Articles 2 min read

The Evolution of Employee Engagement: A shift to Employee Experiences by Jackson David

Game Night? Water Cooler Derby? Ropes Course? Volunteer event at the #RSPCA?  Whatever the activity, it is evident that the modern workplace is embracing the Engagement Culture. For our parents up until the last decade, it used to be that employee engagement would have been a list of on-site tasks or activities, usually in a conference room with a paid speaker or a video. Then once the activity was done, everyone would shuffle back to their desk, office, or more likely a horrible cubical and put their heads back down; the event then left to be a distant memory by next week.

Those days are soon to be over. Companies like Google and Facebook certainly have paved the way for the rest of us to embrace the evolution of employee engagement. It used to be that only the best and brightest TECH companies with deep pockets, could provide outstanding activities and events to drive employee morale and output. That is no longer the case. Whether by choice or being pushed in that direction, companies are having to look at Employee Engagement differently. It is no longer about meeting and on-site events, the goal now is EXPERIENCES. Those experiences, now more than ever, include off-site events and volunteering. Some, not all, are considered part of the working day, the work-day experience if you will.

We also have to look at technology and its impact on the experiences, the data that can be provided from that tech on experiences (EG: what story does it tell us?), and looking at efforts of organizational “de-structure”, which not only decrease a propensity for an ego-ecosystem, but create a playground for cross-functional, cross-team “play.”

As we look at how to keep our teams, especially Millennials, engaged day to day and outside of their work; the experiences that we put into place are going to need to be collaborative, information, even educational at times, and by all means memorable.

The Employee Experience is a holistic model. It comprises of everything that the employee experiences in the workplace and within teams. From the computer, they use to the coffee station, to the elevator music. It is a 360 review of three key things: Technology, Culture and Physical Environment.

The key to success with employee experiences that bring these key things together to drive engagement will be to tie them completely into the culture and values, or EVP (Employee Value Proposition).

This creates a unique opportunity for us HR professionals. We now get to concept, design, promote and sell, innovative ways to engage our teams through non-traditional experiences. In my opinion, the sky really IS the limit. An in-door Sky-Diving team event tied to an off-site meeting about getting out of our comfort zones? Why not!

Author and business owner Natasha Bowman (JD and SPHR), said is best in a recent post; “Want to increase employee engagement? Treat your employees like their children.” You can see her recent article on the subject here. When you ask yourself, how does my child learn and grow? It comes down to their experiences. The same can be said for retention in an adult on your team. The more memorable the experience, the better the preservation of the information within that experience. And, what better way to create or change beliefs than experiences?

Engagement goals will continue to morph into employee experiences. HR professionals know that high engagement is a direct correlation with enhanced productivity and performance. The key is getting the business partners aligned with this mission. One might argue that the reason TECH has done such a good job in this aspect, is that the leadership in those businesses tend to be younger, “experiential” types. True? You decide.

Employee engagement surveys will only offer insights and indicate a problem, but it will not provide a solution. In today’s modern workplace, a team will need to develop ways to strengthen experiences across the pillars of the business, if they seek better retention rates and performance.

For another good read on this subject, check out this article from Human Resources Today on “…Fascinating Employee Engagement Trends for 2017

To see more about Natasha Bowman and her work click here. And, check out her book “You Can’t Do That at Work” on Amazon here.

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