Blog Engagement

Modern HR: traditional employee engagement vs. how it should be

Traditionally, an employee's commitment was tackled using two approaches: pulse surveys to understand sentiment and performance reviews to track performance. These have served limited use for many decades. Thankfully with the advent of progressive HR practices and learnings as well as the emergence of new supporting technologies, a flood of new tools and methods are available.

How employee engagement has traditionally been measured

Anonymous pulse surveys

It seems that despite their name, engagement surveys often drive disengagement. Classic surveys are cumbersome 50 -100 question affairs, run once or twice a year. They’re time-consuming to run, daunting to complete, and deliver out of date results. Not a very modern approach to HR!

They’re one-directional. Giving leaders snapshot-tin-time insights without any real feedback for the people completing them. They offer very little in the way of transparency and accountability due to their anonymous nature. More often than not, participation rates overshadow both the content of the survey itself and the outcomes it generates.

Annual performance reviews

Performance reviews, love them or perhaps more likely hate them, are an at-least-annual tradition for most companies. It's assumed that high performing employees are highly engaged. But that's not always the case. One does impact the other, but they're not directly correlated.

Often managers don’t have the appropriate time or motivation to prepare. Reviews are susceptible to recency bias. And goals and feedback discussed in the meeting are either out of date. Like employee surveys, the process and completion rates can easily overshadow the content of these meetings.

82% of employees find that performance reviews regularly fail to help them improve their performance with 74% wishing they never had to do another one.

Thankfully with the advent of modern HR practices and learnings as well as the emergence of new supporting technologies, a flood of new tools are available.

The modern way for HR to understand, measure, and impact employee engagement

Modern HR tools that focus on continuous feedback

Great employee engagement is built on open and honest, two-way feedback. But giving and getting feedback isn’t easy. Make sure your employees get the feedback they need to succeed by using the right tools. The right feedback software can help managers become better coaches and employees become better team members.

Employee check-ins are the perfect piece of technology to elicit frequent feedback and power more meaningful 1:1 or review conversations. More modern check-in tools allow your people to share feedback on a regular cadence, in a light touch way that is easy for employees and effective for managers, HR and leadership.

A modern HR strategy focuses on regular or continuous feedback for three reasons :

  1. The door is always open: Employees always have a channel for raising concerns, shouting about successes, or asking for help without having to wait for a scheduled meeting. This helps aid many key elements in our model including recognition, visibility, and autonomy.
  2. Evidence-based information: Managers have an ever-growing flow of information that will help them shape engagement across their teams. It also allows for the gathering of data for more effective performance reviews.
  3. Timing is everything: Research shows that for feedback to be effective in shaping behaviour, it needs to come within 72 hours of the event. Waiting 6 weeks to tell someone their performance wasn’t quite up to standard will likely have close to no impact on future success.

Tools that recognise and reward great work offer a progressive approach

When you want to increase employee engagement, don’t overlook the potency of recognition. Praise is a simple thing to provide but the effects are impressive. Especially when 39% of employees report they do not feel appreciated at work, and 72% of companies agree recognition impacts engagement positively.

Rewards absolutely have a part to play in engagement. But don’t overestimate their impact as a standalone option. Without supporting processes and initiatives, rewards alone offer a short term boost to engagement which can quickly diminish when times are tough.

A modern HR approach prioritises the recognition side of things first, as research has shown that the benefits of a ‘thank you’ from a senior member of staff last far longer than a freebee.

Tools that facilitate better 1:1 conversations

1:1 meetings and performance conversations allow employees and managers to talk in-depth about issues that might not be on the weekly to-do list. This is the time to chat about learning and development, career path, and job satisfaction—all showing care for the employee and a more modern approach to people management.

Engagement software like Weekly10 can take care of the admin side of 1:1 meetings so you can focus on the person by:

  • Facilitating discussions
  • Connecting performance
  • Documenting notes and next steps
  • Reducing time admin prep by 90%

Tools for setting and tracking goals and OKRs support modern business reporting

Whether your business runs on SMART goals or OKR (Objectives and Key Results) implementing goal setting and tracking is vital to giving your people purpose, visibility, and direction.

Companies with clear goal-setting strategies benefit from higher levels of motivation and increased engagement. Modern HR tools offer leadership and managers the ability to involve employees throughout the process, link individual goals to business objectives and adapt goals in real-time.

This excerpt is from our latest best practice guide: Employee Engagement in a Remote Working World. Download your copy using the form below.