At our upcoming Technology & Services World conference at the fabulous ARIA Resort in Las Vegas, we will be focusing on “The LAER Effective Company,” which references TSIA’s LAER customer engagement model consisting of four steps: Land, Adopt, Expand, and Renew. Over the three days of the conference, you will hear from pacesetter companies who are transforming their enterprises to better align with the customer journey, as well as insight into operational and financial metrics to track and a multitude of best practices and lessons learned from TSIA members on this journey. In my pre-conference keynote, taking place Monday, October 15, I am going to talk about a critical element without which your transformation projects cannot succeed: engaged employees.

A Preview of What You Can Expect to Learn About Employee Engagement at TSW

Early in 2018, TSIA identified growing member interest in the topic of employee engagement, and we formed a team to learn more about the topic. Key participants were myself, Judith Platz, VP Support Services Research, Maria Manning-Chapman, VP Education Services Research, Vele Galovski, VP Field Service Research, and Dustin Shulkin, Senior Member Success Manager. Over the last nine months, we have conducted interviews with more than a dozen companies with innovative employee engagement programs, including a number of TSIA members and partners. We also collected some survey data on attrition rates and evolving programs for hiring and training employees.

In my keynote, “Employee Engagement in the Era of Talent Wars,” I will share our findings, discuss some of the critical elements of a successful employee engagement program, and highlight four companies doing some exceptional things. We also were able to create a conference track focused on employee engagement, and counting my keynote, there are nine sessions dedicated to this topic, including presentations by Emerson, Ellucian, SAP, and Klever Insight. To underscore the fact that employee engagement must be a core part of corporate culture, on Monday at 4:15 I am hosting a panel discussion, “Innovative Approaches to Improve Employee Engagement,” with executives panelists including the CEO of answer1, the CEO of PS Principles, and an EVP from CSS Corp.

Prior to the conference, TSIA members can learn many of our findings in an impressive research report recently published by Dustin Shulkin, “10 Elements of a Successful Employee Engagement Program.” And don’t miss Dustin’s breakout session at TSW on Tuesday at 11 AM, in which he will present highlights from the report.

Only 38% of companies have made updates to their training and/or retention programs to better meet the needs of millennials.

3 Ways to Keep Millennial Employees Engaged

At our Spring conference in San Diego in May, several presentations highlighted the findings of a study by Future Workplace that found that 91% of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, and will have 15-20 jobs over the course of their working lives. These facts created an enormous amount of buzz among attendees, and help drive home the point that the programs companies have used in the past for hiring, training, and motivating employees are unlikely to be successful with younger workers.

However, according to TSIA research, only 38% of companies have made updates to their training and/or retention programs to better meet the needs of millennials. In fact, 48% of companies we surveyed have found their programs are less effective for younger workers, but have yet to make any changes. For those 48% of companies, you risk losing top talent to your competitors who are being more agile and responsive to the evolving needs of employees.

91% of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, and will have 15-20 jobs over the course of their working lives.

Future Workplace

There are three aspects of an employee engagement which we found in almost every company we interviewed, and there is a lot of industry research supporting these concepts as critical, especially for recruiting and retaining millennials:

Start career development discussions early. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 87% of millennials say development is very important in a job. We found that career path discussions are starting very early—even during the hiring process—and are more formal with timelines, and often involving mentors from other departments.

Foster a culture of continuous learning and collaboration. Another fact cited by the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report was that 96% of employees said that a culture of learning is important to the business, and that means more that job skills training. CSS Corp, for example, reinforces a culture of continuous training by offering paid certifications, tuition reimbursement, and even interest-free loans for student loan debt.

Provide frequent, honest, constructive feedback. According to a study from Walden University, 60% of millennials wanted timely, honest, and constructive communications from their supervisor to help them grow. One company we interviewed, NewVoiceMedia, requires managers to have a weekly one-on-one meeting with each employee to discuss their performance and offer coaching, and there is even a script for the conversations to ensure the discussions are effective.

Learn More About How to Keep Your Employees Engaged at TSW

For those of you attending TSW October 15-17 in Las Vegas, I encourage you to keep employee engagement in the back of your mind as you spend three days hearing success stories and best practices for transforming companies to better address the needs of the customer across land, adopt, expand and renew. Ask questions of presenters about how employees are involved in the transition to LAER so that they are invested in your success, not dragging their feet to accommodate the changes to processes and technology.

I look forward to seeing each of you in Las Vegas, and please take a moment to say hello at one of my sessions or in the TSW | EXPO. Safe travels, and as always, thanks for reading!

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John Ragsdale

About Author John Ragsdale

John Ragsdale is the distinguished vice president of technology research, for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. Ragsdale drives TSIA's highly regarded technology research agenda, delivering insightful, thought-leadership research and analysis on the most pressing business issues facing services leaders to enable them to better plan and execute their service strategies. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.

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