by Christine Shepherd, managing partner, PlanningPlus

When I was entering the workforce in my late teens, a solid, well-written resume and interview skills were everything. As a job seeker, long tenure and job stability were key factors in the job hunting and interviewing process. If you were looking for positions in management and leadership, a stable and consistent work history was considered a major plus.

Now, more than 25 years later, the job market is in a different place. Various job experiences paired with shorter tenure have slowly become the new normal. Career paths are not always linear. And the massive number of job vacancies and an unprecedented employee turnover rate have led to a significant paradigm shift in employment power.

According to the article Rewriting Employee Engagement, published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on Feb. 3, 2022, “19 million (people) resigned between March 2021 and July 2021.” Talking heads and critics tried explaining this labor movement as a blip in time — a response to an influx of COVID relief funding. As time went on and more jobs continued to sit open, it has become evident that employers no longer hold the power.

In the article, the author Eva Andres goes on to say, “It’s a desire for change fed by pandemic-era introspection … What we’re seeing now is shift of power from employer to employee, a humanistic labor evolution in which people are revisiting their values and what they want to do with their lives. That is forcing employers to adapt to employees’ needs instead of the other way around.”

Yes, that’s right. The hiring organization is now in the hot seat.

So how do we assess how we are doing with employee engagement and what can we do better? As defined by SHRM, employee engagement “is the extent to which people enjoy and believe in what they do for work and have the perception that their employer values what they bring to the table.”

The Great Resignation, as it has been called, requires employers to pause and evaluate if and how they are engaging with current and prospective staff. Research has shown that there are six main drivers for employee engagement that an employer should consider: work, people, total rewards, opportunities, company practices, and quality of life.

Of these six drivers, employers often consider two or three out of the six, most often total reward (compensation and benefits) and opportunities (career pathing and job advancement).

It is critical for employers to understand that employees are motivated and driven by different values, goals, and outcomes. For nonprofit organizations that often have limited resources and flat organization charts, it is imperative that leaders seek to understand what is meaningful to employees, what they value, and why they chose to work for their organization. It’s also important to understand how to add value in the lives of employees and how to make a difference to them — and for them.

Making organizational changes, even good ones, takes time, and it must start at the beginning for it to be lasting change. Start with current policies and procedures, job descriptions, performance plans and employee handbooks. Evaluate and assess the message, tone, and clarity of communications with staff members. Beginning with current recruitment and retention strategies will help identify the areas in which the nonprofit is currently doing well with employee engagement as well as opportunities to do better.

It’s important to involve employees in the process and ensure you are working with honest and candid feedback about current retention and recruitment practices.

PlanningPlus has helped dozens of for-profit and nonprofit organizations assess and enhance their employee engagement strategies. We understand that with a candid assessment, a critical eye, and a true desire for change, you can truly be a value-add in the lives of all your employees.

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