“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” ~ Anne Mulcahy
It’s safe to say that every company wants to recruit and retain top talent. It is also safe to say this can be very difficult, especially with more millennials in the workforce than baby boomers. Our parents and grandparents expected to get a job with one company, stay with that company for 25 or 30 years, and retire with a gold watch and a pension. “The times, they are a changin.” (Thank you Bob Dylan.)
Writing in Psychology Today, author Eddy Ng, Ph. D. referenced a study which found Millennials have had an average of 6.4 job changes and 3.5 employer changes by the time they are 30, while Gen Xers averaged 3.7 job and 2.1 employer changes and Baby Boomers averaged 2.4 job and 3.0 employer changes by the time they were 30.
So why all the mass defections? It could be the right people were not hired to begin with. According to Leadership IQ’s 3-year global survey of over 5000 hiring managers, the four top areas why new hires failed to succeed were Coachability (26% failure rate), Emotional Intelligence (23%), Motivation (17%) and Temperament (15%). Technical Competence was a distant 5th at 11% failure rate.
So what is Employee Engagement? It differs depending on if you are the employer or employee. While there are many definitions out there, mine is “A conscious culture put in place by an organization that inspires and encourages its members to reach their full potential while contributing to the success of the organization and their own well-being.”
For an employer, engagement is about building trust, open communication, making sure the employees understand their role within the organization. It is about creating actions that align with company values.
For employees, engagement is about having a positive attitude, looking to improve and reach their full potential, looking forward to going to work and making a constructive contribution. It is about recognition, empowerment and being included as a member of the team.
There are many ways to increase employee engagement, but the first step is to make sure the right people are in the right positions. Remember, “Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill”.
Here are a few ways companies can improve their employee engagement (This is a very limited list; I would love to hear some of your ideas):
- A Recognition Wall (praise in public, reprimand in private)
- Healthy eating options (company cafeteria or vending machines)
- Company volunteer day in the community
- Company fitness center or health program
- Emphasize work-life balance
- Continuous training and development programs (learn a new language, take a business course)
- Help pay for additional schooling
- Institute “Be Our Guest” program that allows employees (especially new hires) to walk in the shoes of your customers
- Employee survey to get honest feedback (make it anonymous)
- Reward new ideas that save the company money. Can also be used for Safety and Security initiatives.
- Company sports teams (softball, volleyball, bowling, etc.)
- Catered luncheons once a week, or once a month
- Open door hours scheduled with senior management
- Have a Buddy system for new hires and make sure they meet the entire team.
- Encourage inter-departmental transfers if someone would like to work in another area
- Stop micro-managing
- Reward excellence with unique incentives (3 day mini vacation, tickets to the big game, dinner for 2 at a 5 star restaurant)
- Pot luck lunch where everyone brings in a dish
- Play Stop-Start-Continue (have employees give one company policy they would stop, one they would start and one they would continue). Amazing what management can learn from this game
- Have brainstorming meetings
- Define what employee engagement means to the company, and ask for suggestions
- Have a family day picnic
- Keep all employees updated about “insider” company information
The sky is the limit with all the great things you can do. This list can go on and on. It is only limited by your imagination and commitment to the cause of keeping your employees engaged. It is a win-win for everyone involved. It produces top-notch talent that is easy to retain, thus lowering expensive recruiting costs, while helping a company increase its bottom line and standing in the community.