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Socialization – To engage or reignite!

So, as I browse the headlines my eyes glance this article: 

Base Pay Increases: The Best Retention and Engagement Strategy, Survey Finds
Increasing base salary is one of the best retention and engagement strategies, according to a new study. Mercer gathered responses from more than 320 employers in the U.S. and Canada about their views on attracting and retaining employees.  Mercer conducted an attraction and retention survey and asked respondents what they believed had the strongest impact on employee retention and engagement. Here’s what they found:
  • 41% said base salary increases
  • 36% said short- and long-term variable pay
  • 35% said training and career development

The survey also reported on hiring statistics, including:

  • 27% of employers surveyed are expanding their overall workforce,
  • 45% are hiring to replacement levels only
  • 25% are hiring just for critical areas.

The results also showed that even in the economic situation, almost half of the respondents said employee engagement increased over the past 12 to 18 months.


After reading that article and reflecting on all my years in HR, I must admit I disagree with the heading of that article. Among all the generations, pay in and of itself is not a key motivator to engagement. I am more likely to believe that “challenging, stimulating, varied work” or “healthy work/life balance/flexibility” even “autonomy and the ability to innovate.” At best, pay is second behind some other factor in engagement. Base pay may lend itself to retention but retention by itself is not desirable.

I would argue that recent increases to base pay in this economy engage employees not for the action itself but rather for what it implies. To receive an increase now would send the message of stability, security, continuity and for an optimist perhaps even a change in the right direction.

The sentiment of socialization plays into engagement as the link below details. An act to increase one’s base pay at this time sends a message indeed but for many organizations this may be at an expense that is not feasible. I would suggest that a similar message could be sent with an engagement effort that tapped into people’s interest and involvement. The idea of being part of “something” larger than oneself and contributing to the “big picture.” Often, we  think of socialization during the onboarding process or orientation. For the record, socialization is broadly defined as “a process in which an individual acquires the attitudes, behaviors and knowledge needed to successfully participate as an organizational member.” With this  definition in mind, I would tend to believe that socialization is an ongoing process and thus is applicable not only during organizational entry but throughout one’s employment experience.

Please see in the Table herein:

Socialization Content
Performance proficiency Learning and mastering the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the required work task.
People Establishing successful and satisfying work relationships with organizational members.
Politics Gaining information regarding formal and informal work relationships and power structures.
Language Understanding the profession’s technical language as well as acronyms, slang and jargon unique to the organization.
Organizational goals and values Understanding the rules or principles that maintain the integrity of the organization.
History Learning the organization’s traditions, customs, myths, personal background of other members.
Source: Chao, G. T., O’Leary-Kelly, A. M., Wolf, S., Klein, H. J., & Gardner, P. D. (1994). Organizational socialization: Its content and consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 5, 730-743.

Clearly, the dynamics at work are evolutionary and a collective effort is necessary to sustain socialization in organizations. In review of an article by Justin HillierSocial Media Onboarding I would have to say that an initiative such as what he suggests for onboarding would certainly be an undertaking that could involve a number of people. Certainly, every onboarding program can be enhanced and Hillier’s suggestions to utilize social media and/or digital media is timely. By taking on an initiative to engage newcomers in 2010 and beyond would be a great way to tap into the creativity and talent of staff now. Inspire and facilitate by breathing life into your onboarding strategy going forward and know that the collective effort will bring about a sense of purpose that can carry the team forward. I would suggest considering Hillier’s strategy to not only socialize newcomers but reignite those that will set the tone for the culture that will inspire your team to the cause!

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