A ‘great resignation’ cure: Hire an employee engagement manager

Want to keep your folks from giving notice? Then treat them like they were your best customers.

Tashe Woods works in real estate, but she doesn’t sell or manage properties. Instead, she focuses on the people inside them.

“My job is to curate the daily customer experience from the time they pull into the garage to lunch breaks to leaving for the day and even at home,” says Woods, who works for the Atlanta-based real estate investment trust (REIT), Cousins Properties. As a community engagement manager, she attends to various amenities, from making it fast and easy for people to book conference space to ensuring that the on-site fitness and wellness centers are up to snuff.

“Home is our biggest competitor because it offers comforts you don’t normally get in the workplace,” she says. “As a customer experience manager, I focus on matching those comforts.”

Jobs like Woods’ have grown amidst the “great resignation” that has accompanied the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic. No one knows how many people work in the field, but the job site, Indeed.com, currently lists more than 600 available jobs related to managing workplace or employee experience.

Happy workers = happy customers

The trend has been helped along by the growing realization that engaged employees correlate with higher productivity and better customer service. An IDC survey last year found that 85% of executives agreed that improved employee experience translates to better customer experience and higher revenues.

“The overall trend is toward Disney-like hospitality where the employee is treated almost like the customer,” says Chase Garbarino, CEO of HqO, developer of an app that businesses and landlords can use to provide for and measure engaging workplace experiences. In the real estate industry, the competition for tenant experience has become known as the “amenity wars,” he said.

Woods uses HqO to monitor the well-being of the more than 1,000 people she supports across 13 buildings. Cousins Properties launched the app just as Covid was hitting and saw immediate benefits, she says. “We could keep connected, update people on COVID protocols and safety procedures as well as what the mayor and CDC were saying without them having to come into the office,” she says. “We don’t rely on impersonal lobby signs; it’s a social media app we’re all familiar with.”

Virtual health check

People who are now trickling back into the office can use HqO to submit work orders to property management, share personal and company news, and book space in wellness classes. In addition, the app permits property management to see what’s being used and check in on satisfaction via occasional surveys.

One useful finding was that people value outdoor green spaces. So, Cousins has been adding them, along with full Wi-Fi connectivity and USB ports in common seating areas. Thesees the services as a competitive differentiator. “Competitive salary and benefits are no longer enough to keep employees,” Woods says. “Our tenants may not have the resources to do this, but we can do it as the landlord.”

In addition to an already long list of employee benefits, says Sari Kalin, Assistant Vice President of Health and Well-Being Strategy at the insurance giant Liberty Mutual, they’ve also added free visits with mental health counselors and free access to financial well-being programs. In 2018, it added free access to meQuilibrium, an app that helps individuals “manage stress, stay calm and focused and build resilience,” Kalin said. The app also lets organizations track employee well-being and spot potential problem areas.

The benefit is growing in popularity. For example, more than 5,600 of Liberty Mutual’s 45,000 employees took advantage of virtual behavioral health services in 2021, up 17%, and “we have seen the US enrollment of meQuilibrium double year-over-year since the pandemic began.” Kalin said this yields measurable improvements in stress management, work-life balance, emotion control, and mindfulness.

HqO’s Garbarino says he’s seen a noticeable uptick in interest by employers and property owners in improving employee experience since COVID hit. “Ultimately, employers want to make life easier for their employees and make the workplace somewhere they want to go,” particularly now that many people have a choice for the first time, he said. “I think a lot of employers want to use a carrot rather than a stick.”

Lest you think these companies are throwing good money after bad because the future workforce will all be at home anyway, consider that the FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) collectively purchased 43 properties in 2021, according to The Real Deal. And Salesforce.com, one of the first technology companies to commit to supporting full-time remote work, is moving ahead with plans to build a 60-story office tower in Chicago.

It looks like the office is cool again.

Next, Read This:

Workplace Experience Managers for the Modern Employer

State of the American Workplace

Businesses scramble to hire employee-engagement managers

How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Workplace Gallup

This time it’s personal: Shaping the ‘new possible’ through employee experience

IT navigates the ‘Great Resignation’

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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