What’s next?

February 25, 2020

If your organization follows the calendar for finances and performance appraisals, you’re probably just about to complete a very busy time of year.

Breathe a sigh of relief — you’ve made it through!

Hopefully, you’ve administered another successful annual increase and appraisal process with flying colors.

After all the work you’ve put in during the fourth quarter — followed by all the long hours spent dealing with the inevitable adjustments, changes, and manager questions — it’s finally time to relax.

Or is it?

Use this time wisely

It’s tempting to take a well-deserved break during quieter times of the year.

Maybe you feel compelled to stick to ad-hoc market-pricing requests and other routine administrative tasks.

Ask a seasoned professional, though, and they’re sure to tell you that now is hardly the time to take your foot off the gas.

This is the time that you should step outside of your administrative role and get down to the nitty-gritty of the planning and analysis of your talent strategy.

This “slower” time is when you should be collecting feedback from stakeholders and surveying employees to find out what can be done better.

Use your time effectively to:

  • conduct research.
  • develop cost estimates.
  • create your business case for change.

This way, when the busy time of year rolls around again, you’ll be ready for it.

Getting started

Have you been keeping a list of areas for improvement throughout the year?

If so, get that list out now (and if not, it’s time to start keeping one).

Your own list of focus areas is certainly important, but you should also build upon your list by seeking out input from your broader HR team.

In addition to your HR team, you’ll also need to collect feedback from business leaders and employees.

Ideally, the views and priorities of the HR department will reflect those of the business leaders and employees, but sometimes there is a disconnect.

Business leaders can provide their feedback through interviews or group meetings fairly easily — they’re familiar with the process and the logistics are typically manageable.

However, collecting valuable feedback from employees can be a bit more challenging.

Focus groups can be cumbersome and suffer from issues such as “groupthink,” plus employees may be hesitant to share their true opinions.

A better solution may be to use some form of employee engagement survey or other employee listening plan.

The downside of engagement surveys, though, is the amount of time they often take to develop and administer, not to mention analyzing the responses. Often, companies spend so much time and effort collecting the information that little is left to actually develop an action plan based on the findings.

Keep it simple, yet effective. Listening to employees should be a continuous learning experience that leads to making changes and testing effectiveness.

So much to do, so little time

Now that you’ve gathered feedback from business leaders, employees, and your HR team, you’re sure to have a long list of priorities.

There is no way you can attack everything on your list right away, so you have to consider the best approach for moving forward.

Assess each problem — or to look at it in a positive light, each “opportunity for change” — and determine the following:

  • What is the difficulty associated with solving the problem?
  • Who or what will benefit from this change?
  • What is the cost associated with this change?
  • Are there any time constraints to implementing a solution?

By answering these questions, you’ll be better able to determine what projects you should address in the coming year. Additionally, you should have a ballpark idea of costs.

Add in some high-level project planning, like identifying when to start the projects and the necessary time and resources, and you’ll be off to a great start.

When you get that email in September asking what you need in the budget for next year, you now have what you need to put together a business case for your leaders’ review.

Invest in what counts

In all likelihood, some of what you choose to take on may have the potential to improve the overall employee experience.

After all, your competitor is likely to be delivering on this front, which means you better be doing the same.

Read on for five important areas to consider for enhancing your employee experience.

Provide a digital work environment

Today’s workers expect easily accessible online tools that make their work life easier.

It’s important that you do what you can to minimize the time they spend on routine activities, such as technology requests or time entry.

To take things one step further: is it realistic to think you could completely eliminate the need for workers to execute certain tasks? Some parts of workers’ jobs are increasingly being replaced by robotic process automation and machine learning.

If you can take these more mundane parts of workers’ jobs away, you’ll be able to provide them with new engaging responsibilities, which also benefits your organization.

Deliver learning and development

You’re probably already well aware that the days of sending employees to in-classroom training sessions are long gone.

Nowadays, you need to offer learning and development in a variety of ways to suit various learning styles and lifestyles.

For example, employees aren’t excited about online learning modules anymore. Instead, customized learning experiences delivered through gamified platforms are all the rage.

Additionally, many employees expect the opportunity for experiential learning through travel and on-site assignments.

Does your learning and development strategy work with your mobility programs to offer these types of experiences?

Reward performance in new ways

Employers are turning to new methods for rewarding employees when they meet or exceed performance expectations.

Budgets for merit increases have remained stagnant, which means employers are instead offering bonuses or other forms of recognition.

Being transparent about the connection between performance and career development opportunities is another way to influence the employee experience.

Communicate your purpose

Today’s employees want something to believe in.

Of course, they expect competitive rewards and career development opportunities, but they also want to believe in the mission, vision, and values of the company they work for.

Sure, every company has a mission statement. But what does it really say about you as an organization? Can your employees — and potential employees — really connect with you?

Your mission, vision, and values should permeate everything you do as an organization and everything you say to your employees — particularly your employee value proposition.

Look at all phases

You need to be mindful of every interaction you have with employees — especially in today’s tight job market.

Even if they’re not a current employee, they are a potential employee — every interaction still matters.

Look at how you manage recruitment and onboarding. Ensure that every job candidate’s experience leaves them with a positive impression of your organization.

Tools like Candidate Care are leveraging the best of technology and providing virtual career services to provide a smooth interaction for candidates. Start them off with a great experience and, if you have to, end it great too.

Unfortunately, it happens; sometimes you have to terminate people. And those people have influence —much more influence than they used to.

It used to be that when an employee was let go, they would tell their spouse, family, close friends, and maybe neighbors — it didn’t really go beyond that.

Nowadays, social media and the internet have changed everything.

If you’ve terminated someone who feels they’ve been treated unfairly, prepare for the world to know about it. You’re likely to be mentioned on Facebook, Indeed, Glassdoor, and countless other platforms.

One way employers are trying to minimize the negativity surrounding transitions such as terminations and reductions in force is to provide support to employees through outplacement.

By offering services virtually, they’re now able to provide this prerequisite to all employees, not just the C-suite.

Plan to succeed tomorrow

Admittedly, this is all a lot to consider. So, take a breath, collect your feedback, and then develop a plan to succeed.

Whether it’s refreshing your employee value proposition, investing in mobility programs, or automating repetitive tasks, take the time to plan out the important projects that will enhance your employee experience.

If you need assistance at any time, Mercer is always here to help. Give us a call at 1-855-286-5302.