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While the unemployment rate has decreased to 6.6 percent since the recession, employers continue to struggle with employee engagement. Only 13 percent of employees worldwide are highly engaged in their jobs, according to Bersin by Deloitte.

Part of this lack of engagement is a result of the overwhelming feeling some jobs are creating for employees. Increasingly, employees are expected to be online all the time whether they’re traveling internationally or working late at night from home. Finally, employees are pushing back and redefining what they value at work, including flexibility, meaning and a work-life balance. Josh Bersin, principal at Bersin by Deloitte, adds: “The war for talent is over, and the talent has won. Essentially people are looking for a different experience at work.”

We recently assembled a crack squad of top thinkers for the “2014: The Year of the Employee” webinar in order to discuss the issue of minimal employee engagement and how companies can deliver value to employees.

 

 

Transparency Through Online Networks

Employees are only going to feel engaged if they're working for a company that fits both their desired job description and company culture. As employees get more comfortable with publicly expressing a positive or negative sentiment about the recruiting process on review sites, more information is available for candidates to make a decision based on their peers' experience — either positive or negative. Companies can no longer hide the fact that their company culture is mediocre because people will know about it on Glassdoor. This makes recruiting top talent difficult, notes Bersin. If in the past companies spoke about a company culture that distorted the reality, online networks eradicate the ability to do so and force companies to be authentic.

Four Tips to Master Company Culture

Since employees are in control of the conversation around the employment brand, companies must focus on current employees in order to keep them happy and help recruit top talent. Bersin, Elaine Orler, CEO of Talent Function, and Jason Averbook, Chief Business Innovation Officer at Appirio, shared advice for creating a positive employee experience:

  1. Embrace innovation. By allowing employees to think outside the box, they become empowered and have a sense of control, power and ownership of their contributions, notes Bersin.
  2. Talk about changes and successes. Employees draw inspiration and are fueled by successes, so make it known when an employee succeeds and do it right then and there — don’t wait for a yearly review, suggests Averbook.
  3. Ditch archaic processes. Organizations that focus heavily on rules and regulations aren’t thinking about what the business needs and won’t be successful in the future, argues Orler.
  4. Ask for employee feedback. When shaping a strategy for employee engagement and company culture, get input from employees to show that their thoughts are valued, says Averbook.

The First Step to Reinventing HR: Get the C-Suite to Buy-In

HR is reinventing itself by making integral changes for the sake of the company and the employee, yet it all starts with business leaders. Business decisions need to be about creating new value for employees that will ultimately spur inspiration and innovation, notes Orler.

Creating change in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight, though. Whether new programs are implemented and old ones are trashed comes down to gaining the trust and faith from business leaders, notes Bersin. Oftentimes managers and leaders manage employees too much and don’t let them spread their wings and fly. Little do they know that if they minimize their control, improvement will happen, says Bersin.

Averbook agrees that change requires buy-in from the leaders: “Start at the top and let people know that you’re on a mission. We have to be prescriptive and not ask for permission to do it, but tell leaders this is what you need to do in order to create the workforce of the future.”  Read Averbook's take of the webinar on his blog