A manager tells a baby boomer employee, “I need you to work on this new project. I’m confident you can figure out what needs to be done,” and walks off. The manager doesn’t give the employee any of the tools needed to do the job properly nor does he explain why the project is important. In another department, a manager sends a millennial employee multiple texts that say, “I’ve been meaning to discuss your future with the company,” and the conversation never takes place.
The first employee feels taken for granted and hopes the work can be completed to the management’s liking. She wants, and needs, goals and feedback as work progresses, but at her stage of life she is not interested in career advancement. The millennial believes the manager is uncomfortable giving feedback and uninterested in the employee’s career plans. He is now looking for a new job.
Much emphasis is placed on developing effective (aka the “right”) communication in the workplace, but do your leaders understand the implications of ineffective communication? A decade ago, the workforce primarily consisted of two generations. Today there are usually three or four, and millennials in particular are driving changes in workplace communication. However, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that each generation has a preferred communication style. Many managers continue to rely on one communication style, acceptable 10-20 years ago, and find themselves questioning high employee turnover rates.
The ability of organizational leaders to communicate with employees in the style they prefer, and in a way that meets their expectations, is key to developing engaged employees. For example, millennials like social media, texts, video and other digital-based communications. They appreciate honest and regular feedback, productive training, collaboration and leaders who respond to their input in some manner.
The “right” conversation isn’t always held face to face, but all interactions across communication channels need to have positive qualities. The right conversations cross generations because they’re “tools” that add to the employee’s understanding of the company mission, the employee’s role in achieving that mission and the value he or she delivers. Engaging leadership conversations embrace employee training and development, insights and ideas, and personal goals. They promote a workforce ‘community,’ and are transparent and sincere.
Gallup conducts numerous surveys on employee engagement, and for good reasons. Employee engagement percentages remain stubbornly low, approximately 33 percent. Measuring engagement levels is not enough. In the technology age, overwhelmed leaders often rely on metrics as a wall to hide behind rather than directly engaging employees. Engagement survey results and other metrics cannot replace regular communication, feedback or training. The numbers may indicate progress or a lack of progress, but a good employee engagement program includes ongoing conversations between your leaders and employees, and managers need the appropriate learning to conduct productive, regular conversations.
A writer in the Harvard Business Review suggests that employee complaints concerning poor communication in the workplace are often symptomatic of a larger, deeper problem. In the article’s example, complaining employees were actually communicating in the workplace, but the real problem was uncertainty about their job responsibilities. Human Resources wasn’t making job responsibilities clear. Leaders trained in effective communication would have examined and uncovered the real issues by engaging employees. This applies to union-proofing your business, too. Employees will inevitably turn to other sources if managers don’t understand and correct larger organizational problems.
The right communication is a linkage between employers and employees, and that can be in person and via video, websites and interactive eLearning that help companies orient, train, inform, educate and connect with employees. In fact, Gallup found that employees who were most engaged had some form of communication with their managers every day. Leaders who use a mix of phone, in-person and digital communication are the most successful in engaging employees of all generations.
With the start of a new year, there are always countless predictions about what lies ahead. This is no exception when it comes to the world of Human Resources. While already an ever-changing field, be sure to watch for these transformative trends in the workplace in 2018:
With an ever-increasing number of millennials entering the workforce, the employee experience is more important than ever. In 2018, many workplaces will shift their focus from employee engagement to the employee experience. Similar to the approach that customer service reps employ, HR professionals are already beginning to focus on creating a more engaging and enjoyable environment for their employees. As a result, it is likely that employer loyalty and overall morale will drastically improve in many companies.
Dubbed the “gig culture,” more people are enjoying the freedom that comes along with working on their own schedule. While the employee title certainly won’t be going anywhere in 2018, more employers will take advantage of hiring independent contractors for short-term projects or specialized tasks. This method proves beneficial to both parties as the independent contractor retains freedom from an employee title while the employer does not have to pay for a full-time employee.
In the past, position titles and duties were often clear and to the point. In 2018, these titles and duties will become less fixed. Instead, assignments and duties are likely to be given based on an employee’s strengths versus their official job title. This allows employers to get the most out of top talent while allowing employees more variety in experience and education in the workplace.
Millennials are unlike the generations that have come before them in a number of ways, but the most crucial is their focus on maintaining a work/life balance. This is forcing many HR departments to reassess policies that they have in place. To meet the demand, companies are beginning to offer more flexible schedules, paternity leave and remote work opportunities in efforts to provide a better work/life balance .
Performance reviews have drastically decreased in popularity in the last five years. While many companies phased these reviews out in 2015, those who have not will likely do so in 2018. To replace these traditional and ineffective reviews, employers are instead offering real-time feedback to employees. This allows employees to understand their strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly as issues arise, instead of learning about it months later.
By staying on top of the emerging trends in the HR community, you can ensure that your workplace remains competitive and up-to-date in 2018 and in the future.
In consumer markets over the past few years, companies have faced a growing demand for customized experiences. This trend is now appearing with far greater frequency in the realm of employee engagement, where human resources staff attempt to implement technology and changes in practice sensitive to individual workers’ talents, needs and preferences. Personalization of the employee experience can take many forms — from individually tailored learning platforms to employee choice of work spaces.
