Johnny Duncan

Johnny Duncan is an author and consultant with over 22 years experience helping to provide solutions to small businesses with the people side of business.

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As recent economic uncertainty looms, layoffs are on the rise while the Great Resignation simultaneously presses on. With this increased involuntary and voluntary turnover, do your offboarding processes need an overhaul?

Recruiters and people operations teams work tirelessly to attract outstanding employees, onboard them with strategic orientation and training programs, manage performance, and meaningfully recognize employee contributions. Where many organizations tend to falter is in conducting exceptional offboarding practices, if they're even conducted at all.

As we mentioned in “How to Optimize Your Employee Lifecycle,” every person you hire will eventually leave your organization. Why not embrace this graduate phase of the employee lifecycle, and tap into it as a valuable opportunity?

Here are some essential best practices you can adopt to make the most of the offboarding process and provide the optimal experience both for your organization and departing employees.

Are you struggling with high turnover? Download our free Ultimate Retention Checklist for Managers with expert advice for managers to help prevent employees from leaving too soon.

1. Make a plan

A basic template of your offboarding plan should always be in place: a customizable, dynamic document can be adapted for each specific offboarding event. The plan should include a matrix of sorts that outlines the answers to questions like:

  • Why are they leaving?
  • Who will be involved in the process?
  • Will the departing employee receive severance pay and extended benefits?
  • Who will the exiting employee’s responsibilities be transferred to?
  • How will knowledge transfer be structured?
  • When and how do we post for the vacant position?
  • Where will we look for the new talent?
  • How do we improve based on exit survey findings?

This is far from an exhaustive list. Create a plan unique for your business and add or delete items as needed. This is a basic, must-have practice for every business. Some additional resources that can assist with the planning process include an offboarding checklist and an analysis of workforce trends



2. Celebrate their contributions

If an employee is leaving on good terms and has been an asset to the company, make sure to give them a warm and memorable farewell celebrating their service and contributions to the organization. An offboarding celebration is a time to publicly highlight an employee’s impact on the business and show appreciation for their work.

It’s crucial to treat employees with respect throughout the offboarding process. Recency bias is a commonly referenced leadership mistake, but it works both ways.

The most recent experience an employee had with your organization will stand out.

Departing employees will surely tell others about their experience in your organization, and they’re more likely to speak positively about it if they receive a warm and respectful sendoff.

Although offboarding is an opportune time to uncover what made exiting employees unhappy, it is also a time to build them up, demonstrate your gratitude for their service and talents, and show support for their future. Keep the atmosphere positive and know that, regardless of their reasons for leaving, former employees can still serve as ambassadors for attracting talent as well as potential clients for years to come.

appreciate employees

3. Uncover insights

Although an employee’s exit isn’t typically something to look forward to, it is a unique and valuable opportunity to learn and improve (if the person is leaving voluntarily). 

Outside of having some exit interview questions (see below) prepared, there is no magic formula for this step, except to listen with genuine interest. Ask the employee why they are leaving, provide them a safe environment to be candid, and prepare to hear some things that may surprise you—just remember to listen attentively. This isn’t the time for apologies or rebuttals.

Ben Eubanks, in his Society for Human Resources Management blog post “Should You Celebrate When Employees Leave?”, remarks:

If we take out the resignations that are due to poor management, culture mismatch, and so on, we are left with those employees that are truly leaving to advance their careers. On one hand, this is helpful for your recruiters and others internally to see where the perceived limit is for employees in terms of development. If staff are consistently leaving around the 18-month mark, are they bored? Have they mastered ‘everything’ in terms of their job duties? Are they topped out in terms of compensation? What is driving them to seek other employment?
-Ben Eubanks

Simply accepting an employee’s letter of resignation without endeavoring to learn more about their motivations is a missed opportunity for future rectifications or changes.

Let them know how valuable their thoughts and feelings are to you and work to understand the reasons for their departure. Your notes from just one exit interview may be the keys to future success in the role they are leaving.

Are they leaving to advance their career? If so, consider how you could have satisfied that need internally for them, and how you may work to satisfy those needs proactively for current employees. Is it the work, the people, the management, or the product or service the company provides? This is crucial information that can help your organization evolve.

It's easy to make assumptions about why someone decided to leave, but those assumptions aren't often accurate or beneficial. For example, millennials have been accused of job-hopping and seeking greener pastures more often than their parents or grandparents. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers changed jobs on average nearly 11.9 times between ages 18 and 50. This is a remarkable statistic because it directly refutes tragically common prejudices and assumptions about generational differences in the workplace.

Nothing can replace a face-to-face chat in its ability to uncover priceless feedback from the resigning employee. 

Whether you survey outgoing employees with online questionnaires, conduct in-person discussions or both, the point is to take the initiative to find out why they’re leaving.

If employees believe their feedback will be taken seriously during an exit interview, they will be more willing to share their honest thoughts. Just don’t be alarmed if you uncover that one of the reasons for leaving is because of a supervisor or manager.

A recent Gallup study found that 52% of employees that left voluntarily said their manager or company could have done something to prevent them from leaving. 

Additionally, Forbes points out that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees who stay at the same employer for longer than two years get paid 50 percent less than if they switched to another company.

While these statistics may be eye-opening for many business leaders, they're examples of exactly the type of information that can illuminate what changes need to be made in order to prevent others from jumping ship.

Download our free Ultimate Retention Checklist for Managers for expert advice to help managers prevent employees from leaving too soon.

Example exit interview questions: 

  • Why did you start looking for another opportunity?
  • What made you decide to leave?
  • What led you to accept your new position?
  • Did the job align with your original expectations?
  • Would you change the job description for the next person in your role? If so, how?
  • What support or resources would have helped you accomplish your job better?
  • What could have been done differently to keep you employed here?
  • What did you like best and least about your role?
  • What one or two things do you think we could change to improve the company and/or culture?
  • Any additional comments?

Follow up

Now that you've collected feedback on the departing employee's experience, it's important to act on it. Can you make internal changes when it comes to professional development, promotions, pay, or perks and benefits? Are there changes the employee's direct supervisor or manager can make to improve employee experience moving forward? 

Make sure to add a step in your plan to follow up and, if you're able, implement changes as a result of the feedback you received. Otherwise, you may start to see a pattern emerge and lose more valuable employees for similar reasons. 

4. Provide support

After you’ve discovered their reasons for leaving, do what you can to help departing employees in their careers. Assign someone to personally guide the employee through the offboarding process and provide them with resources to assist in their career.

Be sure to share the contact details of your company through which the employee can remain in touch. If the employee is leaving on good terms, reassure them that your company would be happy to have them back and that they can reach out for any support in the future.

Some companies even go so far as to create alumni groups of former employees and manage social sites so that company alumni can keep in touch with one another and offer support where needed.

