Tag Archives: engagement

Our biggest asset

… is our people.

Image from Changeyourgamebealeader.com

I’m sure you’ve heard it from hundreds of employers, read it in handbooks, and rolled your eyes as hard as I do.

Sabrina hits a nail fairly square in her latest post about how important it is for a company to know it’s employees.

In my company I’ve noticed a very interesting pattern in the past year. It’s a pattern that isn’t unexpected. We are starting to have a large number of voluntary turnover, especially at higher levels. Why? I theorize that the economy has crossed the tipping point, because these people are choosing to leave rather than it being involuntary.  (I have other theories based on other patterns, but that is another post.)

Frankly, I don’t blame them. My current manager whom I’ve worked under for  over a year doesn’t know I’m where I call home, nor have they communicated to me why I got an unexpected raise three months ago. They don’t know me, nor do they show that they care anything about me or understand the company’s actions/motivations.

To a recruiter, I am ripe for the plucking. And if I do say so, I’m quite the catch. 😉

A very wise leader once told me that employees are the company’s clients. I believe it was hearing those words echo in my head while reading Sabrina’s post led to my nodding head and this earnest post. If your employees are your clients, just as important as those that purchase your goods and services, why aren’t you treating them better and getting to know them?

Another point Sabrina slyly snuck into her post is that I have to wonder, why so many benefits – like tuition reimbursement – are underutilized. A strong suspicion I have based on what I have seen in my own career and in working with thousands of clients, is that it isn’t communicated! Imagine if, in a chat between coworkers or manager/subordinate in getting to know one’s dream that they could match it with an existing program? An employee who loves to volunteer at their local polling location learns that the company gives you a paid day to do that! Imagine the good will built with five minutes and no money (because the program is already in place.)

Sure, everyone is replaceable. But with the costs of replacing employees, do you really want to focus your resources on attracting, rather than retaining? You work to retain your clients/customers, don’t you? Well, your employees are just as important to woo; they are your customers too.

Greener Grass

Photo credit http://www.scenicreflections.com/

You know the old adage  the grass is greener on the other side -until  you have been sitting there a while, and another plot of grass seems better than where you are even though it was new and shiny once and appeared better than where you were before.

It’s cyclic. Most people get complacent and want more/better/etc. This is true in lifestyle and career.

So I’ve got a  two part theory on how to retain employees who have gotten comfortable and looking to move on. Part one: give them more work and/or work that is more meaningful/difficult than they are currently doing. Part two: let them interview elsewhere.

Personally I have found that when one has reached that comfort zone and they are unhappy they want a challenge. They most likely rock out the metrics of the job and would enjoy more scope and/or depth to what they are doing. Let’s face it, the workforce is not made up of robots who are just cogs in a machine – and no  one enjoys feeling as if they are! (And don’t talk to me about how they should be grateful to have jobs – that scare tactic doesn’t work, even in a down economy because we are still people with hopes, dreams, fears, and lives outside of work and what we do for work.)

Now, a caveat to the first part – be sure that you give your people the time, tools, resources, etc to handle the additional or more difficult work. Just because they are efficient and productive doesn’t mean that they will easily be able to add this extra into what they do now.

I’m sure you are most curious about my wild part two. I have found that most employees when they see the reality of what is “out there” be it internally or externally they develop a better appreciation for where they are or clarification as to what they want/need. To hedge your bets on the side of retaining your employees, don’t place stigma on this so that they will chat with their HR rep or manager and train them. Train them on how to interpret job descriptions, interview questions, salary discussions, work environments, etc. Yes, it means that some of the smoke and mirror employers use will be taken away from your organization too – but in this day and age with social media and increased methods to find information it’s better to play it straight.

Knowledge is power. Knowing what really is out there will empower employees to make decisions. And if you are worried that your culture/pay/etc isn’t up to snuff to retain? Maybe that is something that can be worked on. Sure there will always be desperate people out there who need a job – any job – but once they get it and grow comfortable, then what? Think long term both for your business goals and for the human resources to achieve them.

Employee Engagement – from the EE perspective

http://www.icims.com/blog/category/Employee-engagement.aspx

Photo credit iCIMS; ttp://www.peopleinsight.co.uk/

The topic of employee engagement has been popular for the past four-ish years due to the economy and limited time/resources to pander to employees and have lots of “nice to haves” to increase morale and retain talent.  From the tone of the prior sentence, you can guess my feelings on the matter, although I fully admit it is due to personal experience.

From an employee perspective – what I hear from friends, family, and strangers when out in public – engagement is a myth. Employees will either love, hate, or be indifferent about their job regardless of how much or how little effort an employer makes to engage them.

Engagement is an internal meter. Just as how some people are more positive than others or more depressive than others – so to engagement with regards to their job and/or employer. I believe that is why this article recommends personalizing rewards; however I see this approach as time consuming and expensive for an employer and thus small likelihood of it happening. Seeing how the UK is addressing engagement is heartening, to a point.

A software company that a friend works for has a compensation strategy to lead the market, great benefits, onsite cafeteria that is very tasty (so they say), open concept office, lots of opportunities to do fun things, and a SLIDE.  Yet based on what I have heard from said friend and another I know at this organization the ratio of engaged/happy/malcontent employees fits what I have (unofficially) witnessed in many other organizations.

My recommendation (which is not legal advice) is do what you need to based on your company policy (similar to compensation strategy) and to stay current with peers in the industry/geographical region. But don’t expect miracles if you go above that.

It’s time to put the employee engagement discussion to bed, as it is getting us no where. Only we as individuals can impact our own engagement.