February 20, 2018

Four tips for effectively engaging today’s workforce

Engagement should be proactive, not reactive. Here, VP Employee Experience Deb LaMere shares tips to make engagement strategies more effective for employees across generations.

Deb LaMere

Deb LaMere is the Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian. With 17 years’ experience in human resources, Deb is responsible for employee engagement, talent management and performance management for Ceridian.

In a recent webinar, Deb discussed key tenets to building a winning talent management strategy for employees across generations.

Each generation values aspects of work differently. For example, most Boomers, who are further along in their careers, care about health insurance and retirement planning. Many Gen Xers prioritize work-life balance, job security, career advancement and retirement plans. Millennials tend to put a lot of focus on benefit choices, like schedule flexibility, paid time off, and opportunities to blend work and life. They are also a generation that seeks continuous feedback. These generations tend to align, however, in their interest in corporate social responsibility and an interest in giving back to their communities.

Understanding these differences are key to encouraging engagement in the new world of work, and helping your employees work better together. Engagement shouldn’t be reactive, it should be proactive. In a recent webinar, I discussed some ways that employers can make their engagement strategies more effective. Here are four key takeaways I shared, along with tips to tackle the triggers of disengagement.

Simplify: work, communication and processes

A culture that gives each employee the opportunity to be their best both at work and at home is one that will keep employees engaged. At Ceridian, we encourage work-life blending. I noted earlier that different employees prioritize different aspects of work. Generational differences may dictate how work and life blend, because priorities shift at different stages of their lives.

One of Ceridian’s initiatives that supports our people in work-life blending is our “Take 2” program. It lets employees take two hours from work if they need to – for example, to attend their child’s sports game or concert.

Technology, in many forms, is also key to simplifying work and decreasing stress. For example, implement collaboration tools and platforms for employees to engage with each other so they can have fewer meetings, or, make video conferencing a staple for meetings with remote employees. Think about ways to empower your people, for example, with self-service technology, so they can focus on other things.

Simplification also means removing arduous and antiquated processes – like annual performance reviews and engagement surveys – that simply don’t suit the mindsets of an age-diverse workforce, and instead empowering your people through personal accountability. We’ll dive further into these ideas below. Companies are increasingly investing in holistic HCM solutions to help with various aspects of simplification, in order to spend more time on their people, and less time on processes.

Learn more about how self-service technology helps HR professionals empower their people

Emphasize learning and development

Learning is critical to engagement. When choosing a company to work for, top talent looks for opportunities to continuously learn and grow professionally and personally. According to LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report, the average shelf life of skills is five years. So, it’s also good for business to develop employees from within, upskilling them with the knowledge to remain relevant in a changing and increasingly competitive business landscape. This applies to all generations in your workforce, who are all interested in discussing where they can take their skills or what they can do next.

Whether by offering tuition reimbursement, or by embedding learning at every stage of the employee lifecycle, there are many ways you can create a learning culture within your organization. Employees feel empowered with self-directed learning options, both for their existing roles, and for career development.

Facilitate always-on, open feedback

Speaking of development, it’s time to shift your mindsets when it comes to annual performance reviews. As an organization, we have eliminated annual performance reviews, and shifted to the ongoing, constant feedback of a performance development culture.

I’m often asked for tips on how to facilitate a culture of open and honest feedback. Start with simple things: managers should set a regular cadence of one-on-one meetings with their employees. These are informal, but they’re important to build trust and rapport. From an engagement survey perspective, instead of the single, annual survey, move towards regular pulse surveys to give a better, moment-in-time look at how engaged your people are.

As for formal performance reviews, consider creating a guide that both managers and employees can use to prepare for the meeting. The traditional method of giving employees performance ratings is not effective – employees shut down and focus only on their ratings versus overall feedback. Using guides helps everyone come to the table with thoughtful feedback and ideas about performance, and are instrumental in facilitating honest feedback conversations.

See how Dayforce supports always-on, continuous performance management

Get leadership on board

We’re fortunate to have a CEO who is a champion of our people-first culture, and has been instrumental in leading us to where we are today. Many organizations struggle with demonstrating the value of engagement to leadership teams, and a question I’m often asked is how to get executives on board with engagement initiatives.

The answer is to speak their language. Focus on ROI. Demonstrate the benefits of investing in engagement initiatives. Think about how engagement impacts the business bottom line. A few points to consider when you’re getting started are the cost of employee turnover, the potential ROI from improving engagement, results from “always on” engagement surveys, and how engagement impacts your customer experience.


Engagement is really about people intelligence – that is, being smart about your people, and empowering them to work smarter as well.

Missed the webinar? Register for the next webinar on Feb. 28, presented by Deb LaMere: Stop the revolving door: recruit and retain top talent.

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