do you have data or only anecdotal evidence? Do you know what actions you need to take to elevate the levels of engagement? People’s learning styles are different from their needs and aspirations. Showing that you can hear them and create solutions for them would be a great win for any organization.
Employee engagement is a long-term strategy that needs to be actively worked on.
I am not saying that healthy culture is about rainbows and butterflies. It is not about making every single person happy. A culture of trust and healthy dialog allows for different voices, different points of view but in a contractive and a positive way. The environment where there is enough respect for each other, even in situations of different opinions, is the environment people want to be a part of.
Keep in mind, engaged employees are productive employees. They have a clear understanding of the company’s goals and how they contribute to success as a part of the overall team. They are excited about their work and are exactly what your company needs. The employees are out there, you have hired them before. This time around, are you going to be able to keep them engaged?