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Employee Engagement Evolution: How Your Organization Can Boost Hiring & Retention

Everyone knows about great consumer brands powered by entire marketing teams. You want to buy their latest and greatest or shop there year-round. HR must create a story that goes even beyond the consumer brand — why should you build your future here? What does this company offer to make your life better? People management is harder than it has ever been before because people need more support from their employer and need more flexibility for life and work that aligns with their priorities. 

COVID-19 changed the workforce forever. According to a Pew Research Survey roughly six-in-ten U.S. workers who say their jobs can mainly be done from home (59%) are working from home all or most of the time. Only 23% say they teleworked frequently before the coronavirus outbreak. Among those who are currently working from home all or most of the time, 78% say they’d like to continue to do so post pandemic, up from 64% in 2020. 

Employers need to be flexible where they can; employees want to be in control of where work can be done, when work can be done, and how they do that work. To stay competitive in the hiring space and retain your employees, you have to think about what they are looking for next. Employee engagement is evolving at every stage in the employee life cycle

Attracting

Thinking back to a consumer brand vs an employer brand, at the attraction stage, it’s time to build an employer brand presence. According to LinkedIn, 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.  Think like a marketer & use current employees to highlight culture and success. Have an online presence where potential employees spend their time. (Social Media, Glassdoor, Etc.) Good employer branding can reduce turnover by 28% and cut cost-per-hire in half.

Source: LinkedIn

Recruiting

HR has to get creative when it comes to their recruiting strategies. Think about your brand from the perspective of a potential employee. A Forbes study of 19,700 post-exit interviews found that 89% of employers think their employees leave for more money. The reality is employees that leave for more money is a mere 12%. There’s clearly a gap between what employers think applicants are looking for. What unique value does your company and role have to offer them? A basic compensation and benefits package, yes. But think outside the box. Long term career development? Mental health days? Early access to earned wages? How are you standing out from other positions open on the market? 

Onboarding

So you’ve got your bright, shiny, new hires! Now what? A true onboarding process starts way before day one. Think of it as their first impression of your company and culture. Utilizing tech can help you standardize and automate your onboarding process. With a branded, social media feel, tech can help your new hires get their feet wet, digitally meet their teams, fill out any paperwork and ensure a smooth process that the employee can complete on their own before day one. According to the Wynhurst Group, Newly hired employees are 58% more likely to be with a company three years later if they completed a structured onboarding program. 

Modernizing your onboarding process can have huge impacts on your business’ retention rates and bottom line. Companies with strong onboarding programs see 2.5 times the profit growth and 1.9 times the profit margin than those that don’t. (The Boston Consulting Group)   

Retention

In order to keep your people, you must build an inclusive culture powered by transparency. Include your employees in all aspects of the company —its goals, plans, strategies, and challenges. Good performance management should clearly address how your employee’s individual goals are contributing to company-wide goals. 79% of people who quit their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving.

Source: O.C. Tanner Learning Group  You should build an environment where they feel safe to ask questions or give honest feedback. It’s crucial to invest in strong leadership who recognize good work regularly.

Employees whose managers consistently acknowledge them for good work are five times more likely to stay at the company. 

Source: Qualtrics

Development

Employees and potential candidates are looking for long term career growth. If you’re able to provide them with promotions, cross functional training and continued learning they are way more likely to stick around. In fact, 93% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. (LinkedIn Survey) Work with your managers to create individual development plans and identify the skills needed to achieve their short and long-term career goals. If they grow and succeed, your business will too. 83% of American businesses report a workforce skill gap that impacts their revenue (ATD Public Policy Advisory Group) —invest in a Learning Management System to close those gaps and help your people grow. 

Offboarding

With the great resignation and turnover rates higher than ever following the pandemic, it’s critical to look at your offboarding processes. 69% of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation – even if unemployed. Source: MRI Network 

Your goal is to minimize any negativity surrounding voluntary resignation, retirement, and termination. With easy access to countless review sites, especially Glassdoor—you want to make sure any employees departing your organization leave as amicably as possible. 

Having a genuine conversation, celebrating any and all contributions made during the employees tenure, and supplying outplacement support are all ways your organization can maintain a positive employer brand reputation. AND even bring employees back to you in the future. In fact, 62% of employees who landed new jobs since the pandemic say they would return to a former employer. That’s huge considering the current hiring environment—that is a whole group of people that would fill roles for you down the line if you set up an environment that is supportive of their long-term career growth, including if they move on to another organization. 

Traditional engagement and values offered to the employees are now basic table stakes. Things like reasonable compensation, basic benefits, support from leadership, incentives, good communication, and performance management are expected from employees and applicants searching for a new role. Keeping the employee lifecycle in mind will help you identify new ways to engage and delight your employees at each stage. 



Melanie Smith Clary is the Partner Marketing Lead at Netchex, where she develops and executes all marketing strategies with integration, referral, and reseller partners.

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