Employee appreciation: How to make your team feel valued

Chris Pope, chief innovation officer at NewRocket, reveals what benefits and perks HR leaders should be offering

The Great Resignation rages on, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More than 4.4 million Americans quit their job in April, following similar amounts in March and February. That means nearly 70 million Americans have left their positions over the past year. The historic exodus is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted people to re-evaluate their priorities in life. Workers want higher salaries, better conditions, greater work/life balance and more opportunities to advance their career.

In this interview with HRD TV, Chris Pope, chief innovation officer at NewRocket, shares guidance for HR leaders struggling to make their employees feel valued.

To view full transcript, please click here

John: [00:00:15] Welcome to HRDTV. I'm John Corrigan with HRD America. And today I'm joined by Chris Pope, chief innovation officer at New Rocket, a tech firm in California. We are going to be discussing employee appreciation, which is more important than ever during the great resignation. Chris, thanks for joining me. How are you? 

Chris: [00:00:35] I'm very good. Thank you for having me. Good to be here. And yeah, excited to see what we get to talk about. 

John: [00:00:40] Well, let's get right into it. How can HR leaders make employees feel valuable in 2022? 

Chris: [00:00:47] Yeah, I think in your intro that you bring up a really good point, this great resignation, right? I like to think of it a little bit different in more sort of a migration in the sense that people are moving towards what's more important to them. If nothing else, I think the pandemic has sort of power was the wrong word, but decision making ability more in the hands of the employees. And therefore we all work from anywhere. We're all in very different parts of the world from different locations. And I think what that meant for talent and HR organization is they have to meet their employees more where they are and not with the sort of standard stuff, for want of a better word, of, you know, the luxuries, if you can call it that, of being in an office every day near each other, how you collaborate, how you communicate, the conversations around the watercooler. They've all gone right, but I'm at home. But more than anything, you appreciate what's important to me. I have children, I have animals. Maybe they're the same things. Who knows? Used interchangeably, right? But my schedule, my time of day with younger children versus older children understanding what's truly important to your employees and not sort of having a a peanut butter approach that, well, we know everybody wants a drinks bottle because they all do yoga in the morning or we know everybody wants this because they all do it the same. And I think that's the difference. It becomes contextual and meaningful to the employee. You know, standard benefits still apply around insurance and all those good things. Right. But I think there's that where the HR and talent teams are wedding is they're doing that a little bit more. But it's relevant to you, John, and what you do and what we know about you and the way you work and the type of job that you do. And then you sort of get a much better sense of inclusion and belonging, you know, as and like, yeah, these guys get it. They know what I'm about, they know what I need and they know what's important to me. 

John: [00:02:40] Well, you know, you're mentioning this kind of idea of personalizing benefits and perks for each employee. But are there, you know, benefits and perks that companies should offer maybe to job applicants, maybe just just like a baseline that that they can say, hey, if you come work for us, we have these and we know you want them. 

Chris: [00:02:58] Absolutely. I think, you know, there's a lot on social media and certainly Twitter around, you know, where people have or companies have made that statement where returning to work three days a week and a lot have gone I'm not and there competition have said it's fine you can work from anywhere. Not that we don't care, but in the nicest sense if we have a tax entity and a legal operating model, you work from anywhere, right? It's about productivity and efficiency and and being happy, if you will, as employees. But I think where we've seen something really sort of a bit more creative and there's a couple of startups in this space like First Base HQ is a really good example whereby they said, Look, you know, Chris, you're a remote employee. If you came to the office, you get a nice desk, a nice chair, a great monitor, a great ergonomic setup, if you will. They've gone in and said, actually, we'll provide that for your employees as part of it. So if you have got space at home, we'll give you the full office set up. It's almost like office as a service so that you can be productive and not worry about having to sit at the kitchen table or the dining table and move it all when the kids have got, you know, whatever it may be. But looking at it and saying, you know, it's a lot more than free lattes and, you know, and this class and fitness classes and goodness knows what else. 

