I hear about the recurring issues that HR leaders face in organizations across all industries at every meeting I go to. I also deal with employee engagement data every day. The 2018 Global Employee Engagement Index™ shows that worldwide, engagement levels have increased by 3.7% over the last two years. Yet, according to the study, global levels of engagement and commitment are still lower than 30%.
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It’s time to level with your employees and speak their language. I’m not talking about fluffy quick fixes for employee happiness or stop checks with occasional moments of feedback. I’m talking about creating a performance environment that makes your people invest in your organization and motivates them to produce great results.Here are seven employee engagement trends that I see shaping the future of multinational organizations.
1. Fostering the right company culture
According to the latest results from the Global Employee Engagement Index™, only one quarter of employees surveyed are extremely proud of their organization. Company culture is incredibly important for organizational success. That’s because the environment in which people work impacts how much they like their workplace and enjoy the work they do.
Strong company cultures establish better, more productive relationships among colleagues. When you see your company as a collective, you realize that you're more than the sum of your parts. When you win, you win together; when you lose, you lose together. At Facebook, for example, each of the 10,000 employees “owns” a piece of the company culture by contributing to the workplace environment and company goals. Talk about a collective effort.
2. Enabling employees with the tools they need to do their job
In our increasingly digital and technological world, businesses need to find a way to keep up. It’s really as simple as making sure that you have the right tools in place for people to do their best work. This might mean investing in more expensive, newer technologies to keep employees interested, engaged, and performing their best.
3. Providing regular recognition and feedback
Of course I’d be one to tell you to invest in employee feedback tools. But as Gordon Tredgold says, “Employee recognition is directly tied to employee engagement”. It is becoming increasingly necessary to invest in good employee feedback tools (and this is especially true in the GDPR era).
With frequent feedback, you’ll be able to keep the health of your organization in check. Support your (bi)annual survey with more focused pulse surveys. Make feedback a continuous process that reveals insights into what’s really going on – but be sure to find the balance; no one wants to cause sudden death by survey.
The recent Nike case shows us how important it is to regularly conduct employee engagement surveys – you might not love what comes to the surface, but only then can you tackle what really matters to your employees. And don’t just ask your employees to give you feedback; give them feedback too.
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4. Promoting life-work balance
This isn’t an easy one. Everyone’s talking about work-life balance with flex hours, flex vacation time, working from home, on-location daycare. We might not have figured it all out, but when we’re talking about employees’ energy and health – which ultimately affects the performance of the entire organization – we really do focus on life-work balance. Ensuring employees are able to balance the two ultimately means lower levels of burnout, disengagement and turnover.
5. Creating rewarding career paths
One question I hear frequently is how to develop talent and keep employees from leaving. Investing in employees only to see them walk out the door is an issue for most multinationals. To retain talent, you have to offer them the necessary tools to succeed and grow, both personally and professionally. It's important to look at how your employees can adapt to new positions in your organization and acquire new skills accordingly. Invest in those who are agile enought to learn new skills and advance your business. That sounds like a win-win situation, doesn’t it?
Keep in mind though, that employees will inevitably exit your organization and this is also an opportunity for continued shared success: investing in employee engagement will ultimately mean your ex-employees become your biggest brand ambassadors.
6. Seeing more than just your employees
Here’s an interesting thought. If you want a great culture and true employee engagement, provide benefits that positively impact not only your employees but also their loved ones. That’s what Ryan Westwood has found studying healthy company cultures. While they might be your employee, they are also a parent, spouse, sibling, child, caregiver, neighbor… See your employees as real people and you may just unlock the door to increasing employee engagement.
This ties back to company culture, which all too often is made up of employees with a myriad of cultural backgrounds. Learning to understand your employees in their language and from a multi-cultural perspective is becoming increasingly important too.
7. Focusing on the employee experience
Organizations put a lot of effort in making sure customers have the best possible experience because they know how much negative conversations can harm your organization’s reputation. In the same way, you have to take into consideration the employee experience – that means everything, from first contact to the exit interview. As Mark Levy, former head of Employee Experience (EX) at Airbnb, said, “Anything that sets employees up for success or improves our culture should be a part of the employee experience (EX).” Anticipate your employees' needs and go out of your way to meet them. The ROI may surprise you.
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