These programs have proven successful in improving employee engagement and recruitment strategies. According to Harvard Business Review, large companies like Microsoft, Deloitte, and Boston Consulting Group are leveraging a dedicated company alumni strategy. They facilitate communication through alumni websites, newsletters, and social media groups providing information about job openings and publicizing company initiatives.

Offer recommendations and intros for laid-off employees

If the employee was laid off due to factors outside of their control, consider proactively facilitating introductions and getting the word out that there’s a great new candidate on the market. If you've had to conduct large-scale layoffs, consider posting on LinkedIn to let your network know so they can be on the lookout for potential candidates for open roles at their organizations. 


5. Network

If the employee is leaving voluntarily, you’ve treated them with respect, and you’ve shown them that you care about their future, ask if they might know someone who would be a good fit for the position they are leaving. See if they will serve as an ambassador for your company.

Zippia recently cited a statistic that regardless of company size, over 20% of hires come from referrals despite only making up 7% of the applicant pool on average. Departing employees are more willing to send qualified candidates to your organization if their personal experience was overwhelmingly positive. Ask them to share your company values and to help bring on board people you can trust.

Bottom line: make quality offboarding a priority

Understanding why an employee is leaving is a major concern for all departments. It’s a valuable opportunity that can help improve recruitment efforts, minimize voluntary turnover, maximize and fine-tune training initiatives, and increase employee engagement.

By optimizing offboarding efforts and processes, you can learn how to increase efficiency in every other phase of the employee lifecycle. Take time to evaluate the offboarding process you have in place today and where you can improve and standardize your system. Some benefits may not be realized immediately, but your company will certainly be rewarded in the long run.

If you're looking for more culture-building resources, we've got just the thing:

Once dismissed as another modern perk designed to attract talent, remote working arrangements are now the new normal. A thoughtful remote work program can keep employees motivated and engaged while producing significant cost savings. Remote work is a win-win, both for employees and the organizations they work for.

According to a Global Workplace Analytics study, a typical business saves about $11,000 per person, per year, by leveraging remote work policies. Plus, if those with compatible jobs work from home just half the time, there would be a national savings of $700 billion per year.

Video conferencing, cloud storage, chat tools, and other remote collaboration technology have made it possible to produce quality work while enjoying the convenience of home. In fact, a SHRM article reveals that perhaps even more work gets done at home.

But there's also a downside to working at home.

Happy, but losing steam

While the lure of working from home is exciting for many workers, its novelty can wear off over time. Deadlines and commitments aren't always enough motivation.

Still, employees who work from home continue to report loving their jobs more than those in their cubicles.

Leadership IQ provides an online test that gathers data regarding an employee’s feeling toward their job based on the employee’s work location. The quiz separates work locations based on three categories: office workers, telecommuters (those working from home), and mobile workers (employees who move between offices).

In a survey of close to 3,500 employees, Leadership IQ found that 38% of mobile workers loved their job, 24% of office workers loved their job, and 45% of remote workers loved their job.

The quiz also revealed that remote workers tend to show more ambition: expending discretionary effort and striving to be the best at their job. However, the survey also uncovered that remote workers need to be self-motivated—more so than office workers.

This isn't a surprise, but it's helpful for business leaders to keep in mind. Though remote workers are often happy and productive, they need to drum up inspiration and motivation in order to achieve their full potential.

Motivation and engagement

Keeping remote workers engaged and motivated doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of the motivational methods you currently use to inspire in-house employees can be applied to employees working from home as well.

Here are ten simple yet often overlooked methods that can be used for motivating and engaging your remote employees.

Want these tips in a handy guide? Get the free resource here!

1. Provide a platform for effective communication

As with all things in business and relationships, communication is key. Remote workers have an equal stake in being included in the direction of the business.

Keeping remote employees informed and in the loop reminds them not only that they're part of a larger organization, but also that the organization has a vested interest in their relationship.

“When I was a remote employee, my boss thought that if he didn’t hear from me and there were no complaints from customers, that I must be doing fine,” says Carol Hughes, former Vice President of Professional Services at Mactive. “The thought was that no news was good news, but that isn’t always the case for remote workers. I knew there had to be a better way to keep remote employees engaged.”

As a VP, Hughes created a virtual lunch where she would get all remote employees on a conference call once a week to have lunch together.

We would spend the first 15 minutes only discussing business and then we would chat about personal things or anything else while eating. Then, once a month, I would take them to lunch so that we could interact and share thoughts and feelings just as office employees would do at lunch. This, in addition to daily chats or texts, had a tremendous impact on providing inclusion for our telecommuters.

-Carol Hughes, former Vice President of Professional Services, Mactive


2. Keep them happy

Remote workers are often happier than other employees, and HR professionals know that a happy employee is more likely to be engaged in their work.

Keeping remote employees happy isn't overly complicated—ask them what they may need, and make sure they feel included. Sometimes it's as simple as some additional training, upgraded hardware, or a change in routine to help them perform better.

One way to delight your remote team members is by sending them Snacknation's remote boxes, which offer rotating delicious snacks and coffee.

Whatever it is, make it happen.

3. Recognize great work

Although remote workers have proven that their productivity rivals or exceeds that of their office-dwelling counterparts, they don't always receive recognition for that work.

Make it a point to recognize remote workers for the many contributions they're making to your organization.

But don't stop there.

Make recognition highly visible so other members of the organization are aware of the valuable contributions remote workers are making on a daily basis. Modern communication and collaboration tools make accomplishing this dead simple.

Call out remote workers' big wins, and empower the rest of the team to do the same. 

Company-wide visibility is a huge challenge for us. Bonusly has been incredibly helpful for team members who may feel that their contributions are overlooked or who don’t necessarily see how their impact extends far beyond their teams.
–Colleen Smith, Reach Engine by Levels Beyond


We also invite you to learn more about how Bonusly improves engagement on remote teams through recognition and rewards. Join us for a demo to learn more about how you can start building a recognition-rich organizational culture.

4. Clarify goals

Remote employees may be at home producing, but are they meeting expectations?

Remote workers, just like any other employees, need a clear direction of what is expected in terms of objectives and company goals.

In a May 2016 Forbes piece, Victor Lipman points out, “If expectations are completely clear, and preferably mutually agreed-upon, it helps to bring the entire remote working arrangement into clearer focus.” Setting expectations is a motivator for remote workers.

P.S. Download our Comprehensive Guide to Remote Work guide for even more tips!

5. Place an emphasis on what's produced, rather than when

Since the remote worker’s position exists for a reason, let those employees use it to their most productive advantage.

In other words, if one remote worker performs better in the evening and the position doesn’t call for interaction with clients, allow them to produce during that time. Others may be early risers and desire to pump out a project before noon—great! Let them perform without unnecessary restrictions.

6. Keep coordination of job functions in the forefront

Employees working in the company office generally know and understand workflow processes and why they are necessary.

