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Employee Engagement for the Win: How HR Professionals Can Tackle 2018’s Most Pressing Challenges

The 2018 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition is the world’s largest event for human resource professionals. While the conference featured over 200 speakers on topics ranging from skills-and-competency based hiring to standing desks, the struggle to recruit and engage employees defined the conference.

See what you missed from the 2018 SHRM Conference:

Challenges and Solutions for Human Resource Professionals in 2018

1) Finding and recruiting talent is a top challenge

While the record-low 3.9% unemployment rate in the United States can be viewed as positive for employees, these numbers are a bit of a double-edged sword for companies.

Low unemployment often reflects a strong and thriving economy but also means that employers have to compete harder than ever for skilled employees. Organizations often have to make concerted efforts to raise wages, offer better benefits and provide the professional opportunities that will attract top talent.

2) Organizations are struggling to retain and engage employees

The desperation to build employee engagement was palpable at the conference – sessions discussing employee engagement were packed.

For those familiar with the 2018 Worldcom Confidence Index Report, this should come as no surprise. The report declared 2018 the “Year of the Employee” due to the challenge leaders across the globe are facing not only competing for talent, but also energizing current employees.

Those challenges are compounded by a lack of resources and strategy to facilitate engagement, ineffective communication within the organization and more. Leaders are hungry for solutions to these challenges to boost engagement levels.

3) The solution: Focus on organizational culture

HR professionals recognize that the solution to both attract and engage employees is to create an organizational culture that employees want to be a part of.

Steve Browne, a member of the SHRM Board of Directors, gave an insightful presentation on this concept, particularly in multi-generational workplaces. He argues that employees, regardless of age, ultimately want the same thing from their employers.

In the address, Browne presented a metaphor to demonstrate this point. Records, cassette tapes, CDs, mp3 players and smart phones all demonstrate how technology has evolved through generations. Despite these generational differences, each device was created for the same purpose and often even play the same music.

Much like these audio devices, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials may seem like they are vastly different on the surface, but the reality is that all employees want the same thing: To be involved and valued within the organization.

Research has shown that companies that give employees a voice within the organization and opportunities to shape the organizational culture see higher employee satisfaction and engagement.

So, what is preventing organizations from building this type of culture for their employees?

The Missing Link: Questions to Ask to Improve Employee Engagement and Recruitment

While the conference featured a wealth of insights, leaders may still be unsure of how to put these ideas into action. Some of the topics discussed at the SHRM conference were largely theoretical in nature, while others were so specific that they were only suitable for particular types of organizations.

Regardless of what type of business you’re in, the first step towards improving employee engagement and recruitment involves honest reflection and assessment of where your organization stands currently. Consider these questions:

  • What’s the current state of communication – as a business process – in your organization?
  • Are leaders, managers and supervisors doing the things that promote employee awareness, knowledge, understanding and action?
  • Do employees speak up and speak out productively and respectfully? If not, why not?
  • How prepared are leaders, managers and supervisors to engage employees and others in dialogue?
  • To what extent are your organization’s “say” and “do” aligned?

Additional Resources to Aid in Employee Recruitment, Engagement and Retention

The Face2Face program outlines simple tools that help leaders take the first step towards creating a culture that facilitates effective communication. The tools are broadly applicable – professionals from entire government departments to small teams of corporate executives have improved their organizational culture and communication using the F2F tools.

If you’re looking for a simple way to get started, download the free Face2Face eBook to learn the tools and gain step-by-step guidance on how to use them within your organization.