Retaining employees is critical to every business, not least because it can cost more than 100% of the salary of the job being filled to recruit and train a replacement. But creating a culture where the best workers stay engaged—and stay around—is not as simple as funding a company softball team, bringing in pizza or Googling “employee engagement best practices.” Our CEO, Dan Ruch, explains: “It takes innovation and open-mindedness to nurture an engaged workforce, which is why the smartest organizations are not just thinking ahead but also looking around for ways to create partnerships with their employees”. Here are five surprising lessons from companies that are taking unique approaches to employee engagement.
- Don’t hire for cultural fit. Take it from Netflix, which literally wrote the book—okay, slide deck—on the relationship between culture and hiring. Patty McCord, the company’s ex-chief talent officer and a primary architect of that deck recently wrote that only going after employees who seem to be good culture fits can perpetuate a lack of diversity of skills and perspectives. “People with all sorts of personalities can be great at the job you need done,” McCord advises. Being known as a business that prizes qualifications and performance above all inevitably pushes all employees to do their best.
- Be workspace agnostic. Some of us like desks, others like working remotely, and still others—like Airbnbers—prefer to roam. At Salesforce, most employees are given options for where and how to work. It’s no coincidence that in 2017 it was the top place to work in the U.S. and consistently reports high levels of employee satisfaction.
- Be job-description flexible. Employees don’t want to think that their purpose is only to plug a company hole. They want to see their jobs as opportunities to not only play to, but also to develop, their skills while achieving personal goals. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Facebook’s HR team wrote that, “the narrow job descriptions that companies create stifle their ability to use the full range of their employees’ skills.” Be open to creating jobs around your employees. Then watch them surprise you.
- Invest in development, personal, and professional. Jobs are not the only path employees can take to develop skills and further knowledge. Companies like Telus International and Johnson & Johnson offer in-house education programs, while Google encourages employees to follow their bliss outside the company walls too. “Whether it’s onsite coding or cooking classes, degree programs, or the guitar lessons you’ve been meaning to take, we’ll support you in doing what you love,” the company has noted.
- Turn managers into forest rangers, not tree surgeons. As the saying goes, people don’t quit jobs—they quit bosses. Micromanagement is routinely listed as a top employee beef. It is also often the result of poor training. The first step to happier employees is creating better managers. At Adobe, for example, managers have been taught to assign benchmarks to employees, before giving them the freedom to carry out their tasks in their own way.
Is creating a culture built on employee engagement challenging? It can be, but not as challenging as trying to run a company that doesn't have one.
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