Best Practices for Employee Engagement in Hypergrowth Environments and Beyond

Leaders often describe their vision for disrupting an industry by explaining what it looks like from their customers’ point of view. The experience is about surprising and exciting them while making it just as efficient and accommodating. But where does the employee fit into the picture? 

Employee churn is costly to any company. Losing a front-line employee can costs an employer up to 50 percent of that person’s annual salary or more. Losing a senior-level employee can be even more expensive, costing the company 125 percent of their salary, according to LinkedIn. 

Losing staff also challenges a company’s ability to provide high quality customer service. This is unacceptable for hypergrowth startups that are bent on capturing market share and customer loyalty. Hiring and retaining talented people is more important than ever – especially in a labor market with such low unemployment rates and where workers have seemingly unlimited job opportunities to choose from. 

Here are 5 best practices that business leaders can use to increase employee retention and the company’s overall level of engagement. 

1. To improve employee engagement, take a closer look at your culture. 

It’s only natural for employees to demand fair pay for their work, but salary isn’t the only important factor in creating a dedicated and productive staff. As an example, Glassdoor recently announced the winners of its 11th annual Employees’ Choice Awards, which includes the Best Places to Work in 2019. A closer look at the top five SMB winners and the employee comments clearly shows that workplace culture and leadership are interwoven as vital parts of the employee experience. 

  1. Heap:  “Really awesome culture, very open to new ideas and novel solutions. People are genuinely interested stuff you’re working on. Co-workers are all very intelligent and have lots of industry experience to learn from. Fast moving, so expect to be working on a lot of different things from day 1.” 
  1. Horizon Innovations:  “The best thing about working here is the work environment. There’s a lot of room to move up as well, but for me, the positive energy around here gets me more focused on my goals.” 
  1. Silverline:  “The leaders of the company have the company headed in the right direction. The leadership team really cares about the employees and have an amazing open door policy.” 
  1. Marketing 360: “The CEO truly cares about each individual, welcomes creativity, and leads by example. The culture here is the best I’ve ever worked for and everyone is authentic and loves what they do. Training processes are great and really help people to feel comfortable in each position. The managers are always willing to help and will take time out of their day to dedicate to helping you if needed.” 
  1. Digital Prospectors:  “The people genuinely care about how content you are with your career and your work-life balance. The whole team is very responsive.” 

Workplace culture is unique to each organization, especially for hypergrowth companies that are still blazing their own trail. But experts in the field of Human Resource agree that a winning culture is one where employees feel inspired, encouraged, and empowered to be successful at their job. Employees are looking for leaders who care about their well-being and a place where everyone lives the company’s values. 

2. Engage with your employees early and often 

According to TDn2K, a research and consulting firm for restaurants, as much as 40 percent of employees will leave within the first 90 days of their employment. Therefore, it’s critical that organizations engage their employees starting from day one. That process of engagement includes providing employees with an onboarding program that is both robust and that helps them feel motivated and primed to be part of the organization. 

It’s important for employers to set clear expectations for their workforce, to explain how their success will be measured, and to provide opportunities for growth, especially as the company expands. Employee engagement surveys show employees who feel there is no opportunity to grow and develop are much more likely to leave. 

3. Build your CX workforce for the future 

Companies who place an importance on the customer experience hire people who are passionate and dedicated to what they do. There’s a reason why Foot Locker hires sneaker enthusiasts and GameStop hires gamers. They want the most knowledgeable employees who are obsessed with the brand and the industry because they are going to understand a customer’s needs and provide the best answers. Companies are not just recruiting future employees for a specific job, but instead are also focused on individuals with a capacity for learning new skills and the drive to take on new roles when the need arises. 

4. Emotionally intelligent managers are key 

Passion and eagerness only go so far. Customer support employees also need a strong support system to help them be successful. Study after study has found that the relationship between an employee and their manager is a key indicator of how successful they will be on the job, or if they will ultimately fail. There are multiple ways that managers can influence employee performance through regular meetings, providing constructive feedback, and conducting performance reviews, just to name a few. 

However, none of these practices are useful unless the manager has the emotional intelligence to understand and communicate with their teammates. Part of being a good manager is also knowing which employees are an asset to the company. Good managers often know who is struggling in their current role. In contrast, managers who strictly follow a hierarchical leadership model are often out of touch with the reality on the ground and fail to inspire, resulting in lower levels of loyalty and productivity. 

5. Give employees the power to lead 

It is human nature to want to feel trusted and appreciated, and that is true for your employees as well. They want to be trusted to make independent decisions and appreciated for the results those decisions produce. Work with managers to identify employees who could be future leaders and who should be considered for positions of influence. Empower those employees to explore their own potential. Observe how they perform as leaders and collaborators when given the opportunity. 

Employee engagement is increased at many different levels. Engagement is not just how employees respond to their leaders, but how employees pull together and support each other. Employees reach peak engagement when they feel a sense of empowerment and ownership toward their work and the example their performance sets for others. Peak engagement often happens when employees are placed in roles of influence and responsibility. 

Positive customer experiences are driven by empowered employees  

Delivering a great customer experience is about than just creating an amazing product or service. The everyday experiences of your employees, including their workplace culture, support from leadership, and the feeling of empowerment is just as important. 

Even the most innovative, disruptive companies will eventually fail if their employees are underpaid, underappreciated, and disengaged. Engaged employees come to work because they believe in what they are doing. They have the necessary tools and resources to be successful; the organization and the leaders care about their well-being, and they’re personally invested in supporting the company’s customers. Engaged employees don’t show up every just to collect a paycheck. They are emotionally devoted to producing top-notch service, which enables the company to achieve its goals. 

Hypergrowth requires employee engagement and innovation of the customer experience 

No matter the industry or the size of the company, these best practices for employee engagement are important to increase employee satisfaction and retention. Hypergrowth companies looking to scale quickly and ramp up their customer experience as fast as the growth of their business will find these practices are even more essential to their chances of success. Engaged, happy employees help create positive customer experiences.