Time to Rethink Employee Engagement Strategies

Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight

Companies today must rethink their employee engagement strategies and communication techniques. This means going beyond what was a typical employee/employer affiliation in order to attract and retain top talent. Fortunately, there are technologies on the market that make this easier, and which can improve every facet of the employee communications lifecycle.

Interview/onboarding

Finding the right employees begins with the job description. On one hand, employers should attempt to put their best foot forward, offering a glimpse into the positive aspects of working with the company. On the other, employers must be realistic about what the role, and expected career path, might look like. One tool that’s becoming more common across the recruiting (and overall) landscape is Grammarly, a proofing and editing software that uses AI to help improve writing and persuasiveness. More than ever, job descriptions must be about effectively communicating a vision, and this tool helps recruiters encourage prospective employees

More resumes, however, does not always mean more quality candidates, making it so recruiters should consider some sort of applicant tracking system, which can help separate the cream of the crop. Bullhorn is particularly effective, in that it removes many of the application hurdles; we’ve all applied for a role through services that ask you to upload a resume, which is promptly sliced and diced incorrectly, at which point we need to key in all the relevant information. While making it easier for candidates, Bullhorn also enables recruiters and HR leaders to sort candidates based on the criteria of their choosing.

When it comes to making an actual offer, many organizations are now trying to create a more professional look, as opposed to using company letterhead and sending a word doc attachment. Canva is one tool that allows anyone to create amazing looking documents. It offers a free version, as well as templates that can help the least tech-savvy among us build amazing documents.

Of course, once an offer is made and accepted, there is the onboarding process to consider. In an episode of How I Made This, Stewart Butterfield discusses how Slack was originally built as a way to maintain (and share) institutional knowledge. After all, if a question has been answered in Slack, a user can search for its answer with ease.

Current employees 

Once an employee has come on board and hopefully gathered lots of important information, companies must realize that retention efforts are just getting started. One way to retain talent is to instill a sense of company pride, which can be accomplished through a number of technologies, with one of the simplest being LinkedIn. HR departments that regularly feature employee events and gatherings, charitable initiatives, leadership thoughts and even work anniversaries can help to facilitate a corporate image that makes employees proud to work at an organization.

WeWork seems to have established an expectation of alcohol being acceptable in work environments (to be clear, beer fridges and wine tastings were a corporate staple long before coworking became common, but the idea of never-ending beer supplies became much more mainstream when WeWork started advertising it as a perk). As such, many HR teams have come to love services like Uber, which enable them to ensure employees can get home safely on the occasion where they have perhaps overdone it. Many organizations today offer ride-sharing services to all their major events.

Of course, not everyone enjoys drinking, and there has started to be a movement to find other means of employee activity. Let’s Roam is carving out a niche as a team building platform that offers scavenger hunts around cities. Amazon and Google are among the companies that have used the service for employee events.

Regarding other perks that employees have come to expect, the ability to work from home regularly ranks among the top considerations. After many, MANY attempts to build video conferencing solutions, Zoom seems to have finally built a platform that works well on all platforms (Windows, Mac, and Chrome) and enables remote workers to “be there in person” when it is necessary.  

Departing employee 

Companies must remember that employees who are leaving their role are often a tremendous resource. If they’ve been treated well, they can be a source or referrals for new hires and can actively help an organization look more attractive. Employees that have given their notice and are on their way out the door tend to be incredibly honest about giving feedback. While exit interviews are encouraged, there isn’t always time for them. One way to encourage feedback is through the use of Google Forms, which enable non-technical individuals to easily create web-based forms to gather information. Data is then stored in a spreadsheet or document, and therefore available to be reviewed at a later date.

For employees that are leaving on good terms, HR leaders should consider asking for a review on Glassdoor.  Prospective employees are doing more research than ever before, and peer reviews are gaining traction as the most important source of information candidates will consider before even applying.

Oftentimes, employees will have some sort of expense report that they need to fill out after they have left. Expensify is one solution that makes it incredibly easy for employees to submit these reports, simply by taking pictures of receipts and emailing them into the service. Failure to pay seemingly small expenses can leave a bad taste in a former employee’s mouth and tends to dramatically impact whatever goodwill the employee is leaving with. Also, while this is not legal advice, it is possible that failure to pay might negate specific clauses in a departure agreement (such as a non-compete clause).

Speaking of departure agreements, HR teams can incorporate eSignature solutions like those offered by DocuSign, in order to dramatically cut down on paperwork and printing, as well as storage for physical files.

Many of today’s employees have been conditioned to believe that companies are responsible for providing more than a paycheck. This means building pride over an organization’s mission and how it treats its people. However, not every organization has learned to effectively communicate their approach. Fortunately, there are technologies available that help employers more effectively convey their employee relations approach.


About the Author: Zoe Connolly is the co-founder and managing director for Hospitality Spotlight, a full service executive search firm for the hospitality and travel industries. For more than a decade, she’s pioneered innovative and proactive recruiting efforts, connecting the best talent with the best companies, across all levels of organizations. In her career, Ms. Connolly has worked with a variety of companies, from startups to Fortune 500 firms. For more information, visit www.hospitalityspotlight.com 
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