It takes more than a paycheck to connect with our modern workforce.
Employees today want to be engaged, do meaningful work and be part of an organization they can believe in. They want to feel valued, noticed and supported by their employers. They want a social contract between employer and employee.
And what they want should be what you want.
Why? Because employee engagement drives performance, loyalty and company culture. Being a place where your employees want to go to work makes your organization more attractive for outside talent; it helps establish your employer brand.
As enterprises bet on work perks and better benefits in their recruiting and retention strategies, we caught up with a few workplace experts to identify some simple ways to win over a modern workforce.
- Diversify Your Approach to Paid Time Off
An attractive feature of any workplace is paid time-off, particularly for certain employee demographics. The chic “unlimited” vacation policy might help with recruiting, but many organizations find flex work and family leave are just as effective in limiting absenteeism and presenteeism. Either way, understanding the personal needs of your workforce is key.
“A young technical workforce is more interested in paid time-off packages than insurance packages,” says Kathy Barany, an HR consultant at Strategic Management Solutions. “A workforce that is of childbearing years might be interested in paternity leave and family-friendly time off packages.”
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- Be Clear in Your Mission
Employees want to find value in the work that they’re doing. Particularly among Millennials, there is a growing desire to feel like their work matters. Being clear in your mission and inviting employees to couple their passion with their profession is a simple step toward employee engagement.
“Gallup research suggests that when employees are given the ‘opportunity to do their best’ and connect their work to ‘mission and purpose’ they are more satisfied at work,” says Robin Schooling, an HR consultant and strategist who blogs at HR Schoolhouse.
- Foster a Collaborative Culture and Mentoring Opportunities
New employees appreciate the opportunity to learn the ropes with the help of longer-term employees, who can find mentoring new hires to be rewarding and reinvigorating. “Mentoring is one of the richest ways to engage in professional development,” says Dan Rockwell, a management expert who runs Leadership Freak. In general, when employees are encouraged to collaborate, they’ll feed off of each other’s strengths and push one another to do their best work. Feeling a part of a team is important for employee engagement.
- Promote Healthy Work-Life Integration
Traditional work-life balance is becoming a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean employees are any more eager to devote their entire lives to their jobs. What you can help your employees achieve is a healthy work-life integration, which Barany explains, can take on different meanings depending on where employees are in the lifecycle. “To the younger generation, it means paid time off,” she says. “To those with children it means flexible schedules to attend to their children’s needs. … The same could go for those with aging parents.”
- Enable Professional Development
Employees don’t want to stagnate in their current positions – they want opportunities to continue learning and progressing in their careers. To that end, the modern workforce expects professional development to be a part of the employment equation. This type of support can take many forms, says Rockwell, from traditional training to educational reimbursement to job shadowing.
- Offer Flexibility
Employees appreciate freedom in performing their duties, be it flex time, control of workplace breaks or opportunities to work from home. Employers are increasingly open to offering flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting, and with good reason – flex time is proven to improve morale and productivity. “Savvy employers realize that top talent desire control and flexibility in how, when, and where they do their job,” says Schooling.
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- Support Employees Outside of Work
Employees are three-dimensional people, whose lives outside of the office affect their performance in it. The better you’re able to provide solutions for the issues they encounter in their home lives – things like laundry services, housekeeping, senior or child care and other employee assistance programs – the more engaged your employees can be at work. Leading employers who realize when it works at home, it works at work have found offering paid parental leave, family-friendly benefits and flexibility pays off with improved productivity, engagement and retention.
- Fight Stress With Fun
You expect a lot out of your employees, and that’s OK. It’s part of the deal. But fast-paced, demanding corporate environments are a breeding ground for employee stress, which can lead to burnout and resentment. If you want to keep job satisfaction high, give your employees a reason to be happy at work. Perks like in-office yoga, happy hours and occasional outings aren't just for trendy tech startups -- they're effective tools for cutting through workday stress and boosting morale.
Check Out Work Perks to Build Company Culture Without Killing Your Bottom Line
- Sweat the Small Stuff
Employees notice when you know their names – and when you don’t. make it a priority to learn your employees’ names, and the proper pronunciation. Go a step further and get to know them a little bit – their interests, their families and, yes, even their birthdays. Pay attention to the little things, because employees love recognition – especially when it’s genuine.
Learn How Getting Personal Improves Employee Engagement