Three Ways to Ignite Your Employee-First Strategy

By Julie Rose | Employee Engagement

Apr 16

Three Ways to Ignite Your Employee-First Strategy

You already know it makes sense to put employees first, but sometimes it’s hard to articulate exactly why. The reasons vary widely, ranging from it being far cheaper to keep employees happy and retain them than to hire and train replacements(1) , all the way to the holy grail: the fact that companies with highly satisfied employees actually outperform others in long-run stock returns(2).

Clearly, it pays to focus on your employees’ experience, engagement, and wellbeing. And, while this has always been true, it may be truer today than ever before, with more jobs available than candidates to fill them, thanks to the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years(3). Employees have choices and are demanding to work for companies with purpose(4), a positive culture(5), and a plan for helping them grow and develop(6).

While this is positive news for our workforces, it can feel overwhelming and time consuming for leaders who already have many priorities vying for their attention. We know only about a third of employees are engaged(7); with so many more companies getting this wrong than getting this right, what can be done? LINX WorkForce Innovations has offered many recent thoughts about that; now, we’re following up with three roles a company can play to become more employee centric. Each of these will help you improve your employee experience and give your organization a fighting chance at winning the war for talent.

Become a Knowledge Seeker
You know the saying, “Knowledge is power,” right? Well, it truly is. You can’t become an employee-first organization until you know your employees better than you know any other stakeholder group. And that can only be done by taking the time to go deep with employees, uncovering insight about their experience so you can make improvements that tackle the real issues. Listening to employees also provides a view of their entire experience. It goes beyond employee satisfaction or engagement to include all of their perceptions about the interactions they have with your company. From there, you can take action to address the things employees care about most. This is why LINX WorkForce Innovations exists – we help our clients do exactly that.

Become a Trust Builder
The next step is to build trust with your employees. You might expect me to start listing ways you can win your employees’ confidence, but I’m going to suggest something that might be surprising: it starts with you. As in, your company must trust its employees before your employees can start to trust the company. How does this work? Begin by giving employees structured autonomy – check out our ideas for how to do that. From there, focus on helping your company do what it says it’s going to do. When things change – which they inevitably will – and you can no longer deliver on a promise you’ve made, be upfront with employees about why. They’ll notice and the foundation for a trusted relationship will be laid.

Become a Value Creator
Finally, ensure your employees share in the value your company generates – there’s no greater return on investment you could make. While many companies think first about bringing returns to shareholders, I love Simon Sinek’s take on this, reminding us that shareholders are “short-term renters” and employees should be the most important audience for companies. What does this look like? One of the biggest ways companies can create value for their employees is by investing in their careers – in fact, 94% of employees say they’d stay longer as a result(8). This takes shape in many ways, from formal development plans for each employee to regular performance-related conversations and training to develop their skills.

If your company starts taking steps to become a knowledge seeker, a trust builder, and a value creator, it will naturally become more employee focused. LINX WorkForce Innovations recommends pursuing this as if your success depends on it – because it does!

1Center for American Progress: There Are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees
2Harvard Business Review: 28 Years of Stock Market Data Shows a Link Between Employee Satisfaction and Long-Term Value
3NPR: U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.7 Percent, Lowest in Nearly 50 Years
4Harvard Business Review: The Business Case for Purpose
5Workplace Culture Trends: The Key to Hiring (and Keeping) Top Talent in 2018
6Ceridian’s 2018 Pulse of Talent survey of 2,000 North American employees
7Gallup, State of the American Workplace, 2017
8LinkedIn 2018 Workplace Learning Report

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About the Author

Julie is an executive with a proven track record for brand building and team building. She is skilled at leveraging disparate resources to unlock new insights and create human-centric strategies. She has held several client service roles in her career and is adept at working collaboratively to set clear goals and deliver on expectations.