My inbox and timeline are consistently filled with employee engagement tips. Every day I get something from a vendor or two trying to pitch an HR Tech tool to solve employee engagement or a white paper on effective employee engagement strategy. No matter how well written or how well thought out these tools are, they almost always miss an important factor.
You can’t solve employee engagement without the employee. I know you just rolled your eyes (I can see you) because we already know this, but I see it all the time. You have a meeting with great discussion about what to roll out next, how to bridge the gap, and timelines for the next three emails but you still don’t include the employees. If you do include employees you get feedback and say “oh, we can’t do that” and immediately pivot and go in another direction. Your employees deserve more information though, why can’t we do that?
The absolute number one thing missing from a more effective employee engagement strategy is you knowing and understanding what the employees at your organization do. No one believes that you value them once they figure out that, at best, you know their job title. No value, no engagement. When you roll out initiatives that have nothing to do with actual employee pain points, you are likely making engagement worse. You shouldn’t make employees adapt to how corporate wants things done and figure out how to serve your customers; you should let your employees serve your customers and let corporate adapt to the needs of the employees.
Throwing an ice cream social or sending company swag or buying a new tech tool only puts a band-aid over the real issue. Put the brakes on all the planning you’re doing right now and take some time to get to know your employees. Really find out about the work they do, and why they do it. Build from there. Then at your next ice cream social (if you must have one), celebrate their work, celebrate them.
I’ll always tell y’all that we over-complicate the HR function, we add unnecessary layers and extra meetings but employee engagement talk has gone too far off path. You can’t solve your employee engagement issues by talking to other HR Pros if you haven’t talked to your employees first. When you do talk to your employees, make sure you listen- don’t explain away their feedback and mold it to fit what you think the problem is, really listen to them. I’m telling you once you build this foundation, your employee engagement has potential to soar. That’s when you need to consider the tech tools to ENHANCE it, don’t kid yourself for one second into thinking that technology = engagement because it does not. Its only a piece of the puzzle and no one is really interested in using your tech tool if they know you aren’t really interested in them.
Recruiter A gets hired in 2006. Recruiter A has seven years of experience and a bachelors in history. Recruiter A is offered a salary of $53,000
Recruiter B is offered $50,000 in 2016 with ten years of experience and a bachelors in human resource management and two hr certifications.
Recruiter A is a male, Recruiter B is a female. There is a ten-year gap in the offers and the amount has decreased. There are more variables that impact the salaries offered to Recruiter A and Recruiter B, but the glaring difference is gender. Recruiter B brought more HR knowledge and expertise to the existing group than Recruiter A had, allowing Recruiter B to fill other voids when necessary. Both recruiters had their start in “temp staffing” before joining the same company. The same department manager was in place and made the offers to Recruiter A and Recruiter B. At the time of hire neither recruiter is asked to show past results. That department manager making the offers is a female if anyone is curious.
If you haven’t experienced gender pay gap than great, but just because you haven’t seen it does not mean it doesn’t exist. A quick google will give you a variety of resources to investigate the gender pay gap for yourself. There are a variety of reasons for why a gender pay gap exists. A glaring reason is lack of a compensation strategy (though some companies strategy is to hire women because they will work harder for less money, but that’s not the kind of strategy I want to encourage). I’ve seen plenty of hiring managers make an offer to a candidate based on what they made at their last position combined with what they are asking for. While I can argue that this makes sense there are impacts that must be considered when making this decision. Someone needs to ask questions like, but not limited to, the following:
“What is the goal of our compensation strategy and is this in line with it?”
“Will this salary negatively impact the employee at pay increase time?”
“Will this salary negatively impact the employee at pay increase time?”
“Will this change the compensation plot for the group I manage?”
“Will this restrict future opportunities for them?”
“Would I pay someone of the opposite sex the same amount of money?”
I have some reservations over complete pay transparency, but I want to ask you as a manager if Recruiter B finds out all of this information, can you explain the answer? Is there a chunk of experience that is missing? References that aren’t as glowing as Recruiter A? Financial challenges that the company didn’t have 10 years ago? Whatever it is, are you ready to have a conversation about it (and possibly help Recruiter B grow)?
Occasionally I’m faced with a group of students dreaming about their career path in the wonderful world of HR seeking advice from some of us experienced HR pros. I always ask the same question to these advice seekers… “Why did you choose HR?” and a lot of times people cannot answer that question or worse they give a bad answer. More specifically when someone wants advice on how to land a job as a recruiter I ask this question “Why do you want to be a recruiter” …. [pause…think…word vomit]… “I LOVE PEOPLE”. Let me be completely real with you guys… I hate that answer. I cannot stand that answer. When someone says that is why they want to recruit (or work in HR) I immediately start thinking of not for profit organizations they could work for that LOVE PEOPLE. Loving people isn’t going to make you an above average recruiter; in fact it could do quite the opposite to your recruiting career. I notice that people who just love people are interested in helping people and willing to fall for their stories. Tim Sackett’s compilation of candidate lies for example; a person who does recruiting because they love people are seriously more apt to fall for these and continue to deal with these rotten apples.
Why do I recruit? I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I get the opportunity to match a client and an employee up that are perfect match! I love to see the way a person’s life can change when they get to work a job that they are specifically a fit for from skills to culture and the positive impact it has on their home life. I enjoy the occasional thank you letter from candidates for working on placing them in their position. I enjoy when a hiring manager brags on the candidates I selected for them to interview. I have a heart for successful business. I believe anything is possible when you piece together the right team and I enjoy helping hiring managers and companies identify the right components and strategize to make the most of their new hires and existing team. I recruit because I love the positive impact recruiting has when done correctly. I do not recruit because I love people, in fact I may not even love people all that much.
So let me leave you with this… why do you recruit or why do you want to recruit?