Employee Engagement for a Lifetime

With Baby Boomers heading out and Gen Y heading in, companies are starting to feel the pain of the generational differences in the workplace. Baby Boomers are known to be the loyal generation and would typically stick with their employer for many years, if not their lifetime. Gen Y seems to have a different plan in mind in the sense that they’re looking for a job that is meaningful and a company that has a culture that matches their personal values. In the pursuit to find these ideal employers, it has been a common practice for this generation of employees to leave their employers within the first two years. So how can you increase employee engagement to create a sense of loyalty? Simple—you must brand your company.

Typically, when people think of company branding they figure it has to do with attracting customers, shareholders, and investors. But it shouldn’t stop there. Your employees are your biggest asset and in order to retain their talent, you must brand your company to increase employee engagement. Below are some reasons on why internal branding could benefit your company:

  • Your employees will become your megaphone: I’m sure you’ve heard that word-of-mouth is your best referral/advertising campaign. Consider your employees as free advertisement for your company. Give them a good or bad experience, and they’ll be blasting that information all over social media, telling their friends/family, and so on. How will what they say affect your business? Give them a good experience and they’ll be sure to tell others about it.
  • Allow your employees to be internal brand ambassadors: It is extremely hard to fake conviction. Therefore, if you have employees meeting new hires, it is important to have them meet the individuals that truly love and believe in your company to really get your new hires excited about working there. Setting that first impression is key in employee retention.
  • Make an investment to get a great ROI: Investing in your employees is very important. Your employees want to feel like they matter, that they’re being heard, and that they have a future in your company. This investment will make them truly respect you, want to be dedicated to you, and want to work hard so you’re proud of them. This loyalty and dedication can be a good way to retain employees long-term.
  • Branding leads to employee engagement: Employee engagement is one of the hardest things for HR professionals to master in their organizations. However, if you create a brand that gets your employees excited to work for you, then engagement will come naturally. Employee engagement can increase levels of motivation, productivity, empowerment, accountability, and responsibility.

Company branding should be more than just the external. It should also seriously focus on the internal. After all, your employees are everything. They help you progress, innovate, and be successful. If you aren’t able to successfully and effectively brand in a way to attract and retain talent, then you may have issues down the line.

 

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What Employees Really Want from Their Leaders

I noticed that employee engagement and motivation issues have been trending a lot in posts found on my LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. Therefore, I felt that this was a perfect topic to end the workweek with. A few months ago, I had posted a discussion question on the LinkedIn:HR group asking my HR peers to tell me what qualities made a good leader. Not only did they give me some fantastic feedback, but employees also spoke up and let me know what they wanted from their leaders. I thought that sharing this with all of you could potentially spark ideas on how to fix some of your companies’ motivation problems and maybe help find a way to make the workplace better as a whole.

As always, when I think of good leadership, I recall my time working as a customer service representative with CreateSpace (an Amazon.com company). The team leads and office manager were simply amazing and I couldn’t help but respect their leadership skills. Melissa Woodrow, one of the team leads of that department, was kind enough to give me some insight on what qualities made her to be the phenomenal leader that she is today.

“I have been a Lead for quite a while (over 4 years) at a great company. I believe leadership has a lot to do with your personality rather than being taught. Sure, you can ‘learn’ how to handle difficult situations with employees. You can ‘learn’ how to coach employees. But you can’t really fake empathy. And the bottom line is: if you don’t care, employees won’t care for you,” she stated.

Comparing the statement she gave against the comments employees had given me, I’d have to say that they are well aligned. A large portion of employees had said that they wanted a leader to be more personal with them and show that they listened and cared. “The most important thing is earning trust in others. That’s where it all starts. Listen. Show good judgment. Be interested in what they are doing. Have fun,” Woodrow added. Along those lines; Jimmy Ruane, an individual who has grown up in a military family, said he has met some of the most admirable leaders over the years. He informed me that the best leadership quality he has seen was a leader who always puts his people first.

One comment I made in my discussion post had a lot of others chiming in with their whole-hearted agreement. I had declared that a good leader is someone that wants you to do better than they had and wants you to do the things they never could. Too often, especially in this economy, leaders fear their job security by letting other’s outshine them. Other leaders simply let their egos get in the way of mentoring their employees to reach their highest potential. In these situations, it’s no wonder why employees lose motivation. Most employees want to grow in some way or another so if you don’t foster that desire they’ll eventually look for other ways to do so, even to the point of leaving your company.

If you want to be a good leader and want your employees to be more committed, then you need to be invested in them. Jim Sweeney, an employee of Amazon.com, had told me that he feels a sense of loyalty to his company due to the fact that his leader (his department manager) invested in his future. He recently started to go back to school to obtain a Bachelor’s in Computer Science in hopes to pursue a career in Software Development. His leader had already taken time to know this and sincerely thought about how to help. Soon after, she told him she was setting up time each week for him to be mentored by someone in the SD/IT department.

