Rethinking What’s Needed to Successfully Drive Employee Engagement Today
For today’s world, a system that enables leaders to coordinate, sustain and measure employee engagement requires five elements.
Engagement Enablement — The Employee Experience
As research from Deloitte, Gallup and others has shown, effective employee engagement demands an array of touch points.
Your recognition programs, for example, need to operate on multiple time scales — both daily and throughout the employee life cycle. You should no longer limit recognition opportunities to anniversary dates or major accomplishments but should also seek additional ways to better engage. Those programs are important and serve as a solid foundation; however, they won’t improve engagement on their own.
Engagement experiences similarly need to go beyond an employee’s defined role or daily tasks. They need to reflect other aspects of life on and off the job.
In an effective engagement platform, the employee experience should allow for these opportunities:
- Recognition for day-to-day victories as well as milestone events
- Personal well-being improvement and education
- Community service
- Surveys and assessments related to everything from company culture to the workplace environment to new product development
- Performance improvement, collaboration and recognition
- Safety awareness and education
The world of rewards has grown far beyond lapel pins and engraved plaques. Those are still valuable recognition pieces, of course. But effective rewards need to offer much more.
The rewards you offer need to be meaningful to the individual employee and to their family. They need to speak to what someone wants in their personal life, beyond their life on the job. Rewards today offer nearly unlimited choices, from shopping and entertainment to travel and charitable giving, and more.
Your product selection needs to be current, reflect today’s trends, offer variety and address the needs of a global workforce.
Then there’s the issue of how your organization delivers rewards. Again, you need to meet employee expectations. For example, gifts can be delivered to an employee at home in the form of a traditional gift card or as an online gift card that’s delivered immediately via email. And don’t forget the option to redeem rewards from anywhere, anytime, on any device.
To effectively meet the expectations for great employee contact, your engagement platform should have these capabilities:
- Logistics that ensure rewards are always available
- Fulfillment that ensures rewards are delivered promptly and accurately, and offers plenty of options
- Personalization that resonates with recipients and truly enhances the employee’s user experience
- Choice of awards that makes them meaningful and keeps the selection fresh
“Every enterprise is a learning and teaching institution. Training and development must be built into it on all levels — training and development that never stops.” — Peter Drucker
By taking a systems view of the organization, you can diagram the activities of effective employee learning and the outcomes of employee engagement as mutually reinforcing elements. Learning increases engagement, which in turn inspires more learning.
Popular models such as 70:20:10 describe the ratios at which employees develop skills and knowledge: on the job (70 percent), through peer learning (20 percent) and through formal training (10 percent).
The engagement platform builds upon recent innovations aimed at delivering training content on the job through short bursts delivered on demand at the point of need. This kind of learning does not replace instructor-led training, but rather expands the capability to build in continuous learning.
One way this happens is with expert learning content that comes with your engagement platform on topics like health, financial well-being and workplace safety. Another way is via content organizations that produce content themselves and deliver it through the engagement platform channel.
By adding another dimension, your engagement platform can take what works from the world of rewards, recognition and engagement and apply it to learning initiatives to help make them:
- Fun and engaging
- Easy to navigate
- Repeatable and consistent, to better convey core company information and initiatives
Effectively coordinating and sustaining employee engagement demands a specific set of measurement tools. You need analytics to ensure that your engagement strategy aligns with and supports your organization’s strategic business goals. Analytics also need to support the investment your organization has made in its engagement platform.
An effective suite of analytics tools needs to be able to:
- Collect employee feedback throughout the employee life cycle. Employee attitudes and opinions shift and change over time. Analytics should ensure that feedback starts at the initial moment of engagement with your organization (in the hiring process) and continues all the way through retirement.
- Evaluate and drive performance. Real-time analytics are crucial. Employees have more connections and spend more time with people outside of their immediate business team or region.
Align teams in real time. Just as an organization needs to evaluate performance in real time, it’s also important to make adjustments to the way teams operate in real time. The first set of data falls flat without being put into practice.
When your company’s supervisors and managers have access to real-time assessments, they’re better able to understand each employee on their team. This can help them make adjustments, improve employee satisfaction and support the company culture.
Analyze data to facilitate and promote meaningful changes for employees and their employers. Engagement analytics empower business leaders to incorporate change and improvement in processes throughout the organization.
Agile, flexible organizations are best positioned with real-time employee analytics and can leverage opportunities when change occurs. They can also commit to proactively making improvements to processes and programs in a changing environment.
- Highlight opportunities to maximize ROI. The most effective analytics let an organization quantify and articulate both the tangible and intangible returns on its engagement investment.
One example of intangible ROI is higher employee satisfaction scores. A complementary tangible ROI is an uptick in the cross-sale of higher-margin items sparked by a sales reward program.
The process of rethinking engagement requires a fresh look at how organizations communicate their messages and programs. It’s important to look at the bigger picture of communication, as well as the tactical, ground-level communication drivers.
The bigger picture is about how you align programs and rewards with compensation; integrate programs with employment and engagement brands; and internally market the various concepts, tools and programs of engagement to the broader workforce.
The more tactical view is to make sure communication is tailored to your corporate brand and character. At an even more granular level, reward and recognition moments should evoke genuine emotion. They should inspire employees toward even greater achievements. Optimally, this is achieved through personalized materials and communication.