Remote workers don’t have the same constant feed of information from supervisors coming by their desks or general updates through the cubicle telegraph. Giving remote employees continual access to mission and vision statements, project updates, company performance records, etc. helps the remote worker understand how their role contributes to the company’s overall success, resulting in a more engaged employee.

7. Emphasize culture

A recent Harvard Business Review article addressed the importance of developing company culture with remote employees in order to foster engagement.

This can be a difficult thing to do when communicating virtually.

The article suggests that in order to nurture culture, you first have to build trust and one good way to accomplish this is to bring remote team members together on a frequent basis. Check out our list of great remote team-building activities!

By including remote workers in company meetings and other events on a regular basis, a common thread of culture is more easily shared by all. 

8. Assist with time management

One of the obstacles reported by remote workers is their ability to manage their time effectively.

They have the freedom to take care of household chores, taxi the kids to school, go to a doctor’s appointment, and more, but may struggle with scheduling focused work time into their day.

Providing tools, tips, and training that can help remote workers better manage their time is a great motivator. It shows that management cares, and it gives them resources to help with their path to success.

Adopting collaborative project management tools like Wrike, Asana, and Trello can make a big difference here.

9. Get to know your remote employees

Remote workers can often feel like castaways. Help them to get rid of those feelings by taking time to meet with them one-on-one, and learn about what is going on in their lives.

If the same employee were in the office, people would notice their moods, get wind of their situation, and be able to offer words of encouragement or congratulations, whichever is appropriate.

Remote employees don’t enjoy the same kind of working conditions, and as such, efforts must be made to spend time getting to know them.

10. Cut out the fluff

One of the drawbacks of working remotely is that communication levels with the office have the potential to drop off. As mentioned, a good flow of communication needs to be established with the remote workers to keep them engaged and motivated.

However, there is such thing as too much face time. If a meeting is not necessary, don’t schedule one just because it was agreed to address a specific project every day at 8:30 am. Communicate when necessary, then leave the remote employee alone to do their job.

In conclusion

There you have it: ten simple keys you can begin implementing this month to motivate your remote employees to a higher level of engagement.

If you're ready to take the next step toward building an extraordinary organizational culture in remote teams, check out our latest guide:

The benefits of attaining a high level of employee morale are phenomenal. Luckily, building morale isn't as difficult as some believe.

Just skimming some of the benefits of high employee morale would make any employer want to boost morale in their organization:

  • Improved productivity
  • Greater attention to the important details because they care about the outcome of a project.
  • Better attendance as employees are more excited to come to work
  • More creativity in solving problems, completing projects, and satisfying customers
  • Increased quality when employees care about what's being produced
  • Safer work environment when teams avoid risky shortcuts that could cause injury

The question remains: Are we successful because of a high level of morale or a higher ratio of engaged employees?

Improve your employee experience and start building stronger, more resilient teams today.



Which came first?

High employee morale has been attributed to increased employee engagement. Engaged employees have a higher level of morale and are more apt to provide the results an employer desires. Other elements factor into generating employee engagement, but most of them fundamentally rely on boosting employee morale.

For example, improving communication channels, privately and publicly recognizing great work, and clarifying goals all help to boost morale. These actions also support greater employee engagement. The difference is that an employee may report a high level of morale but something might cause him to become disengaged in his work.

On the other hand, highly engaged employees might experience low morale. Eventually, these workers lose the emotional connection to their work and their organizations suffer from poor productivity. These are the clock-watchers and the hangers-on. They may even share their discontentment with others in the workforce.

While high employee morale and employee engagement are related, they are not the same thing. Employee morale is typically associated with feelings of well-being and job satisfaction. Engaged employees may be satisfied with their jobs, but contented employees are not necessarily engaged with their work. Having high employee morale is the foundation upon which employee engagement can grow and thrive.

According to BusinessSolver, 98% of HR professionals and 92% of employees surveyed said empathetic employers drive staff retention. Both engaged employees and employees with high morale are more likely to stay at their jobs. 


Achieving a high level of morale

Boosting employee morale isn’t a one-time effort that generates long-lasting desired effects. Though there are some set-it-and-forget techniques to support employees, fostering high morale requires routinely taking the pulse of your employees while tweaking the procedures that work.

Here are four action items you can begin immediately to build high employee morale:

1. Respect employees by recognizing them

A recent SHRM survey found that 65% of employees say the respectful treatment of employees at all levels is a very important contributor to their job satisfaction. Respect can be shown in many ways and personalized approaches make a considerable difference.

One way to show respect is by giving genuine recognition. In “Trends in Employee Recognition” by World at Work, the common reasons cited for not having a recognition program in place are senior management's lack of support (28% of over 5,000 surveyed) and the cost (26%). Although employers are spending $46 billion per year on employee recognition, work anniversaries, and reviews, employee morale is not as high as it could be.

84% of Highly Engaged employees were recognized the last time they went above and beyond at work compared to only 25% of Actively Disengaged employees. - Bonusly's Engagement and Modern Workplace Report

Reward Gateway study revealed that “[a]lthough more than 22% of senior decision-makers don’t think that regular recognition and thanking employees at work has a big influence on staff retention, 70% of employees say that motivation and morale would improve 'massively' with managers saying thank you more.” Investing in a good recognition program is essential to developing a workforce with high morale.

To maintain a competitive edge, top company leaders know the importance of employee experience in building motivated, engaged, and high-performing teams.


2. Pave a path

Helping employees identify their career paths and develop necessary skill sets is another way to boost employee morale.

Most business leaders believe that helping employees develop their career paths is important, but many don’t take action. SHRM reports that in a study by global staffing firm Randstad, "73% of employers said fostering employee development is important, but only 49% of employees said leadership is adhering to this practice."

Career mobility is not just about providing career opportunities, but about providing job enlargement and job enhancement opportunities as well. Employers can do this by establishing fair promotional policies and following them, ensuring smooth transitions for newly promoted employees, and providing career coaching to all employees.


3. Match skills to work

One of the best ways to grow and develop employees is to identify how they most naturally think, feel, and behave, and then strengthen those innate talents to improve performance. When employees know you care about using their natural talents and abilities in the most productive way, their morale improves.

The key here is that you need to do more than clarify work expectations, get people what they need to do their work, provide professional development, and promote positive coworker relationships

Those efforts do indeed create greater employee engagement, but they don't necessarily boost employee morale. As we already discovered, an employee can be content and report high morale but still not be fully engaged in their work.

To improve morale, see to it that every employee feels they are doing a job that matches not just their knowledge, skills, and ability, but also their passions. Offer a DISC personality test (or an equivalent) to determine what work employees are best suited to do. Not everyone is suited for customer service and some great customer service employees might be working on the loading dock. When possible, strive to match individual personalities to the most suitable positions.


4. Continually assess morale

A Harvard Business Review piece shares the story of how agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere (Deere and Company) has created a system for surveying the motivation of its employees every two weeks. Frequently keeping a close eye on how employees actually feel has helped all divisions of the company improve productivity by improving morale.

