By Sue Winkler, Director of Client HR Services
Building off the November and December articles on supporting and engaging the management team, and where to start investing in employee engagement, this article will focus on the second driving principle of employee engagement – feeling valued.
The employee experience continues to be a significant initiative for companies as 2022 gets underway. November 2021 was another record month with over 4.5 million people choosing to leave their current job. Employers should not wait for the trend to change. It’s time to understand and invest in your employees and make engagement initiatives a priority.
As discussed last month, the first driving principle of employee engagement is feeling connected. Providing feedback, taking time to meet with direct reports, asking for input from employees and making work interactions a priority are the basic tools needed to help employees feel connected. But to have that investment really pay off, it should be coupled with making employees feel valued.
For employees, feeling valued is about belonging, believing their ideas and skills matter, and making an impact with their jobs and careers. For employers, it can be strengthened by building confidence, empowering employees to grow in their positions, and understanding that how employees feel matters. Here are three specific initiatives employers should consider adding to their employee engagement plan:
1. Provide and Personalize Recognition Recognition has been shown to positively impact loyalty and retention, while decreasing stress and absenteeism. In fact, a study by a national accounting firm reports that companies experience 31% less voluntary turnover if they have formal recognition programs over those companies that don’t. This initiative alone makes the effort worth it!
Research also shows that the recognition needs to be personalized to have the greatest effect. Not everyone wants their name in lights. To really drive engagement, recognition should be honest, timely, specific and tailored to the way an employee likes to be recognized – which the Engagement Interviews discussed in December’s article can help you identify.
If working with a remote or hybrid workforce, keep in mind that there may be less visibility into people’s efforts and accomplishments, and there may be fewer everyday opportunities to provide recognition. But no matter where the work is being done, don’t rely on recognition happening naturally. Instead design and support a formal system that utilizes a variety of methods to recognize a wide array of efforts in a personal and meaningful way.
2. Create Opportunities for Growth Providing growth opportunities is a key element in showing value. This is not new information but with the current competition for talent that exists today, understanding how to make opportunity part of the employee experience will make a difference.
Growth isn’t always about climbing the corporate ladder. It can be expanding skills, being a mentor or getting a chance to participate in something new. Many companies may already be providing these types of opportunities but the messaging to the employee may be non-existent. Be intentional in telling an employee why they are being asked to participate in a new meeting, a new project or learn a new skill. Be transparent and talk to the employee about the value they are adding, and why they were selected to do something new.
And solicit input from the employee when considering new opportunities. Allow them to be a part of the process and ask them about their goals and dreams. You may discover some unique ways to help your employees achieve something special. As mentioned in December’s article, getting input from employees is always a critical piece to boosting engagement.
3. Offer Competitive Pay and Benefits Money alone is not the answer, but it is certainly a piece of the puzzle. This is a very tangible way that employees feel valued or are lured away by the competition. Compensation structures should reward and recognize talent and reinforce intentional actions and strategies that drive the business forward and further efforts to retain, encourage and support employees.
With the candidate pool tightening at an unprecedented pace, it’s important to identify key resources that provide relevant information related to compensation and benefits and make a commitment to update and review that information regularly. Every employer should have a clearly defined compensation strategy and help employees understand that there is a structure and philosophy in place that guides compensation decisions. Be aware that some states require employers to disclose pay ranges if asked which makes this initiative even more important to complete.
Not every business can lead the market when it comes to compensation and benefits. But every business has something unique about it. Define what makes you special and identify the intangible benefits employees receive. Compensation is more than the paycheck. Start sharing all the ways you are committing resources to support, develop, and recognize employees.
Get Ahead of Current Trends
Engagement initiatives are no longer fluff or nice to-dos. As current trends have clearly shown, focusing on the employee experience is critical. Making an intentional and genuine effort to improve the engagement level of employees is truly a smart investment in your business.
Are your employment law posters up to date? And are they available to remote employees? Be sure to check your state requirements as a number of states issued updates effective January 1, 2022.
Please contact Sue Winkler, Director of Client HR Services, if you have questions or want to learn more. Next month will complete our series on employee engagement with a focus on business leaders.