Talking about employee engagement is like talking about sports – everyone has a team they like the most and an emotional attachment to it – there is not a “one size fits all” kind of formula to enhance employee engagement, and we all have different perspectives on this based on our experiences and the people around us. People that work here at Modus are identified as Modites. This is important because not only does it give us an identity, but it also makes us feel that people are not just numbers – as Modites, we are all part of a family and responsible for its well-being.
I’ve been passionate about employee engagement for a long time. It can be challenging in a remote environment, especially when I compare it with the ease of having people co-located, that was actually the case when I was an HR Generalist at a previous company. But this new experience of connecting with people from all over the globe and over Zoom (our video conferencing app) has been a real pleasure. It has taken me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to think outside the box!
As I said, there is not a one size fits all formula, employee engagement might feel differently to other HR/People Operations professionals, since I’m a very emotional and empathetic person, connecting, talking and understanding comes naturally to me. If you are an HR professional or you are in charge of others, it does not necessarily make you a leader. Even though it’s required of you to handle people’s situations, sometimes you don’t have the tools or it’s an area that you would not perform well – in that scenario, ask for help. That’s why working with cross-functional teams is such an important part of Modus – what I lack, others have, and what others need I can provide.
Employee engagement is something every company should invest in, simply because it is related to the connection and commitment people feel towards an organization. You don’t even have to be an expert to know that this concept will benefit the company. According to Gallup, only 34% of American workers are engaged in their jobs while 13% describe themselves as “actively disengaged”! Most employers have a lot of work to do!
Here are some definitions of what Employee Engagement is:
- Quantum Workplace – The strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.
- Gallup – Engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.
- Willis Towers Watson – Employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success.
- Aon Hewitt – The level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organization.
For us, this concept is more than just sending out gifts and offering good benefits to employees which, by the way, are awesome here at Modus. Our team members both desire and wear our swag proudly because they understand the value of our brand and our commitment to providing an awesome place to work and grow. True to our name, the artifacts that bear our logo are done with creativity and intention to help our global team feel more connected. This speaks to the authenticity and effort we all put in every swag item we craft, like the mugs we sent out to the team last year.
Employee engagement for Modus is really getting to know Modites and using this knowledge as a driver for all the things we do. This begins not with the People Operations department, but rather the founders – Jay and Pat – who have consistently demonstrated interest in our team since the beginning, and are very active on Slack, connecting with Modites all over the world. This desire for connection has extended to traveling – before COVID of course – to other countries to meet Modites in person and spend quality time with them, in addition to doing virtual meet & greets with new hires, and much, much more.
Engaging a Global, Distributed Workforce
How can we engage when everyone is working from home and from different countries?
This might seem like a tricky question for some, but not for us. Besides all the things mentioned above, we implemented a little project called “Connecting Modites”, where I get on a 15-minute call with a Modite. The goal is to get to know each other and learn more about their perspective of Modus. This is a very open conversation where Modites can ask questions, suggest new ideas, or take a moment to show us something they have done or are working on right now. This not only allows us to create personal connections but also allows us to obtain a perspective on how Modus is doing more intimately. This approach has occasionally proven to be much more valuable than our pulse surveys or retention metrics! In one recent call in, one of our Modites showed me a robot he built.
This project, as with many others we have done at Modus, needs a follow-up – something to measure its success because not everything in employee engagement is rainbows and fun conversations. We need to analyze data, effectively implement change, address pain points with honesty and transparency and most importantly, communicate clearly.
Challenges will arise when doing all these things mentioned above – but if you put yourself in the employees’ shoes, things will run much more smoothly.
We still have areas where there is room for improvement, but the important thing is that we care, so we will work towards having a better understanding of what Modites need to truly be and feel engaged!
We measure our employee engagement through surveys, glassdoor reviews, feedback gathered on 1:1s, and other sources like exit interviews. Once we implement an initiative or send out comms, feedback is always gathered. This way we understand what Modites want or wish they had.
Benefits, surveys, swag items, opportunities for growth, and retention metrics are all a big part of employee engagement, but we can’t stop there. We need to go beyond just numbers, survey results, and shipping gifts. Connecting with employees makes them feel important and not just a number the goal, by the end of the day, is to improve the Modite Experience, so we can continue to grow without forgetting how important the relationships we build are. This way employees will find themselves in a place they don’t want to leave, they won’t be afraid to speak up and good performance will be increased. The company will definitely benefit from it, since retention rates will be higher, and recruiting will be enhanced by employees and/or alumni that still cheer for the company on the sidelines!
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