As economic uncertainty still looms and workers expect more than ever from their employers, businesses must re-evaluate their priorities. Amanda DeVito, Chief Marketing Officer shares how they can better prepare for whatever future unfolds by focusing first and foremost on their people.
Recently released Gallup data provides a wake-up call for employers and shines light on the critical importance of creating a richer employee experience. Less than one-third of employees feel engaged with their job at a time when organizations cannot afford to slack on their people, and yet many are missing out on valuable opportunities to protect and nurture them.
Organizations can better care for their own by keeping them constantly aligned and by cultivating a corporate culture that makes them feel connected, challenged, and heard.
Consider Employees as Valuable Customers
Leaders often assume that staying solely focused on their customers is the key to success. While a customer centric approach is undoubtedly important, it’s ineffective if the people who service the customers aren’t also prioritized.
Organizations need to treat their employees as valuable customers and dig deep to understand their needs, their wants, and where there are gaps today. This means asking important questions to understand what motivates and encourages them and listening carefully to their answers.
Engagement strategies should reflect what employees seek; for instance, providing work flexibility and greater work-life integration, professional development opportunities, clear career advancement paths, and a greater sense of connection to the goals of the organization and its people.
Technology can help to make the conversation seamless. For example, monitors throughout the office can be used to communicate news and events and tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom can include remote employees in the conversation without missing a beat. Innovation like artificial intelligence and machine learning can take the commitment to people a step further by freeing employees from the mundane aspects of their work and allowing them to take on more challenging, rewarding projects.
While we are coming up to three years post-pandemic, this time blurred the lines between work and personal lives, allowing people to be seen as far more than just the roles they play in their careers.
As new ways of working continue to play out, including shifts to hybrid, more flexible schedules, organizations can differentiate themselves by creating a distinct culture with clearly defined values. For instance, recently awarded among the Best Place to Work by Ad Age, Butler/Till attributes the distinction, as well as our high retention and engagement scores, largely to the unique culture we have created as a 100% employee-owned, women-owned, and certified B corporation.
Among our highest values is a firm commitment to ensuring that we have a diverse, equitable workplace, and every employee feels included, but that is only part of the equation. We also want them to have a deep sense of belonging.
At Butler/Till our people are also our customers. Our ethos is a culture that is about growing your spirit through your work and welcoming you to bring your whole self to work. If you take care of your people, everything else follows suit.
Investing in professional development for a distributed workforce can also create more rewarding work experiences. It can take many shapes, from hiring dedicated Learning Managers to working with teams to create personalized development plans and committing time and budget to regular LinkedIn Learning programs, internal lunch & learns, and opportunities for staff to attend industry conferences and events.
Provide Personal Connections
As the millennial generation is now the majority in the workforce, they bring new expectations and work practices. Millennials are hard workers and ambitious to grow in their careers. Therefore, this generation expects much more from their employers when it comes to getting feedback, clear internal communication, more flexibility, and benefits that care for the whole employee.
One of Gallup’s top recommendations for providing the connection and reinforcement employees seek is for managers to have at least one meaningful one-on-one conversation per week with each employee, addressing overall wellbeing, goals, and expectations and providing feedback that helps employees understand their progress.
Organizations must also take into consideration offerings such as Employee Assistance Programs, mental health services, employee and family counseling, financial and legal coaching, and more. Corporate policies, including personal time off and maternity and paternity leave, also go a long way in caring for the whole employee.
Focusing on People Helps Prepare for a Future That’s Not Yet Defined
As companies create or revise 2023 employee engagement strategies to protect and retain their people, they need to remember that it’s not a one-and-done endeavor.
Just as macroeconomic factors and the organizations they influence are in constant flux, so are their peoples’ needs. By staying in tune and committed to their people, organizations can continue to foster rewarding places to work, and in turn create stronger, more successful businesses that employees, clients, partners, and communities are proud to be a part of.