October 18.2018, 12.37pm

Check-in, not out: Hyper-connecting people from day one

Every employee works differently – so why do organisations continue to push the same employee experience across the board?

While one employee may be gung-ho for team-building, others may want to clock out at the door. Even the most well-intended employee engagement plan can have a negative impact if it feels too impersonal, with staff fostering a growing discontent.

A connection is key, but it relies on individualisation. By developing extensive relationships with individuals at every point in their professional journey, businesses can create an employee experience that enhances the brand and establishes a more inclusive, supportive workplace culture.

What went wrong with employee engagement

Growing a company isn’t easy. Most aspects of the business are difficult to scale, but keeping your people happy is uniquely challenging. Creating an environment that breeds success depends on inspiring individuals, while a generalised top-down approach to engagement rarely works.

The stats say it all:

  • 87 percent of employees across the world aren’t currently engaged with their work.
  • In the UK alone, disengagement costs businesses upwards of £340 billion every year due to lagging productivity.

The most successful companies in the world understand just how important the employee experience is to their longevity. Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., former CEO of IBM, had the following to say about his time at the tech giant.

“Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organisation’s makeup and success – along with vision, strategy, marketing, financial and the like,” Gerstner, Jr. says in his book ‘Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?’.

“I came to see, in my time at IBM,” he continues, “that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organisation is nothing more than the collective capacity of people to create value.”

However, employee engagement is a struggle at so many businesses because managers mimic tactics that worked in other enterprises, rather than figuring out what’s best for their unique workforce. Standardised benefits and one-track professional growth structures may be enough for some people but will miss the mark for many.

It’s why 51 percent of corporate leaders are reinventing their employee experience strategies by curating them to individuals.

Technology is at the core of those reimagined engagement schemes with people management and employee engagement platforms giving the workforce control over how they interact with the company, and providing HR teams with useful data-backed insights.

Start off on the right foot

Securing new talent is only half the battle; getting them to stay is the real challenge. In fact, roughly one-fifth of employee turnover occurs within the first 45 days of a person starting a job, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

There’s a number of reasons behind the finding, and all of them stem from a lack of effective onboarding. We’ve all been there: nerves and tension are high as we begin a new career, and even the small daily successes can be overshadowed by a constant doubt about whether it was the right decision to leave the comfort of an old job.

Curating hyper-specific initial training is critical to ensuring a smooth transition. Jeff Hyman, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, believes that there are four core components of an effective onboarding programme:

  • Training must consist of content that’s hyper-focused to the role.
  • Business objectives should be clearly laid out from the start, as well as any potential roadblocks or restrictions that the employee needs to know about.
  • Communication – including who to report to and showcasing staff achievements – is critical to a well-functioning organisation, and should be covered extensively in onboarding.
  • Introducing incoming employees to the people they’ll work with daily or on long-term projects, as this will encourage them to seek advice and foster a sense of teamwork.

Providing a consistent onboarding programme is difficult when they’re done in-person or without a proven approach. Although participating members are likely wildly talented in their position, there’s always going to be knowledge gaps or information that’s glossed over.

Using a digital platform to facilitate employee onboarding can give a people management strategy the structure it needs to pull its weight in retaining new hires. By connecting a relevant training seminar to the person, HR teams can drastically reduce the chance that the new staffer slips through the cracks.

Continually strive for growth

An excellent employee experience relies on a connected workforce. Bonding activities and benefits that raise team morale are a great start, but they can’t be the whole focus of the strategy.

Empowering people in the organisation to reach their goals and providing them with a clear path to do so is essential to keeping them happy and ensuring they continue to feel a sense of purpose in their work. Digital employee engagement platforms allow businesses to gamify and enhance their experience through:

  • Constant feedback from lead stakeholders in projects both large and small.
  • A designated area to interact with co-workers and earn company-wide recognition for achievements.
  • Real-time leaderboards that encourage friendly competition.

From there, HR teams can generate valuable data that fuels talent management solutions. These tools give organisations comprehensive insight into the professional growth of each individual member, allowing them to curate upskilling tracks that provide meaningful education to help them reach the positions they strive for.

Ultimately, the goal should be to build transparency about the employee experience. Through the use of digital solutions, team members can let HR know what they’re looking for from the employer and the company can respond accordingly.

Businesses can provide high salaries or the best benefits the industry has to offer, but unless they can create an environment that encourages employees to aim high with their goals, they’ll have a difficult time actually connecting with their workforce.

David ScullyBy David Scully