Give employees a measure of control over their work. Allow flexible work
schedules and deadlines that fit the task. Ask workers for input on how to get
the job done better and faster. Ask if they have other ideas. Be sure to delegate
tasks appropriately. If an employee has a major deliverable due that takes her
away from day-to-day responsibilities, can other team members pitch in for the
—Sasha Goldfarb-Rivera, senior HR analyst, Sparta Systems, Hamilton, N.J.
Developing meaningful and rich interpersonal
relationships among colleagues will help people
feel connected to one another and engaged in
their work. Simply put, employees who know
and like one another are more energized and
motivated, and therefore less likely to burn out
and depart the organization. In today’s litigious
world, we are often afraid to address the relationship component of work and instead attend
only to the operational aspects covered by policies and procedures. That’s a mistake. Organizations that are courageous enough to foster
friendships in turn develop an environment that
people want to join, remain in and promote to
—Melanie Peacock, HR consultant/owner,
Double M Training and Consulting, Calgary,
Party with a Purpose
Ten days before St. Patrick’s Day, we transformed our office into an onsite pub
crawl, replete with Irish spirits, a fry bar and pub games. Our employees decorated green baseball caps with brightly colored feathers, gold four-leaf clovers
and felt mustaches in celebration of “St. Practice Day.” It was one of several
successful events that we held recently in partnership with FunCorp, a corporate event planner whose mantra is “party with a purpose.” We wanted to
help employees get to know each other and give them a personal stake in the
Like many tech startups, our company is made up primarily of software
engineers. In my first year here, I found some employees kept their heads down
on development projects. While introversion is a natural personality trait, I
was certain they had a lot to say. When the event planner suggested a “
karaoke olympiad,” I was skeptical. But this gathering was a game changer. Several
employees who didn’t say much in meetings belted out classic tunes, and legends were born. The office was buzzing about it for weeks. But the main value
was that individuals engaged with one another and discussed the topics that
mattered to them—personally and professionally. It has been my experience
that people will do more to help a friend than an acquaintance. So, the company benefits as well.
Individuals began identifying more with the organization and working
together to address common complaints. They even created a company mascot.
They took the initiative to educate each other on topics ranging from meeting
etiquette to tech demo days.
—Kristin Adams, director of finance and HR, Igneous Systems Inc., Seattle
1. Build an employee engagement plan.
Start by conducting an employee survey. This alone will assist HR with the
direction of solutions.
2. Implement a realistic job design.
Work with managers to develop job
rotations, enrichment opportunities and
methods for streamlining positions’
3. Create a compensation analysis for
fair and competitive pay. If compensation
is out of line, either internally or externally, it is up to HR to communicate the
4. Develop work/life balance values.
HR can influence the values of the organization. Therefore, help leaders understand the importance of personal time
and how the organization can support a
“work hard/play hard” motto.
—Lydia Freeman, senior HR consultant, Employer Flexible, Plano, Texas
Software engineers at Igneous Systems Inc. in Seattle bond over karaoke during a recent
Dori Meinert is senior writer/editor for HR