Deere and Company noticed that a high-performing employee scored his motivation as being lower than normal. Though there were no signs of a decrease in productivity or engagement, the employee’s motivational score dropped even lower two weeks later. In conversation, his manager learned that this employee was concerned about his career development; his manager was able to resolve the problem and keep that employee on track.

If John Deere hadn’t kept a close eye on the morale of its employees, this particular employee may have become completely disengaged as well as disgruntled. Unfortunately, most managers only become aware of an issue during an annual or semi-annual performance review or worse, after the employee makes a glaring mistake or simply quits.


5. Give employees ownership

Employees need to have a stake in the company's success. This doesn't necessarily mean having a stock or a profit-sharing plan.

A large part of building strong engagement and morale that many leaders neglect is the emotional stake employees have in their organization. Employees need to know the work they're doing is valuable, that it has a purpose, and that they have a say in how that value is produced. Employees who 'own' their job embrace accountability instead of being 'held to' it.

Laszlo Bock had a great chapter in his recent book Work Rules! that superbly covered this subject of ownership, titled "Becoming a Founder."

"Building an exceptional team or institution starts with a founder. But being a founder doesn't mean starting a new company. It is within anyones's grasp to be the founder and culture-creator of their own team..."


6. Take responsibility, not credit

There's nothing more demoralizing than putting your heart and soul into something, only to have someone else take the credit for it. Most of us have experienced this firsthand at some point in our lives, and nearly all of us have at least witnessed it.

"A great leader takes responsibility for the success of an organization, but not the credit for it."

It's important for employees to get credit for the contributions they're making. If they don't get the credit they deserve, or worse yet, if the credit is given to someone else, morale is almost guaranteed to plummet.



Improve employee experience to build resilient, engaged, and motivated teams today.

What will you do next?

The majority of the US workforce is not engaged, according to Gallup's “State of the American Workplace” report. Since we know that high morale is a springboard for increasing employee engagement, take the pulse of your workforce today to determine the level of morale in your organization.

If it is not at a high level, take action. Implement the above steps or get creative with your own actions to improve morale. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the level of morale and the relationship between employees and their managers. Go way outside the box to discover ways to improve morale.

A good place to start is reading “4 Ways Your Phone Can Improve Employee Morale” by our cofounder, Raphael Crawford-Marks, in which he offers further tips you can adopt in your organization today.

If you're ready to take the next step toward building a stronger, more engaging organizational culture, check out our latest guide:

It’s been said that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

In fact, according to a study in Gallup’s 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, 51% of currently employed adults in the US say they are searching for new jobs or watching for new job opportunities.

Some of this dissatisfaction is due to particular management styles. That doesn’t mean that a particular management style will be detrimental to your workforce; instead, it indicates that certain management styles don't mesh well with certain workforces. 

The ultimate goal we should all strive for is to adopt a management style that improves and increases employee engagement.

Another Gallup study found that 70% of American employees are disengaged, costing the US over $550 billion a year in lost productivity. Keeping employees engaged requires a close examination of the workforce and work processes to determine what could be improved, changed, or simply eliminated.

Many areas, such as empowerment, work environment, and reward processes, should be analyzed regularly. But one area of concern that can be addressed immediately with instant results is that of management style.

First things first. What's your management style?

There's a time and place for all management styles. No one style is good or bad, but it is how and when leaders use them that determines success or failure. Understanding your management style and how it impacts employee engagement is crucial to the success of your company (and avoiding leadership mistakes).

Understanding your management style and how it impacts employee engagement is crucial to the success of your company.

In this piece, we'll cover the five management styles typically associated with business leaders. Most of these styles can be found to some degree in every organization, and while some are known by several names, they tend to fall into one of these categories.

1. Autocratic

The autocratic management style is a traditional one that has been around for a very long time. This is the style adopted by a leader with a “because I told you so” mentality.

In environments that demand error-free outcomes (i.e., military, firefighting), the autocratic management style can be useful, but it's not a style you'll want to adopt on a full-time basis. Autocratic managers believe rules are extremely important, dictate all methods and processes, and don't solicit input from others. 

One example of an autocratic management style is how Sam Walton managed the growth of his Walmart empire. Football legend Vince Lombardi adopted an autocratic leadership style when he coached the Green Bay Packers. For both men, the style helped them streamline their processes and grow their customer bases.

The autocratic management style has proven effective in factory settings or among unskilled workers, but it's being phased out as these types of organizations shift their focus to promoting future leaders from within the organization. It's useful in small doses, but, like adding cumin to a dish, it should only be used a little at a time. Too much will ruin the outcome.

Because a fully autocratic management style is not conducive to increasing employee engagement, use it only when necessary.

2. Coaching

With the coaching management style, managers motivate their employees by providing tools and resources for growth. Coaching is a favored management style for improving employee engagement since managers focus on helping their team members develop their strengths and improve their performance.

The coaching manager says, “let me show you how it’s done.”

Examples of coaching management include Tony Hsieh’s style of guiding his customer service team at Zappos or how philanthropist Andrew Carnegie coached Charles Schwab, a low level employee who eventually became the first president of US Steel.

To hone your coaching management style, you must first build relationships with your team members.

To hone your coaching management style, you must first build relationships with your team members.

According to the Harvard Business Review, you must “understand that before you start coaching, you need to develop a culture of trust and a solid relationship with the people you will be coaching. In spite of your good intentions, all the techniques in the world will make little difference if those you are trying to coach don’t feel connected to you in some way.”

3. Affiliative

Identified by Daniel Goleman in 2002, the affiliative manager strives to create harmony in the workplace, not just between employees and managers but also between employees.

The affiliative management style puts people first and tasks second. It is very useful in creating more harmonious work environments and thereby opens pathways to more engaged workforces.

While it comes across as less stressful than the autocratic management style, the affiliative management style has its downsides when employee performance falters or project deadlines aren't met.

It’s hard to keep a friendly, people-first attitude without accountability when profits are down. One way to increase the effectiveness of the affiliative management style is to encourage your team members to forge work relationships that cater to their needs while still getting their work done.

Former manager Joe Torre of the New York Yankees was known for his affiliative management style. Torre recognized the various contributions of individual players, but also expressed his gratitude for everyone's contributions regardless of whether they won.

4. Participative

With the participative management style, leaders encourage employees to get involved with analyzing problems and strategizing solutions. Because participative managers create a sense of ownership for everyone, they can instill a sense of pride in their employees and motivate everyone to increase their productivity in order to achieve their goals. With the participative management style, employees tend to become more engaged in their work.

When employees feel like they are a part of a team with a common goal, their self-esteem grows and generates pride and loyalty. If you want to create an atomic reaction in your employee engagement, embrace the participative management style.

