Start with Understanding to Engage Employees

Let’s begin this conversation with two pieces of wisdom – one from a titan of business and the other from a titan of ordinary people.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
Henry Ford

“Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean; sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.”
Bob Dylan

One of the most important things a company can do is listen to its employees. Although many studies are available on what current and prospective employees find appealing in an organization’s attributes and benefits, they can’t replace feedback from your workforce regarding what they want and don’t want.

Use the studies as benchmarks, but add information gleaned from employee surveys, discussion groups, suggestion boxes, and proximity to guide your recognition, incentive, and rewards programs. Engaged employees see better outcomes across the board.

Benchmark Needs and Wants

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Resignation, and Quiet Quitting, there is more information in the media and industry circles than ever before on what today’s employees expect and need from their employers.

Of course, differences exist from one industry to the next, but four areas always seem to come up regardless of where employees work. 

To Be Healthy

The American Psychological Association (APA) found that 71% of workers typically feel tense or stressed during workdays. Prudential reports that when workers were asked to describe their work experience over the past year in a single word, overwhelmingly, they chose words like stress, stressed, stressful, demanding, hectic, and frustrating.

In the past, employees often focused on career advancement, but more and more, they seek employer support for holistic needs, including physical, mental, and financial health.

Mercer calls the previous career focus the Engagement Contract and the new focus the Lifestyle Contract.

Under the Engagement Contract, organizations were attracting and retaining talent by emphasizing intrinsically motivating and psychologically fulfilling work.

However, under the Lifestyle Contract, companies must listen to what their workforce is trying to tell them and understand what they need – beyond the engagement surveys and exit interviews.

Feeling valued and appreciated is a natural stress reliever. Engaged employees are more invested when they think they are working for an organization that supports their holistic wellness.

To Feel Appreciated 

McKinsey notes that employees often cite three factors among the reasons they have quit a job:

  • They didn’t feel valued by their organization (54%)
  • They didn’t feel valued by their manager (52%) 
  • They didn’t feel a sense of belonging (51%)

Meanwhile, Willis Towers Watson finds that job seekers list recognition for work as one of the primary reasons they are attracted to a particular company. 

And Deloitte has determined that employers who conduct sophisticated recognition programs are 12X more likely to experience robust and successful business outcomes.

Companies establish recognition programs to make team members feel valued by celebrating moments and recognizing hard work. Data shows that the feeling is not fleeting. To continue successfully in their roles, employees expect recognition and will move on if they don’t get it.

Through various combinations of personal accolades, social recognition, company celebrations, and rewards, including incentive travel, companies can address what employees are trying to tell them that they need – to feel involved, to feel heard, and to feel that they matter.

To Learn and Grow

PwC finds that 77% of employees are ready to upskill – to learn new skills or completely re-train. And in its 2022 Learning and Development report, LinkedInLearning found that 94% of employees would stay longer with a company that invested in helping them learn.

Companies have long provided employees with tuition reimbursement and educational allowances as part of their employee benefits programs. Recognition and rewards programs should incorporate opportunities to select training, learning tools, and work skills and personal development seminars.

To Have Flexibility

This one is partly related to health because a lack of flexible options is a significant cause of stress. 

Nearly 40% of workers in a Morning Consult survey expressed a need for flexibility in work location so strong that they’d consider quitting their job if they couldn’t get it.

Sustainable work-life balance opportunities should become part of your recognition and rewards program. 

For example, consider revising or adding options that address flexible time and location, such as Friday afternoons off or “flex weeks,” in which employees can choose their daily hours or work from home all week long rather than just two days.

Final Thoughts

Going beyond the data can be challenging, but it’s doable, and the rewards (no pun intended)  for employers and employees alike can be tremendous. 

The professionals at Xceleration are skilled in helping companies gather and analyze data to address what makes their employees feel healthy and appreciated, including opportunities for flexibility, learning, and personal growth.

Engaged employees deliver for organizations. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how Xceleration can help you get the results you need in your workplace.

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