Forward-thinking companies are taking a personalized approach to employee engagement, development and training, adapting lessons, available offerings and learning experiences based on each employee’s learning style, competencies and retention. Personalized training allows targeting of areas in need of improvement, challenging the employee without overwhelming them and saving the company both time and money thanks to elimination of unnecessary training or training that employees don’t retain. Personalized learning, whether through provision of tailored content or the giving employees their choice of curated content according to their interests, increases motivation, engagement and retention.
Employee-facing self-service apps, chatbots and communications not only better engage staff through the provision of relevant information, but also help human resources departments better use resources. For example, one company developed an app that offers fast, personalized information on questions frequently directed to human resources staff related to vacation policy, benefits administration or basic processes, such as requesting time off.
People excel in different work environments, and different environments are preferred for different work purposes. Workers are significantly more engaged at work when they have control over where and how they work. Human resources departments are beginning to collaborate with facilities and real estate departments within their organizations to design spaces that give employees choices of where to do their work based upon the activity they are working on, such as collaborative work with teams or tasks requiring a high degree of focus.
Want to tailor your communications to your unique workforce? Projections offers completely custom video production, websites and eLearning programs that engage workers and keep them productive. From concept to writing, shooting to post-production, create the message your employees need. Then, deploy your final product in in-person meetings, online, or even in-home with personal mailings.
Why are so many skilled professionals clamoring to land a job with companies like Facebook and Google? While yes, these companies appear stable and lucrative, there is something much bigger fueling interest: their employer brands. The perks, the opportunities, the flexibility and the social environment – these are the factors job seekers want to hear about. So if your company isn’t attracting quite the right candidates or if your retention rates are lower than you’d prefer, consider tweaking your employer brand.
No false advertising here. Just start providing an honest look at your company’s work environment. That’s why it’s key to focus on the Employee Engagement Journey and help prospective employees understand what it means to become a vital part of your team.
While each job and each person is on a unique path, clearly defining what your employer brand promises can go a long way toward establishing trust. You might publish pictures from an office party or a sneak peek at employees collaborating on a new product. Just make sure the kind of content you publish aligns with how your company presents its brand identity and values.
Consider recruiting current employees to participate in communicating your employer brand. While you can talk about how wonderful the company is all day long, seeing social media posts or reading blogs from employees themselves often creates a stronger image of work culture.
There are a few key factors that will propel your brand from anonymity to popularity. As these factors are reiterated and established over time, candidates will come to trust your brand.
Being an “employer of choice” requires that you think of “compensation” as more than just wages paid. For a company with a strong employer brand and reputation, compensation includes the full range of benefits an employees enjoy. Broaden that scope to include things that move team members along in their journey with the company, including skill-building workshops, work-from-home opportunities and bonding and networking internally with co-workers. Be sure to present the full range of compensation (your employer brand) to candidates, as few will be fully aware.
Another thing to remember is to keep your compensation package open and adaptable. As you communicate more with employees, you may find that certain benefits need to be tweaked, added, or removed to be sure the brand is supporting their journey.
One of the most powerful forces that will make you an employer of choice is word of mouth. Your current employees are the best spokespersons for your brand – both during and after their time with you. Thus it is critical to continuously check in on employee engagement. Keep the lines of communication open so when a change needs to happen, employees have no problem talking to you about it.
Consider creating a “pre-hire orientation” message that will communicate all that is expected of employees. This way, your recruiting efforts have a better chance of resonating with the right candidates. If an applicant sees something they don’t like in the pre-hire orientation process, they (and you) know your company isn’t a fit for them.
Build a network of trust both within and outside of your company, and your brand reputation will shine through everything else. As Lindsay Nahmiache, co-founder of Jive PR eloquently phrased it in Forbes, “Building a network is a gradual process that takes months and sometimes years to pay off . It consists of continually providing support and value in two-way relationships.”
An internal HR audit has the same goal as any other audit: to scrutinize business operations to ensure best practices are in place and consistently applied. Of course, an HR audit is exclusively focused on HR practices, offering an opportunity to identify deficiencies in employment policies and their application, employment-related documentation, and compliance with relevant employment law. Proactively auditing HR practices is the most effective method of addressing small issues before they have a chance to take up time and money that would be better spent elsewhere.
If you haven’t conducted a full review within the last couple of years, let this guide serve as a wake-up call to making an audit part of your Engagement Plan for the coming year.
The job of a Human Resources, Employee Relations or Labor Relations professional is often reactive: investigating employee relations issues, responding to a compliance violation, or searching through poorly maintained records when a legal claim is made. However, it is far more satisfying to take a proactive approach and address small problems before they become major headaches. HR auditing sets businesses up for success, establishing basic HR practices. Audits systematically review whether and how policies are being applied, ensuring consistency among staff members and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
Other benefits of HR audits include:
• Company-wide adoption of best practices
• Identification of potential processes improvements
• Reduction of errors and employee complaints
• Proactive preparation for government investigations
• Reduced likelihood of fines for noncompliance with employment regulations
• Possible reduction in insurance expenses
• Improved utilization of legal budgets
• Increased buy-in from managers regarding HR policies and practices
• Reduced likelihood of successful union organizing
Launching an HR audit is a major endeavor, and it is important to secure the appropriate resources. These subject matter experts are particularly helpful:
Legal Counsel – The results of an audit can be discoverable in future legal proceedings. Consult legal counsel for advice on protecting the business.
Department Leaders – Enlisting the help of department leaders saves time. They can point you towards the relevant records and explain how policies are applied from day to day.
Once your team is assembled, outline the areas you will audit and develop a list of audit questions. Common inquiries for HR audits include the following…