If you wondered when the workplace of the future would arrive and what it would look like, countless signs are pointing to “now” and “flexible”. If you aren’t already thinking about what that means, for your talent engagement and retention efforts, you may want to start. Take a minute to consider what American workers had to say in Prudential’s Pulse of the America Worker Survey (April 2021):
- 68% say a hybrid workplace (remote plus in-office mix) is their ideal
- 42% stated that if their current company does not continue to offer remote work options, they will seek a company that does
- 26% plan to look for a new job when the threat of the pandemic decreases
Emerging research fills in more details about what employees want from the place they work:
- Career growth opportunities,
- Learning and development resources,
- Benefits that support new and changing worker priorities, and more.
But what about your workforce? If you aren’t clear about what your team needs and what their plans are, it’s time for an engagement conversation.
Engagement conversations are discussions between you and your direct reports, designed to learn more about what’s most important to each member of the team, their interests, aspirations, and goals. The conversation has no other objective than to find out what will engage them or keep them engaged. The conversations are generally quick (15 minutes or so), frequent, and focused on the team member. Here are a few key stages of the engagement conversation to help keep you on track:
- Set up the meeting by letting your team member know the purpose. (“I want to better understand how things are going for you and what you need from me for support.”)
- Start the conversation focused on the person and the value of their work and contributions as you see it.
- Use open, exploratory questions to help the team member articulate what they need, what they want, and how satisfied they are with their current job situation.
- Focus on problem-solving and establishing goals during the conversation so that you both walk away with a clear understanding of commitments made.
- Articulate an action plan, so next steps are clearly outlined. What did you each agree to do, change, do differently, or to continue? Be sure to follow-up, so your team member has a sense of your strong commitment to their engagement and success.
If engagement conversations are new for you, it may take some time for you and your team to find your pace and focus. Give it time and be open to adjusting your approach for individual preferences and personalities. The payoff? It might help you avoid the “save” conversation, which happens when your talent sees a culture fit and better opportunities somewhere else. A save conversation can sometimes keep a valued team member from heading to the door, but wouldn’t it be better if they weren’t looking in the first place?