Most of us HR professionals understand that employees are a company’s most valuable asset. No matter how great your product or service; you can’t succeed if you don’t have the right people to promote, produce, and manage your business. In an economy with low unemployment rates and low employee engagement, it is difficult to retain and hire top talent.
According to a recent Gallup article, 51% of currently employed adults in the U.S. are searching for new opportunities or watching for new opportunities. For HR professionals, business owners, and executives, this should be a scary number. However, the good news is that you can plan and prepare for these impacts!
Human Resources is an evolving field. As an HR professional, you are the driver of people for your organization. In such, it is important to remember that people buy from people. People work for people. People leave jobs because of people. People are paid by people. In every transaction of your business, people are at the center. Highly effective HR professionals in today’s market are People Officers, stewards of their companies who understand that companies succeed or fail because of their people and their people’s interactions and production.
You have probably heard me talk about the importance of having a Recruitment Marketing Strategy. This is the best way to ensure you have an effective search for new talent and can hire the people you need to run your business. This does not, however, directly ensure that you are engaging your existing staff. So, below are some best practices for engaging your employees?
Understand the Importance of Engagement
Engaged employees are not only less likely to leave your company, but they are more likely to be more productive and contribute to creative solutions. Engaged employees will be your future leaders, excellent mentors, and advocates for your business.
Goals don’t have to be massive. They just need to be realistic, measurable, and drive a desired behavior or outcome. Start with small goals and build on them. Just make sure you have the support you need to achieve your goals. Include short-term goals that can make an immediate impact in your business, along with long-term goals for more significant changes, such as driving a different culture, implementing a career succession plan, creating a training program, etc.
Listen, Listen, Listen
What do your employees think about you (HR) and your company? If you don’t really know the answer to this, you need to figure it out. Encourage employees to complete surveys or suggest new benefits or programs. Find out if employees view HR as an advocate for them or as the Grim Reaper. It does not really matter what technique you use to listen to your employees; it only matters that you have a mechanism to allow them to talk and a mechanism to capture and evaluate what they say. This will help you identify opportunities for improvement, as well as learn what employees like about you and your company (which is great information for your recruitment marketing strategy).
Encourage Employees to Take Risks and Be Challenged
While every company wants to minimize risks, taking risks is an essential part of doing business. Every time a company launches a new product or service, it is taking a risk. Every time a company implements a new process or system, it is taking a risk. Many employees shy away from trying new things, applying for or taking promotions, and/or volunteering for special projects simply because they have not done “something” before. That “something” can be new and unfamiliar. Employees who are encouraged to try new things are significantly more engaged than employees who feel boxed in to doing the same thing, the same way, over and over again.
While these are only a few steps you can take toward engaging employees, these will have significant impact and don’t have to cost a lot of money or take up a lot of time. Special projects can be small. Surveys can be simple. What matters is that you start showing your employees that they matter and that you are constantly taking actions to help them succeed and enjoy their work. Get creative!
More than 50% of your employees may be looking for a new opportunity, so make it a priority to engage them! In conclusion, if you don’t have an employee engagement strategy, it is time to get one! It is hard enough to recruit new employees right now; so minimize your risk of having to replace your employees as well!