For two decades, companies in the U.S. and around the world have been focusing on employee engagement as a means to improve talent acquisition and retention. Despite countless talent surveys and organizational research on this subject, global engagement scores have continued to remain at all-time lows. Obviously, something is not working.
HR executives have been attending conventions, seminars, and workshops, and learning about “talent experience” since 2013-15. Many are now leading boardroom discussions to answer the following questions:
“Why are our employee engagement initiatives failing?”
“Why are we spending more on engagement, and getting little in return?”
“Engagement is rising in some organizations… what are they doing that we aren’t?”
“How can we have employees who want to show up, rather than need to show up?”
Focus on the cause, not the effect
One single response answers all of these questions: “We have been stuck focusing on the cause of the problem instead of the effect. Talent experience is the cause and rising employee engagement is the effect, not the other way around.” In other words, we have been focused on growing the plants in our garden instead of focusing on providing water, sunlight, and protection from the elements. A growing tomato plant, like an engaged workforce, is the end result of actions we must take.”
The actions we take must focus on improving the talent experience, from the application process and pre-start date communications to orientation, on-boarding, training, performance reviews, and promotions. Talent experiences should encompass more than the typical job milestones; there should be experiences created to meet the unique needs of your workforce, and designed to elicit the feeling that the employee/employer relationship is the right long-term fit. A key component to making these experiences engaging is to find the right communication channels that connect with your specific demographic.
Marketing concepts are the forebear of talent experience management
This revelation creates a pivotal and dramatic moment, but the concepts underlying talent experience management are far from novel. Most of what we now know about this subject is derived from the methodologies used in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Your c-suite executives need no introduction to CRM and what it has done to help manage your company’s relationships with prospects and customers. CRM has been the key to identifying moments of truth in consumer decision-making and preferred channels of communication at inflection points. It has helped to visualize and transform the customer journey and ultimately, to distinguish your products and services from rivals’. Your customers’ positive perceptions and desire to engage with your company are the effects of well implemented CRM, as well as communication and marketing automation strategies.
Across industries, CRM and marketing automation cause consumer experiences to evolve with quickening pace over time and continually raise consumers’ expectations. What worked yesterday will not work today, which is why expertise in these areas has become an imperative for any company intent on staying ahead of the curve.
Similarly, the talent experiences that once worked to drive high employee engagement and retention no longer work today. Employees—especially Millennials—are no longer satisfied with a routine, a paycheck, and a path to a promotion. They expect to be a part of a company that shares their values; they expect to feel a sense of connection to people at every level of the organization; and they expect to feel like their employer is invested in their growth. They are motivated to give their best efforts and to stay with their employers only when their experiences—from job candidacy to daily projects to promotions—meet these expectations.
Today’s employees also want to be communicated with via familiar channels like text messaging, video, and social apps. In order to keep specific demographics of people engaged, we must adapt our communication methodologies to creating engaging experiences.
Consumer experiences drive employee engagement and expectations
The standards for employee experiences are also directly driven by consumer experiences, which are effects of marketing concepts and technologies . The treatment your employees experience as consumers by the “geniuses” at the Apple store, the representatives at Zappos, or the personnel onboard Southwest Airlines has helped to set new standards in the workplace. The effects are that your employees want more choices, more consideration for their perspectives, and even more appreciation for their mere presence. They want more ways of communicating with you, because some prefer social media and text, while others like quick face-to-face or internet chats. The new standards in employee experiences are far more personalized than what the workforce found satisfactory five, ten, or twenty years ago.
Talent experience management technology is here, and it works
The prospect of accommodating the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce at scale may sound daunting, but the science behind talent management and the tools to do it effectively are here. Rethinking your approach to talent management requires a focus on the cultural, technological, and physical environments of employees. With a digital talent management platform, you can methodically assess, evaluate, create, modify, and perfect the experiences you deliver and easily scale to accommodate a growing workforce. Just as marketing and sales executives have their hands on the dials of consumer experiences, talent management professionals in HR now have the same level of control.
The companies that will be around tomorrow and will win the challenge of engaging the millennial workforce are obsessing about talent experience today. Delivering better talent experiences is the cause, but the effects won’t be limited to higher employee engagement and retention. Companies that exceed talent experience expectations will drive innovation, improve organizational performance, and deliver greater value to customers and shareholders.