Buck Bond Group
Engaging today’s workers takes more than “talking the talk”

Engaging today’s workers takes more than “talking the talk”

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Engagement scores have taken a dive for many companies across corporate America. Concurrently, the physical and emotional drain from the pandemic and other issues are causing many employees to question whether their organization is providing what they want from their work relationship. The Institute for Corporate Productivity survey of 348 North American employers found burnout at the top of the list of reasons for talent loss.

Result? More Americans are quitting or actively looking for new opportunities. LinkedIn has reported a 20 percent increase in job searches related to quitting, compared to a year earlier. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports continued record-breaking rates of employee resignations.

All this activity has heightened challenges for HR teams in competing for talent and confirming how your organization is living its values for current employees and potential job candidates.

Yet “values by proclamation” has never worked and it’s really going to ring hollow in much of corporate America right now. One of the reasons is that no matter how wonderful and elegantly phrased your list of values may be, if there is understaffing and burnout, pressure to do whatever it takes to get the work done produces a disconnect and cynicism.

You have to prove it.

The turnover toll and challenges in recruiting replacement workers vary, but are especially acute in some sectors such as healthcare or service industries. Managers may strive to show greater empathy than before, especially if fearful of more departures. Enlightened on mental/emotional health, many employers have doubled down on wellbeing messages and promoting amped-up resources.

However, in this current climate, it’s no longer about having a good value statement. Companies need to put words into action. It’s been said culture is exemplified in behaviors, and vice versa, behavior defines culture. So what proves your value proposition?

Keep it simple – and cost-effective.

To show you really care, you have to walk the talk in so many different ways – from better pay, to benefits, to wellbeing resources, to managerial and leadership styles, to sufficient staffing, to better working conditions, and now more than ever, to flexibility.

  • As a baseline, employees need to feel they are paid fairly. Employees of course want financial security beyond living paycheck to paycheck, and at any pay level, need confidence their rewards are externally competitive. This includes base pay and incentives for superior performance, and various security benefits for today and the future.
  • They’ll look for creative benefits programs that will help them meet changing personal and family needs through highly stressed times. This doesn’t need to break the bank. Beyond core health and retirement savings programs, the benefits package can increasingly be supplemented with voluntary benefits (at low or no cost to the employer), so employees can custom tailor their package to meet physical, mental and financial needs.
  • As the work day has evolved with new forms – including remote and hybrid models – providing flexibility and choice in work design policies, a level of autonomy, and opportunities for social interaction in the business context demonstrates a desire to help employees balance work/life demands while still ensuring the work gets done. In a recent EY survey, 88 percent of employees want flexible working hours and 87 percent what flexibility around where they work and support for remote or hybrid schedules.
  • People want work with a clear meaning and purpose, under strong and visible leadership. They will engage more with a business whose leaders accept diverse ideas and listen to different viewpoints, provide a long-term vision of the business, are results-oriented, and provide and support a clear line of sight to a career path with mentoring and training. This is especially important for younger workers who are looking to build their careers, but also true across the generations.

Strong culture is inspirational and even irresistible.

Zeroing in on what your workforce most values with well-designed programs proves your employee value proposition. And our experience shows that the actual dollar value of programs may be less important than successfully communicating the opportunities so that employees understand, appreciate, and take advantage of your offerings to meet unique and evolving needs.

That strengthens your culture; it’s what will draw talent to your business—and keep them there.