With the high costs of disengagement and employee turnover, it’s a little wonder that companies are looking for ways to optimize the stages of their employee life cycle. “The cost of disengagement is staggering – it leads to more than $450 billion in lost profits in the U.S. annually!” as per Gallup’s State Of The American Workplace:Employee Engagement Insights For U.S. Business Leaders. According to experts, when it comes to the cost of employee turnover the, “estimates run as high as 150 percent of annual salary!”
The stages of an employee life cycle are defined or named differently across organizations, but this is how employee life cycle looks like in most companies:
While analyzing insights from our clients, at 9Lenses we do a “Tenure Segmentation,” which categorizes the employee life cycle into Less than One year, 1-2 years, 2-4 years and 4+ year. We then track employee engagement through these stages of an employee life cycle using passive engagement measures.
But before we move on any further, here are two theories that you need to know. These theories have been proved time and time again by researches and most of our data-sets confirm them too:
- Engagement is Related to Tenure. Studies have consistently revealed that larger organizations struggle with employee engagement through various stages. “The highest employee engagement occurs in companies employing less than 10 people.” This may be reflected in the growing number of people leaving large companies to either found startups or work for one!
- Engagement Drops. In most cases, employee engagement levels fall as an employee progresses through the employee lifecycle. That is, as an employee’s tenure increases, his/her engagement levels tend drop. But, like any finding, there are exceptions to this one too.
We wanted actionable solutions that will optimize the stages of the employee engagement cycle irrespective of the size of the organization and an employee’s tenure. Armed with these lofty requirements, we asked our 9Lenses analysts to share their recommendations for maximizing the stages of our clients’ employee life cycles. We expected an elaborate list of ideas and actions. Surprisingly, the answer was a set of three simple words! “Listen, Repeat, and Act,” says Tim Snyder, Delivery Lead / Sr. Analyst. “It sounds really straight-forward but it is kind of shocking how many companies either struggle to do this or don’t do this at all.”
When it comes to listening, we don’t mean just hear or pretend to listen. We mean that you should practice strategic listening. You’ll be surprised at the wealth of human data that you have at your disposal to make smart, actionable decisions. Apart from being able to drive strategy, other good things happen when people feel heard. Below is an example of an employee who felt that his management really made the effort to listen through our interview engine.
“Rank Your Experience:Excellent
Tell Us About Your Experience:Love the format and the availability of ‘all answers’ including ‘NO’ for everything. I doubt anybody will actually read what we submit but just the opportunity to submit written thoughts and worries is huge. In the past we would do surveys, have to choose an answer for every question thus, often being forced to choose a ‘wrong’ answer and then we usually had a box at end of survey for ‘comments’, which was inadequate and superfluous. Having the ability to ‘comment’ on each and every section is brilliant.”
Often suggestions, ideas, and feedback can get lost in translation. Repeat what your employees are telling you. True, you cannot repeat every comment coming your way, but analyze the high-level results of what your employees are sharing and repeat it to them. This promotes better alignment and also reduces unnecessary iterations that arise from misunderstanding what is being said.
By repeating, employees actually know that you have listened them and what they say isn’t just going into a black hole.
As the last and might we say, the most crucial step, you need to Act on your human insights. “In my experience, employees who feel they are able to impact outcomes and derive meaning from their work are more engaged in their work. Unfortunately, the longer a person is with a large company, the more likely they are to lose their sense of impact and experience diminished meaning from their work. Leaders who are able to connect concrete action to employee input can improve engagement overall,” says Tim.
Thus by listening, repeating and acting, you maximize your employee life cycle in two ways:
1. Drive higher employee engagement levels at every stage of the employee life cycle. This makes employees more productive through the various stages.
2. Increase the the tenure of employment (or duration of the employee life cycle) – the last time we checked, the more engaged an employee, the longer he/she stays with a company! In addition, the costs of high employee churn can be staggering, not only impacting a company’s bottom line, but also organizational culture and employee morale.
Here’s a scatter chart of one of our Fortune 500 clients who truly follow the “Listen, Repeat and Act” rule. The chart shows the engagement of employees from a wide variety of tenure. You will find that irrespective of their tenure and also the size of the organization, the engagement levels are higher.
On a closing note, we would like highlight some challenges to maximizing the employee life cycle:
Getting started: If your organizational culture does not promote bilateral communication, getting started would be harder than companies that embrace employee feedback.
Scale: “There is a problem of scale in larger firms,” says Tim. This makes the “Listen, Repeat and Act cycle more complex.”
Tenure:It is human nature to get bored as time passes, if the very nature of the job isn’t challenging enough of your employees, using “Listen, Repeat and Act,” may not be as effective in optimizing the employee life cycle, especially as an employee’s tenure matures.
All the best in maximizing your employee lifecycle!
Employee Life Cycle Image Source:TalentCircles.com