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Process Tempo Insights

  • Phil Meredith

Human Resources Leading the Fight to Increase Employee Engagement


Organizations need to implement strategies to address the startling rise in employee turnover. Millennials are leading this category and have been called the Job-Hopping Generation. It is likely that future generations will be no different. Polls indicate that high turnover among Millennials is due to a lack of workplace engagement. Faced with this reality, a retention strategy designed to encourage employee engagement is needed.

The Human Resources department can play a greater role in this effort by facilitating access to information about how the business itself functions. Today’s businesses are extremely complex. This complexity makes it difficult for employees to solve problems and perform their duties efficiently. Frustration leads to a lack of engagement and any effort to alleviate this frustration will have a positive impact on engagement. By reducing complexity and helping to make the business more transparent, Human Resources can increase employee engagement and at the same time reduce the cost and effort to onboard future employees.

Millennials and High Employee Turnover

A recent study by Gallup states that the main reason for employee turnover is a lack of engagement. Only 16% of Millennials polled in this study consider themselves actively engaged while on the job. Of those polled, 60% are open to changing jobs. This is a scary prospect for a business that wants to keep turnover low. The question then becomes how can an organization increase employee engagement?

The Root Cause

Each employee is given a mandate when they are hired. They are asked to operate at a high level of efficiency with their productivity being the number one metric by which they are judged. When the complexity of the business interferes with this productivity an employee’s frustration skyrockets.

When an employee struggles to find answers to basic questions or if they find even the simplest problems too challenging their morale suffers. Organizational complexity is the root cause of employee frustration and therefore engagement.

The Remedy

The good news is that frustration and complexity can be remedied by access to information. The business needs to make internal processes more transparent and empower employees to contribute to this transparency. Greater transparency benefits everyone. Transparency reduces complexity and makes problem-solving easier. When employees can contribute, they feel a sense of accomplishment and a greater sense of ownership. Future employees also benefit from this effort. It is truly a win-win.

Hasn’t This Been Tried Before?

Every day and in every large business there are efforts underway to document how the business functions. When a user creates a spreadsheet, authors a document, or puts together a slide presentation, they are attempting to make a part of the business more transparent.

The problem with this is that each new document, spreadsheet or file represents yet another piece of disconnected information. Having the entire business documented in this piecemeal manner makes it extremely challenging to find answers. It is like being asked to complete a puzzle when the puzzle pieces have no consistency in shape, color or location.

Technologies such as intranets, web-portals and content management systems were designed to help users find information but none of this investment has made the business less complex. In fact, what they serve up can amount to digital noise to the frustrated employee looking for a simple answer. Documents grow old because they are so time-consuming to create and difficult to sift through for specific answers. A better approach is needed.

A New Approach: Crowd-sourced problem solving

To reduce the impediments caused by complexity requires a change of approach. One which does not require time-consuming documentation and instead caters to a workforce already overburdened.

To make this work will require a crowd-sourced approach. One in which each contributor sees value in making a contribution thereby facilitating greater involvement. Crowd sourced problem solving works when each constituent has a stake in finding and sharing answers. It works when the rewards outweigh the burden of contributing. Adding a viral component will encourage even more participation. The viral approach being something Millennials in particular are used to.

To make this work will require cross-department cooperation something Human Resources is in a great position to facilitate.

Human Resources Should Own This

The employee on-boarding process should not just be about providing employees the proper paperwork and equipment to start their jobs. It should also provide them a means to navigate the business and educate them via the crowd-sourced problem-solving approach. If done correctly, new employees will immediately benefit from the problems solved by employees before them thus making them immediately more productive. They will also have a means to be more engaged with their jobs since contributing creates a sense of ownership and accomplishment.

What is Needed

Human resources can tackle this problem by implementing the following:

  • Enable a crowd-sourced approach to collecting data about the business so as to make the business more transparent

  • Encourage every employee to contribute to this effort. Encourage a viral response

  • Make this approach simple, easy to understand and rewarding

  • Focus on answering simple questions like who, what and why so that collectively, more complex questions can be answered

  • Allow all employees to navigate this information and benefit from it

  • Use this as a means to increase employee engagement

By implementing this approach, a Human Resources department can help reduce business complexity, increase transparency and create a less frustrating environment to work. More importantly they will encourage greater employee engagement and therefore improve the offs of retaining employees.

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