by Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.
as featured in Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management blog
In the everyday commotion of running a business, it’s easy to overlook the needs of your greatest asset: your employees. What are you doing to keep them motivated and enthusiastic about their role? Do you have a workplace culture where they feel a sense of belonging? Are your workers committed to doing what it takes to drive the business forward?
Take the time to assess whether your employees are truly engaged, and you might be in for a shock. For instance, the AI@Work: 2021 Global Study of almost 15,000 workers conducted by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence found that 87% believed their company should be doing more to listen to their needs, and 85% weren’t satisfied with their employer’s support of their careers. The report pointed out that if organizations don’t offer the right tools for their people, they risk losing them, especially if they fail to demonstrate how much they appreciate their workforce. Oracle’s ebook 2022 Could Be The Year of The Great Retention corroborates these beliefs, stating that “Organizations can no longer get away with delivering an average (or below average) employee experience and expect to compete in today’s talent marketplace.”
What can you do to retain employees and help them become more engaged and productive?
The skills that workers need for tomorrow are not what they were yesterday. The pace of change is so fast that it outstrips efforts to reskill, and you’re always playing catch-up. In a way, it’s not what you learn that’s as important as how you learn.
Therefore, the company’s focus should be on giving people the know-how to reinvent themselves by providing development on the competencies to be more adaptive and flexible. A LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report validates this belief, finding that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn. It’s important and helps spur innovative thinking while making employees feel valued.
Trust and empower
The more decision-making power you can place in employees’ hands, the more they will feel trusted and respected. No one likes to be micro-managed. When employees are trusted to have ownership of projects, they are more likely to go the extra mile and be fulfilled.
Sit down with the employee one-on-one and be clear about the desired result. Encourage them to use their own experience and creativity and acknowledge that they might not accomplish the project exactly as you would but with their flair.
Reward and recognize
One of the most potent ways to develop engaged employees is an ongoing rewards and recognition program. Recognition is significant when it is peer-driven rather than manager-driven. Create simple ways for employees to recognize and celebrate each other’s achievements, whether it’s dedicating time in all-hands meetings, creating announcements on your intranet, or posting kudos on bulletin boards in the office.
The most obvious way to reward employee performance is financially through a raise or bonus or gift cards—a subject I addressed in my last blog How to handle an employee’s request for a raise. I make the point that you need to treat such requests with respect while carefully reviewing the employee’s abilities and performance. You also should make sure compensation is fair, that the employee can see a clear progressive career path, and that you care about them having a good work/life balance.
Many employees also respond positively to the reward of being assigned to an exciting new project or given more responsibility, feeling more valued and respected in proving themselves. Best of all, these strategies can be used whether teams are working in-office or at home.
Coaching means working with employees in a thought-provoking and motivational way to maximize their personal and professional potential. It is critical to creating performance management, building and strengthening your culture, and forging deep employee engagement.
It’s important to find the right kind of coach. You want one who has experience in your field and is willing to share their failures and successes, personalizes their input to your specific situation, and holds you accountable for your subsequent actions.
It’s worth it. A study by the Human Capital Institute found that 62% of employees of organizations with a strong coaching culture rated themselves as “highly engaged.” It’s good for the bottom line too since the same study showed that 51% of companies with strong coaching culture reported above-average revenue growth compared to peer groups.
Companies with excellent employee engagement have an open-door policy in which everyone contributes. Unfortunately, many organizations have a culture where workers can only raise an issue with a manager when they’ve come up with a solution. The problem with this approach is that issues are not known on a timely basis, and a better outcome could have been developed with the input of other talent.
Cooperating openly means embracing transparency—especially difficult for many leaders who were taught that being a leader meant knowing all the answers. When times are challenging, it’s vital to level with employees and share details about bad news as well as good news. That might even mean providing hard numbers about business or industry decline.
Alan Mulally, former president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, famously created a “Working Together” management system when he led a major turnaround at the auto giant. A key principle was to give workers the vision, strategy, plan, and updated progress reports driving the engagement and commitment to apply their talents. Under Mulally’s leadership, Ford pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in business history. As the rest of Detroit collapsed, the company went from the brink of bankruptcy—just months away from running out of cash—to becoming the most profitable automaker in the world.
In summary, employees want the opportunity to acquire new skills and to feel trusted, acknowledged, and respected. They want to work in an environment of honesty and transparency while being rewarded for their contributions. These are all ways to earn their hearts and minds to create an engaged workforce, which builds a solid foundation for long-term success.