What’s the biggest opportunity for human resources this year? In a recent survey of 500 HR leaders, our peers had a definitive answer: engagement.
It’s one of many reasons the Great Resignation or the Great Reevaluation has evolved into the Great Reengagement. It’s a more proactive approach to minimizing the impact that nearly 5 million people quitting their jobs is having on the workforce and, quite frankly, the world. Now we’re talking about the root cause versus the result. It clicks, right?
What do you do, however, if you’ve pulled out all your engagement “tricks” from the bag but employees keep leaving? Let’s dig deeper with these proven practices based on data and experience.
Go to the source
When we recently surveyed 1,000-plus full-time knowledge workers in the U.S., 49% of them said team meetings work to keep them engaged, followed by learning opportunities and in-person events. Team meetings–that’s it?
Every manager and department should have the autonomy to set their team meetings and run them as they wish. This necessary autonomy, however, could result in varying meeting cadences, formats, and goals. An easy way to provide some consistency—to ensure everyone is making the most of this valuable engagement opportunity—is to provide sample schedules and topics teams can meet about. From there, managers should have the freedom to tailor their meetings to their team’s culture. While one team may respond to informal check-ins to just connect, others may need more formal round-robin formats to go over in-progress projects. There’s no secret ingredient, but empowering managers and departments with examples is a great way to ensure employees are being engaged in the way they want to be.
Team up with marketing
One of the biggest risks to engagement is an employee feeling disconnected from the wider group and/or broader company initiatives. When employees feel that they are the last to know about something, morale suffers. Many successful employee-experience (EX) programs are a dual effort from HR and marketing. In fact, when we asked those same HR leaders if they want their marketing team involved with EX, 65% said yes. Why?
- 52% of HR leaders want marketing involved in EX because the department plays an important role in how the company is perceived in the market.
- 40% want to leverage the marketing department’s creative ability.
- 8% want to involve marketing to split costs, because marketing tends to has a larger promotional budget.
One HR and marketing initiative that is proven to increase employee engagement and even a company’s brand and employer awareness is an employee advocacy program. By having a portal—or one from a vendor that provides the software—employees can see all the company’s news and content and have pre-written social captions to use for their own social posts.
As a result, employees feel connected, and the employer grows their brand. Our own employee advocacy program, in partnership with marketing, has resulted in nearly 12,000 employee shares—giving us the possibility of reaching 6.5 million other people that we wouldn’t have otherwise (in just a year).
Make the case for an engagement team
Once considered a luxury by only the largest of organizations, engagement teams are becoming a necessity to properly engage employees at every step of their career journey. They don’t only manage internal communications to ensure employees are well informed, they can also identify the best training programs, onboarding paths, wellness initiatives, benefit communications, contests, surveys, and performance-review processes. An engagement team is invaluable for training the entire company on the importance of employee engagement and truly live it each day. If there was ever a time to make the case for an engagement team, it’s now.
Try conducting engagement interviews
Often referred to as stay interviews, engagement interviews can help managers have open conversations with their team about what’s working and what’s not. Run completely outside of performance reviews and formal processes, engagement interviews are candid conversations between a manager and their teammate to identify areas of opportunity, areas of concern, and areas each person can improve on to have a successful relationship and career trajectory. To properly use engagement interviews for engagement—and not a bureaucratic ploy—HR (or an engagement team) can arm managers with the types of questions that work well in these engagements such as:
- What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
- What do you like most or least about working here?
- What keeps you working here?
- If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
- What would you like to learn here?
- What motivates (or demotivates) you?
- What can I do to best support you?
- What can I do more of or less of as your manager?
Connect with core values to encourage a greater sense of belonging
One of the reasons for resignation and reassessment is people want to feel that their work matters—in their lives, in their communities, in their companies. With all the health, economic, and political turmoil of the last few years, this reassessment came from employees taking stock of what matters most to them. Why not address those questions proactively through the lens of reengagement?
For example, a third of employers don’t give employees the opportunity to connect to the causes they care about, despite employees looking favorably upon companies that do. At its core, engagement is about providing a sense that someone belongs. By giving employees the opportunity to show the types of groups and causes to which they belong—through corporate giving and volunteering programs—they could feel like they belong at work as well.
There are many reasons why employees may feel that they don’t belong: They are the only one who looks like them, they feel out of the loop on company happenings, and so on. But there are as many ways to cultivate belonging. In addition to giving and volunteering programs, employee resource groups (ERGs) not only engage employees, but help them feel like they belong. In the same survey of 1,000-plus employees, 49% of respondents said their employer doesn’t offer an ERG. This is a missed opportunity to engage employees on what matters most to them, such as DEI, veteran advocacy, LGBTQ+ rights, disability rights, sustainability, and more.
Provide a single source of truth
A single system for all work functions is the top technology employees say they are missing to do their jobs most effectively. While all of the engagement initiatives described here are proven to be successful, they will all fall flat unless employees are given the tools to access what they need in a single system without requiring myriad passwords and having to log into this system for this and that system for that. HR and business leaders must think and re-think how to consolidate siloed systems into a single source of truth for employees.
Savvy organizations are even bringing the information from their single source of HR truth into work collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams. Similar to how we’re used to asking Siri a question in our everyday lives, companies are bringing virtual assistants into the workplace to simply ask apps information like, “How many PTO hours do I have?” or, “What benefits do I have?” This elevates engagement by reducing friction in how employees access information to enable them to do their jobs and empower them to self-serve. It’s a method people choose to engage with in their everyday lives, too. Just look at the lines for store kiosks.
Every employee is unique. What works for one might not work for another. Addressing the greater good through engagement tactics that are proven to work, however, gets companies one step closer to moving from a reactive approach to the Great Resignation to a proactive approach with the Great Reengagement. The latter treated employees like “capital” and the former treats the like people. Where do you stand?
Amy Mosher is the chief people officer at isolved.