“She (his manager) really showed me that she cared about my professional growth and, in turn, made me want to grow with Amazon. It just validated my feelings about committing to this company long-term,” Sweeney said. That is quite a statement coming from a Gen Yer, a generation that is notoriously known for job hopping every couple years.

Leadership style is also something to consider. Human resources professionals had told me that some of their better leaders had been using the participative leadership style. This style includes the employees in information, brainstorming, and discussion. Employees responded well to this type of style because they felt like their opinions were heard and that they truly were contributing something. Also, this allowed employees to feel more accountable in the success of the company.

Leaders, it’s not always about leading the pack and expecting them to follow. Sometimes you need to be a part of the pack to really understand what they want and need from you. Once you successfully implement that into your leadership strategy, you’ll find that your employees will follow without hesitation.

Links, People, and Companies to follow:
The Right Kind of Employee

Jim Sweeney, Amazon.com employee

CreateSpace

Amazon.com

LinkedIn

A special thanks to my brother/Marketing Extraordinaire, Jeff Perez, for teaching me how to use HTML properly 🙂

Is Job Hopping Really a Bad Thing?

Some recruiting and hiring managers would look at a “job-hoppers” resume and most likely shred it without even a second thought. Job hopping was considered to be career suicide in the past because employers would consider the candidate to be a high-risk employee. The assumption was that they were flaky, would not be committed to a company, and would leave the company high and dry. This assumption has caused recruiters to turn the job hoppers away in previous years. The economy and workforce has changed since that outlook but, unfortunately, hiring practices have not changed with it.

Job hopping isn’t always a bad thing and recruiters shouldn’t turn away a candidate without digging deeper. Sure, there are the people that fit the unreliable, job-hopping stereotype. On the other hand, there are plenty of people in this economy’s workforce that do not. For example, some people may not have willingly job hopped. Over the recent years, many people have been laid off and/or have had a hard time finding stable work. Because of this, people may not have left jobs voluntarily or may have had to take odd jobs just to stay financially afloat. These individuals may have been the most dedicated and hardworking employees a company could have but were just dealt a bad hand. Without investigating their job history further, a recruiter may have missed a gem.

Another reason why a candidate may have job hopped is because they haven’t found what they are looking for. There are so many options a person can have when it comes to workplace, job type, culture, benefits, etc. Sometimes a person will take a position and realize it is not a right fit for them. Once they come to this conclusion, they may move on to find something they can be happy with. Is this a bad thing? No, it’s probably a good thing that a person is very set on what they want out of a job and employer. Will they potentially leave your company within the first year? Maybe, if you don’t take the time to determine if you are a fit for each other. This candidate clearly has an idea of what they want and what they won’t settle for. You know what your company can offer. It would pay to take the time to look deeper and see whether or not you would be a fit for each other before making the investment.

Some job hoppers take temporary/short-term positions to obtain experience for a company or position they have their heart set on. I could actually use myself as an example for this one. After finishing my BSBA in Human Resources I had attempted to apply for human resources based jobs only to be rejected due to lack of experience. Well, how was I supposed to get experience if no one would hire me to get it?  Simple: take temporary positions that were more flexible on hiring people with little to no experience. Sure, it’s been a bumpy ride over the past year and it’s been scary to not have a stable job, but it’s what I had to do. I could wait forever for a company to take a blind chance on me or I could take temporary jobs here and there and gradually build my experience to meet the requirements that the companies have. Job hopping was an investment for my future.  My resume probably looks like a recruiter’s worst nightmare but if you take away all the companies and job titles, you’ll be left with the experience, knowledge, and skills that companies require.

Sometimes job hoppers might be more valuable than employees that have been with you for years.  Job hoppers have experience in working with many different companies. Their experience will expose them to procedures, practices, software, and much more. Because they have knowledge of different ways of doing things, they may be able to help your company find ways to be more efficient. Maybe they can suggest a new way to do a task that can cut down the time to complete it. Maybe they know of software that would better suit your company’s needs. Perhaps they have connections or have networked with a client that you’ve been dying to get business from. I’m just saying: sometimes job hoppers can open minds, eyes, or doors for your company.

So, recruiters, next time you receive a resume that has a horrifying job history, please remember the details above before making assumptions about the candidate. Take the time to speak to the individual and assess whether or not they could be a good employee for your company or a costly decision. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised. Some of these candidates may just be waiting to commit to a dream opportunity that presents itself.

Some other articles you can read on the subject:

http://excelle.monster.com/benefits/articles/3643-job-hopping-career-killer-or-savior

http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/story.jsp?storyId=533347268