Let me know if this seems familiar.
You're sat in a meeting. Suddenly eyes turn to you. "Why aren't our people engaged? Pay's fair. There are beers on a Friday. Margaret even put in a suggestion box... so where's the enthusiasm? And why are people leaving?"
If this is your million-dollar nightmare question, you're not alone.
Grabbing staff attention isn't easy. HR Departments around the world are struggling with smaller budgets, bigger task lists and zero time to get anything done. Even if you know how to answer this question, proving it to the wider team can be difficult. As you begin to spend your limited time pouring over research and formulating graphs, you realise this is time spent gathering statistics - and not time spent doing what you love.
Keeping people on board is a difficult topic. But we've tackled it before, and we've helped our Clients tackle it too.
Where to begin.
Don't be afraid to say it. Employee engagement matters.
In 2020, a good salary isn't enough to keep people hanging around. When staff aren't engaged, they leave - and with 190 million companies around the world today, they're not exactly struggling for choice. On top of that? Leavers cost you money. Take your average employee's pay. Now double it. That's the amount it'll cost to replace them.
But it's not just about retention.
The simple fact is that engaged staff get stuff done. Burning to make a difference, they're stuffed with motivation and ready to kick ass for your company. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it is great. Three years ago, we got serious about employee engagement. We looked at everything from fancy IT stuff to traditional events. We blended the best things together to make our people feel awesome. The results? Sky-high retention, world-class internal comms and happier people. Oh, and we got a C&IT 'Best Places to Work' award to prove it.
So, what are our six tips for awesome engagement?
One. Know what you're trying to do.
Get clear on what engagement means to you and your company. For some, it's all about letting people share their ideas. For others, it's about making people feel valued. Don't expect to have this rattling around your head. You'll want to talk to people. From new starts to company veterans, ask them what they want to see, what would make them happier.
Once you know the direction, you can start sketching out how to measure it. Get some data. Understand what it's telling you now so you can see if your plan is working later. Retention rates, staff surveys and 1-2-1 interviews are all great places to start. Don't rush this. This process will build strong foundations, so let it take as long as it needs to.
Two. Know your limitations.
Got a pile of cash and no oversight? You wish! You'll need to think about what you can do with what's available. This isn't just about money. You've got to think about time - both yours and your staff. Getting people face-to-face will give you impact. You'll pay for this engagement though: good events aren't cheap, and you'll have to consider the extra cost of having people out of the office. It's tempting to do things digitally. But the best email in the world won't do anything unless people are motivated to read it.
Play to your budget. If you can't stretch to an event, think about a virtual one, grabbing people from the comfort of their desks. Restricted to email? Then think about how to make your message shine, with a subject that gets people opening it. Don't be afraid to really hone in on your objectives if you're spread too thin. It's better to go after one thing than risk failing at many.
Three. Content, content and more content
People are hungry for content. Good, exciting content will give employees the tools they need to do things better, without feeling like they're getting a lecture from management. Want your people to handle tricky situations with ease? A three-minute video on conflict will have more impact than the email that's been sitting in the HR Director's draft folder. Plan content for every type of learner. Curate it. Track it relentlessly to find out what your audience is responding to. Once you've done that, give them some more.
Four. Uncover your talent.
It isn't easy to make all that content, so get some help. If you're stuck on what to share with people, ask them. Find out what they want to learn. Learn about the things that excite them. Give your staff a chance to show off their fantastic abilities to the rest of the business. Taylor from HR might teach mindfulness better than a consultant. Helen in Sales could be the key to creating kick-ass pitch teams. This won't just give you great stuff to share. It'll leave your experts feeling recognised and motivated.
Five. Let leadership lead.
The best leaders want to know the people who follow them. Give the higher-ups the chance to engage with people from every corner of the business. Let them share their vision. Have them answer the tricky questions. Put a human face on the business decisions that shape everyone's lives.
Why? Because it's easy to get cynical about things that come from nameless people. Let your staff make a connection with those captaining the ship. Personal connection matters. It makes us work harder. Makes us believe in things we might not otherwise. Make your leaders human.
Six. Love data.
It's time to unlock your inner math geek. You don't want to be caught flat-footed so you have to know what's going on. Those measurements you set at the start? Keep a close eye on them, ready to make a change when you need to.
Nobody watching a particular video? Get out there, ask people why it isn't working for them. Don't be afraid to shake things up. It's frustrating not to get things right, but it's worse to let bad things linger. The only way you'll know things need to change will be through your data.
Care enough to make a difference
The fact that you're reading this shows you care enough to make a difference. For all the tips, plans and talk, passion is the thing that ties it all together. Know you can do this. Get your objectives in hand, be happy with them. Accept your limitations, work within them. Produce some amazing content. Give a voice to your people. Get management onside and in the spotlight. Track everything.
The end result? Engaged employees with you at the centre of it, making it happen.
Get started and start reaping the rewards before your competitors do. We'll be cheering you on.