To do this successfully, you must be secure in your position and willingly relinquish some control to your employees. This isn't as easy as it sounds, especially if you’ve held your responsibilities close to your chest for a long time. With an open mind and trust in your team members, it's worth letting go.

When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985, he was practicing an autocratic style of leadership. By the time Jobs was brought back to Apple in the mid-1990s, he had adopted a more participative management style, hiring experienced leaders and furnishing them with the resources and latitude they needed to shine.

With Jobs' participative leadership style, employees were empowered to make decisions and Apple soared to even greater heights than before.

5. Pacesetting

The fifth management style, as mentioned in Daniel Goleman’s book, Primal Leadership, is the pacesetting management style. When a manager practices a pacesetting management style, they'll set the tone and cadence of work for others to follow.

Typically, employees are motivated to keep up with their pacesetting manager's expectations by increasing their performance and output.

“The [pacesetting] leader holds and exemplifies the highest standard of performance. He is obsessive about doing things better and faster and asks the same of everyone. He quickly pinpoints poor performers, demands more from them, and if they don’t rise to the occasion, rescues the situation himself," Goleman writes.

This style serves as a great motivator for everyone except those who fall behind. For that reason, the pacesetting management style has a short lifespan with regard to increasing employee engagement.

The long-term effects of a pacesetting management style can leave employees exhausted and feeling as if they’ve been pushed too hard.

For that reason, it's a management style that's useful in spurts and depends on the culture of an organization and its products or service. Managers should practice this style cautiously and only when the conditions are right for an all-out sprint.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, comes to mind as a pacesetting manager. Welch vowed to lead by example and encouraged his executives to do the same.

Welch, nicknamed “Neutron Jack,” lived by the four E's of leadership: energy, energize, edge, and execution. Employees followed his pace and GE excelled to greater heights under his leadership.

Hone your management style

Obviously, managers' relationships with their employees are highly correlated with employee engagement. A good marker for the strength of those relationships is how comfortable an employee is approaching their manager with any type of question.

Goal setting is an area where this correlation is especially strong. One Gallup survey revealed that when employees were asked to rate their feelings on the statement, “My manager helps me set performance goals,” 69% of the employees who replied “strongly agree” were considered engaged in their work. On the flip side, only 8% of the employees who responded “disagree” or “strongly disagree” were considered engaged in their work.

The best managers seem to blend various attributes of every management style and change their approach depending on the situation. But management styles don’t just happen. Managers are made, not born, so consistent management training is key to developing great managers.

Managers are made, not born, so consistent management training is key to developing great managers.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), middle managers need to be trained for their roles, empowered with larger responsibilities, and involved in strategic decisions. If executives and HR professionals want to hold managers accountable for employee engagement, they should:

  • "Supply managers and employees with the tools they need to do their jobs correctly"
  • "Periodically assign managers larger, more exciting roles"
  • "Give managers the appropriate amount of authority"
  • "Accelerate leadership development efforts"
  • "Ask managers to convey the corporate mission and vision and to help transform the organization"

The goal is engagement

Learning which management styles your workforce is most receptive to will be crucial to your organization’s success.

In a recent Forbes piece, former Navy SEAL Brent Gleeson writes: "Great managers ensure they acquire and develop great talent – they get the right people on the bus and make sure they are in the right seats. They actively prioritize engagement. Their team’s activities align perfectly behind the mission narrative of the organization." 

The management style you use should depend on the circumstances you and your team are encountering at a given moment. Is there a need to be more autocratic because a crisis is at hand? Is it time to set the pace or is this a situation where coaching is more appropriate?

Managers are chameleons, changing their demeanor in response to changing environments. No matter what, the ultimate goal of any management style is to achieve 100% employee engagement.

You may not refer to your organization as a team, but every individual depends on, collaborates with, or reports to others. One person’s work impacts the work of their counterparts, and that’s the foundation of teamwork.

This connection can have positive or negative implications for the work being done, as corporate coach, trainer, and speaker, John Maxwell once stated: “Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.”

Although at Maxwell’s quote seems to imply a leader’s team is something of static value that they’re simply handed, the creation, development, nurturing, and training of a successful team hinges on the level of skill and effort behind its leadership.

Helping them do what they already do

In a 2013 survey of more than 23,000 workers, two-thirds of employees reported that their work required increased collaboration over the past three years. The survey report, Breakthrough Performance in the New Work Environment, also showed that 57% of respondents did more work with those in other geographic locations and 60% worked with at least 10 people each day. An intentionally organized team with clear roles, responsibilities, and a vision has several distinct advantages over a group of people stuck working together.

As technology and the world of work continue to evolve, successfully building environments conducive to teamwork will continue to be a crucial leadership competency. To get you started on the path toward fostering more successful teams in your organization, here are 10 tips:

1. Begin with hiring and onboarding

Take your time to hire not only the most qualified person for the job, but also someone who will compliment your organizational culture. In a recent Forbes article, Kinesis, a marketing and business consultancy firm located in Portland, Oregon, was highlighted as a company that took this directive to heart. 

The company created a hiring exercise, My Dream Employee, aimed at bridging the gap between HR, marketing, and culture. After completing this exercise, the company involves current employees in a hiring process that includes one-on-one interviews as well as meet and greet with the employees the candidate will be working with.

This sort of attention to detail and care in the hiring process can make a big difference in both the candidate and employee experience. 

A natural extension of a great hiring process is a strategic onboarding process aimed at getting new employees up to speed with their job and the organization, while providing the scaffolding they need to build strong coworker relationships right away.

2. Reveal purpose and vision

To foster team success, a leader needs to reveal a vision and purpose for the group and the work at hand. Although they’re often referred to in the similar contexts, purpose and vision are not one in the same. 

Vision focuses on where the organization or team wants to be within a given timeframe. According to a 2014 Harvard Business Review article, the vision says what the organization wishes to be like in some years’ time. For example, the Swedish company Ericsson, a provider of communications equipment, software, and services, defines its vision as being “the prime driver in an all-communicating world.”

Purpose focuses on why the organization wants to achieve that vision. In an interview for the Bonusly blog, Imperative’s Arthur Woods explained that there are no so-called purposeful professions. Although it may be more self-evident in some professions, there is purpose to any work, and a great leader illuminates that purpose in every project. 

By revealing vision and purpose, leaders can help to inspire team members to work together toward a common goal everyone’s invested in achieving.

For a fascinating deep dive into the topics of purpose, vision, mission, values, and how they're defined, check out Graham Kenny's Harvard Business Review article on the topic.

3. Encourage differing viewpoints in a safe environment

As leaders, we need to encourage open dialogue from team members and let them know that it is okay to disagree and speak their minds.

Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns said in an interview that one of her first goals after taking over the helm of fledgling Xerox was to get rid of what she called “terminal niceness.” She said that she wanted her direct reports to be more forthcoming about their feelings when they assembled as a team, rather than having to deal with private meetings that only created an air of secrecy and restraint among the team. 

