In a 2015 article, “Becoming Irresistible: A New Model for Employee Engagement”, Josh Bersin wrote “The employee-work contract has changed: People are operating more like free agents than in the past. In short, the balance of power has shifted from employer to employee, forcing business leaders to learn how to build an organization that engages employees as sensitive, passionate, creative contributors. We call this a shift from improving employee engagement to a focus on building an irresistible organization.”
When a company’s culture is desirable and exciting, it attracts great people and retains them even when other, more lucrative offers may be available, because people will almost always choose a workplace where they are valued, where they have a voice, and where their happiness is vital to the company’s leadership, over a job that only offers a higher paycheck.
The importance of a meaningful work environment
The Deloitte 2016 Human Capital Trends report reveals that employee engagement is one of the top five issues in business and HR. Some 85% of executives in this year’s survey ranked engagement as a key concern.
Evolving employee demands are pushing companies to alter their priorities. Because today’s workers place a higher premium on flexibility, creativity, and purpose at work, companies are beginning to put more emphasis on empowered teams and team leadership. These same forward-thinking companies are hiring a new breed of empowering, supportive, and open leaders.
The nature of careers is also changing. In the past, companies invested in employees with the intention of keeping them for decades. Today, because employees change jobs more frequently – especially for a post where they feel they will be more engaged and appreciated – employers must give workers more possibilities for advancement and for learning, and more tools to manage their own careers. “Engagement, in many ways, is the temperature gauge of a company’s ability to proactively address all these issues on behalf of the workforce. And research clearly shows that when employees feel empowered and have a sense of ownership for their jobs, their engagement is significantly higher”, states the report.
An irresistible organization is one that employees would never want to leave. What better way to create such a place than to give people lots of opportunities to grow and advance?
How companies can enhance employee engagement
Employee engagement, like culture, has become a C-suite issue. But how can a company accurately assess the engagement of its employees? One outmoded idea is the “annual satisfaction poll”, often a vendor-provided survey of 12 factors that aim to predict retention. This $1 billion market is largely staffed by industrial psychologists who have built statistical models that correlate turnover with various employment variables. Unfortunately, an annual survey can’t keep pace with the rapid changes taking place in today’s workplaces.
Instead, a new generation of “pulse” survey tools and open anonymous feedback systems can enable employees to rate managers, executives, and just about every other aspect of work on a near-real-time basis. The use of such tools can give employees the knowledge that they’re being heard while giving leaders critical insight into what’s working and what’s not working in the company.
In summary, companies should remember the following three points:
- Engagement today means 5 things: Meaningful work; Hands-on management; Positive work environment; Growth opportunities; Trust in leadership.
- Companies need modern tools and methods that measure and capture employee feedback and sentiment on a real-time basis so they can continuously adjust management practices and the work environment at a local level.
- Business and HR leaders need to raise employee engagement from an HR program to a core business strategy.