Fueling a Culture of Engagement


Here is an excerpt from an article written by Lorrie Lykins for Talent Management magazine. She discusses six talent practices that stand above the rest when it comes to maximizing engagement throughout employees’ tenure. To read the complete article, check out all the resources, and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Think back to your best first day at a new job. What made it memorable?

Were your new colleagues prepared to welcome you to the team? Did you know what to expect, and were those expectations met? Were you provided with the information, internal contacts and resources essential to enabling you to hit the ground running?

If the answers to these questions are yes, it’s a safe bet that you were engaged from the start. Those who have been involved in employee engagement efforts are well aware that there is no magic formula. A highly engaged workforce requires constant fuel to ensure continuing progress.

According to a 2014 study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, or i4cp, sustainable employee engagement can be achieved in part by enforcing a few notable talent management practices (Editor’s note: The author works at the research firm).

The study, “Six Talent Practices that Boost Engagement and Market Performance,” is based on data from 340 talent management practitioners, and results focused on organizations with more than 1,000 employees.

The study defined employee engagement as the extent to which employees are willing to invest discretionary effort — both emotional and intellectual — to accomplish the work, mission and vision of an organization, even if it means exceeding duty’s call.

More than half of the survey respondents from high-performance organizations — firms with a “market performance index” that signifies growth in market share, revenue growth, profitability and customer satisfaction over the past five years — consider engagement a catalyst for better productivity, customer service, retention and other key business measures. According to the study, this perspective has a significant correlation with higher engagement.

Moreover, researchers analyzed 26 talent practices in the areas of staffing, learning and development, and rewards. They identified six talent practices that achieved dual goals of enabling higher levels of engagement and higher levels of market performance.

[Here are the first two of six talent practices.]

1. Onboarding

There is no way to fix a bungled first impression, especially with top-performing talent who have plenty of other options. Beginning engagement efforts in the recruitment phase that continue as new hires start with the company, with emphasis on making real connections, is critical to assimilating new employees into the culture from the outset.

Failure to do so sends an immediate — and oftentimes regrettable — message that the new hire’s decision to accept an offer perhaps wasn’t the best. Other best practices include assigning mentors to new hires; conducting follow-up conversations with new hires at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals; and including family members and significant others in the onboarding process.

Microsoft Corp. is one company known to recognize how critical the onboarding process is to employee engagement. Onboarding and engagement efforts begin within the first 24 hours after the acceptance of a job offer at the technology firm. With a 128,000-employee global workforce, the company makes new employees feel welcome through multiple onboarding experiences designed to address widely varying needs, including a weekly orientation offering for new employees, an online welcome experience and several specialized programs for specific talent segments such as engineers or new college graduates.

With groups such as engineers, the online environment aims to facilitate working closely together over the course of multi-week orientations, which are offered based on region and season. For example, in India Microsoft offers an onboarding program for engineers who may be located across a vast region and are put together into virtual teams with a mentor to work on projects. At the end of the two- or three-week orientation, the new hires have both a cohesive cohort and new skills.

TM0215_Feature2_charts2. Stay interviews

The use of stay interviews is a retention strategy that also helps enhance engagement. It also has a significant correlation with market performance, according to the i4cp study. Stay interviews are sometimes described as alternatives to exit interviews, but because some attrition is positive, stay interviews can be viewed as a complement to both performance reviews and exit interviews.

Stay interviews are loosely structured informal conversations that provide managers the opportunity to ask engaged employees to share the reasons why they stay. The one-on-one interactions allow employees to share their perspectives about what’s working and what needs improvement, and it enables managers to gather insights into what is most meaningful to high-performers. Some organizations broaden the use of stay interviews to mid-level and lower performers to gain a more holistic view of why employees stay.

These conversations are not only important for information-gathering, but also they provide early warnings, affording managers opportunities to identify potential snags and open up dialogues to resolve minor issues before they become deal-breakers leading to turnover. Stay interviews also reinforce to employees that their insights are of value and that their leaders care about the culture.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

If you wish to check out i4cp’s How Employee Engagement Permeates the Organization survey, please click here.

Lorrie Lykins is managing editor for the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).

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