The Great Resignation is upon us, job vacancies are at an all-time high, and focus has shifted to talent retention, as well as candidate attraction. Because of this, you will find me, and other writers in the space, bringing up the term ‘employee engagement’ constantly. Why? Because employee retention is a direct result of employee engagement, so what better way to combat the wave of resignation and talent shortages we’re facing?
Engaged employees want to come to work each day, are enthusiastic, and are committed. Engaged employees are productive employees, which is why business leaders are constantly looking for ways to improve engagement.
Alright, let’s get into the five tips you can use to promote employee engagement.
When a business with a higher turnover is trying to think of ways they can retain staff, how can they find out what will work? We could think of ways to engage staff all day and night, but to begin creating any strategy or process you need data. To learn what it is that keeps your people around, you need to ask for feedback. Feedback is data!
If your company finds itself in a situation with high staff turnover you need to consider what is the reason for this? There is indeed a way to find out, ask your staff (not just the ones leaving but also the ones who are staying).
Some easy ways to ask for feedback are:
One of the major findings in the Study of Australian Leadership’s national survey was that employee engagement is driven by strong leadership. Even without this evidence, it is widely known that leaders can make or break you and your business.
Long ago I worked as an internal Recruitment Consultant in a large business. This meant lengthy processes and lots of teams to engage with. I spent months working from home searching for guidance on what the expectations were and who to go to for answers. I felt overwhelmed and confused. After spending every day looking for answers from people who were equally as confused, I resigned. Imagine how different this scenario would have looked if I had leaders to go to for direction?
No matter how senior a leader is, good leaders motivate, communicate business goals, and role model the behaviour they wish to see. They are empathetic, they promote company values, and they make sure their staff have access to all the info and resources needed to succeed.
For more information on how to develop your leadership team, check out this article by Wilson Learning, which details some steps leaders can take to engage their staff.
A company is only as successful as its employees! HCL Technologies former CEO, Vineet Nayar, said it best in the title of his book, “Employees First, Customers Second”.
Investing in your employees means investing time and money into their development and making them feel valued. In return, they will be loyal and committed to your organisation and its goals. What’s to lose?
So, what are some things you can do to invest in your staff?
Trust, like communication, must be given as well as received; if you do not trust your employees to have autonomy in some regard, they will not trust you in return. No trust, no engagement.
Trust is built gradually through transparency, fairness, and following company values. It is something that is formed through experiences. A great example of this is micro-managing. By continuously showing doubt in an employee’s abilities through micro-managing (unless fairly required), you are not allowing them the trust needed to make decisions. You are practically begging for them to disengage!
Let’s break down some of these points even further…
I remember when I was an agency recruiter and I had a manager who was helping me develop my cold calling skills. They said, “don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, because when you lead with that, the client will often give you that in return.” This is certainly not an exact example, but the same rule applies to building trusting, professional relationships. By being transparent, open, honest (whatever you want to call it) with staff, you are breaking down walls and inviting them to feel safe to do the same.
This point is best explained using an example. Imagine you had a Business Development Consultant begin with your company. They had a Master of Business, 15 years of experience, and glowing references. During their first two months of work, their direct manager would write set task lists, ask to meet with them twice per day, and would only let them make outbound calls with them listening. Do you think this is fair to the Consultant? Has it allowed them to show their skills to your organisation? And finally, do you think this experienced professional will remain committed to a company that won’t even trust them to make phone calls?
How can employee engagement strategies be channelled through to the employees themselves? Sure, we can come up with endless benefits, values, communication styles, and leadership styles… but what good are they when they are not implemented, easy to access, and included in everyday work?
Employee self-service (ESS) is usually incorporated into a company’s HR management software. It gives employees the ability to perform a range of job-related tasks, from viewing payslips to accessing well-being programs. The idea of this software is that it gives staff access to, and control over, their own information, as well as resources that will help them to succeed.
The reason why I added this as a tip to promote engagement is because of its wide reach and possibilities. When used to its fullest extent, a self-service portal can be the place where all your engagement strategies are organised and shared with your people. It can streamline manager to employee communication, communicate company values, prompt performance reviews, provide easy access to well-being initiatives, promote new job opportunities, and MORE. The world is truly your oyster when it comes to employee self-service portals.
I must say, after years in Talent Acquisition, I am all for anything which takes away HR admin burden while giving back control, awareness, and time to staff!
These are some tips that can help to keep your employees engaged and loyal, but they are not the only options. A business, its leaders, and its HR team must always be learning, looking for new ways to support its workforce, and seeking feedback on how they can improve.
If employee engagement is not already at the top of your business’s list of things to review and improve, in this current climate, I would get onto it as soon as possible!
And finally, don’t take it personally if, even after all this, some of your employees still resign. There are millions of reasons why a person may leave an organisation, and sometimes there is no amount of support you can give. In these instances, asking for feedback, and then letting your employees go graciously, is the best thing you can do.