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.
Forging meaningful connections via social media is a goal of most people. It’s not just individuals though; about 50 percent of large companies and 75 percent of small businesses use social media.
Companies use social media largely to increase brand awareness or as marketing and sales tools. However, it can also be an excellent way to engage your workers meaningfully.
Does effective onboarding increase employee motivation? SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management) has gathered information indicating that it does. Their findings? That the result of effective onboarding is that both employee AND employer reap long-term benefits.
According to SHRM, effective onboarding will increase job satisfaction, organizational commitment and performance levels. In addition, it can reduce turnover and new employee stress levels. When you research onboarding, you’ll find that video is one of the most effective approaches available today.
Traditional onboarding often consists of classroom-style lectures accompanied by documentation the new hire must study. Providing video is more memorable and far more effective than a lecture. It’s a way to build trust of company executives and ensure that the message to new employees is consistent. In addition, top-notch onboarding that includes video can reduce in-house training costs, and even reduce turnover in the first 90 days of employment.
You can build a library of onboarding videos and update them as required. When the employee has access to the library, they can revisit information that they need to reinforce.
Another advantage is that you don’t need to overwhelm new hires by providing all the information they need at one time. It’s easy to set up a drip email campaign that spaces out delivery of links to the videos in sequential order, based on the employee’s start date.
Separate the information you want to convey into manageable pieces. For example, one video could be a welcome video from the CEO; another might come from department heads and so forth.
Get employee input for ideas on the topics to cover. Ask existing employees of differing seniority in what ways they got lost when they were new hires. Also, ask them what they know now that they wish they’d known when they first joined the company.
Here are some topics you may want to include in a multi-day orientation program:
The types of videos can cover issues that may seem mundane but are important to new hires. Examples include how to use necessary equipment, IT policies, how to get support if something goes wrong, and a wide variety of other day-to-day challenges.
Operational videos are also useful for reference – they’re the sort of content that the new hire may return to later, when they encounter that particular challenge.
Of course, your onboarding videos should reflect your company culture. Expand on that idea with fun videos that illustrate what it’s like to work at the company. Take a video of one employee, or edit the input from a variety of employees into one video. Your team members can share on a variety of topics, such as what they do, their biggest challenge, their greatest satisfaction, the resources they find most useful, the help they can offer to new employees, and what they like about their job or the company. If you have employees whose career paths have included a series of promotions, arrange for them to provide a testimonial on career opportunities for long-term employees.
If you’re responsible for onboarding new employees, video is a tool you won’t want to ignore. Don’t get overwhelmed if you don’t have a video library right now. Since you’ll be creating specific videos to address specific topics, you can easily build a library over time. The most important thing is just getting started!
Tried-and-true methods of practicing business are not so true anymore. Technology and globalization have made the world smaller, while simultaneously opening doors to improve the ways we live and work — especially where and when we work.
In the past decade, more people have begun to work remotely – but even the definition of “working from home” has expanded. Today, remote workers may still choose to work from their homes, but they might just as well choose to share co-working spaces, work out of a coffee shop, check in from the beach or even work out of an RV. In recent years, the percentage of workers employed remotely has increased by a whopping 80 percent. This has put new pressure on managers, supervisors, human resources departments and executives to build productive, successful remote teams – and that doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might seem.
Clear goals foster accountability. This will give your remote team a solid footing on which to anchor their work. Make sure your goals are specific, with measurable benchmarks and stated deadlines.
Your remote team’s work will center around technology. Carefully select from the plethora of available business apps and productivity platforms, and always vet your choices before committing to them. Keep in mind that you want to simplify your remote team’s workflow by reducing confusion while increasing productivity.
Each member of your team needs to know his specific task and how it will fit into the overall goal of the team. Provide your team members with clear guidelines that can be easily referenced. Ensure your management tool includes a way for employees to track required milestones within project tasks. If feasible, include a flowchart that shows the impact of each member’s assignment on the overall project goals.
One of the perks lost when teams work remotely is the positive benefits of one-on-one interactions between co-workers. Your workers enjoy freedom and flexibility when working remotely, but it also deprives them of face time to solidify team dynamics. There’s no huddling around the water cooler with remote teams.
Make sure your team leader touches base with every member on a regular schedule. You can get one-on-one interaction and group brainstorming sessions via technology such as Skype. This will help build working relationships between team members.
All work and no play make your team a boring group. Think of ways your team can get to know each other outside of work, on a more personal level. This can go a long way toward thwarting dissatisfaction with the job. Encourage collaboration outside of work hours, if possible. Meet up offline if you can, or offer your team digital happy hours.
Finally, make sure you’re connecting with your remote employees through excellent communication and training, with innovative solutions, including comprehensive orientation and onboarding strategies. Creating ways in which your team has common knowledge of the operation and what others do each day is vital to achieving your mission.
For a long time employees joined a company, contributed to a retirement plan, and stayed for decades, slowly moving up the corporate ladder. That depiction no longer reflects the modern workplace or the modern workforce. Millennials have different needs and expectations, but if you are willing to adapt, you can ensure you continue to attract the talent your business needs.
Millennials crave feedback, far more often than managers are willing to provide. At most companies, managers conduct an annual review with direct reports to evaluate their performance. Some well-known companies now provide bimonthly feedback sessions to better engage younger employees that aren’t comfortable having that conversation once a year. Millennials are tech-savvy, and it is often necessary to use a variety of channels such as videos, websites, and interactive tools to better track progress and provide feedback. Firms must clearly communicate near-term goals along with the intermediary steps necessary to reach those goals, and it’s often beneficial to work with outside partners to help craft those messages.
Millennials want to know how they are performing, and they also want to know where that performance will take them. The timeline for career advancement has shrunk considerably; millennials expect a promotion every one to two years. This is of course not feasible for your entire workforce, but for top performers, granting an extra title or other recognition could stave off headhunters looking to capitalize on any dissatisfaction. According to some studies, 60 percent of millennials will leave a job within the first three years; with a workforce that fickle, a little extra spending now could save significant hiring costs later.
It’s not enough to just offer a paycheck; employers also have to offer a sense of purpose. According to one study, two-thirds of millennials won’t take a job offer from a company that doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility program. Hiring managers need to make sure that they emphasize opportunities for engagement as part of the total compensation package when recruiting top talent. From a logistical perspective, companies need to build programs to provide service opportunities or partner with service organizations that can provide that infrastructure.
Millennials comprise a steadily growing portion of the workforce, and companies that want to compete for the best talent will need to adapt to that reality. While some of the demands of millennial employees may seem taxing or silly to managers, failing to adapt to those demands in time could mean a significant slowdown in hiring, and in turn, competitiveness. The good news is that making these changes, and using comprehensive communications solutions to connect can boost morale not just among millennials and new hires, but throughout your entire workforce.