Employee engagement is important for every organization. HR professionals and the company’s leaders are focused on how engaged their employees are at work because this metric can directly impact productivity, hiring and retention which are extremely costly for organizations. Organizations will deploy surveys to measure employee engagement within their workforce and point to ways in which specific areas can be improved. This can result in a long list of ideas that need execution or enhancement. HR professionals and company leaders can turn to their networks, online platforms, consultants or print media to help them find ways to improve in this area. Our CEO would guess that if IT pulled the search history of an HR professional within a corporate organization, chances are they’d find a search that asked the Internet how to improve employee engagement with multiple articles that were reviewed. This approach to employee engagement isn’t wrong. Hiring organizations like A People Partner or discussing ideas with an external network of peers isn’t incorrect either. But our CEO would suggest something even more effective.

We’ve said it before, but it remains true that employment is a partnership. Like most partnerships, communication is the key to being successful. Our CEO recommends that you do more than survey your employees. Take it one step further by actually talking to them, whether that’s over the phone or on-site in a meeting setting, etc. Does this take a lot of time and coordination depending on the size and layout of your organization? YES! But it will be time well spent. An example of how this would work could look like the following:

HR talks to 100 people, 50 on-site and 50 over the phone. During these conversations, HR is transparent about how much is available in the budget and that it unfortunately cannot be used for pay raises because that would result in each employee getting $1 or $2 total and not per hour. HR learns that one quarter of the workforce likes engagement activities that include food. Another quarter of the organization doesn’t like the focus on food for engagement because food is a trigger for them for one reason or another or because they have dietary restrictions. Instead of food, they enjoy giving back to the community. So, they suggest the organization allows them paid time to donate their services to charity. There are another quarter of the employee population that wants to be incentivized through recognition from the leaders of the organization or by having a career pathway visible to them.

That example would continue with the additional remaining employee population and you might obtain a list of 5-10 of their top ideas. That’s excellent! However, be careful not to solicit feedback and do nothing with it. This will very easily impact your employee engagement metric and cause a rapid decline. If the organization doesn’t value the process, then why would the employees? 

The way for this process to be successful is by the company representative offering transparency and follow-up. For example, if upon further review 5 out of the 10 ideas offered are not feasible due to cost or location or weather, etc. then the employer representative should provide that specific information back to the employee population so that they understand why it couldn’t be implemented.

When we think about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we often forget that ideas, perspective and insight are an essential parts of those two elements. In order for your employees to feel more included within your organization, you need to be open to their thoughts, ideas and perspectives. Additionally, diversity is about having a variety of perspectives or insights so that a multitude of different ideas can be brought into the workplace to enhance its culture. By talking to your employees and including them in how the organization will choose to engage them, you will likely see a return on investment in productivity, hiring, retention and inclusion.

A People Partner recognizes that HR professionals don’t have a large abundance of free time to talk to employees about how to effectively engage them. Our CEO has seen this firsthand during her own time in HR. However, what does it say to your people if you don’t have time to talk to them? A People Partner can help you! While you’re focusing on communicating and developing your employment partnership for employee engagement, outsource or offload some of the remaining tasks or projects that still need to be done. That way, you feel less stressed about things not getting completed and happier that this large and very important project centered around employee engagement is being worked on.