Company loyalty has gone the way of Polaroids and hypercolor shirts – once the rage, they’re now just a faded memory.
Employees that would have developed their career within a single company now seek opportunities that will amplify their skill set, whether with their current company or outside of it. Constantly on the lookout for the next big thing that will boost their visibility or bootstrap them to a better gig, they know that success in today’s economy means the one who has the most experience wins.
They are agile, attention-challenged, and addicted to high performance.
And, they are one of your most valuable assets.
Engaging this group comes not from persuading them to stay for the long haul, but by making the time they are with the company mutually beneficial, including time spent in internal meetings.
The same-old-same-old will drive this group away faster than you can say, “greener grass.” So challenge yourself to find new ways to connect with this cohort with the following approaches:
1. Convincing Content
From senior leadership’s opening remarks to the supporting media within, every content element should connect the “big idea” – the new strategy, focus, BHAG – to what it means for the audience. Less “WIFM” – what’s in it for me – and more “WIFMWP – “what’s in it for my work portfolio”?
Go beyond “a more innovative culture” or “increased efficiency” to the specific work opportunities and skills that will come from the new strategy/focus/BHAG.
Tip: Find stories that feature employee successes directly tied to a skillset or opportunity. People love seeing themselves on screen, even when they’re just thinking, “That’ll be me soon.”
2. Free Flow
When designing the agenda, schedule time for internal networking…but not your grandfather’s networking, the structured kind with a project and desired outcomes, like building a ship from parts in a “mystery box”.
Trust your attendees enough to give them unstructured networking time – to either form new connections or strengthen existing ones.
Tip: Distribute the agenda before the event so individuals can schedule meetings ahead of time. And clearly label this allotted time, “Networking”, as opposed to “Break” so employees know they will have ample time to take care of business…and business, because who you know is just as important as what you know
3. Bonus Breakouts
Deep dives within a functional team are clearly important, but so are cross-functional sessions that span divisions. Imagine the discussions that could happen if a skills breakout – like Contract Management, Negotiation, and Marketing – brought together individuals from different teams.
Can’t picture it? That’s the point. After all, if you already have a sense of the answer, why bother with the question? The discussions that come out of these meetings can spark new ways to work or solve existing problems, which is why they are so valuable.
Tip: Solicit suggestions from attendees before the event for the expertise they would like to develop. Then, build the breakout content around the responses to give attendees the most value for the time they invested.
Making each moment matter takes some extra work, but it’s the individual moments that do make our work matter.
No matter where that work may take us.