Through years of working with forward-thinking companies, I wanted to share what I’ve seen them all have as habits of highly effective employers to drive engaged employees.

  1. They have an employee-first mentality– successful companies put employees first, even before customers and shareholders. These companies understand than you can’t control outputs like customer satisfaction and financial success without supporting the inputs – employee’s everyday actions and behaviours that impact those results.Ensure each year that people are an integral part of your company strategy.
  2. They know what motivates employees“In the past people wanted to join a company. Today, they want to follow a vision and join a team.” Wade Burgress from LinkedIn has it right.  You need to ensure that your offering is beyond pay and job security. Catering to employee’s motivations requires the right strategic narrative of what and how you communicate about your vision. 
  3. They understand employees work in days, not years– HR’s history of reporting into Finance leaders may have caused HR to think in years and quarters – like most financial statements. But employees don’t work in ‘years’ and HR practices shouldn’t either. Most companies are littered with annual HR processes: performance management, reward and recognition schemes (think years of service awards), and employee engagement surveys. Your people practices need to be more real-time if they are to be effective.
  4. They treat employees like consumers– The changing workforce requires us to think differently. Consumers have a louder voice, access to more information, and have several options – like employees today.  Employees don’t just buy a product (job), they associate with a brand (company). Think of how much we invest in prospective and current customers trying to find them, understand them better, retain them and communicate specifically to them.Find what your company does well for customers and use that approach with employees. 
  5. They don’t just measure, they act– Too often, companies spend four months planning, executing and looking at results of their engagement survey. Then sit with all departments and leaders to look at the metrics some more.  By that time, the state of employee’s minds are different. We need to have a pulse on employee engagement on more of a weekly basis and deal with smoke before fire. ACT = Action. Changes. Things.
  6. They focus– This is a biggie. Too often, when companies act to improve employee engagement, it’s not strategic the results are quick programmes trying to quickly fix poor scores.  If you look at recent data (i.e.Aon Hewitt) you’ll notice that every year, the drivers of engagement are different in priority, and different in various regions around the world. In HR, you can’t launch several enterprise-wide strategies/programmes to each employee all the time.  It’s too much work, and too disruptive. In my opinion, you get one to three a year. Pick the three to five major items you want to fix and focus on them in a long-term year plan if you really want to impact employee engagement.

– Rob Catalano


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