Lack of engagement and poor employee retention rates are growing global issues in the workplace. Studies and reports conducted by Gallup, Deloitte LLC., and Quantum Workplace, chart employee engagement in 2016 at 30-35%. This means nearly 70% of the time employees are disengaged, and this margin is severely impacting companies’ bottom lines.


Deloitte’s “Human Capital Trends 2016” report, an annual survey of more than 7,000 HR and business leaders globally, outlines four factors responsible for this shift in work demands. The first is a “demographic upheaval.” Millennials now make up more than half of the workforce, and baby boomers are working well into their 70s and 80s. The second factor is, “digital technology is now everywhere.” Technology is disrupting business models and radically changing the way work is done. Third, the “rate of change has accelerated,” meaning our highly connected, fast-changing world requires businesses to be more agile. Lastly, “a new social contract is developing” between companies and workers, which is driving major changes in the employer-employee relationship.

The same report listed the top ten key trends that are creating talent challenges. Last year, “culture and engagement” ranked as the most important issue overall. This year, Deloitte broke apart and surveyed “culture” and “engagement” separately. Both ranked high on the list, with culture ranking third and engagement ranking fourth.

It’s becoming more common that employees maintain high expectations for a rewarding, work experience, constant learning and development opportunities, and dynamic career progression. The days when a majority of workers intended to move up the ladder at one company are over. Young people anticipate working for multiple employers and demand an enriching experience at every stage.

What is Poor Culture and Lack of Engagement Costing You?

Business leaders in enterprise and mid-market organizations need to raise the bar and truly embrace strategies to help build and maintain a great culture. According to Gallup’s 2016 “U.S. Employee Engagement Survey,” employee engagement has topped 33% for the first time since 2012 — coming in at 34.1% in March 2016. While engagement is up slightly from 2015, the numbers are still staggering.

The investment in people may be viewed as an expense on a balance sheet. But, think about this …

Imagine the impact on an organization’s bottom line if the engagement bar was raised just 15 to 20%.

Get the Right People on the Bus

Culture and engagement — top key trends creating talent challenges — are within your control, and it is vital for companies to focus on creating an exceptional workplace to achieve sustainable growth and positive business outcomes. In fact, 82% of respondents to Deloitte’s 2016 “Global Human Capital Trends” survey believe that culture is a potential competitive advantage.

It starts with your hiring process. One toxic employee can have a profound adverse effect on your company culture. Your hiring process should focus on finding people that are a values match first and skills match second. People can learn and improve their skills with the right training, but they will not change character or personality traits to support a positive work environment.

We’ve Seen These Obstacles Before

The similarities between attracting and retaining valued employees and attracting and retaining customers are uncanny. Just as prospective clients will vet your company and perform their due diligence researching your capabilities, new talent is doing the same. Similarly, just as a new client, new employees need to be nurtured and empowered to guarantee employee engagement and ultimately raise the bottom line.

This is essentially the same model used in the marketing sales funnel — generate leads and then nurture ongoing relationships for continual output.

rc-realculturevsstockculture-700x400Here’s How to Raise the Bar

Invest in Recruitment Marketing
Do you want to hire and retain top talent? If your answer is yes, you need to create a recruitment marketing plan that mirrors the tactics you utilize to attract and retain customers. Make this investment into your team. Ultimately, the expense will pay for itself with fewer employee turnovers and more profitable engagements.

Tell Your Story
Recruitment marketing enables you to tell your brand story and educate potential candidates on what it is like to be a part of your organization. From the details in your job posting to the team page on your website, leverage the opportunity to position your values, vision, and day-to-day experiences.

Ditch the Stock Photography
While they may not be professional models, using real employees on your website helps humanize your company. Authentic photos are relatable to both candidates and potential clients, a win-win!

Capture the Real Experience
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but video experiences allow a candidate to truly see the potential role in action. Letting your team — a candidate’s potential co-workers — describe the hiring role or company culture is a powerful recruiting tactic. Recruitment videography companies, such as Skill Scout and Video Brewery, focus on telling company stories to help you connect with the right employee and reduce time to hire. One customer claimed, “Skill Scout cut time to hire in half. They cut the fat out of the hiring process,” while another stated, “Video paints a better picture than just putting a job description out. Candidates know what the job is when they apply.”

Nurture Talent by Getting Social
Much like a sales lead, not all candidates are ready to jump ship or buy into your brand offering right away. Create ways for them to stay connected to you. Consider using LinkedIn Company Pages or Facebook. These platforms allow you to nurture the relationship by showcasing culture photos, work projects and portfolios, and even causes your company is passionate about.

Know What People Are Saying About You
On the flip side, unsolicited contributors also shape your digital brand image. Websites like Glassdoor and Yelp expose the world to real or disgruntled employees’ versions of your brand story. While hate-fueled feedback is sometimes beyond your control, many of these websites extend the company the option to respond to positive and negative reviews.

How Do You Keep Them Engaged?

Enhance Their Well-Being
Once you have attracted top talent, how do you keep them engaged? To start, if they feel your organization lacks purpose you will be less likely to keep great talent long term. So, define your mission, vision, purpose, goals, values, and initiatives so your employees are clear about their impact on the bigger picture. Similar to a new client experience, when a new person joins your team you must live up to your brand promise and deliver an enriching employee experience.

Instate Recognition Programs
The purpose of an employee recognition program is to recognize and reward work and behaviors that support and further your company’s mission, vision, goals, etc. The MIT Rewards and Recognition Program recommends asking employees how they’d like to be recognized and involving as diverse a group as possible when designing the program. Examples of recognition include company swag, performance bonuses, or presenting some form of symbolic talisman.

Consider Nontraditional Employee Perks
Beyond medical and dental benefits, employees seek companies that provide nontraditional employee perks, creating an atmosphere employees want to spend time in. Glassdoor’s Q3 2015 “Employee Confidence Survey” reports that 79% of employees would prefer new or additional benefits over a pay increase, and of employees between age 18 and 34, 89% favor benefits to a pay raise. Valued perks include: flexible schedules, gym membership or wellness programs, tuition reimbursement, lunch and learns, pets in the office, and company retreats.

Use Tech to Manage Change

Technology can enhance the recruiting experience for HR and the candidate. It can also manage cultural and engagement efforts. Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data, a technology analytics, market research and consulting firm, breaks down HR management software into three categories: core HR tools, talent management tools, and employee engagement tools. While some tools are specific to one category, many overlap, and some even serve all three.

Core tools manage benefits, payroll and compensation, time, attendance, and scheduling. Talent management organizes recruiting, training, performance management, compensation management, succession/leadership planning, and workforce development. Employee engagement tools facilitate employee efforts to sign up for classes, check job openings and requirements, manage time and attendance, and review company benefits. These tools are often mobile accessible to allow for on-the-go collaboration.

Within recent years, a wider array of HR technologies has been made available to mid-sized companies at an affordable rate, such as BambooHR, Namely, and ClearCompany.

Wake Up and Take Action

Outstanding culture and engagement do not happen overnight. Change requires commitment. It needs ongoing investments, evaluations, and improvements. The research shows that the investments you make for your company will pay off with lower turnover and a more productive staff.

Wake up! Create a more engaged workplace. Not only will your employees love to go to work, but you will too.