The Gong Blog

Our PRSA Richmond Luncheon Thoughts: Employee Engagement

If you’re trying to reach one of us on the last Wednesday of the month, especially at lunch time, you may be out of luck.  When it comes to attending the monthly PRSA Richmond luncheon, we’re all in.  After all, three Hodgers are on the board of directors and another three are active (and former board) members themselves. What can we say, we love a good professional development opportunity.

Kicking off this year’s programming calendar, which is organized by Lindsay O’Bar, first vice president of professional development, was a popular topic: employee engagement, featuring Natalie Smith, APR and Julie McCracken from Padilla.

Diverting from the classic, and frankly tired, boomer vs. Millennial comparisons, the speakers discussed employee engagement from a company tenure, or career stage, perspective. Of course, when it comes to employee engagement, it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Depending on their age and tenure, employees are sorted into four distinct stages: newbie (three years or fewer), straddler (four to seven years), seasoned (eight to 10 years) and sage (11 years and more).

Here’s a quick summary of the stages:

  • In the newbie stage, you’re a sponge. You read every email, every memo and participate in every meeting and happy hour event. These folks are invested.
  • The straddlers are a vulnerable group. If they’re happy, they’re going to let people know through positive word-of-mouth. And if they’re not happy, well they’re going to let people know that, too.
  • Seasoned employees may not be the top of the tenured food chain, but they may be seen as an intermediary to senior leadership. People at the company may turn to this group for guidance before their true managers.
  • For the sages, these folks are confident and comfortable in their career. That comfortability could be good, but it also can lead to complacency.

If I had to boil down the entire luncheon into a five-second summary, it’d be this: have regular, open and honest conversations with your employees. Talk about their work, their successes and their career aspirations.

Photo credit: PRSA Richmond Facebook page

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Casey Prentice

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