Branham’s research shows that a negative company culture is the main reason why employees look elsewhere for work. The best way to combat this is to work toward fostering positive employee relations and a better working environment.
Start by developing a retention plan. Consider the main factors that contribute to employees leaving and look at what you can do to prevent it from happening. Also, find out why your workers were attracted to the job in the first place, as this might well be the thing that is keeping them there and you could use this information to attract future employees.
Another factor to consider is training opportunities. The chance to develop new skills, achieve goals and acquire a solid understanding of job requirements gives workers a sense of value. So, opportunities for personal growth mustn’t be overlooked.
And while loyalty to a company has long ago become a thing of the past, many of today’s younger top performers do consider corporate social responsibility a major factor in job satisfaction. Millennials want to have pride in their employer, and not only paying attention to your reputation but promoting the company’s values can help retain these workers.
Employee engagement is a persistent problem for organizations around the world for many reasons. They include increasing use of remote workers, technology that makes interpersonal communication less personal, generational differences in work expectations and communication styles, the inability to clearly separate work and personal lives, poor leadership skills and employees feeling undervalued.
Engagement exists when empowered employees feel connected to their work and the organization, but each person in your organization experiences engagement in a different way. For this reason, developing high engagement levels begins with developing an organizational “social mindset” in which a sense of community is created. Unions have mastered this concept, making their members feel like they’re in an exclusive club with leaders who really listen, and will champion their causes and go to bat for them when issues arise. Unions regularly communicate with their members, using social media tools and personal meetings, to keep the connection strong and inspire feelings of empowerment. The union social mindset is a bond that unites everyone around a common cause.
Social factors are important to all employees but especially to millennials. They’re always connected via social media, but social media by itself isn’t guaranteed to engage people or promote optimal communication. Too many employers miss the link between a social mindset and engagement. Social media is an engagement tool, but if your organization doesn’t develop a social mindset, your employees won’t utilize the social tools to their greatest advantage. Your employees’ behaviors are indicative of a lack of social mindset. For example, low utilization of an enterprise-wide social media system or lack of response to a manager’s feedback on a project in progress or failure to participate on coworker teams, are a few indications that your employees don’t view themselves as important contributors to a cohesive team of workers.
An organization with a social mindset focuses on its people and is key to creating a culture of inclusion in which people thrive. Creating an organization with a social mindset requires giving people the right tools, but the tools must empower people to learn what they need and want to learn to achieve the highest performance level and to learn when they want to learn. It must be a collaborative learning journey in which people learn from each other, and have access to on-demand learning and access to internal and external communities that enable continuous learning. A social mindset means employees utilize all online and offline social systems to autonomously manage their jobs with a clear understanding of how their work contributes to organizational goals. They see themselves as proactive team members doing important work.
Engagement actually emanates from the ability of employees to self-empower. Your organization is unique from all others. It’s why you’ve achieved competitive success. The uniqueness drives the need for the development of an internal communication system that specifically resonates with your employees. The communication system consists of tools that are available to the entire workforce; consistent, tailored messaging; regular management feedback; and leaders with effective communication skills. Engaging your workforce in a meaningful way also requires providing content that adds value to their work and is easily understood.
Millennials prefer information delivered quickly and with visual aids, and user-friendly communication platforms that include video, web, and eLearning communication tools. Of course, mobile platforms are a necessity in the eyes of your younger employees. This creates the seamless communication system that accommodates the ‘where and when’ learning and communication needs. Engaging employees requires you to encourage all people to participate in the business, including remote workers, and to provide opportunities for improving processes. Meetings can encourage people to ask questions rather than expecting people to passively learn the material. Technology-based training programs are interactive. Leader feedback encourages stretch thinking. This is how you develop a social learning organization.
Various researchers have determined that employee engagement recognizes an employee’s psychological state, behaviors, and linkages between engagement and employee satisfaction. Satisfaction is not enough though. Engaged employees are committed to the organization’s mission, self-motivated and passionate about their work. Your organization’s communication system is an essential element in the engagement process, but only if it stimulates constructive conversations and positive behaviors.
Southwest Airlines is an example of a company that has created a social mindset. Employees are encouraged to collaborate, participate in decision-making and explore work activities outside their regular jobs. Employees across the organization were encouraged to share new ideas for uniforms, and one of the flight attendants chosen to participate on a final design committee called it an “unforgettable experience.” Southwest Airlines considers social media as a means for relationship building with and between employees and customers because it gives the company the ability to connect people across teams and cultures.
