We've all had that job that left us exhausted and disappointed at the end of every day. Companies that create this kind of environment inevitably deal with high turnover and low productivity. Successful businesses need to create work environments in which employees truly thrive. Common sense tells us that a worker who feels appreciated and excited about their job will always work harder than one who hates coming to work. Give those disgruntled workers the chance to move on to something more engaging, and they'll jump at it.
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Instead of being a temporary stop for a long series of disgruntled employees, companies should be working to engage employees in positive ways to drive retention. However, many talent professionals find it challenging to create engaging employee experiences for onboarding, performance, and learning, and 51 percent worry about motivating employees around company goals, according to the "State of Talent 2017" Report from talent management solutions provider SilkRoad.
Creating Engaging Employee Experiences
The first step to increasing employee engagement is simple: Talk to them.
"Clear, transparent, ongoing communication from the top down is the first and arguably most important step in engaging employees at every point in their career," says Amber Hyatt, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, vice president, product marketing for SilkRoad. "Through an agile performance approach, which relies upon frequent manager and employee check-ins, real-time feedback, and two-way communication, organizations can ensure employee expectations and goals align with business objectives. Similarly, companies should look for opportunities to gather feedback directly from employees. Open forums and focus groups for new projects are great ways to solicit input from employees, strengthening two-way communication and boosting engagement."
However, this doesn't mean executives can solve all their engagement problems by chatting up employees. A business that provides lasting and successful employee engagement must establish it as a core principle of the corporate culture.
"Before organizations can excite employees with their cultures, they need to have strong value propositions and echo them throughout all of their efforts," Hyatt says. "This creates a solid and unmissable foundation on which to build excitement."
Once these foundations are in place, employers should "excite employees by recognizing them," Hyatt says. This includes honoring their achievements both publicly and in one-on-one meetings.
"Next, look for opportunities to invest in building the team, including social events and off-site excursions where team members can get to know one another outside of the office," Hyatt suggests. "And of course, utilize frequent communication to keep employees abreast of new customer feedback, project completion dates, departmental reporting, etc. All of these steps combine to create a culture of engagement. Employees who understand the impact their efforts make on organizational goals remain engaged and exited."
Find Out What Employees Need – Before It's Too Late
Maintaining frequent contact throughout each employee's tenure helps workers feel valued by the company.
"Traditional talent management is centered on individual processes employees must complete, including applying for a job, signing an offer, filling out new hire paperwork, and even receiving paychecks," says Hyatt. "While automation of these processes may benefit HR, it does little to improve the day-to-day employee experience. Every interaction an employee has with an organization is a single touchpoint in one continuous employee experience in which they form ongoing impressions of the organization."
By making the effort to engage employees on a personal level, businesses show each individual worker that they have value and that their voice is heard.
"By shifting the focus to the employee experience, organizations can create meaningful moments throughout the employee's entire tenure," Hyatt says. "One great way to do this is by collecting employee feedback at each stage of their journey and acting on it wherever possible."
Employees leave organizations for many reasons. Waiting until the exit interview to find out why an employee jumped ship can help you address the problem for future employees, but it's too late to do anything about the employee who is leaving.
"If that feedback had been collected at an earlier point, the organization could have taken steps to fix potential problems and keep a valuable employee from seeking opportunities elsewhere," Hyatt says. "By understanding that the employee journey is a continuum of experiences, organizations can ensure they make a positive impact through an agile performance approach with consistent two-way communication, real-time feedback, and alignment with company goals. This engages and excites employees with positive employee experiences."