According to Gallup, in 2017:

  • Less than half of the US workforce is engaged.
  • Disengaged employees cost organizations about $500 Billion each year.
  • 76% of employees who do not feel valued are actively seeking to leave their job.
  • 95% of HR leaders admit employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention.
  • Replacing an employee can cost up to one-third of that employee’s salary.

Small wonder almost 9 of 10 US employers plan to implement formal programs to develop a more engaged workforce in 2018.

Setting the Executive Roundtable

Webolutions gathered a group of company founders and C-level executives to discuss this topic. Industries represented included fashion retail, restaurant franchising, health care, cloud computing, municipal government, and nonprofit.

Webolutions’ interest in stimulating this conversation is borne of the fact that our services include helping companies do exactly this. Through 23 years of designing and implementing complete marketing solutions, we’ve learned that the best laid plans are rendered significantly less effective when the entire team is not engaged in the experience. We can say, for example, that we’re the friendliest people in town, but if the person answering the phone is feeling under-appreciated and excluded from the process, the experience breaks at the point of first engagement.

For this reason, Webolutions follows foundational Brand Strategy development with ongoing Cultural Development. Why is it ongoing? Because as the rank and file put rubber to road, they find ways to adapt and improve the strategy. Engaged employees are those who can see and understand that their input is welcomed and valued.

The Role of Technology in Employee Engagement in 2017

Many executives feel under siege. Recruiters have one-click access to their workforce through tools like LinkedIn. Online job boards offer ubiquitous and constantly fertile fields of inventory for job seekers and head hunters. Personal experiences shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat provide a “grass is greener” perspective for any employees carrying doubts about their roles and the security and appreciation thereof.

“These days,” offered a veteran of for-profit and nonprofit enterprise, “most everyone understands they need to monitor their reputation on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. But are you monitoring GlassDoor? If you really want to understand your opportunities to keep your best people, help them be a model for the rest of your workforce, and attract more people like them, you must place a high priority on what your current and past employees say about you.”

One means to simultaneously address technology and employee engagement, it was noted, is to replace the top-down approach with directly involvement of line-level employees in solution development. Contact Relationship Management (CRM) was an example of a technology disappointingly underused within companies and organizations. Part of the lack of adoption was blamed on the sales force being given the tool without participation in the solution identification process, and without training and access to resources. As a global manager of cloud solutions noted, “The process of changing systems must include supporting the employees on whom the system is dependent. Otherwise, they feel thrown to the wolves.”

How to Develop a More Engaged Workforce

An attending Chief Operating Officer encouraged examining the complete breadth of solutions available. She provided creative compensation approaches her startup had successfully used to retain a top employee.

Additional solutions suggested included:

  • Ensuring the company and its executives provide a “personal touch” for the employee experience.
  • Understand that employees are an audience, and market to them. Keep them informed of company and organizational initiatives, including those outside of their immediate area of responsibility, with regular communications. Include restatement of the company’s in these communications, and provide context as to how current and planned initiatives support them.
  • Use regular touch points to ensure employees are finding meaning in the work they do.
  • Encourage positive, professional relationships among co-workers.
  • Formalize and enforce regular recognition and employee feedback programs.
  • Employ SMART Goals for each position and initiative, and provide context for how these support the company or organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values.

“Much of this comes back to us,” concluded one company founder. “If we are to engender and enforce engagement, we have to let everyone on our team see us living it.”