HR researcher Josh Bersin is calling 2014 “The Year of the Employee.” In his latest study for Deloitte, “Predictions for 2014: Building a Strong Talent Pipeline for the Global Economic Recovery” (available as a free download here), Bersin predicts a power shift in the workplace that will challenge HR managers to increase employee engagement.
“This year, for the first time in more than five years, employees are in charge,” he writes in a Forbes blog about his research. In the past half-decade, as companies have reduced costs, restructured, redirected spending and pushed people to work harder, HR managers responded by helping overwhelmed employees cope. Now, Bersin says, “This year the power will shift: high-performing employees will start to exert control.”
Retention, for the first time in years, is the top challenge. The most pressing concern, according to Bersin, will be attracting and retaining Millennials and employees with skills in competitive fields such as engineering, energy and life sciences.
You can plan ahead for this power shift by increasing and refining your employee engagement program. Here are four suggestions to get you started, based on the latest research by Bersin and his colleagues.
4 Suggestions to Get You Started
Go beyond surveys. Circulating a survey annually and waiting for the results to trickle in is no longer enough to gauge employee engagement. It’s better to listen continuously using all the tools at your disposal and respond as quickly as possible.
Remember that engagement is an experience. It’s holistic and based on environment, benefits, recognition programs, managerial attitude, career development and the overall mission of the company. Even the smallest details can matter. Bersin uses as an example a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical and healthcare provider that trains its new hires in an old classroom with no power plugs, no coffeemaker and chairs and tables that date to the Nixon era. The training session could be dazzling, but if new hires experience it in depressing environment, that dazzle will quickly drain away.
Build passion. “Engagement” is a useful, broad term. But how does it break down, and what are the levels of engagement? “While compensation and benefits are important, they are only the foundation. Top performers are looking for growth, recognition, career opportunities and learning,” Bersin says. He uses Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to illustrate the point. Structured as a pyramid, it has Survival at the base, topped by Safety, then Love/Belonging and Esteem, with Self-Actualization at the tip. High levels of engagement — aka passion — come from an increased focus on the top of the pyramid.
Be “recognition-rich.” Companies with a “recognition-rich” culture have a voluntary turnover rate that is 31 percent lower than their peers. Gratitude is the most essential aspect of recognition, but it also comes down to putting people in the right job, creating a sense of purpose and offering opportunities for growth.
Need more ideas on how to update and refine your employee engagement program for 2014? The gThankYou! Free eBook, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving,“ is full of recognition and reward best practices and tips for engaging employees by creating a successful culture of recognition. Download it free by clicking the icon below!
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