What Employees Want – Employee Engagement Focus

In my previous blogs, I have discussed the concept and implementation methodology of employee engagement. Moving forward, it is essential to understand what are the employees’ expectations for engagement that will enable them to maintain high-performance levels and have a sense of belonging to the organization. An insight into the needs and wants of employees enables organizations to design employee engagement strategies that are truly impactful and create a positive trend in employee engagement levels.

I am sharing some of the key areas where employees expect high and creative engagement. These are observations based on my own experience of working closely with various organizations as an HR professional and consultant.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Employee engagement starts the minute a candidate sees a job profile or is contacted by your company with a potential job opening. With these first interactions, the individual is evaluating whether they see the company as a fruitful employer. In this age of “the great resignation” where companies are competing for quality resources and struggling to retain talent, these first impressions can be the difference between hiring or losing a potential resource.

The onboarding process is another key factor in creating an impact during the initial interactions with the employee. The induction process should not just be viewed as a checklist that needs to be ticked off. A well-planned induction goes a long way in introducing new employees to the organization and setting the tone for what they can expect as a part of their new role. If the engagement level is high from the beginning of their journey, then employees are likely to carry forward this motivation from the day they start work.

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”

In the case of organizations, information is empowerment. Employees need to be clearly communicated about their roles and responsibilities. They also need to understand how their role aligns with the overall organizational strategies and vision to be able to make a meaningful contribution. Leadership needs to make it a mission to ensure that no employee is “lost” or unclear about what to do with their position in the company.

Employee engagement also includes responding to employee concerns in real-time. A system like a helpdesk can be beneficial in this regard to ensure that employees have a dedicated space to voice their concerns and receive relevant help. This enables companies to resolve issues quickly and instill a sense of confidence among employees that their needs are perceived by the organization.

“Human resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”

HR Policies govern the employee-employer relationships in companies. They are not only needed as a part of compliance, but are critical to building employee-centric organizations. Employees expect HR policies to be inclusive and considerate of their needs. They also need to know that they will be provided adequate assistance to understand and utilize HR policies as and when needed. A proper mechanism should be established so that employees can freely obtain answers to their queries.

Policies should be planned to keep in mind the various demographics within the organization. People from different generations or regions will respond differently to various initiatives. So, it is important to fine-tune these aspects before policies are implemented. If HR Policies are poorly designed or if required information is not available to employees, it can create disengagement and feelings of demotivation. These situations can be detrimental to business performance and need to be considered seriously when HR policies are formed or updated.

“To win the marketplace, you first need to win the workplace.”

Employees are important stakeholders in the organization’s achievements and need to be acknowledged as such. Regular updates and discussions about achievements and upcoming strategies should be shared with employees organization-wide to inculcate a culture of participation. Changing dynamics in the organization or the market can also mean a shift in responsibilities or goals. These should be communicated in time with information on how these broader changes will affect employees at an individual level. From a performance point of view, employees expect regular feedback about their activities so that they can take necessary action rapidly. This has been discussed in more detail in our blog on performance evaluation.

“There is no alternative to digital transformation.”

Technology is impacting all facets of life and business. Digital transformation is not only needed for services and products offered to clients, but also for the way internal processes are handled. Many platforms are available for employee management that help in closing the gaps in HR processes. App-based engagement makes it convenient and simple for employees to engage with the organization and with each other. It also enables the employer to collect relevant data that can be used to enhance employee experience. Technology also makes it possible to rapidly communicate with employees across the organization, even if they are spread across the globe. This contributes to the overall alignment and cohesion of the organization as a whole.

Employee expectations are intertwined with individual and organizational success. From simple to complex activities, employee engagement helps in closing the loop to ensure that plans are on track. Articulating needs goes both ways, for the employees to understand the organization and vice-versa. Taking the time and effort to understand employee expectations, concerning engagement, and putting in the effort to design impactful employee engagement strategies can enable positive experiences. It is vital to remember that there are numerous touchpoints for engagement and understanding how and why they are important to employees is the difference between engagement and disengagement.