Airbnb creates an employee experience which considers physical, emotional, aspirational, intellectual and virtual (collaborative technologies) aspects. The collaborative technologies are used to communicate the company culture and hold an online live-streamed weekly meeting, and employees are encouraged to use WhatsApp to share learning, photos, and insights. This enables the company to create a social mindset by opening communication up to all employees around the world.
Previously a labor organizer, author Jane McAlevey shared her experiences and perspectives on union organizing in “Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)” and proposed a union-building operational model in “No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age.” She points out that mobilizing may bring large numbers of people into the battle for employee rights but these are people already committed. To build a strong union, its leaders must expand its base to include ordinary people who were never involved in organizing. They do this by helping ordinary people understand they hold the power and can achieve desired outcomes.
Her basic operating model has several major elements that include: deep organizing in which indifferent people are attracted; full-worker organizing in which all working people are made to understand they are members of a community and have untapped potential; building unity across classes of people; developing organic leaders who create a social force capable of exercising power; and tracking every worker’s participation in the workplace and the community to better engage them in the union learning and development processes.
McAlevey’s model is an engagement model. As an employer, you must understand an engaging communication system in your organization makes it possible for all employees to participate, exercise their power to contribute to organizational success and create a social force. The social mindset encourages people to fully participate in the communication process by providing context.
It’s not a passive system. It proactively embraces the disengaged, drawing them into the community of the already engaged. The communication skills of your leaders are crucial to the development of a social mindset. You want your employees to join your organizational efforts to remain innovative, competitive and successful, instead of joining a union. It’s the path to union proofing your business.
According to Gallup, 85% of employees in 2018 say they aren’t really engaged at their office. As an HR department, you have a responsibility to impart important information to your employees. Getting that information to impact unengaged employees is an extremely difficult task. Not only can you improve the impact of your communications for 2018, you can improve employee engagement with texting!
Employees shouldn’t feel as if their time is being wasted with benefit information, excess paperwork, pointless meetings or long training sessions. Keep your messages short. Communication that is direct and clear will help employees pay attention and remember key points. Improve HR communications efficiently with SMS. Text messaging is a great way to send short but impactful messages, since you will have to trim each message to 160 characters.
Use surveys to gather valuable feedback from your team. Employees that help build the company are going to be more engaged and feel more personal responsibility in the outcome. Let your employees have a voice that directly impacts the company by texting them polls and surveys about your policies, practices and events. The more an employee feels plugged in to the process, the more loyal he or she will be. You want to create employee advocates that are excited about your brand and spread a positive word to their friends, family, peers and acquaintances. The more people your employees tell about your company, the more your organic reach will increase for both potential customers and top talent for new hires.
Engagement numbers often drop, the longer employees have been with your company. Gallup reported that only 5% of employees are engaged after 10+ years with a company. Talented and seasoned employees are the most expensive to replace, so improve long-term employee engagement with texting. Make sure you have training in place that is direct and built for the employees who are already well versed in your company policies. Don’t waste the time of your seasoned employees, but make sure they also have room to grow further as professionals in your company. Employees that are able to see a healthy career path are going to be more excited about the direction of their role as a professional in the company. Text messaging can be used to get feedback from these employees, remind them of professional opportunities and check in on training retention after an advanced session.
The things you offer your employees outside of standard pay are going to motivate them to remain excited about your company. When benefits change, text team members with key facts that will encourage them to click on a shortened link, texted to provide to additional content. Allow employees to check in on how many vacation days or sick days they have left by texting in for a personalized, automated response. Improve employee engagement with texting by promoting office contests. Employees can even be awarded prizes for being the first to text back a response to a trivia question about policy, get perfect “attendance” in responding to HR surveys or have their name drawn from a number of correct responses to training quiz questions.
Use creative strategies and text messaging to get your employees more engaged in the workplace. Look for ways to make employees feel needed and empowered on a daily basis, and improve employee engagement with texting. Heightened morale in your company will lead to employees that do more and stick around longer.
Ken Rhie is the CEO of Trumpia, which earned a reputation as the most complete SMS solution including user-friendly user interface and API for mobile engagement, Smart Targeting, advanced automation, enterprise, and cross-channel features for both mass texting and landline texting use cases. Mr. Rhie holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School. He has over 30 years of experience in the software, internet, and mobile communications industries.
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.