Normally we use the blog to discuss the issue, or problem, and then offer solutions. Right now, we know what the problem is, so we can jump right into the solution.
I was talking with the GM of a hotel property recently and she shared how they had to furlough and then lay off many staff during COVID. They then offered almost everyone their jobs back. Only half came back since others found other work. Now the hotel property is facing a labor shortage and stress of people working long shifts. I’ve also heard of this among peer tech companies where some employees like where they are and don’t want to return to an office and are stepping down.
The problem is retention and talent attraction. One thing at a time, so I will share some ideas on increasing employee retention this summer. Retention programs are back with a vengeance and recognition is taking on new meaning. The old way of showing appreciation doesn’t feel right when employees have been through so much. Here are some concrete examples to make your appreciation and engagement programs genuine and impactful.
The steps you should take are:
- Ask for an increase in funding that reflects the new reality
- Network what your colleagues are doing so that you can press your own case
- Analyze what your needs will be to successfully engage your employees
So let’s talk about these actions items a bit more:
Ask for the increase in funding that reflects the new reality--I talk to enough HR leaders to know this; if you want to keep employees you need to spend more money on employee engagement. I’m not talking about pay raises necessarily I am talking about direct employee engagement so that your current teams know they matter.
They’ve gone to hell and back and you need to reward that. The HR leaders I know get that they need to reward their employees but are running into a few walls. One that I am seeing is the possible fear that line managers may see this as a nice inducement and want to keep money going all the time. HR has to make sure they control the hose and they are the ones driving the funding.
What I am telling human resources is to make the case for a one time increase in funds used for employee engagement and to tell managers this is a one time increase. This will then follow the usual reasons and results for employee retention with a wider net being cast.
Network and find out what your colleagues are doing--When I’m meeting with human resources executives about employee engagement for KangoGift I am asked many questions. What may surprise you is that I am asked questions about the industry at large.
The situation isn’t one where they ask what their competitor is doing. It’s one where the company in Asia wants to know what the companies in Europe and the states are doing. This isn’t a matter of seeking a competitive advantage as much as it is one of trying to figure out what to do now.
Don’t be afraid to ask around about what to do here. I am happy to share the ideas I hear from others in the field. What I do is ask questions and then offer insight that are based on more than 20 years of experience in employee engagement. I’d like to think I know and have seen it all. This is something new for all of us so when you have the chance, ask colleagues what they have heard and/or what they might be doing.
Analyze what your needs will be to successfully engage with your employees--Each company has needs that are unique to its purpose. The bakery with 12 people will be completely different from the multinational. But they may be more similar than you may have thought. They both need to analyze how they are engaging with their employees.
For example, track the number of recognition certain managers give their employees. This is probably more important now than it has ever been. Track how much on average is being given to them. While it can be tough, though far from impossible, to measure yourself against other organizations you can, at the very least, measure internally, what one group is doing more than other.
This type of measurement is something I have stressed from day one with KangoGift but now I am calling it a requirement. Much like you need oxygen to breathe you need to measure employee engagement for the organization to succeed.
You are facing a unique challenge. Employee engagement is no longer just about keeping your employees interested in continuing their employment with you. This is the path to making your company successful or not in the new normal.
We, as HR leaders, are in this together. By focusing on the employee experience, giving managers the ability to be genuine, and understand what’s working at other companies, you can test and track what will work for your organization’s culture. As Vanilla Ice sang, stop, collaborate, and listen.