Chris: [00:04:12] It's actually how do we create a safe and productive working environment for you that's contextualized to you? So if you have gut space, you can have the full thing. You can have the big monitor with with the desk, with the chair. And, you know, then as an employer from a health and safety standpoint, people are working in the right way, in a safe way, which you would hope means, you know, less time off sick due to whatever issue it may be. So I think, you know, it's gone beyond sort of the I don't like to call them trinket type benefits that are nice little things that are sweeteners versus what's meaningful to me in the way I need to work. And how can I create an employment package, if you will, that not only attracts potential candidates and I think you mentioned it a little bit there with onboarding, it's really hard to onboard a new employee and bring them into the culture of an organization when you're remote. So when you start looking at diversity, inclusion, belonging, you have to think about that slightly differently because you now may be hiring outside of your normal hiring circles in terms of the talent, the skills, but also locations. But you know, how do you bring them in and make them feel part of the family, for want of a better word? That's really, really hard to do. And, you know, almost give away gifts. Don't do that. That's not what I'm joining the company for. 

John: [00:05:33] Yeah, it's kind of like buying their. Their love of, you know, without making the effort. Yeah, let's say that all else fails them and that your employee is gung ho on making a change in their life and they give you their two weeks notice, which I'm certain a lot of our leaders have received over the past two years. And during this great resignation. What advice do you have for these HR leaders? Should they make an effort to change that employee's mind? 

Chris: [00:06:03] So I'll sort of answer this in two parts. So I think the first thing is the much heralded exit interview process, right? It's kind of too late at that point. Right. And I think, you know, there's a lot of statements made around people don't leave great companies, they leave poor managers. Right. So there's some element there around responsibility as a manager not being in tune with my people or if that's being a surprise. But I think you truly have to understand the motives for for leaving. And, you know, there's always the financial side of things. We get that right. There's always going to be somebody else somewhere else offering more money or whatever it is, but truly understand the reason for leaving. And if it's financially related, there's an element of things you can do that. But I think if it's the other side of it, which is sort of more work related, is it team, is it culture, is it the sense of belonging? Maybe I don't enjoy the work I'm doing anymore, or maybe I don't have a voice within the team. I think one of the things that I've always tried to do when when interviewing candidates to bring them on board to try and avoid that departure side of things is say, Well, I can sit here and tell you, John, all the amazing things about my team. But what if I had someone in the team talk to you about me as a manager, as a leader, what the team looks like, the diversity, the dynamics, the way we communicate. Hopefully that sets the scene early, but at the same time. I think if someone's made the decision to leave and then you counter for whatever reason. I always personally, I feel they lose a little bit of integrity if they accept that, because then you can start to understand some of the true motivations. That's not true in all cases, of course. Right. But I think, you know, we were recently trying to hire a candidate. She got countered by the incumbent and then she went dark. Didn't give us any reason, any background, any feedback as to why she no longer wanted to accept the position with us. More than likely it was financial related because of the role that it was. But I personally, I feel a little bit wounded by that, that I had an opportunity to get feedback from a candidate. Were we too slow? Was something not right but the same way with the exit? If you can truly understand what that looks like, it means you hopefully can avoid it because if they go you're pretty sure someone else is. The team is like, Oh, hang on, John's gone over there. That might be interesting. Maybe I should start looking as well. And people talk, right? And then all of a sudden you end up with more and more people leaving as a result. 

John: [00:08:32] Well, I hope that, you know, with some of these tips that you've shared today, that this will dissuade some from making the wrong decisions here and encourage them to do whatever they can to keep their town. Because as you as you stressed earlier, onboarding is a very difficult process, a very timely and expensive process, and we want to minimize that as much as possible. So, Chris, I appreciate you sharing your insight today. 

Chris: [00:08:54] No problem. Thank you for having us. Really enjoyed it. 

John: [00:08:57] And thank you, everyone, for watching. This has been another episode of HRDTV.