Panel Discussion 1: Improve Your Employee Engagement, Growth, & Retention
Have you recently asked yourself “what’s next” when it comes to connecting your employees together while WFx (working from anywhere)? Thank you for joining us for the “Employee Engagement vs Engaging Employees With Technology” panel on 11-10-22 from LinkedIn Live, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live! This was our first time streaming in this manner and although we didn’t quite hit a million live viewers, we were close (sort of). We were joined by some great people to share their insights, perspectives, and experiences in the HR space.
- Megan Wollerton, Owner of Life Force Wellness
- Wes Mason, Chief Sales Office, Principle Strategies
- Pete Schramm, Founder & CEO of Lattitude (big time Steelers fan)
- Host: Matt McHale, CEO of ArcaSys Marketing (and a Phillies fan)
- Lessons learned and insights across industries to retain top talent and knowledge
- What to think about when getting started with tech in the workplace – save you time!
- Questions to ask when evaluating tech options
- Effective new program integration strategies -when/how to kick off programs
Deeper Discussion Details
What influenced you to dive into the topic of employee engagement?
- Megan – Not having any time at home. Hit rock bottom at work – it was a nasty spot, marriage on the rocks. I had my aha moment, got out and started my own company to help others avoid these PTSD moments and I have made it my mission to bring quality wellness into corporations.
- Wes – Being thrust into a leadership position early and not having the tools I needed, then realizing there weren’t career tracks for other people that wanted to follow in the same footsteps as I did. I had to make things to be better. We had great employees and leadership was asking so much of them, but what were we really giving back to them? What tools were we giving them? How were we really supporting them, not only in terms of their day to day work and being good at their job, but their career track? What do they want to do next? Are we showing them that we care about their future and their future and organization? Taking active participation in leadership roles and creating opportunities for that for people who hopefully didn’t go through what I went through was very important.
- Pete – People changed my life! Grew up on a farm (yes, we know that PETE!) to working in defense contracting – growing personally and professionally along the way. None of this would have been possible without the amazing mentors, leaders, coaches, bosses, peers, buddies, around the organizations that I worked at. This is why I love this space, because we have the opportunity to positively influence and impact so many different lives. This great thing happened to me – how do we make it possible for others to find build achieve their dreams, with a little bit of structure? My goal is to provide a couple of shortcuts along the way to them.
Lessons you learned from the the industries that you’ve worked in – retaining good people and knowledge within within those companies?
- Megan – Even if it’s a bad work environment, if there’s strong connections and good relationships, it can really turn it around it can really retain employees for better or worse. We’re going through hell, let’s keep going through hell together (Matt).
- Wes – Not just individual relationships, but creating a connected network, whether it’s a personal board of advisors, with mentors among our colleagues; good relationships and with our managers or directors – taking the time to communicate is imperative. It comes down to relationships, communication, and being able to be a little bit vulnerable, especially in some of those toxic environments to discuss what’s bothering you, but more importantly, how can you make it better?
- Pete – We all talk about it. We really want to add some structure, add rigor, so we can repeatedly do these good actions with reminders. The concept of a personal board of advisors helps a ton; these 6-8-10 people that I go to for specific purposes. We’re working through issues good bad with those people – in the trenches. Once we have a process we will continue to improve if we’re not measuring it, and we can’t really get better.
One thing you learned – hands on, or through watching someone else do it…Thinking “Oh, shoot” let’s never do THAT again.
- Pete – Going into a new role, guns blazing and trying to make changes before truly understand what is happening and what is needed. Be honest with yourself “I don’t know everything. I don’t know everybody. I don’t know really what the most important things are not going to change every single thing.” Seeking first to understand is paramount to influence any kind of change, any kind of development, any kind of transformation, organizational, cultural change. Being sponge mode first, whenever you get into these new scenarios and situations.
- Megan – I see that a lot, especially in smaller to midsize organizations. I think because many entrepreneurs really have that mindset of I’m going to take this risk and build the plane on the way down. As your company grows and expands you have to change that mentality because now it’s not just you building the plane, you have teams of people around you, and everyone needs to know their part. Communication and willingness to spell it out for everybody, not just thinking like, I can jump into this taking this risk, really bringing the team into it. I’ve seen a lot of people just take a risk and not let everyone else know hey, we’re going this direction now in everyone’s confused. We need to listen and pay attention even more as our teams grow so that awareness whether it’s self awareness or awareness within the group or the organization becomes so important so you know in terms of what not to do, you can’t give up.
Does this change in small vs medium vs large size organizations?
- Wes – I remember going from a very large hospital to a smaller one. So several 100 beds to a very small rural hospital. I’ll never forget my vice president at the time going. Don’t think it’s easier because it’s smaller. He just kind of gave me this look like yeah, you have no idea, Wes. I think people are people regardless of the size of the organization, and you have to remember that there’s certain tools, there’s certain relationships, and certain ways of doing it, has nothing to do with the size as to the way you take care of your people. Keep addressing the issues in front of you, rather than focusing on the size or the numbers.
What are some things you look for when you’re starting to look for technology for especially especially on point employee engagement? What are some of the things you look for to improve on or to help with that?
- Megan – I always come back to what’s the purpose of the tech in the wellness space. I actually screen my clients thoroughly because I tend to get two types of clients, ones that want to implement a program because they genuinely care about their employees. The ones that take the time to do the training and get them engaged. And then there’s the ones that’s like, Oh, we’re just going to throw this tech out here because the salesman said it’s going to make life easier or check this box that we need to check and so I think it comes down to the purpose. Why are we implementing what we’re about to implement?