While it’s important to maintain openness and transparency in group communications, it’s equally important to do so within an environment of psychological safety.

In a fascinating 2016 New York Times article, Charles Duhig shared how after years of analyzing interviews and data from more than 100 teams, Google found that the drivers of effective team performance are the group’s average level of emotional intelligence and a high degree of communication between members.

The best leaders excel in balancing transparency, candid feedback, and psychological safety within their team’s work environment.

4. Never rest on your laurels

Once a leader experiences team success, they tend to take a break or back off the pedal of team development. This should never happen. As Lou Holtz once stated, “After winning, most teams become individuals; most teams become complacent.”

You may have built an outstanding team, but that’s just the first step. Long-term team success demands a continuous process of team building, optimization, and development. Once your team has gelled and is working together smoothly, keep the rhythm going by reinforcing these other nine points.

5. Embrace diversity

Diversity is a meaningful competitive advantage for any team. To support innovation, you need a team of diverse genders, skill sets, knowledge, ethnicities, life experiences, cultures, and personalities, just to name a few. In her Forbes article, Ruchika Tulshyan illuminates the business impact of diversity, citing research that found gender-diverse teams are 15% more likely to outperform non-diverse teams and ethnically diverse ones are 35% more likely to outperform.

It’s easy for a homogenous team to miss key items that would appear obvious to a more diverse team. Diversity provides a broader vision and a stronger team. 

Rather than focusing on culture fit in the hiring process, consider cultural growth, and how each new hire might be able to strengthen team culture through the things that set them apart, rather than their similarities.

6. Develop a clear vision

As David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom point out in their Forbes article, 5 Must-Have Attributes Of Every Successful Team,” if business leaders would strive to get their employees to emulate Little League teams, their team success would be greater. 

Little League teams collectively share the vision of winning a game, but they don’t freelance it. They know that in order to win, each player must know and understand their role on the team and how it relates to the roles of the other players. This clear vision that every team member must possess doesn’t happen by osmosis. It must be communicated, disseminated, reiterated at least weekly and for some, daily.

But what is the vision? It can’t be what you or other leaders decide it should be for the organization and then simply share that wisdom with all team members. It must be a collaborative effort to identify the vision. For the Little League team, the vision is shared by all because the desire for winning is already there. But how do we get everyone to embrace the same vision for our businesses?

In the Harvard Business Review article “To Lead, Create a Shared Vision," James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner found that

“[c]onstituents (employees), want visions of the future that reflect their own aspirations. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be fulfilled.”

To create and develop a clear business vision, encourage input from all team members. If your organization is large, have the employees form a committee representative of all departments who meet once or twice a week until that vision is hammered out and embraced by all.

7. Break down barriers

It is easier than ever before to communicate with one another. Modern communication and collaboration technology have brought team members in closer contact than ever. But in order to reach the ultimate efficiency in collaboration, there must be an agreed upon system that allows the team to communicate efficiently and effectively.

Tools like Flowdock offer group and private chat as well as a team inbox which brings together notifications from other channels like Twitter and Asana. Slack is an extensible cloud-based collaboration tool that gathers all of your team communication in one place, supporting open conversations between all team members.

No matter what tools you decide to use, consider how effectively they’ll facilitate communication and bypass the departmental and hierarchical silos that impede collaboration.

8. Leverage team member strengths and weaknesses

Your team members bring a variety of talents, skills, and abilities to the table. There is no getting around the fact that some members will be stronger in some areas than others. But since your goal is to achieve collaboration and cohesiveness in the team, you will need to identify all member’s strengths and weaknesses as best you can and find a way to get those individual skills working together in harmony.

In his recent Entrepreneur article, Dave Mattson suggests that you try to think of individual abilities as unique cogs in your team machine and visualize these cogs positioned correctly so that the machine runs smoothly. Your goal is to build a well-oiled machine that is successfully productive. And as with a machine, you may have to adjust certain team member roles to keep the machine at optimal performance.

9. Ensure clear, constructive communication

A study by MIT’s Human Dynamic Laboratory found that good communication is essential for a team to be successful. The study uncovered some simple truths about effective teams: 

  • Everyone on the team both talks and listens.No one dominates the conversation.
  • The interactions are energetic with a lot of face-to-face communication
  • People connect with one another directly and not just with or through the team leader
  • Side conversations are carried on within the team
  • People from time to time go outside the group and bring relevant outside information back in

Business leaders should encourage open communication for the good of the team. In addition to encouraging open communication, great team leaders continually work to elevate the quality of communication their team is participating in, both internally and externally.

10. Show appreciation for the team and individual members

Everyone craves acknowledgement and appreciation. Take the time to simply say thank you for a job well done. As LaFleur Founder Chip LaFleur is fond of saying, “recognition is not a limited resource.” Give recognition frequently and be authentic in the recognition you give.

By recognizing your team’s contributions, you can fuel the fire for more successful team projects and inspire all to work together for the stated mission, vision, and purpose.

To take it a step further, provide an environment where everyone in the team is empowered and encouraged to recognize their teammates’ contributions. This not only provides the contributors with the recognition they deserve, it also provides key insights into the things teammates value. That’s priceless data for leaders, and other members of the team.

Taking it further

Performance management strategies that help business leaders with team-building continue to evolve and every leader would be wise to seek out new developments on a regular basis.

High-functioning teams don’t simply appear at work, they must be created and encouraged by a company’s leadership. In the SHRM piece titled, “What About Teams?” the author, Marjorie Derven found that team performance management requires moving from the top-down approach to goals that create a shared stake in business outcomes from multiple functions.

At a minimum, team performance management needs to take into account these overlapping needs:

  • Organization—Align work processes at the team level, focused on key objectives, such as efficiency, effectiveness, operational excellence, and innovation.
  • Team—Include overall team process, relationships and results, equal participation, and output.
  • Employee—Address individual needs to ensure that team members are fully contributing, engaged, and meeting personalized needs for development.
  • Talent management—Enable organizations to understand existing trends impeding or advancing team performance to be better able to make predictions about future performance.

In Conclusion

Good teams provide good returns — but not only to the company coffers.

According to a ScienceDirect study of 133 factory teams, higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity, curiosity, and emotional stability resulted in more-cohesive teams and increased prosocial behavior among team members. As a result, more-effective teams were composed of a higher number of cool-headed, inquisitive, and altruistic people, and this revolving scenario continues.

If you're ready to take the next step toward building a stronger team culture, check out our latest guide: 

What does it mean to provide a great employee experience, and how do you go about improving yours?

Simply put, a great employee experience is engaging, productive, fulfilling, and enjoyable. As straightforward as that may seem, many business and HR leaders today struggle to deliver a consistently positive experience that meets those goals.

A recent Deloitte Insights report showed that 80% of executives considered employee experience either very important (42%) or important (38%), yet only 22% reported that their organizations did an excellent job of creating a differentiated employee experience.

