Despite the wealth of literature and data published on the keys to organizational success, many modern organizations still fall flat on employee engagement and struggle with poor retention rates
Despite the wealth of literature and data published on the keys to organizational success, many modern organizations still fall flat on employee engagement and struggle with poor retention rates. The stark reality organizational leaders need to understand is that employee expectations have changed significantly over the past decade.
According to Cecile Alper-Leroux, Vice President of Human Capital Management (HCM) Innovation at Ultimate Software, one mistake that over 60% of organizations still make today is surveying employees only once a year or every two years. Another mistake is not taking stock of how much younger generations, such as millennials, have influenced every aspect of the way modern work “works.”
Organizations are out of sync with the expectations and desires of the 21st-century workforce in several ways. One is in the way they define leadership. The traditional idea says that leadership lies in a person’s presence or appearance. However, more modern thinking suggests that true leadership lies in motivating people to come together to meet shared objectives. Organizations are also out of sync in terms of having women in leadership positions. A recent study found that women tend to possess 17 out of 20 modern leadership qualities, but, in reality, only 20% of leaders in most organizations today are women.
Another way some organizations are out of sync is through their one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement. Hosting a team karaoke event, for instance, is not always a good approach, especially for introverts who may find the experience a total nightmare. For individuals on the autism spectrum, being in a meeting may also be a stressful scenario. But, having a different preference doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable team members. Alper-Leroux suggests that, when developing an engagement plan, organizational leaders should always take into account their employees’ differences.
These examples are the manifestations of what Alper-Leroux describes as “dissonance” in the workplace, something she explores in great detail in her recently published book, From Dissonance to Resonance: Bringing Your People and Organization into Sync. The book was the result of her conversations with HR professionals, employees, people attending presentations, and even with her children about how things are changing.
Any ambitious leader should not allow the slow flow of dissonance to prevail in their company. They should instead aim for and implement practices that support employee resonance. When there’s resonance in the workplace, first and foremost, people feel that they can be themselves and speak without any repercussions.
“You know when you had a good meeting or conversation with someone? It just feels comfortable, you’re motivated, you want to be able to do more, and you can innovate without fear,” Alper-Leroux explains. “Resonance in the workplace manifests itself that way, and it comes from being able to be yourself, being able to speak and be heard. The result is greater than the sum of what an individual could do and an organization could produce.”
When employees feel a sense of resonance with their work and employers, they will also experience safety and security, making them feel that they are supported in preparing for the future of work.
“There’s a lot of fear because of automation taking over their job, but if an organization is resonant, then the organization is working collaboratively with employees to prepare them for the future of work,” Alper-Leroux says.
Having true resonance in the workplace is also beneficial to the organization. It means more loyal customers (because employees are taking care of them) and happier employees, which creates an environment wherein more and more people will come, helping the organization attract top talent.
To create the building blocks of resonance, Alper-Leroux says that organizational leaders need to listen to their employees and build transparency into the communication strategy of the organization.
Cecile Alper-Leroux’s book, From Dissonance to Resonance: Bringing Your People and Organization into Sync, is available now.