• August 2011

Barbara Mitchell Teaches Us How to Enchant Our Employees

By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author
The Essential HR Handbook

One of the hottest topics in the HR world right now is called “Employee Engagement.” I really like this trend because smart organizations are focusing on finding out exactly how engaged their workforce is—and then developing strategies to maximize engagement.

According to the Corporate Leadership Council, the best way to determine exactly how engaged the staff is—in terms of commitment to their organization—can be identified by how hard they work, and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.

Highly committed employees, for instance, try 57 percent harder, perform 20 percent better, and are 87 percent less likely to leave than employees with low levels of commitment.

So how can you best engage your employees?

Having been in the HR business for decades, I can tell you from experience that engagement has a direct correlation to enchantment. The truth is that your employees want you to find ways to connect with them, because they want to be excited and passionate about where they work and the work they do.

The cost of not enchanting your employees is potential turnover. And researchers who are tracking disengagement estimate that lost productivity costs the US economy approximately $300 billion annually.

What can you do to enchant your current employees?

Here are some ideas:

  • Do things your employees can be proud of: Behave ethically. Support your local community. Be recognized for being a great place to work.
  • Be open and transparent to your employees—let them know when times are tough and what plans the organization has for moving ahead. Also, when things are good, let them know that as well!
  • Recognize and reward top performers openly. Re-recruit your good people constantly by telling them how important they are to the organization. Let your employees know that you care about them as people and you are committed to their success.
  • Review hiring practices to ensure new hires know a lot about the organization and what it does so that when they start work, they will already have a recognized connection to the company.
  • Revamp your new-hire assimilation process to include lots of information on what a great place this is to work. Use your current employees in the orientation process to share their enthusiasm for your organization—hopefully, you have a few of those you can invite in to share their stories of why they are excited to work for your firm!
  • Be sure they know where the organization is headed—what exciting things are planned—and where they fit into the future plans.
  • Celebrate often.
  • Create an atmosphere of trust and accountability.
  • Ensure that pay and benefits are competitive and focused on what your workforce needs and wants.
  • Focus on career growth and development—even in difficult times. Many development opportunities that don’t cost anything (such as mentoring).
  • Provide management training to anyone who supervises people—strong first-line supervisors are keys to maximizing employee engagement.
  • Ensure employees have what they need to be successful.
  • Listen to your employees. Ask them for their ideas and take those ideas seriously.
    It comes as no surprise that enchantment starts off strong in new-hires and then can taper off—so pay particular attention to keeping in touch with long-time workers to keep their enthusiasm for your organization at a high level.


About Barbara Mitchell

Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and has consulted for a variety of organizations around the world.

She served in senior human resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.

Mitchell is a graduate of North Park University in Chicago, with a degree in History and Political Science. Contact Barbara by email.

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