Cool Ideas to Attract and Engage Employees!

One of the best aspects of my job is that I am asked to
speak before audiences of diverse sizes and industries on topics relating to
people management. For many years, and to
this day, I am asked to speak about how to hire top talent. For quite a while, millennials in the
workplace was a hot topic. Last year,
the subject of how to avoid and address sexual harassment in the workplace was
a major theme. This year, the subject
everyone wants to talk about is how to attract and retain employees. So this month I’m going to give you five cool
ideas for doing just that.

But before I do, I want to offer one of the best resources
that I know of for improving employee engagement. It comes from the Gallup Organization. For more than 30 years, Gallup has studied
the key elements that highly-engaged employees say are most important to them
at work. This resulted in the Q12 index
– the 12 elements of a job that are tied most closely to engagement and business
performance. These elements are listed
below in order of importance, with the first being the most important element:

       1. I know what’s expected of me at work.

       2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do
my work right.

       3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do
best every day.

       4. In the last 7 days, I have received recognition
or praise for doing good work.

       5. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care
about me as a person.

       6. There is someone at work who encourages my

       7. At work, my opinions seem to count.

       8. The mission or purpose of my organization makes
me feel my job is important.

       9. My associates or fellow employees are committed
to doing good quality work.

       10. I have a best friend at work.

       11. In the last 6 months, someone at work has talked
to me about my progress.

       12. This last year, I have had opportunities to
learn and grow.

What I love about this list is what’s not on the list:
pay. Bottom line – compensation does not
improve employee engagement. What is
on this list are factors that, with the expense of just time and effort from
leadership, can truly transform a corporate culture. If you focus on communicating expectations
and direction, celebrating relationships, providing opportunities for growth,
and listening and providing feedback, employees will be engaged. Spend some time with this list. What could you do better?

But what about those potential employees who you are trying
to entice to join your company? Here are
some ideas on how to attract them:

       1. Ask your
employees what matters most to them.

You already have amazing employees.
What do they love most about their jobs?
Is it the autonomy? Is it the delish food you put out in the lunch
room? Is it the wonderful clients you
have? Promote what makes yours a great
company and get your employees engaged in recruiting more talent just like
them. And if you offer an employee referral program (and you should), make it
meaningful. By that I mean $500 to $1000
if the hire lasts a year. Buy swag – promote your employees and candidates like
a university promotes prospective students – give them the mug and the hat and
the t-shirt. Make them feel a part of
the team before you’ve even hired them!

       2. Help your
talent alleviate their debt.
it’s an entry-level blue-collar worker or a recent grad with an MBA, young
workers today are saddled with incredible debt, either in the form of credit
card debt or student loans. They also
question whether Social Security will be there for them when it’s their time to
retire. Offer to help pay for their debt
once they meet certain milestones such as length of service or performance
level. You may even be able to offer a little less in salary for that huge
piece of mind. There are companies to
help you structure the benefit such as,, and Vault. And if you offer a retirement plan, teach your
young workers about it and the massive benefits of compound interest. Chances are, they may not know how it works.

       3. Offer
Study after study show
that employees truly value the ability to work from home on occasion and most
would like to be able to do so one day a week.
Offer this as a perk. For your service workers such as car wash
technicians and cleaning staff, sometimes life happens. A child gets sick or a family emergency
arises. Workers facing these situations
often become a no-call, no-show because they know there are no benefits
allowing them to take time to take care of what’s happening in their life. Reach out to them. Let them know you understand and that if
their situation changes, you would like to have them back.

       4. Remember
the Dream Manager.
In his wonderful book entitled, The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly describes a real-life situation
where a janitorial company dramatically reduced the turnover of its cleaning
crew simply by hiring someone to listen to the dreams of employees and helping
them develop a strategy to make those dreams a reality. The act of listening is a powerful tool that
can truly transform lives and your corporate culture. Ask your prospective employees what their
dreams are and help them to achieve those dreams. They may leave you in the end, but they will appreciate
you forever, and you’ll have no trouble attracting new employees with fresh

       5. Offer
I know, I know. I get grief every time I raise this, but hear
me out. What if, after five years of
service, you were offered the opportunity to take some time off, say a month or
six weeks, to do anything you want. To
travel, to study painting, to visit long-lost family, to write that book! You’d
stay with that company! With no added
cost to you (you’ll still have the same payroll and will only have to realign
duties for a period of time), you can create loyalty and memories for a
lifetime! Who doesn’t want that?

I’m sorry if you thought I was going to talk about zip lines
in the warehouse or baristas in the break room.
But really, when it comes to attracting and retaining employees, it
starts with you. It starts with the Q12
and listening to your employees. Today
talent can get any job. Make them want
yours. Your commitment to them and their
dreams and needs will do just that.

By Claudia St. John, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, President Affinity HR

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The Advice Bites blog delivers practical, tactical, and informative guidance about the biggest workplace trends, and thoughtful insights about how you can apply them to your business.