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Mediaplanet sat down with workplace expert, Debby Carreau, who provided a fresh perspective on the different strategies organizations can implement to improve employee engagement within the workplace, and why this matters.


Mediaplanet: What strategies do you find most successful in fostering stronger employee engagement in the workplace?

Debby Carreau: Organizations that are looking to improve employee engagement focus on things like organizational design, leadership, or culture, but they miss two critical elements: autonomy and passion. Autonomy means giving people a sense of control over their work, schedule and rewards. Focus on work deliverables, not how the work gets done. Forget tracking hours, work location or vacation time; manage people by what they produce that is within their control.

Most people don’t love every aspect of their job, but if you ensure team members spend 10%–20% of their time doing what they are passionate about they will be more productive and engaged.

How can organizations be better at attracting, motivating, and retaining top talent?

When it comes to attracting top talent, your employment brand is essential. It’s most effective if someone else talks about what it is like to work for your organization. Post employee testimonials for your website, solicit reviews for job boards and apply for workplace certifications and awards.

Flexible benefits are also be a real competitive advantage. Every team member’s priorities are different, so their benefits should allow people to choose what works best for them.

What are the biggest trends that you’ve seen in the evolving workplace, and how do you think these shifts affect organizations and their employees?

Two significant trends we are seeing are: investing in employee wellness and shifting priorities for training and development. Employee wellness is going beyond traditional benefits, to include wellness accounts, mental health awareness, addressing loneliness of remote workers and reducing burnout.

Artificial Intelligence and technology are changing the face of the workplace. Training is shifting back to in-house or customized programs geared to the organization’s future needs. Soft skill development is becoming critical as many manual tasks become automated, and knowledge work is taking over. Furthermore, many young workers today have less face to face workplace interactions than previous generations, so they require different training.

How has technology changed the way that employers interact with their employees?

Technology has changed our lives and how we work. Employers today recognize that employees are bombarded with interruptions and information. Communication and cutting through that “noise” is critical. 

The most productive workplaces are keeping the technology simple. They are focused on digestible chunks of information (think Twitter post length) and ensure all software tools work together seamlessly with a single login. Communication has also become much less formal. Instant messaging has replaced email, and annual performance reviews are increasingly replaced by regular performance check-ins electronically. 

What are your top tips for building a positive workplace culture?

I have one tip that’s more important than all others combined — ask your team. All too often, we get hung up looking for the latest and exceptional technology or cutting-edge trends. Instead, ask your employees what is important to them. Engagement surveys focus groups and just having a focused conversation about workplace satisfaction with your team will reveal the path to a happier, healthier, and more productive culture.

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