Learning & Development

4 Steps HR Leaders Must Take to Keep Pace with Shifting Employee Expectations

Half of employees say the coronavirus pandemic changed their expectations of their employers. Employees are now spending more time contemplating what they expect in the future of work and what to focus on to achieve it, and this new era of mindfulness has been dubbed the “Great Reflection.” And with recession fears in many industries, the pendulum is shifting again on employee/employer expectations. As a result, we’re increasingly at an inflection point on employee expectations.

Despite this dynamic, the number of employees who want to work for an organization that cares about the issues that matter most to them, like diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives, has increased dramatically, especially among younger generations. In fact, three out of four employees consider a diverse workforce an essential factor when evaluating job opportunities and companies. And more than half of Gen Z workers refuse to work for a company that doesn’t share their values.

Regardless of generation, people feel more motivated when they feel connected, empowered, valued, and engaged within their work environment. To meet workers’ expectations and create more robust engagement initiatives, HR leaders should follow these four steps.

Eliminate Data Silos

Organizations need a unified picture of their organizations for day-to-day management and strategic decision-making. The HR tech explosion has increased the prevalence of people data silos. Verticalized solutions, for example, create gaps and inconsistencies across systems.

Furthermore, many companies still rely on antiquated strategies that lack people data, like spreadsheets, which are error-prone, time-consuming, and difficult to maintain.

However, when HR leaders consolidate people data into a single source of truth, they gain the ability to:

  • Promote transparency and alignment across stakeholders.
  • Enable fair and equitable compensation practices by monitoring compensation trends by gender, ethnicity, or other factors.
  • Track the progress of DEIB initiatives, and identify gaps in the diversity of their workforce.

The increased visibility of a single source of truth provides benefits to leaders, but it should also benefit employees.

Ensure People Data Works for Employees, Not Just Employers

When HR leaders share more data across their organization, they upend the idea of people data. Instead, leaders should use people data to empower and support their employees.

Organizations taking an employee-first approach to people data help their employees better understand:

  • What goals they need to achieve to deliver results,
  • How their work contributes to their organization’s bigger picture, and
  • How to stay connected with the rest of their organization.

Increased transparency also inspires employees to accomplish their goals without micromanagement.

Track HR Metrics

After eliminating data silos and improving transparency, organizations should start tracking HR metrics to make informed decisions and transformative shifts within the workplace. These four metrics allow organizations to gain critical insights about their people.

  • Training time per employee: More than 75% of employees find a company more appealing if it offers additional skills training to its staff. Organizations therefore need to analyze training metrics because if employees don’t see their employers investing in their future, they’ll look for another company that will. Opportunities like seminars, speakers, and tuition reimbursement, for example, help employees advance their knowledge and skill sets.
  • Promotion rate: By promoting employees internally, companies see reduced onboarding costs and increased employee satisfaction. Employees stay two times longer at companies with high internal mobility compared with those without. Organizations should view their promotion rate alongside other HR metrics, like external hires versus internal promotions. Leaders who hire external candidates to fill open positions before evaluating current employees need to shift their focus and examine hiring practices altogether.
  • Employee turnover rate: A high turnover rate can point to red flag issues with a team, a manager, or an entire company. Organizations should use exit interviews as an opportunity to see what commonalities employees share. If they all have the same manager or are part of the same team, leaders have more context within which to address employee retention efforts.
  • Employee net promoter score (eNPS): Organizations can assess employee engagement by issuing an eNPS survey, which gauges how likely employees are to recommend the company as a place to work. Conducting surveys monthly, quarterly, or semiannually creates a long-term view of employee satisfaction for leadership to evaluate and generate insights.

HR leaders can use these metrics to create a more responsive and positive employee experience, from onboarding to day-to-day engagement.

Increase Employee Engagement

Only 21% of employees feel engaged at work, so HR leaders must do everything they can to drive employee engagement, including building a culture of transparency. Transparent environments foster trust, leading to happier employees. Leadership has many tools to create a transparent culture, which:

  • Gives insights into informed decisions,
  • Shares company goals,
  • Pushes for continuous performance reviews,
  • Prioritizes belonging, and
  • Establishes DEIB initiatives and follows through with those initiatives.

Organizations can also drive employee engagement by encouraging a companywide connection. Leaders must create natural opportunities for employee engagement, using strategies like:

  • Lunch groups;
  • Coffee chats;
  • Online communication channels (e.g., Slack and Teams);
  • Teambuilding activities; and
  • Shoutouts and small talk in meetings.

Companies with a remote workforce should also schedule regular in-person retreats. A chance to connect with fellow employees in person aligns employees on shared goals and work culture, rewards employees for their hard work, and creates psychological safety. Psychological safety makes up the foundation of high-performing teams, but only a quarter of leaders create psychological safety for their employees.

The Bottom Line

No one can change what they don’t know about, but by eliminating data silos and making people data available companywide, organizations can empower everyone with the information needed to succeed. Leaders have the metrics to focus on growing and retaining their employees while meeting their needs, and employees will learn how to propel themselves forward within their organization. Of course, organizations must also complement data with a focus on employee engagement and culture to create a lasting companywide connection.

Ian White is the CEO, CTO, and founder of ChartHop, a people analytics platform that transforms the way companies manage and support their people. Previously, he was the founder and CTO of Sailthru, a marketing cloud delivering billions of personalized newsletter e-mails per month for top publishers and e-commerce brands. Before that, White was the first head of engineering at Business Insider and built the publishing platform that powers today’s highest-trafficked business website. Through these experiences, he felt the pains of planning and building a team and wanted to build something better than the spreadsheets and legacy HR systems he’d been struggling with. Thus ChartHop was born to create more informed, empowered, and connected organizations.

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