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Today's workforce has a retention problem. A recent Gallup survey revealed 60 percent of millennials, a population that now makes up the majority of the workforce, are considering a new job and 21 percent of them have changed jobs in the past year. As younger millennials and Generation Z enter the workplace, this problem is expected to only get worse, as these generations have higher expectations for positive, meaningful work experiences.

William Tincup, the editor of RecruitingDaily, has observed these changing needs of the younger workforce and identified the importance of 'micro-moments,' short and intentional experiences used to derive meaningful relationships or connections between an employer and employee. In a conversation with Mike Bollinger, VP of Thought Leadership and Advisory Services at Cornerstone OnDemand at this year's Convergence Conference, Tincup discusses what micro-moments are, how to create them and how employers can use them to foster engaging employee experiences for every kind of worker.

Creating Micro-moments in the Workplace

Tincup's micro-moments were inspired by micro-moment marketing, a business tactic focused on creating a value-based exchange between a customer and service. In the age of 'too much content,' it's increasingly difficult for companies and brands to capture the attention of potential customers. Micro-moment marketing attempts to combat this excess through short, intentional interactions that offer the customer something of value, such as insights, offers or discounts.

Workplace micro-moments are also short, intentional experiences. According to Tincup, successful micro-moments occur when employers ask employees about themselves, their interests and motivations, and use that information to create a work environment that caters to their needs.

Micro-moments exist in one of two categories: proactive and reactive. Proactive micro-moments are purposeful interactions that are initiated by an employer. They can occur as short conversations, an organized meeting or a quick coffee break. During these interactions, the employer might ask broad questions like 'how is your family?' and 'what inspires you?'

Reactive micro-moments are more specific. They are micro-moments that an employer and employee engage in after something positive or negative occurs. If something negative happens, like an interruption in the middle of a meeting or poor job performance feedback, a reactive micro-moment can help employers and employees communicate with empathy and create effective next steps. However, if something positive occurs, like a job promotion or successful new business pitch, a reactive micro-moment helps celebrate these accomplishments.

Using Micro-moments to Create Employee-Centric Workplaces

Traditionally, many employers have fostered a company- or customer-centric culture that focuses on driving sales, gaining customers and increasing profits. However, in today's younger and increasingly digital workplaces, this model is ineffective.

By using micro-moments to gain insight into the needs and motivations of employees, companies can create more of an employee-centric culture where employees and their needs are the first priority.

According to Tincup, the new workforce has grown up in a time where the internet, social media, start-ups and technology offer the constant opportunity to customize experiences—today's employees now crave a similarly personalized experience in the workplace. These employees work best in an environment where their needs, motivations and desires are considered.

“Most employers still think of a job as a privilege to the employee, or that an employee is blessed to be with a company," explained Tincup. “But this thinking is backwards: we are blessed to have them. Employers have to change this mindset."

Sharing Micro-moments With Remote Workers

Remote work is no longer a privilege—it's a lifestyle. Today, 70% of the global workforce works remotely at least once a week. But when employees work most or all of the time remotely, it's more difficult for their managers to engage with them. In fact, although remote work may be a convenient alternative for some, it does have its disadvantages. Remote workers can suffer from isolation and loneliness, reduced creativity and a lack of work-life balance. Employers must find ways to connect with them to avoid these common pitfalls.

Employers can create micro-moments with remote workers by putting in a little extra effort. Using a webcam or an online messenger, a manager and an employee can catch up, connect and share a virtual micro-moment. However, because body language and social cues cannot be as easily read or perceived through a screen, Tincup recommends that employers intentionally invest more time into having conversations with remote workers.

“Invest more time in them and over-do it," said Tincup. “Overdoing it will become your new normal. In a virtual environment, you have to check-in, clarify, celebrate and communicate more."

Employers can also create weekly or recurring rituals that connect remote workers to one another and to the company at large. For example, create an end-of-the-week celebration like a group video chat or special hashtag that rallies virtual workers together.

If employers use effective, intentional techniques like micro-moments to improve an employee's experience, they can begin to take the first step toward higher retention. It's a simple but important mindset that employers must accept: in order to run a successful business, you have to consistently engage your employees. Find out what pleases and motivates them, and use it to your advantage.

Photo: Creative Commons