Beyond Your Expectations: What Engages Your Employees?

The race is on to find qualified, quality employees and to engage them.

A recent article in ROI Central Minnesota, a business and economics magazine published by the St. Cloud Times, reports that, on average, replacing an employee costs 30% of the individual's salary considering use of overtime, temporary workers, loss of productivity and loss of knowledge. The author, Dawn Peake, continues by saying, "compensation has fallen on the list of what drives workers to a company, so now many promote their culture and ability to provide meaningful work."  The article highlights some unique perks being offered locally that include chef prepared meals, coffee clubs, vacations at executive cabins, better than average recruitment incentives, and employer paid premiums and deductibles. Reading this, I felt a bit hand-tied; these options are not permissible in a tax-payer funded organization. How are we ever going to compete?

Nevertheless, I continued reading and felt my tension release with Ms. Peake's statement that "there is no one size fits all approach. Companies need to determine what motivates and satisfies their particular group of employees."  Ok, that we can do and that we must do. It is not about being everything to everyone, it is not about the cool idea of the month. It involves benchmarking as a guide but not as the answer. If we are always looking to see what others are doing so we can do the same, we are committing ourselves to be the eternal follower and never the leader (can you see the light bulb turn on?!). 

So let's get back to basics. People valuing certain things will not be drawn to a tax payer funded organization There are people who would not consider working anyplace else. These are the keepers and they are our market. This is our world. The task: capture the physical and psychic and qualitative "whys" of the work environment. Keep in mind that it does not need to be flashy, it need only be real. It needs to answer the questions, "what are we about?" and "why do people want to work for us?" Ah, here is the internal branding piece again!  How are the answers already reflected in the things that your organization does or how can they be? Basically, enhance what is in alignment and not so gently realign what is not.

This is not a one person, sitting at their desk, in the quiet of their own mind kind of thing to do. It is the work of employees across the organization. It is a creative, messy, iterative, colorful sticky note, fruity markers, brainstorming, no idea is a bad one kind of a process. It is a necessary, can't proceed without addressing, discussing, creating and identifying type of task.

I am in and I have just the group to start this with. Workforce Development Council - hold onto your hats. The train in moving - are you in?!


Reference. Peake, Dawn, July - September 2007. "Employer Perks That Work: Companies find methods to motivate staffers and boost productivity." ROI - Central Minnesota. (not available on line)