A priority in 2017: Marketing to employees

Mar 22 , 2017

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

Unemployment is down, the stock market is up and many surveys say that, on average, over 50 percent of employees, especially millennials, are not fully committed to their job. Logically, this data should encourage companies to put employee retention activities high on the list of 2017 priorities.

Free pizza is no longer an exceptional employee benefit. Today’s employees expect more serious efforts to help them with work/life balance, time management and flexibility, education and development, as well as upward mobility in the workplace. These huge issues need to be addressed by company owners, managers and human resources departments. And each of these initiatives requires significant resources to successfully develop and implement.

The marketing department also has an important role in employee retention by engaging them in initiatives that can generally improve their work experience, and positive attitude and commitment toward the organization.

The following are a few tried-and-true ideas that you may want to initiate, re-initiate or check off your current list. These include collaboration and engagement among employee groups, as opposed to one person. Some include employee teams, management or cross-department disciplines.

Promote charitable engagement

Ask for volunteers to work on a team to evaluate company charities or community volunteer events your company is involved in, and suggest new ones to consider. If appropriate to your culture, give the team a budget and the authority to determine allocation to top choices. Millennials especially appreciate their organizations’ involvement in causes and the community.

Evaluate digital brand assets

Establish cross-discipline employee teams to evaluate the company’s digital image: website, social media presence, listing sites. Ask the teams to rank the need for improvement on a scale of one to 10 so they can prioritize commentary and you can prioritize resources.

You may want to engage a communications company to provide your team with audit surveys for each digital medium. Including employee opinions in changes in your digital brand gives them a sense of ownership and pride in your organization.

Involve users in tech evaluation

Create a process for employee feedback on continuous improvement of your organization’s use of technology. This will give them a voice and a forum. When you have a forum, there are fewer complaints and distracting chatter, all leading to higher employee satisfaction.

Initiate surprise recognition

In addition to the traditional “employee of the month,” launch a “surprise recognition program” to celebrate periodic extra efforts by employees who go beyond requirements. Announce the surprise award, potentially a gift card or even a small check, spontaneously at a company event or regular meeting.

Create and promote ‘purposeful rotation’ of jobs

Keep employee roles interesting by rotating them when possible. This introduces new skills, new challenges and keeps them engaged. Or, consider rotating someone more junior to learn their role instead. This will give them a coaching role that will reward them with career growth opportunities, too.

Consider Agile methodology

Last month’s column was all about Agile methodology for planning and project management, which can also be a game-changer for employee engagement.

It may be a good idea to survey your own employees regarding their needs and desires for continuous improvement of their happiness and engagement with your organization. Indeed, organization leaders know decreasing employee turnover can contribute greatly to higher profits. Upping the ante on employee happiness and engagement will be a competitive advantage in 2017.