Making employee engagement a habit



200+ people attended the Udemy for Business HR Innovators event on April 28, 2016 at Udemy HQ

By Darren Shimkus, VP and General Manager, Udemy for Business

We hosted the 15th Udemy for Business HR Innovators event last Thursday evening with an all-star panel of leaders from Slack, Guardant Health, Greenhouse, and Salesforce. We engaged in a rich and lively conversation about the challenges of and tactics for bringing employee engagement to life.

Put succinctly by Maia Josebachvili, VP of People and Strategy at Greenhouse, employee engagement is “…employees being able to work on what they want to be working on, where they want to be working on it, and with whom they want to be working on it.” Distilling all the great thought leadership from the evening, we came up with these three key takeaways.

The engagement habit isn’t developed overnight
Engagement must be nurtured so an organization can better connect to its people and keep them productive and happy. Natasha Kehimkar, VP of People at Guardant Health, said, “Engagement is about enriching people’s roles. It’s coaching, communication, and the ability for people to grow in an org. If they grow out of the organization and come back in later, that is even better. With engagement, we have to be careful not to boil the ocean. Engagement is not something that just happens overnight.”

Engagement drives retention
Keeping good people and letting go of those who aren’t a good fit sparked a conversation about the disgruntled Yelp employee who took to Medium to share her thoughts on Yelp’s compensation. Dawn Sharifan, Head of People Ops at Slack, said, “…the gap between expectation and reality is where disappointment lives. We must do a better job of aligning employee expectations with reality. That is our job as leaders.” Nobody joins an organization to do bad work or to perform poorly in their role. The leaders who hired them must treat them with dignity, even if they decide to leave or are not a long-term fit for the company.

From left: L. David Kingsley of Salesforce, Dawn Sharifan of Slack, Natasha Kehimkar of Guardant Health and Maia Josebachvili of Greenhouse

From left: L. David Kingsley of Salesforce, Dawn Sharifan of Slack, Natasha Kehimkar of Guardant Health and Maia Josebachvili of Greenhouse

Culture + technology = engagement
We are all responsible for developing engagement within our organizations. So, how can we begin? L. David Kingsley, VP of Employee Success Strategy & Operations at Salesforce, shared the Salesforce Aloha culture and how their equation of “Culture + Technology = Engagement” helps employees do the best work of their careers, as “engagement is culture in action.”

An organization’s culture can help educate its employees. It isn’t the isolated responsibility of a particular individual or group of individuals at the top. We must make engagement a habit and solidify a strong learning culture. Without this foundation in place, an organization’s culture breaks, and breaks quickly.

About HR Innovators
Founded in 2014 by Udemy for Business, HR Innovators has brought 3000 leaders across cities, industries and roles together to learn, network, and discuss the critical shifts occurring between organizations and their employees. Visit Udemy for Business to learn more or email us at [email protected]