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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, January 20, 2019 1:00 am

Report offers tips on how to keep workers more engaged

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Employees want to learn and grow.

For managers, that should be good news.

Workplaces that focus on learning and development will be taking at least one step toward getting it right this year, according to a recent report titled “5 Best Practices for Engaging Employees in 2019.” That was also the topic of a December webinar.

Each year, industry experts and research firms publish trend reports highlighting new ideas that “will shake up and excite the HR industry,” YouEarnedIt and HighGround said in the 5 Best Practices report.

YouEarnedIt is a software company focusing on employee engagement, performance management and other data. HighGround is an employee-engagement platform.

They developed their best practices list after combing through other reports and coming up with advice employers can use to create positive business outcomes.

The global market for education and skill development solutions is more than $400 billion, according to one analysis by Deloitte, the report said. And 88 percent of organizations offer e-learning.

But that doesn't mean the training attempts are working. Many learning and development initiatives fail to engage employees because the information being shared isn't relevant – often geared toward compliance and business practices. Sometimes it's also outdated.

The best learning and development programs ensure information is relevant and rewarding toward employees' careers, the Best Practices report said.

That was the first tip.

The second best practice involves asking more from your insights.

HR technology can now “tell you who your most engaged employees are, plot individual or company goals in real time, and alert you to suspicious activity at the company,” the report said.

The third best practice involves making HR a “champion for your business.” HR staffs should bring a sales and marketing approach to recruiting and a customer experience approach to employee engagement, along with a C-Suite acumen to any HR technology purchases.

HR professionals are being asked to look past compliance needs and find out what really engages employees, boosts retention and improves operations, “making them the future champions of the business,” the report said.

Those recommendations lead to the fourth best practice: putting the employee experience front and center. Some tools and apps companies are investing in for wellness, rewards, recognition and other efforts geared toward company culture are not easy to adopt and often ineffective.

And the fifth best practice calls on managers to “save the (work) environment.” The report said 2018 ushered in the “death knell” for one of the most common work environments – the open office plan. Once thought to spur collaboration and productivity, it turns out these set-ups often lead to less productive workplaces.

The tide doesn't have to turn completely, reverting “all the way back to cubicle farm offices,” the report said. That's especially true for workplaces where a renovation budget hardly exists.

“A few simple changes can strike an ideal balance between privacy, productivity, and collaboration,” the Best Practices report said.

Certain areas could be clearly designated for collaboration and for privacy. Employers could also consider adding noise-canceling headphones to your company swag or employee rewards catalog.

“These will help with concentration while serving as 'do not disturb' signals to coworkers,” the report said.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/.