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4 employee engagement gems from WFM Day 2020

We’re still catching our breath from a whirlwind WFM Day where ideas and inspiration came thick and fast. It’s safe to say, the first virtual WFM Day ..

We’re still catching our breath from a whirlwind WFM Day where ideas and inspiration came thick and fast.

It’s safe to say, the first virtual WFM Day was a huge success. With so much happening, you’d be forgiven for missing some of the best bits. Fear not. We’ve got your back.

Let’s break it down into numbers: 15 talks from an array of international speakers across two action-packed days, attended by people from 12 different countries, with at least 6 gallons* of coffee and even more ‘fika’ consumed (*figure may not be accurate). We even had our own musical superstars from our Stockholm office providing the entertainment during the breaks!

We’ve unearthed the hidden gems from both days so you don’t have to. Day One’s focus was firmly on purpose, HR, and employee engagement while Day Two took a dive into AI, optimization, and machine learning.

Here’s the everything you might have missed about employee engagement:

1. Start with the two Bs...

Don’t worry, we’re not quoting Hamlet and talking Shakespeare here. We’re talking about ‘belonging & because’ - the two things your employees have to understand according to Svante Randlert, Speaker, Writer, Podcast-host and business & people advisor.

Svante’s talk showed us what it takes to be a dream employer and a dream leader. He says engaged employees know what to do, they love doing it, and they know why they are doing it. They have a sense of belonging and they have a because (meaning they can answer the question of why they do what they do.) 

Business needs - and employee needs - fall under the categories of; nice to have, need to have, and must have. A year ago Zoom was a nice to have, now it’s a must have. It’s no different for employees. Take flexible schedules, again, 12 months ago, they were a nice to have. Now, with so much uncertainty in the world, they’re a must have. According to Svante, understanding these needs and adapting to them as they change is vital to keeping employees engaged and happy. And, as he says, the most engaged people always win.

Creating this sense of belonging begins even before new employees walk through the door. In the talk from Kelly Kinnard, VP of Talent at Battery Ventures, we heard how a good onboarding program can improve employee retention by as much as 25% and make new hires 69% more likely to stick with an employer for three years. 

One of the best ways of improving your onboarding process, Kelly says, is to make it social and celebratory. People involved in the interview process should be encouraged to congratulate the new hire, the new hire should get company ‘swag’ (bonus points if it includes small gifts for other family members like their kids or dogs!) and having a ‘buddy’ or ‘mentor’ in place once they start can work wonders in creating a smooth transition into their new role. Not only is onboarding crucial for welcoming new employees, it plays a huge role in talent retention; if employees feel like they are treated well, part of something bigger than themselves and understand the company’s mission, you’ll have a loyal, happy employee who will go ‘above and beyond’ during their tenure with you.

2. ...and don’t forget about the three Hs…

For Kees Verkade, Partner at Kega, it goes even further. Framed in the context of omnichannel retail (but equally applicable across different industries), Kees’ three Hs are; Hand, Heart, and Head.

He says employers need to give their employees the things they need to hold in their hands that help them do their jobs better. This means asking the question: “What can we give our employee that will make their lives easier and allow them to do their jobs better?” 

Next, like above, is making sure they understand, in their head, what their purpose and why are. And, finally, he says you need to be in their hearts to make sure they are truly engaged.

3. ...then make sure you have a big P…

Enough sniggering back there, the Ps we’re talking about are product and purpose. Mats Lederhausen - a thought leader who believes passionately in business as a force for good, has an extensive background with McDonalds Ventures with investments such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Pret A Manger, and serves on the board of Ronald McDonald House Charities - gave a compelling, must-watch(or listen here!) interview where he said you have to have a purpose bigger than your product.

For Mats, one of the pioneers behind McDonald’s move to being more sustainable and a bigger force for good on a global scale, what’s good for making money has to be good for the world. Businesses view their stated intent is to make money but Mats argues this is the wrong way around. He says, if you put purpose first and have the desire to be a force for good in the world, then your product will follow suit and, because of the impact it has, your business will be successful and profitable.

4. ...and, finally, change starts with people.

Geoffroy de Lestrange, Product Marketing & Communication Director at Cornerstone OnDemand, says employees come first and, if you create a culture of curiosity, you’ll generate new ideas for innovation. 

This isn’t something that should be seen as a ‘nice to have,’ he argues. The economic impact of putting people first is huge. He says companies using the HR software suit Cornerstone develop typically see a 200% ROI from leveraging the technology in less than a year. He goes on to say, right now, creating a culture where ideas can flourish and bloom is one of the best ways of facing the current situation of constant uncertainty.

These are just a snapshot of the knowledge shared on day one of WFM Day 2020. The good news for you is all these talks are available on demand (and,  if you only have 20 minutes to spare today, watch Mats Lederhausen, it's a true game changer and must watch).

You can access all of the WFM 2020 sessions for free below.

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