Employee engagement, and the employee experience as a whole, has long been a top workforce management priority. In fact, with all the turmoil and disruption we’re facing right now, taking care of your employees has become more important than ever. And in the Health and Human Services industry, where compassion fatigue is already a common problem among frontline workers, the importance of taking care of employees only increases.
Understanding Employee Motivation and Needs
In order to best serve your employee, you need to understand what they need and what motivates them at a more individual level. Of course, you know that wage and salary, benefits, and meaningful work are all important components, but each individual’s priorities may vary. Applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may help shed light on these priorities. If we look at how each basic need applies to the workforce, we can create our own employee hierarchy of needs. Starting with physiological needs, this includes things like pay and benefits. We then move up to safety needs, thinking about safe working conditions and job security. Above this, at the social need level, this has to do with work relations and professional associations. The esteem level focuses on job title, recognition, and status, and then self-actualization has to do with achievement, challenging work, and advancement.
Depending on the employee’s stage in their career and at your organization, you can find them focused on different priorities. This can help you cater to each employee as an individual, offering true value that’s tailored to what they’re looking for. This becomes important not just from an employee engagement perspective but from an employee lifetime value perspective.
Employee lifetime value represents the employee’s total net value to the organization during their employment. At the very beginning, we have a negative net value as we onboard the employee and provide the training they need before they can become productive contributors. Once they’re trained and fully contributing, productivity nets positive and continues to increase until the employee reaches their maximum potential. This level is maintained up until the employee’s decision to leave the organization. At that point, we see a decline in contribution as engagement dwindles leading up to the last day.
Maximizing Lifetime Value Through the Employee Lifecycle
When we work to improve processes and enhance the employee experience, we can maximize the employee’s lifetime value. A structured onboarding process may help get the employee up to speed much sooner, for example. And a highly engaged employee will be motivated to do their best work, leading to higher maximum potential output. An employee who remains highly engaged is also likely to stay at the organization longer, thus also increasing their employee lifetime value.
To break this down further, we may look at the different stages of the employee lifecycle. For our purposes, we can break these stages down into attracting, engaging, developing, and retaining each employee.
Attracting Top Talent
At this stage, we’re focused on recruiting and onboarding, typically first six months or so of interacting with the candidate and eventual new hire. Studies show that applicants use the candidate experience to determine what they can expect as an employee. And while our 2020 State of Workforce Management Report indicated that 62% of executives believe they provide a positive experience, only 52% have an established recruiting strategy in place. Creating and standardizing the recruiting process can help provide a streamlined experience and help ensure you’re using this period to communicate the value your organization provides for the candidate as well.
Engaging the Workforce
Engaging each employee is really an ongoing process that is important at all stages of the employee lifecycle. Here, we’re thinking about this as the initial stage following onboarding, when the employee is still new but ready to contribute. During this stage of initial development, engagement is often quite high. The employee is excited to make an impact, and it’s our job from a management perspective to cultivate and encourage that engagement to continue. This may involve strategies that increase communication and collaboration, providing insight and transparency into how the individual’s work contributes to the success of the organization.
Developing Employees and Encouraging Growth
Building off a foundation of communication and collaboration, we want to continue to help the employee develop and grow within their role. This might involve more personalized communication between the manager and the employee, frequent check-ins, and conversations about how they’re doing and what they’d like to work towards as the next step in their career.
Retain Your Teams with an Inclusive Culture
Company culture is more important than ever before, as a unique identifier for your organization that can help attract and retain your employees. Building a diverse and inclusive workforce culture is not just a best practice that will help your employees thrive, but a best practice for improving organizational outcomes as well.
Today, we have up to five different generations that make up the workforce. Each generation exhibits different values and grew up with different exposure to technology. Beyond the differences in perspective based on generational life experiences, there are differences that cause conscious and unconscious bias. If you can draw up an image of what a teenage mom looks like, or a vegan, or a gun owner, you can start to understand the preconceived notions (aka, biases) that we all exhibit. Breaking down these notions of “otherness” can help establish mutual trust and eliminate conscious and unconscious bias.
When we’re able to eliminate bias and provide a welcoming environment with many different voices and perspectives, we become stronger as an organization. We’re able to come up with better solutions, better processes, and better services for the people we serve. And in the process, we’re creating an environment that enables our employees to do their best work and proud to be a part of our organization.
Fostering Engagement Throughout the Employee Lifecycle
When we bring all of these pieces and strategies together and apply them at our organization, we’re able to see better outcomes all around. We understand what motivates our employees – and if we don’t know, we’re asking and communicating so that we do get that understanding. And we understand how we can address engagement and the employee experience throughout each stage of the lifecycle to maximize the employee’s lifetime value – which is a win-win for our employees and our organization.