We’ve all heard the phrase “married to our job.” For many people, the hard truth is that one-third (or more) of our time as adults is spent at work, and at times you may even spend more time with your work family than your nuclear family. There are quite a few similarities between the two types of relationship as well. Employees want a job that provides a sense of meaning and offers them the opportunity to feel accomplished, fulfilled and satisfied. These same desires are commonly expressed in romantic relationships. Likewise, in each of these relationships, we want to wake up each day with some level of excitement and anticipation about the hours ahead.
If you’ve been in any long-term relationship, chances are that you’ve been provided with an abundance of advice – solicited or not – about how to keep it exciting. There has been ample research to support the idea that in marriage, the number of exciting experiences a couple shares is associated with the quality of the relationship. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that in our relationships with our organizations, exciting work contributes directly to employee retention. In fact, one glaring parallel between work relationships and romantic partnerships is that people choose to move from one to the next more frequently when they’re not kept interested or excited by it.
In terms of exciting work, what can HR leaders do to ensure that each employee’s relationship with the organization is mutually fulfilling and long-lasting? Dr. Jack Wiley, Ph.D. shares these three suggestions and other ideas in his paper Suggested Actions for Human Resources to Create a Better Employee Experience.
1. Share the history and current vision of the organization.
During the onboarding process, which is the onset of this budding relationship, provide the history and background of the organization to your new employee. Share both the victories and challenges the company has faced and how these have shaped the current vision of the organization. Describe the organization’s vision and how your new employees fit into this. Doing this will provide a solid foundation and the opportunity to align their vision with that of the organization, which ensures that you’re moving forward in the same direction from day one.
2. Provide employees with business impact reports.
This suggestion highlights the importance of communication. Give employees regular reports of how their projects or tasks positively impact the organization. Feedback like this can show employees that their contributions have a meaningful effect and that they are valued members of the organization. Authenticity in this process will foster a feeling of trust, which is another essential component of a healthy relationship.
3. Build excitement about upcoming opportunities.
Having events to look forward to creates an ongoing and shared feeling of excitement. These opportunities also serve as a conversation piece before and after the event, as well as a chance to create memories and build a bond with the organization and other employees. Regularly communicate to employees regarding upcoming training or other opportunities or events, and you’ll make employees excited about their future in the organization, while impacting their education and career growth.
In each of these suggested actions, communication is key. This can be said for any relationship in any phase of our lives. If your significant other has ever asked for tacos and you showed up with sushi, you know the importance of active listening during the communication process. Be sure that in each of these strategies, there’s an opportunity for two-way communication and honest feedback. You’ll find that excitement can be generated by simply engaging with the employee and showing that you care about providing what they want.