If there’s one thing the audience at the 2016 Global Best Practices Conference learned, it’s that employee engagement is absolutely critical yet largely lacking in many workplaces today.

On, Tuesday, January 19th, Tom Gardner, the CEO and Co-Founder of the Motley Fool, reminded us that the average Gallup employee engagement score is 30%. Even if you’re lucky enough to have an engagement score of 80%, that still means that one out of five of your employees don’t care about coming to work.

The majority of college graduates entering the workforce are looking for three core things from an employer: money, flexibility and purpose. Here are some best practices that Tom shared with us:

  • Have an electronic (or traditional) white board that automatically updates sales, goals, and examples of living your company’s vision and values (purpose).
  • Create a compensation committee that’s focused on non-financial rewards.
  • Use some of the basic tools and tests that are available online to ask your employees how to do their work – and increase effectiveness.
  • Recognize people regularly
  • Consider using You Earned It. You Earned It is an app that allows peer-to-peer recognition. You can set currency parameters in the app that translates into gift cards and philanthropic giving. It’s easy to set up donations to No Kid Hungry/Share Our Strength through the app, which can support your company’s social responsibility goals.
  • Turn your organization into a social network. Use Slack, Yammer, or even a Facebook page to encourage communication.

Aside from social interaction and interpersonal communication, Gardner challenged the audience to consider a larger workplace issue – are your values really core if everyone can’t recite them? Have just a few core values and make sure at least 2 are inviolate – or at least called out when they are violated.

Furthermore, ask your team members to share/write the value that they bring to work every day, and post it by their work station. Tim gave us a great example of a coworker whose value was to “Have beer every Friday afternoon.” Tim discovered that his colleague looked forward to Friday afternoon beers to wind down with his peers, discuss the week’s successes and frame up the following week’s challenges, and transition away from work and into a weekend with family.

In regards to improving engagement with the community, here are some of Gardner’s suggestions:

  • Explore communities and relationships outside of your organization. The founder of LinkedIn says that 90% of what your organization needs to succeed in the next 5-10 years sits outside of your organization.
  • Designate a single person in each restaurant responsible for reaching out and connecting in the community. This can support your brand and also help with grassroots recruiting initiatives.
  • Test cool new stuff and innovative thinking. Find the visionaries in your operations and engage them. Examples of possible tests include:
    — Uber lets drivers rate customers. What if your servers rated customers, and gave a discount or a free dessert to great customers?
    — Pre-order your meal and have it ready when you get there. Consider offering a discount for pre-ordering and being on time. Would this help you manage costs and turn tables faster?
    — Leverage the social dynamic of eating out. It will be a long time before it becomes a better experience to eat at home.
    — Health is more than a trend. Give Fitbits to employees to see how many steps/day they accumulate. Offer at least one healthy option on your menu.
    — Enroll employees by always looking for ways to improve processes, menu items, etc. Consider having an innovation award to recognize new ideas that were integrated into your core business.

Employee engagement can lower your turnover costs and can also increase your comp sales. According to Financial Intelligence (formerly Black Box Intelligence) data, stores with the highest retention enjoy comp sales of 3.7% as opposed to 1.6%. So, pick a few of these “foolish” tips, do them really well, and watch your comp sales, retention rates and guest satisfaction scores soar!


1f8e46dLiz D’Aloia is the founder of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX. She is an HR professional, employment attorney, speaker, and blogger. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso Liz worked at national transportation companies and at a global retailer. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn and follower her @hrvirtuoso.