Santiago Jaramillo is the CEO and co-founder of employee engagement platform Emplify. He spoke with TechRepublic's Alison DeNisco Rayome about employee engagement at the company's office in Fishers, Indiana. You can watch the video above, or read the transcript below.
Santiago Jaramillo: So, there's a lot of things happening right now that are causing challenges for leaders. You've got, basically, full unemployment happening where it's really hard to find new talent, and it's harder than ever to be able to retain them when they have more work options than ever before. But it's not the fact that they only have more work options than ever before, it's also that their expectations— employee's expectations of what they want from work have also changed. 20 years ago compensation and benefits was enough to retain someone for 20, 30 years and get their best.
Today, compensation and benefits are the fifth most important thing that somebody wants from their work. Number one and number two are senior leadership, values, and culture. And so, for leaders, as they're trying to figure out, "How do we assemble a group of highly engaged, top talent to be able to pursue our business's mission?" It's a harder time than ever to be able to track and retain, and a harder time than ever to be able to create such an engaging environment that is going to give skill talent what they need to do their best work.
So, the challenge with all of these trends that are going on is how do we as leaders prioritize and come up with a strategy to have a better culture and a better working environment? It turns out the data is a fantastic way to do that, to prioritize those initiatives. Right? We can think about trying to do 10 or 20 things and throwing darts at the wall to see what sticks. We can actually have data measure employee engagement and be able to tell what are the largest and biggest, most valuable opportunities for us to tackle to create a more engaging environment. The data can confirm our gut around what we oughta be doing and can help us proceed with more accuracy, do less of the right things, and ultimately create a more engaging environment with less effort, less time, and higher accuracy.
The first place to start as leaders is defining what do we want to measure? Do we want to measure happiness, satisfaction, employee engagement, culture. I would pause it that we want to be measuring employee engagement. We don't want to measure somebody's satisfaction if they're kind of leaning back and comfortable and coasting. We want to measure how bought in and leaning in and invested and committed and motivated are our employees. That's measured by employee engagement.The first thing is let's measure the right thing.
The second thing is how do we actually measure way ... in a way that's trustworthy and valid in a way that's actionable? So, trustworthy is, are we using the right questions to measure engagement? Trustworthy means, do employees feel truly safe to be able to be honest with this. Many times when an organizations do an internal survey, this can be a problem for confidentiality and anonymity because they might be afraid that their names are gonna be attached to the results and they might not wanna be honest.
The last thing is, how do we actually make results actionable? Big data is cool, but if you can't act on the data, what's the point of having the data anyway? So, we got to make sure, how do we have actionable insights? And what we found is that we want to start with a quantitative measurement. Qualitatively dig in in a few areas, and then have expert consulting and coaching to be able to figure out what are the right actions? How do we prioritize them? How do we actually put them into practice, change, manage, and communicate those? So, kind of quantitative, qualitative, and then an expert thought partner that can help think about all these challenges.
So, I think that's just a few ideas on where to start and ... in each of our journeys of trying to get data around employee engagement to create more engaging environments, and ultimately more high performing teams.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.