Employee Appreciation Day? You’re Better Off Making it the Way You Do Business

February 28, 2019

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Today like never before, talent is at a premium. U.S. unemployment rates are reaching record lows, creating one of the most competitive labor markets in memory. Employers face significant challenges attracting – and keeping – a diverse talent base as workers have more options and higher standards now than any time in recent history. Beyond affecting retention, internal culture increasingly is becoming a scrutinized facet of companies’ external brands with the potential to influence – both positively and negatively – business results and market value.

Consumer expectations never have been higher for companies to act in alignment with their own values. In the 2018 FleishmanHillard Authentic Insights study, 47 percent of consumers said they are less likely to purchase from companies believed to behave in ways that are in conflict with their brands and corporate values.1 And with the lines between internal and external company news growing thinner by the day, how businesses treat their workers is magnified in plain view for the world to see.

Investing in engaging and aligning employees with the company’s strategic priorities and business goals is non-negotiable for the organizations that want to lead their industries and sectors. To attract and retain top talent, an exceptional employee experience must be a way of life, not just an annual holiday – especially if the organization seeks to be an employer of choice featured on the coveted top employer lists.

It all starts with ensuring employees feel valued … day in and day out:

Foster a sense of belonging

People do their best work when they feel safe to express their opinions, challenge the status quo, take creative risks and be their authentic selves. To bring out the best in your employees, be open to new ideas and perspectives, and celebrate the diverse people who bring them to you. If you don’t already have such a program, consider developing and sharing your company’s vision and philosophy for creating a diverse and inclusive work environment, and offer training to ensure your leaders, managers and employees understand not just why diversity and inclusion are important, but also how to behave in a way consistent with these values.

Actively listen and share

Employees need to know their voices matter and their feedback can impact change. Create an ongoing, authentic dialogue between employees and leaders by providing frequent feedback opportunities – from skip-level meetings to Ask Me Anything sessions to pulse surveys and beyond. Ask leaders to consistently share the feedback they receive and lay out specific plans for how they’ll address it. This active listening and vulnerability pays off by demonstrating that senior leaders care about their employees’ experience and ensuring they feel heard.

Grow your people

Few things inspire loyalty like knowing that a clear career path and opportunities for personal and professional growth exist in one’s job. Prioritize training, creating cross-functional learning opportunities and succession planning to ensure top talent can find challenging, rewarding options at every stage of their development. Additionally, publicize the ways you make it easier for employees to grow, including mentoring programs, internal reskilling efforts and benefits, such as tuition reimbursement. Finally, train managers on performance management and how to have meaningful dialogues with employees about their career goals.

In the end, if you take prioritizing your employees seriously, they’ll show you appreciation by sticking around and giving their all, and your customers might just show their appreciation by being loyal fans of your brand. Just remember the celebration of your people is a year-long event.

1TRUE Global Intelligence. Authentic Insights Survey. 2018. https://fleishmanhillard.com/