Just recently released, DNA of Engagement: Moments That Matter Throughout the Employee Life Cycle hones in on what attracts employees to organizations, keeps them engaged and retains them; what the critical moments are that impact the employee experience at work; and how organizations can develop, carry out and adapt strategies that attract, retain and engage employees.

“The employee experience has become the focus for attracting and retaining talent at top organizations; we should care as much about the employee experience as we do the customer experience,” says Rebecca L. Ray, Ph.D., executive director of The Engagement Institute and a co-author of the report. “Fulfilling the promise, whether implicit or explicit, between the employer and employee poses a major challenge that today’s tightened labor market only intensifies. On the upside, more organizations will now have the ability to crack the engagement code by leveraging the latest findings that are part of ourDNA of Engagement series.”

Drawn from surveys, focus groups and interviews, the insights featured in the study include the following:

  • The employee value proposition is increasingly complex, personalised and dynamic. It is a product of not only the explicit employee statements and actions by the organisation but also the implicit assumptions and observations that employees make over time.
  • Organisations do not always define employee value propositions. Many organisations today are using them informally. That is despite these propositions being one of the most frequently used strategies to attract, retain and engage employees.
  • Organisations and key stakeholders (e.g., leaders, managers and coworkers) are facing unpredictable but critical moments of employees’ life cycle that may affect employee engagement.
  • Individual employees have their own “personal ecosystem” that changes over the course of their career, influenced and shaped by numerous moments they experience.

To strengthen overall employee engagement, organisations can take three key actions:

1. Promote an employee value proposition using empathy in the workplace. Organisations should design and implement programs that support employees in how and where work gets done; prepare leaders to respond to employee concerns with an authentic tone of support and solidarity; and among other steps, support supervisors who support employees by being sensitive to their workload during difficult circumstances.

2. Tailor programs to employees at every stage of the career life cycle. In addressing career stages, organisations need to engage individuals from the start of the career to retirement, beginning with robust onboarding programs for new employees; training and development for junior-level employees; and programs or processes to allow the often-valued later-stage employees to connect with leaders and voice their concerns. All employees can feel valued through new skills training, particularly on newer technologies.

3. Prepare for and seize upon the unscripted moments. When asked about their best or worst moments at the office, employees often discussed unplanned moments that matter—the pivotal, unplanned career experiences that positively or negatively affected their engagement. In these moments, organisations can shape a favorable experience by, among other steps, ensuring leader/manager approachability; demonstrating behaviors that build trust; and heightening awareness during daily interactions.