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How to Get To the Root Cause of Employee Engagement Issues

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(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Workify, a tech-enabled service that helps companies establish more real-time feedback loops to uncover hidden engagement issues. Enjoy!) 

Employee surveys are important. I’d like to think we all agree that asking employees for their feedback is valuable. However, the real impact of a survey is in what companies do with the data they receive. It’s the actions that organizations take as a result of the survey that tells employees the feedback they provided was valuable. But the only way companies can take action is by getting detailed, specific information.

Chances are that will not come directly from a single survey.

I’ve always said that employee surveys start conversations. They don’t finish them. Even the best designed surveys can struggle to anticipate the follow-up needed to get specifics. That’s why setting a baseline is important, then going past that baseline to get more additional feedback is necessary.

4 Common Organizational Concerns (and How to Address Them)

When it comes to getting specifics, it’s important to ask the right follow-up questions. The last thing you want is to ask a question that intentionally gets the response you’re looking for. Not only do you run the risk of confirmation bias, but the organization will not get clear information. Remember the old saying “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO). It’s really more than just computer jargon.

Let’s take four common organizational concerns like communication, management, misalignment, and change management. These are challenges that most companies struggle with and almost all employees would have opinions on these topics. For each, we can talk about what organizations might ask to get that additional feedback they need to take action. Because it’s the detail that will point the company in the right direction.

#1 COMMUNICATION: Every single organization needs to communicate well to accomplish their goals. Every single employee needs to communicate to perform well. I don’t need to spend a lot of time talking about the importance of good communication. But we all know that communication isn’t perceived the same way. The baseline survey feedback could indicate there are communication issues but then the question becomes what kind of communication issues. Is it a lack of transparency or that communications are poorly timed or maybe that messages just aren’t clear and understandable?

To make sure that the organization focuses its efforts in the right way, they can include a follow-up item such as “I get the information I need from my manager to be effective in my role.” Employees have the opportunity to provide the additional information that might lead the organization to understand that developing a better communication rhythm (i.e. better timing) is what employees are looking for.

#2 MANGEMENT: Almost all of the work that happens in the organization happens through management. Managers are responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating, and controlling the work. That’s why engagement survey items are designed to receive feedback about management. But the words “manager” and “leader” can be interpreted differently. In my experience, the survey wasn’t designed to be intentionally vague or to trick the employee. People just read and interpret the item differently.

If the baseline survey results report that management is inconsistent or untrained or look like they’re stressed, then the organization needs to have a better sense of who those comments are about – front line supervisors, department managers, C-level leaders, or everyone. Including a follow-up item such as “My manager challenges me to improve.” could provide additional clarification and feedback about not only “who” but “where” the focus needs to be. For example, if the company needs to provide management development, what should be included in the program?

#3 MISALIGNMENT: This is also a good time to point out that the themes we’re talking about don’t stand alone. It’s possible that managers have issues communicating, which adds a whole new dimension to the employee engagement conversation and what the potential solutions might be. For instance, if the baseline survey results show misalignment, is it because policies and culture don’t match OR communications and culture don’t match OR performance and communication doesn’t match. All point to misalignment but can manifest themselves differently in the workplace.

The organization might want to follow-up by asking, “What one change would improve your confidence in the future of our organization?” Responses could signal the need for an employee recognition program that creates alignment between culture and communication. Another option might be the need for a more formalized goal-setting process to align performance and communication.

#4 CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Everything we’re talking about involves change. And employees will openly and honestly give their feedback when they think something will change. Trust is a key ingredient in employee surveys. Organizations need to pay attention when baseline survey results show that employees don’t feel that their voice matters. They might believe the organization is either hesitant to implement change, incapable of prioritizing changes, or poorly equipped to execute action plans. Or all three!

It could make sense to include a follow-up item such as, “I am excited about where the company is going.” to get a greater understanding of what employees think about the company’s future. It might also prompt additional employee feedback sessions or the creation of a suggestion program.

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Use Follow-Up Surveys for Greater Understanding

Conducting a baseline employee survey is the first step in the process. When organizations see changes in their baseline data, then they can take steps to find out specifics they need to implement real change. Some companies choose to do this through focus groups and action committees. While these efforts can be successful, they can also drain resources, quickly get hijacked by loud individuals, and end up not providing a whole lot of value.

Deploying follow-up items through a second pulse survey enables organizations to go back and diagnose the issues in more detail. Companies can ask specific questions (both quantitative and qualitative) to better identify the key issues, and crowdsource ideas to improve engagement. And you get the added benefit of showing your employees that you are listening.

The overall success of any survey is based on the action taken from the survey. The only way you can take the right action is by understanding the specifics.

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P.S. You can read more on how to quickly identify organizational concerns and get specifics out of surveys in Workify’s Engagement eBook, “3 Step Guide for Taking Action on Employee Feedback”. It’s well worth your time.

The post How to Get To the Root Cause of Employee Engagement Issues appeared first on hr bartender.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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