January 17, 2024 workforce podcast show notes
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Jamie begins by explaining that the Eddies, in part because of their tenure, are focused on how the organization is operating. They are the ones who are evaluating the company relative to the commitments it’s made to the workforce.
CNBC and Employee Engagement
Jamie cites a recent CNBC article which states, “Workers are the unhappiest they’ve been in 3 years.” This speaks directly to employee engagement. It goes on to report this issue, “can cost the global economy $8.8 trillion dollars.” That’s a staggering number.
As it relates to your own organization, employees who have been with the company for 3 years or longer may begin to show signs of stagnation and/or decline. This is where your efforts to foster engagement really tend to show up.
Where Should You Focus?
The Eddies tend to show a bit more boredom, the need to be challenged and where that sense of community or connection at work should be recognizable. If the work they perform isn’t engaging, it may indicate a ceiling as to how long they’ll be willing to continue doing it. The Eddies tend to feel a bit more entitled.
Jason notes that this group tends to split into those who are comfortable doing the job they were hired to do, and those who are looking for new challenges and could potentially be your future leaders. Is there upward mobility available for them? Are they being promoted?
Now that you’ve invested your time and effort in getting them to this point, how to you keep them?
Turnover Data May Not Be the Best Indicator
Jamie explains that your data may miss the mark on this issue, with this particular employee segment. The group may be eligible for tenure-based incentives (i.e. more money, vesting, additional vacation time, etc.). Nevertheless, it doesn’t really capture whether they actually like being here and performing the required tasks.
Molley addresses the turnover issue. If your organization has high numbers, but they’ve continued to show up to work, they may naturally develop a sense of entitlement because they are the ones “keeping the doors open around here.” This issue can present its own risks and challenges.
If that tenured employee is involved in training others, is the training program and/or material effective? Is it the person doing the training? It could be a combination of factors.
The group discusses some of their personal experiences related to the above issues. The concept of golden handcuffs doesn’t lead to inspiration. It simply means the employee is showing up because they may not feel equal or better opportunities may not exist outside of the organization.
Molley points out how having an engaged leader who was willing to assist in your development (almost as a mentor), would have been a way to maintain her engagement and job-satisfaction. Some employees will show up and do the work, but are they actually enjoying it? What could the company do to focus on that aspect with your 3 year and longer employee-segment?
The Importance of Introspection
Jason builds off of Molley’s comments. Some people aren’t naturally introspective. But when it comes to keeping an individual feeling challenged and engaged, taking time to interact and help them think about how they are actually feeling about their role, contribution and future might provide valuable insights.
Jamie notes that when people appear to be disengaged, usually because they’re complaining, are still in the game. They may be trying to show that they really care about what’s going on. It’s the ones who go silent that you should be concerned about. Have they given up? You need to explore what’s on their minds to show you still care about them, at this stage in their tenure.
The simple act of asking, can make someone feel valued. You took the time to check-in and have an honest discussion, or at least to provide them with the opportunity to do so. That can have a positive effect on the individual. Remember to be genuine in this approach. It shouldn’t be viewed as a tactic. Don’t give the impression you’re just checking off boxes on a list and today that person’s name came up. Authenticity matters.
Look for Organizational Milestones
Recognizing milestones can work to reignite that seemingly lost excitement. Jason offers ways you can help discuss the advantages of organizational changes either in structure or leadership. Bring the conversation down to how this might be able to benefit a particular person, group of people or even a department as a whole.
It’s important to find the positive aspects of the change. You’re looking for ways to get your Steady Eddies back into that “newly wed” phase of their company experience.
Jamie urges us not to overlook the work required to set the foundation enabling you, as an HR manager or similar role, to have rigorous candor with your workforce. There are going to be unknowns tied to any change. When you’re trying to communicate the positive aspects of the change, you need to be sure it doesn’t come across as what Jamie terms, “corporate gaslighting.”
Molley points out the disconnect between the common understanding that most people hate change. Yet, when the new iPhone comes out, they flock to it. What explains this? Jamie offers that Apple has provided an exciting product that you can unpack and easily figure out. You can’t do that with a new organizational leader or a departmental supervisor. The unknowns overshadow the potential upside.
What Are Your Eddies Looking For?
Many are looking for or anticipating new challenges. They may be feeling ready to take on a leadership position. Does your organization these opportunities? If you’ve spoken with your employees about a career path, but then overlook them when they should have been considered, it’ll be seen as a letdown or a failure on a commitment.
Is there a way to give them some flexibility for more work-life balance? The person you hired 3 years ago (or longer) may be in a different phase of life now. The same incentives you offered in the earlier years may not feel as relevant to them today.
Tolerance can also become an issue. Early on, the employee may have been willing to shoulder more of the responsibility for the things he/she didn’t know how to do or understand. In this more tenured phase, however, if they are still feeling confused or if they aren’t getting the answers they need, they’ll shift the blame onto the organization.
One Size Fits All Benefits Plan
While a general plan can be more easily administered, it can’t possibly work for each employee in the same way or be viewed with the same value. It’s not uncommon for medium-sized organization to have a range of 5 different generations in the workforce, at the same time. There’s no way for a one size fits all benefits plan to work well.
As employers, you need to find a way to target aspects of the benefits plan so that are considered valuable to the individual segments. But how do you figure out what is needed or desired in a benefits plan? The answer is quite simple. The organization needs to ask the workforce what they’d like to see or have by way of employee benefits.
The three groups (0-6 months, 6-months to 3 years, and those who have been there 3 years or longer), are different. Engagement data can still provide helpful insights. But it’s important to view the data by the tenure segments. Can you identify ways to engage the individuals by offering opportunities they can learn about or explore?
E-learning, such as LinkedIn Learning, can be easily incorporated into employee programs. Continuing education is a terrific benefit, but recognize that employees strongly feel the expense should be the responsibility of the employer, not the employee. The C-Suite often feels it’s not their responsibility to cover the cost of continuing education opportunities. That’s a significant disconnect.
Upskilling your employees should always be seen as a good investment for the organization. Consider celebrating an individual employee when he/she completes an e-learning course and receives a certificate. They can also be useful in your performance reviews.
Remember, if your company fails to provide this type of paid-for investment in an individual’s skill set, that person may decide to seek out an organization that will.
Why Do People Leave?
Molley closes out the file with a question. Recruiting begins with retention, so why do people leave? The answers may be different for each of the 3 tenure segments. However, if your company or organization can’t answer this question, it’s time to begin finding out the answers. You have 3 professionals on this podcast who can help you to figure it out. We can help.
That’s where we’ll leave the conversation for today. Before we close the file, we invite you to reach out to us with questions, suggestions or other comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Need Help Supporting Your Company’s Recruiting and Staffing Goals?
We’re here to help. You can contact us via our individual websites, depending on your specific needs or questions:
- Jamie Swaim, SPHR – www.ParcelKnows.com
- Molley Ricketts – www.IncipioWorks.com
- Jason Heflin – www.CrowdSouth.com
We hope you found this file insightful and helpful. Thank you for listening!
By Jason Heflin
Jason Heflin is one of CrowdSouth’s owning Partners and brings years of marketing experience from his past lives as a corporate marketing manager, writer, and freelancer. He also plays the ukulele for fun, which is cool.