Today is often called the “gig” economy to describe how a growing number of people are employed. As the Founder and CEO of KangoGift I’ve learned that there are many reasons for this term but I believe the central reason is that employees feel disengaged from their employers.
Employers accept employee turnover is a cost of business and that some employees will start looking for the next job once the luster of the new job wears off. However, we know that by increasing retention even by 1% yields substantial cost savings, productivity, and employee morale.
I believe striking the right balance of retention and turnover leads to a strong corporate culture that increases employee engagement and a positive employee experience.
And yes, this tends to fall on the shoulders of human resources. Given that, here are the three pillars that provide the foundation of great cultures in the 21st century.
- Meaningful relationships that result in better outcomes
Let’s go a bit deeper into each of these.
Transparency—The level of trust employees have in their higher-ups is critical. Workers, need to feel that they are more than expendable parts and are acknowledged frequently. Transparent cultures encourage employees to communicate clearly when a colleague’s effort contributes to the larger group’s mission and goals. Celebrating big and small milestones helps employees understand their role in your organization.
Of course HR cannot force transparency throughout the organization. It must be applied throughout senior management and, ultimately, requires the active participation of the line manager. The employees at the fore point of any program will be much more satisfied, much more engaged and able to support the organization’s goals in the near and long term when they fully understand what is going on.
The veil is drawn back so they can see why they matter.
Authenticity—We’ve all seen the efforts by some organizations to do those things seem like your parents trying to convince you they are your friends and really cool. Just as that sort of thing comes across as lame so do the stilted, almost forced, attempts at being relatable. For example singling someone out during a meeting is a very nice thing, but it can seem less than authentic to those who’ve worked equally hard with great results but no public recognition.
For the employee experience to be real and authentic the grand gesture can often be counterproductive. In many cases the personal touch, the quick and spontaneous note or the gift card to the popular retail outlet can create the type of experience that will not only reduce turnover but build a stronger bond between the employee and the organization.
Meaningful relationships that result in better outcomes –During this time of short tenures and a no expectation of loyalty from either side of the employer/employee relationship one thing that will result in the strongest and most successful work accomplishment will be the strength of the relationship between the various team members and the line managers. The great way to do this is by making the individual team members realize they are playing a role in the larger success while also letting them know you value them as human beings.
Where the meaningful relationships role differs is that it gives the managers an opportunity to acknowledge a work anniversary or a birthday or any number of personal but important milestones that makes us all feel appreciated. These small acknowledgements turn an otherwise autonomous individual into someone who feels that sense of community which will result in that increment of effort that will provide the difference between a great result and an outstanding one.
Ever since I founded Kango I’ve seen the struggle human resources fights to limit employee turnover and increase engagement. Solving this problem will result in better outcomes which will move from a guess and go model to one that focuses on hard solutions. The costs from losing an employee, finding a suitable replacement and successfully on-boarding them are tremendous and now we have a way to sharply reduce them.
Direct Financial Benefits
- Increase retention
- Increase productivity
- Increase engagement
- Create positive workplaces
- Bring happiness (fulfillment) to employees
- Give employees a great experience
Human resources leaders have the opportunity to build employee engagement programs that work on the individual level by being transparent, authentic and meaningful. I have seen organizations large and small adopt this philosophy and can tell first hand you that it works. The question isn’t should we do this, it’s can we afford not to?