- Pete – Leadership buy in. If you didn’t have everybody on board swimming in the right direction, it gets to be very, very difficult. We want to make sure that we get leadership buy in from the top down and input from our people; bottoms up – always clearly communicating.
- Wes – Exactly! Understanding the purpose and allowing for the inclusion from of all your stakeholders, regardless of employee level – it is important to understand why you’re implementing something and then clarify what the goals are. What do you plan to achieve? We’re just doing this because x happened – there’s a long term value to this that will make the organization better.
- Pete – Talk about and agree on what good looks like, define it together. Begin with the end in mind. What is the ROI? Are we saving time? Are we saving dollars?
What else should you ask vendors about when determining what kind of tech to use?
- Wes – What kind of data are you giving us to help drive decision making? Giving something that everyone can look at. The on data and analysis and actionable next steps, are you getting a partner or are you ONLY buying a widget? Having a partner associated with the tech that understand the purpose of the full picture and not just just tech is very, very important for employee engagement.
- Pete – Dive deep on the human support aspect, Wes is right. We can relate it back to movies (thanks Richard). You have the Terminator where it’s just a machine entirely and AI and that can solve a problem and automates everything entirely. Sometimes this is helpful. When it comes to a NEW solution, you may want something that’s like a Batman or an Ironman where there’s a “person in the loop” it’s not one size fits all. Depending on what you’re looking for you set that expectation early in those conversations.
- Megan – Not only do I implement tech, my husband works in it, he’s a CIO for a company. It’s funny to hear him complain, his biggest thing is, we didn’t talk to everybody. We just purchased the software or this tech. We didn’t actually talk to all the end users and we’re finding that now it’s not doing everything it needs to do and I think that goes back to the question of what data do we want to collect and did we actually survey everyone (or the necessary people at least) in the company, every department? Did we have those conversations? Track them? Review inputs? Some of these tech decisions, are not small. It can increase productivity or it can actually decrease productivity because of it’s hard for the users to use or it’s not spitting out the proper data. It’s big waste.
- Matt – Pete is right, the saying goes…be yourself unless you can be Batman then always be Batman
What are some strategies that companies look at to help with avoiding the wrong steps in selecting tech for employee engagement?
- Megan – You need to give time to let people explore the tech before really launching it making sure everyone has proper training. If I’m fumbling around with a new tech, a new software, a new program, and I’m struggling and I can actually see my productivity going down and things are stacking up and that causes more stress – it sucks! It’s hard for companies to take that pause. That little pause before the gun fires and they take off, you need that pause you need that time. Let everyone get familiar with it. Make sure it’s doing what you want it to do before you really launch it and then you’re gonna see so much better work after that that goes off.
- Wes – Back to the purpose and the planning and making the goals clear form the start. Have some level of vision to understand that the money invested and the time invested to return it may not be immediate, but over time, it will definitely be productive. Pause it take the time to get focused, and understand where you’re going. Investing that time a front end is definitely something that’s much needed. A lot of companies probably don’t do that or struggle with that from a little bit of a lack of vision of understanding what it’s gonna look like long term.
- Pete – Think about Simon Sinek’s adoption curve – dive deep with the early adopters in the beginning. Get the feedback right after the initial pause. Step back and look at our approach from a crawl, walk run perspective. It’s not always the right time for technology. Sometimes we need to hone in and go a little bit deeper on the why. You may need to do an organizational assessment to really to measure where your baseline is (thanks Dave Baker and John Putzier). We need to make sure we’re headed in the right direction, with the right people, and with the right resources. Then continuously communicating – early and often…the why the how and the what.
- Matt – Many companies have been walking but they keep falling. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a reset of “Yeah, you’ve been walking but if you keep falling down.” The need to crawl and walk and then learn to run in a better way so that you don’t fall and you can continually run.
When is a good time to kick off these new technology efforts? Coming into the holidays so it can be easy to wait until next year. Leaders can always have excuses of competing priorities and reasons why now is NOT a good time.
- Megan – If you truly care about your people, then now is the time to act. If you want to kick off a new year effort, then start 4-6 weeks early to work out the kinks. Doing something in the right direction is better than nothing. The tech can help resolve problems you are facing. If you want to take action, then start small today. Why are you waiting? Why are you inflicting more pain and putting more salt on the wound?
- Pete – Do it now. People are leaving because of the lack of career growth opportunities and poor relationships with their bosses/leadership (McKinsey and Pew Research). Ask vendors how you can start small – like a booster shot of goodness and true employee connection. Ask about pilot opportunities, 8-10 week efforts. See how you can integrate the tech to existing processes – today. Maybe with a team or a function to test the waters. Make sure you set the expectation up front with your tech vendor and ensure that you have the person in the loop to help with getting to good and achieving the goals and outcomes you need.
Flashpoint Digital Marketing Agency – https://flashpoint.agency/
Human Resource Webinars – https://humanresourcewebinars.com/improve-employee-engagement-growth-retention/
We look forward to you joining us for the next session…
December 15, 1130-12 noon EST
Sign up here – EVENTBRITE details coming soon
We will also be doing another LinkedIn Live and will share that info with you.
If you want to take action soon…
Lattitude and Lifeforce Wellness developed a 10 week pilot program to give your organization a “booster shot” of good connection. The reduced rate will be available until 12/15/22. Details can be found at this link.
Lattitude is the one-stop-shop employee connection platform. Imagine a technology at the intersection of LinkedIn, Zoom, Calendly, Google Docs, and Salesforce. Our software enables users (in companies) to track topics of interest (to learn and teach), sync calendars and availability, get matched and have 1:1 video calls, track agendas and notes over time, and reports 100+ metrics to group admins.
Set up an employee engagement consultation here to see if your organization is ready to crawl, walk, or run.