So let’s start from day one. How is someone greeted when they walk through your door the first day? The first week? How about the first month? Is there a plan set in motion that helps somebody get acclimated to this new culture? Is there someone that is constantly with that person, and I don’t mean every minute, but frequently checking in with that person and making them feel welcome. If we could all just stop for a minute and remember what it was like to be that person. This begs the question, how long should the onboarding process last? Well, it takes about 6 months to a year for somebody to feel at home on average in any organization. You really do have to have a plan and it has to be very tight as far as making sure that person is frequently talked to and has interaction going on; this is especially important the first three or four weeks.
So, next up is how important this whole engagement thing is. We hear that word all the time and there is absolutely no doubt that it correlates to absenteeism and customer satisfaction. Isn’t that interesting that your workers are engaged, your customers have better things to say about you. Engagement increases productivity which of course increases profits, sales, and returns. We also see less incidences of safety problems and accidents, higher retention and of course, customer loyalty. One thing we hear all the time is “How do we get people to stick around?” Well when you have engaged people, they will stick around.
As a coach, I also like to show the impact. Engagement is great, but what impact does it have?
The impact of highly engaged people:
- Feeling valued
- Strong team mentality
- Job fulfillment
- Discretionary effort
- Making a difference
- Personal ownership
- Greater morale
- Accountability and responsibility
I think sometimes there is a misunderstanding of what employee engagement is and what it looks like. So, you have the employee and then you have an event. For example, let’s say you have dress down Fridays, a family event twice a year, or a golf outing and that will equal some kind of engagement. Those are all good and there is nothing wrong with them by any means, but I think they’re all pretty superficial types of engagement. We need to look at it with deeper lenses and realize that it has to encompass the entire organization. Engagement is about the people, the leaders, and the culture. So again, we ask those questions; what would your people say about your culture? What would they say about your leaders? What do you say? How does the community at large see your organization? The more positive experiences people have with the organization, the more engaged your workers will be. Those are very important things as long as people are feeling connected.
What I want to do is share two or three different companies with you to see what they’re doing and what makes their companies different.
ABC Supply Company is the largest wholesale distributor of roofs. Their statement is “By putting your people first, your people will put the customer first.” - Ken Hendricks, ABC Supply Co.
Their mission statement is “To increase customer engagement through increased employee engagement.” In other words, you get your people engaged and the customer engagement will happen.
The next company I want you to look at is Zappos.com. They’re a great online shoe store and has actually been rated one of the best places to work. They have a really hyper, heavily engaged workforce. They receive 55,000 employment applications a year. They have a scrupulous hiring process because they’re striving to get the right people on the bus and not just get them there, but keep them there. Retention is huge.
Zappos.com Core Values are:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open & Honest Relationships with Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Just a little FYI on this company, after 4 weeks of Onboarding, they actually offer you a $3,000 pay-out to leave.
I thought I’d share with you a little bit about our culture. Last year we were honored to receive one of the best and brightest companies in the enrichment and engagement elite category. I wanted to share that because I am so honored and love where I work. Part of that is because we do have a culture of engagement. All of us are in a continuous improvement state. We’re always seeing how we can do things better, or how we treat our customers with the utmost respect and how we treat each other. It’s all about how we bring our best selves to work. Our leadership engagement really comes from the top down, meaning we’re going to have one-on-ones every week. These are actually led by us, the employees. We bring our issues, concerns, updates, or whatever it is, to our leader and of course there is some back and forth. Every week I get the sense that I can engage with my supervisor, who is genuinely interested in what I’m doing. The individual engagement happens through weekly team meetings. We share three things to start off this meeting: something we are most proud of, a project we’re working on, and lastly, we share something that we are most grateful for. It’s amazing to see what other people are saying. Whether they’re grateful for another co-worker, or a client we helped get a job, or whatever it may be. That sense of gratefulness really lends to being a culture of enrichment.
So what’s the ROI we get with engaged employees? It’s pretty obvious we want to get people who are just surviving in a job to thriving. We want people to move from just being satisfied with their job, to loving their job. All of those things build into retention. In addition to engagement, we want to look at training and development.
- Train and develop
- Frequent one-on-ones
- Set expectations
- Get input
We have to understand that by doing this we are setting up a culture that says “We value you.” Even if someone moves onto another company, we can still leave our mark as a company that engages their workers. Where we tend to drop the ball is on the development. We send people to training without any expectations from them. One thing we do after trainings are three follow up group coaching events to do a milestone check in to see what has changed. Training also means you’ll probably have to train new people and reteach them. You’ll have to be constantly helping them in different areas where you can. Situational leadership is all about looking at where someone is developmentally on a skill or task, and as a leader, how do I adapt my leadership skill so that I can match where they are on that development scale. The other thing you have to do is help each other set expectations and hold those expectations to an accountability deadline. So again, we’re really looking at training and development because they are not the same thing. The heart of the matter is we need to train our leaders. Our leaders are so critical on every level of having the greatest influence and impact to those in our organization. Without them being equipped to know how to lead others, that is where we truly have a lot of issues.
One amazing statistic from a Gallup poll says that a 25 year study of 12 million workers in over 7,000 companies show that the direct relationship between an employer and an employee determines the length an employee will stay. So this shows that it’s not the CEO, but the person you should be engaging with on a very frequent basis. That leader should be checking in with you, they should be wondering how they can develop you. Even if the person is difficult to work with, they may have some amazing strengths that you do not want to see leave your organization. The problem is, we get a lot of people who get tapped on the shoulder one day who work at XYZ Company and are told “You’re amazing and we’d like you to be a leader. Here are five people to lead.” That really throws people off because most people are not ready to be a leader or they are not equipped. We have to look at how we can develop those people from the inside so they can be the best they can be for themselves and therefore positively impact and influence others.
I want you to think about the cost of turnover. It costs about $3,000 to $5,000 for an entry-level unskilled employee. I’ve seen it as low as $1,500, but it’s not just the money. You’ve got to hire people, interview people, work with staffing agencies, have someone train this new person, and all of those things really impact the cost of turnover. For those who are skilled and on a professional level, those costs are much higher. The cost of turnover tends to be up to 2.5X their annual salary. The cost of turnover will continue to increase as finding candidates becomes more difficult.
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