When compared with other areas to allocate time and resources, it may seem as though an outstanding employee experience is a "nice to have," but it's more than that. An investment in providing an amazing employee experience is a clear and visible indication that your organization is committed to employees, and providing that kind of environment can go a long way toward inspiring long-term engagement, retention, and productivity.

The most skilled employee experience architects are attuned to their employees’ desires and actively customize their work environments to provide the most productive and supportive settings. Though upgrades to the employee’s physical environment are the most visible, upgrades that help ensure a positive emotional experience are equally important. As Sapling points out, "HR leaders must be thinking in terms of what employees are looking for in a great work life."

Building and tuning an experience that truly sets your organization apart takes time and effort, but it's possible to make forward progress more quickly than you might think. With that in mind, here are nine simple upgrades to get started with:

1. All aboard

One of the most important phases in the employee lifecycle is onboarding. A recent Society of Human Resource Management article reports that on average, companies lose 17% of their new hires during the first three months of employment

Onboarding is a critical time for employees to learn about the culture and values of the company. As a recent Harvard Business Review article illustrates, departments at Google use an electronic checklist to remind managers to discuss roles and responsibilities with new hires.

You can create a similar checklist or pair new hires with peer buddies to help them get acclimated and start off their tenure with a good experience.

To take it a step further, consider developing a full-scale strategic onboarding program that starts before employees are hired. 

2. Update your career toolkit

The Future Workplace Forecast reports that employers can improve the employee experience by introducing career mobility platforms for employees to digitally test drive new positions and experience new roles and skills.

Gallup Workplace Panel study found that 51% of employees were looking for a new job. Think about career pathing, and whether or not employees have the tools they need to grow and advance without job-hopping.

You’re probably already using high-tech tools to attract talented employees, so why not explore modern tools as a way to help them find that new job within your organization?

3. Reveal purpose

Employees don’t want to just show and up and perform a task without knowing why they’re there in the first place. They want to know how the dots connect, and how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. 

The Future Workplace Forecast found that “[a]ligning employees around a common purpose at work surpasses even workplace flexibility and mentoring and coaching as the most important attribute for creating a compelling workplace experience.”

Let employees know what’s going on in your organization and where it's headed. Help them see how their contributions fit into that vision, and how they are helping to move everyone forward. That sense of shared goals and purpose is a significant element of employee engagement and a positive employee experience.

4. Invest in overall employee wellness

Many organizations are instituting wellness programs or offering incentives for employees to engage in health initiatives. Whether you offer employees a fitness tracker or a tax-exempt healthcare spending account, there are many ways to encourage employees to focus on their health while also lowering healthcare costs for employers and improving employee satisfaction.

Employers can also help make a positive impact on the financial health of their employees. An article in Forbes mentions a recent survey conducted by SunTrust Bank that found that 70% of working adults felt a moderate to high level of financial stress in their lives.

To address this trend, SunTrust started an online financial fitness program to help its employees save $2,000 in an emergency fund and take one paid day off to write a will or construct a family budget.

Think about other ways you can support employee wellness on a holistic level, from physical, to mental, and financial health. Every team is different; ask yours what kind of wellness programs might add the most benefit.

5. Solicit employee feedback

If you don’t know where to start, simply asking the team may prove invaluable.

A recent Deloitte Insights study found that only 22% of companies survey their employees quarterly or more frequently, 79% survey their employees annually or less frequently, and 14% never survey their employees at all.

There are several apps on the market today that can assist with soliciting and organizing employee feedback. Cultureamp’s tools run performance reviews and pulse and culture surveys; managers can review the data based on the lifecycle stage of their employees. TINYpulse and Officevibe are also great purpose-built tools for soliciting employee feedback.

Even if you choose to develop your own surveys in-house, it's crucial to have some method for keeping track of your team's pulse, and gauging the effectiveness of the initiatives you put in place.

6. Act on employee feedback

Many organizations fail to take this crucial step. As a result, the time and effort spent soliciting feedback is essentially wasted, and the employee experience suffers. 

Although artificial intelligence, apps, and surveys can contribute meaningfully to the employee experience, it is fundamentally important to process the information and take steps toward positive change.

Sarah J. Meusburger, leader of HR at Banner Associates, suggests seeking “input from employees on ways to drive efficiency while maintaining or boosting the quality of the product or service that the company sells… If employees feel that they are being listened to, they are more likely to share ideas and may suggest something that improves a significant aspect of your business.”

Leaders can solicit feedback from their employees but not until they act on that feedback and work to improve the employee experience can they show their employees that they are heard and appreciated.

7. Make collaboration easier

Most employees don’t want to work in a silo. They want to interact with their peers be a part of something larger than themselves. When leaders take steps to make collaboration part of an organization’s culture, they can improve both employee experience and project outcomes.

While face-to-face teamwork might be ideal in some cases, it's not always an option; however, you can make teamwork easier by providing access to modern communication and collaboration tools.

Tools like Google Docs and Slack can go a long way toward facilitating collaboration and communication by eliminating technological barriers, but all the tools in the world won't increase collaboration if it's not a part of your organization's culture.

It's important to recognize the role leadership plays in either supporting or hindering collaboration. Recognize and reward great teamwork to communicate its value, and try to identify and eliminate silos and other organizational barriers to collaboration.

8. Provide opportunities for learning and growth

Providing employees with growth opportunities isn’t just about pointing them towards a promotion. It is also about providing avenues for them to stretch their mental capabilities. As Neuroscience News confirms, employees get excited about learning.

Give employees resources that will help them to learn and grow. Partner with a local university that offers classes, provide team training sessions, start a company library, or sponsor lunch-and-learns. Online tools like Udemy can also help employees learn and develop skills with minimal overhead requirements.

Making those tools available and encouraging their use not only helps employees grow within your organization, it can help reduce reliance on outside expertise.

9. Think customer experience

Research has shown that in order to provide the best customer experience, employees need to experience what it is like to be a customer. These empathy building opportunities help employees better understand customer needs and pain points.

In 2017, the Tempkin Group reported that companies who deliver outstanding customer experiences have one-and-a-half times more engaged employees than those at the lower end of the scale.

Empathize with and work to understand employee needs, desires, and expectations the same way you would for customers. The greater your empathy, the greater your ability to provide employees with an experience they truly value.

The need for a great employee experience

Modern workers are assessing future employers and making quick judgments about what life will be like for them at a given organization.

Creating a great employee experience isn’t just about the layout of the work environment, health care benefits, or an employer’s contribution to a 401K, though those are important.

Great employee experiences are the result of providing the most fulfilling conditions for employees. It is caring as much about the employee as you do about the customer, perhaps even more.

As Denise Lee Yohn states in her Harvard Business Review article,

If a company attends to its employee experience with the same level of discipline and intention that it does to its customer experience, the results can be seen across the board.

In essence, one of the strongest investments a business leader can make is to design, build, and maintain an employee experience that encourages and produces the very best work throughout an organization.

