Some HR leaders will look back at 2022 and see a variety of events which they will determine were the theme of the year. For me, I’ll call it the year of the burnout. Coming off the most stressful 2 years I have ever seen in more than 20 years in the field I see things like the “quiet resignation” as some things not expected in hindsight.
After two years of trying not to drown, 2022 saw a return to normal. Or at least what passes for normal in these post covid years. But in our rush to go all in on empathy and engagement, or a facsimile of it, during the height of the pandemic we may have forgotten what employee engagement is all about.
As I’ve said several times in this blog, there seems to be a trend towards treating employee engagement as another item to check off on a list. As I look back on 2022 I see 3 main themes that are learning lessons from the past year and goals for 2023. They are:
- Data should not dictate actions; humans should
- Human resources people need to solve problems through engagement
- The organization needs to determine what parts of the employees journey need to be recognized
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Data should not dictate actions, humans should-When I’m meeting with Human Resources leaders on behalf of KangoGift I sell them on how our tool can help them gain great insights thanks to its ability to offer them a perspective into their own organization. One thing I always tell people is that the data helps you learn it doesn’t help you create
Imagine a company who notices that manager A has only sent 3 awards this quarter and as a result decides manager A needs to send more. The correct view of this was that manager A probably isn’t recognizing their employees properly but the correction should not be of a quantitative nature. It requires that human touch to see if this manager has a reason for doing what they are doing and THEN making the decision of what needs to be done next.
That’s exactly what should happen. Humans making decisions based on the data and not humans making decisions based solely on the data.
Human resources people need to solve problems via engagement–One of the reasons I never went to law school was the adage that no lawyer should ask a question they don’t know the answer to. I found myself drawn more to the scientist’s motto of asking the question is almost as fun as finding the answer
HR leaders need to be asking questions they don’t know the answer to. They need to find out what the correct questions to ask are! There is only one way to do that and it’s by engaging as a person not through a machine. The core to this question though needs to be authenticity.
Another thing I’ve said many times is that one way to turn off your employees is providing an inauthentic experience. In many ways that’s what drove off employees to begin with. If you’re going to ask a question it has to be with the goal of creating a more engaged employee and a stronger work experience.
Rather than being just another box to check or task to do engagement, engagement presents a great opportunity to have a dialog with your employees and find out how good the company is doing. If you are recognizing employees properly you can get a sense of their satisfaction. Offer recognition and you’ll find retention is good then you’re doing the right thing. If retention, or dissatisfaction, tanks then you have a recognition problem and you know where to look.
What parts of the employees journey with your organization should be recognized-This is the key question that your organization really needs to discuss. What should you be recognizing? Above all else, itt needs to be the extraordinary. The exact nature of that varies from organization to organization but the central point is that you can’t just use it as a box to cross off on a list.
Part of celebrating the extraordinary is to realize that a long-time commitment to the organization is, in its own way, an extraordinary achievement. So is the successful completion of a highly complex project. None of these may be recognizable to those outside the team that they are on but, to the team itself, they are likely to be significant.
In this case a bit of process is necessary. It’s ok to map out the employees progress within the organization so that they can feel like they are respected and seen as a vital part of the team and not just a cog in the anonymous machine. But in the end, you’re determining what is extraordinary, recognizing it and celebrating it. You’re making your teams feel like they have contributed.
I’d like to finish this out with 3 lessons I hope you get from this and picked up from 2022.
- Data doesn’t dictate the course of actions. You Do!!!
- Interacting with your employees is the only way to avoid their burning out
- The parts of the employee journey need to be specific to your organization and need to be for extraordinary events
Let me throw in a fourth for the price of three. There is only one way to avoid burnout and that is by engaging with your employees. Engage on the human level that is authentic and makes them believe they are creating something real and are not just a cog in the machine. All of this put together will help you to continue to succeed.