These are just a few examples of the many ways you can upgrade your employee experience. If you're ready to take the next step toward building better workdays, check out our latest guide:

Turnover is inevitable. Every person you hire will eventually leave your organization. Whether employees leave for more enticing positions, move away, become full-time family caretakers, or retire after decades of priceless contributions, no one will be with you forever.

But turnover isn’t always a bad thing; in fact, it’s a natural part of the employee life cycle.

How long an employee stays with your company merits consideration but time is not a reliable indicator of the quality of their tenure. It’s their contributions and the experiences they share with your organization during their tenure that make the greatest impact.

So how do you create strong mutual value for the employee and employer’s time together? By consciously implementing tools and practices that focus on improving every stage of the employee lifecycle, from candidate to graduate.

We’ve outlined five stages of the employee lifecycle and identified some steps you can take during each stage to maximize both the value that employees can offer your organization and the value your organization contributes in kind to their lives.

1. Candidate

When it comes to recruitment, we all strive to find the ideal candidate who will join our team and help propel us to higher levels of success. Employers have come a long way from placing ads in the newspaper and hoping that the right person responds.

Attracting top talent requires far deeper and more targeted searches. Thankfully, digital help is available.

One way of optimizing job descriptions to appeal to the broadest base of candidates is by working to eliminate unintended bias. You can use Textio, an online writing platform, to revise the language of your job listings and appeal to a more diverse, more qualified pool of applicants.

Once you’ve optimized your job descriptions, tools like Wayup make it easier to reach great candidates for entry-level positions. 

GapJumpers hosts blind auditions so companies can evaluate candidates by the quality of their interview performance instead of the formatting of their resumes.

All of these tools can help expand your talent pool and identify people who will be a great fit for you and your team, all while improving the experience for those candidates. Providing an excellent candidate experience, even for candidates who don’t join your team, can have a profound impact on your employer brand.

2. New hire

You’ve found the best employees for your company and they’re excited to get started. Do you have processes in place to make the first few weeks memorable and engaging? Effective onboarding helps ensure long-term engagement. The onboarding process isn’t just for going over your new employee’s job function, but also for clarifying how their position supports the overall mission of the company.

To get the most from the time and energy you’re investing in proper onboarding, consider using Sapling, a strategic onboarding tool that helps new hires reach productivity faster and more reliably.

Software isn’t the only way to improve this stage of the employee lifecycle, though. Your existing employees can also help acclimate new hires. It's crucial to have the whole team invested in successful onboarding since peer relationships, mentoring, and a friendly work environment are essential ingredients for building an engaged workforce.

3. Team member

Fair wages and benefits are important considerations, the basic components of your employee value proposition (EVP).

But modern employees aren't simply looking for a paycheck; they're looking for a mutually beneficial partnership, one that enriches and elevates both parties. In most cases, employees innately want to grow and develop their skills so they can perform well at work and take charge of their own enrichment.

Vishen Lakhiani, cofounder of Mindvalley, presented a TEDx talk that listed “Five Ways to Build the World’s Greatest Workplace.” In his talk, Lakhiani builds a compelling case for catering to employees. All of his ideas are geared towards augmenting employees’ comfort, family/work time balance, social life, and growth. Lakhiani says that the key is to make the employee’s work their mission so that they can feel a sense of ownership over it. 

 Providing a recognition-rich environment is one of the easiest ways to illuminate the purpose of an employee’s work. Each time an employee receives recognition from a colleague, they’re given a salient example of the impact their work has on their team and, in many cases, the impact it has on the outside world.

4. Veteran

Veterans are likely among your organization’s top contributing members, but they’re also very likely to be at critical points in their careers. Veterans will either have the room and the tools they need to thrive or they’ll start to look for greener pastures.

How do you provide the right environment for your veteran employees to continue flourishing? Let’s begin with the work environment and how you can improve it to support this phase of the employee life cycle.

In a recent Forbes article, Shawn Murphy said,

We are seeing employees refusing to play by the tired rules from the previous century. They are leaving jobs to start their own work. They are leaving companies that treat them as a finite asset in hopes of finding someplace where they are valued.

Supportive work environments are instrumental to keeping employees engaged with their work and motivated to continue making their best contributions. When you instill trust in your employees and empower them by giving them greater autonomy over the work they do, you are investing in long-term engagement.

According to a report published by the Association for Psychological Science,

Even the least powerful employees will commit to finding ways to make their organization more efficient if given the autonomy to make decisions and execute the improvement measures they find most useful.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Andrew Chamberlain explained why the cost of replacing veteran employees who quit is on average, 21% of their annual pay. Knowing what your employees are thinking or feeling at any given time is one of the most difficult aspects of employee retention.

Instead of attempting to read your employees’ minds or expecting them to consistently and proactively voice their concerns, you can solicit that information directly and frequently with employee surveys.

There are a number of modern tools, including CultureAmp, Typeform, and SurveyMonkey, that can make administering employee surveys both simple and effective. By regularly taking the pulse of your veteran team members, you can be proactive about employee retention while maintaining a high level of quality in this crucial stage of the employee life cycle.

You can also conduct “stay interviews” and create “stay plans” for employees. By conducting these kinds of interviews, management can anticipate potential leave issues and develop action plans that get everyone involved.

5. Graduate

Although we want to keep employees engaged for a very long time, every employee life cycle has an endpoint. This is perhaps one of the most important stages of the employee lifecycle to get right.

The moments after an employee leaves your organization are marked by the genuine pride and joy of a graduation or the bitter resentment of a bad break-up. In both of these scenarios, your employer brand is on display.

It’s valuable to learn why employees decide to leave. Exit interviews, employee pulse surveys, and frequent 360 feedback efforts can distill the reasons employees leave and point to existing processes that need adjusting.

When the time comes to say goodbye to a valued team member, Oracle’s Employee Separation to Workforce Analysis tool can process the employee separation, provide an exit interview checklist, finalize compensation, post to payroll, and provide an analysis of workforce trends based on region, department, job and geography.

Whichever tools or processes you choose for this last stage of the employee lifecycle, your focus should be on highlighting the value of the employee’s contributions and readying them for their next step.

Creating a new toolbox

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Special Expertise Panel found that some of the top challenges facing HR departments today are steeper competition for talent, new developments in technology, a rising sense of insecurity, and demographic shifts.

All of these elements have a huge impact on the current employee life cycle. To stay competitive and keep employees engaged, research additional tools and strategies for your employee lifecycle toolbox. As with other technology, HR tech is only getting better and some are changing practically overnight.

Staying competitive means continually improving every aspect of the employee life cycle by using the best tools and strategies at your disposal. Although it’s no small amount of work to stay at the cutting edge of employee experience, the return on investment far outweighs the cost.

If you'd like to know more about employee retention and recognition, take a look at our Ultimate Employee Retention Guide

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