Guide to Employee Engagement and Retention

Theresa Carik, Ph.D. Culture, HR Trends, Leadership Development, Talent Management

According to a quantitative analysis by the Corporate Leadership Council, employee engagement can be defined as, “the extent to which employees commit to their organization, how hard they work, and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.” Employee engagement directly correlates to both levels of performance and talent retention.

The importance of an engaged and capable workforce

In fact, the same study found that committed employees were 87% more likely to stay with an organization than their non-committed counterparts. However, out of the 59 organizations surveyed, only 11% of the employees actually exhibited high levels of engagement.

A more engaged workforce leads to heightened critical thinking skills and higher-quality work, which produces opportunities for upward mobility and talent progression. Experience and know-how are improved upon daily as marginal gains can be made with more attentive teams. In turn, deeper knowledge leads to increased productivity which can further engagement levels, creating a feedback loop between these two forces.

Benefits of employee engagement

Engaged employees contribute to a company’s bottom line and help a business grow. In contrast, disengaged employees can hurt an organization’s revenue and further deteriorate company culture. Pooling resources to develop talent can help generate better commitment on the job and cut the costs of having to train new hires. In the long run, investing in employee engagement strategies is less costly than having a high turnover rate and disengaged employees. Some of the benefits of high employee engagement levels include:

  • Higher retention – as we mentioned earlier, employees that are committed to a brand or company are more likely to stay during times of hardship or economic downturn. They also contribute more to the company culture and can influence other employees’ opinions of the organization and management teams, as well as moving up the ladder in your company. Ultimately, this reduces recruitment and training costs for a company.
  • Better performance – it’s no secret that an alert and mindful staff will be less likely to let tasks and details slip through the cracks. When an employee takes care and pride in what they do it is directly reflected in their work performance.
  • Improved client satisfaction – clients and customers can recognize when an employee is content with their work and their environment. Customer interactions benefit from astute and attentive care given by the employee during service.
  • Larger sales – an engaged sales team with better performance and client satisfaction means higher revenue and innovative sales tactics. When your employees are willing to go the extra mile it contributes to larger value transactions.
  • Reduced absenteeism – one of the most valuable metrics, absenteeism can hurt a business and result in burnout for other employees and departments. An engaged team is more willing to show up no matter how tasking the day might look, and they may even look forward to the challenge!

Employee engagement strategies and factors

So then, how can we transition a wavering workforce to a dedicated team? You may have heard about the 5 C’s of employee engagement — those being, caring, connection, coaching, contributions, and congratulating. Besides coaching and congratulating, these concepts are somewhat vague and only offer small insights on how to actively increase employee engagement.

In simpler terms, employee engagement strategies and programs typically entail variations of compensatory initiatives (such as PTO and student loan repayment programs) along with recognition programs. These can come in the form of rewards or company policies, like the ability to work from home.

In greater detail, a study of an international airport with a high turnover rate found four key factors to improve, resulting in better retention rates and higher employee engagement. The determining factors and correlating strategies are as follows:

  1. Human resources & management – creating programs from employee value propositions, career planning, and strategies for improving the supervisor support systems can help retain top-level talent and drive dedication. These initiatives begin with and are maintained by upper-level management and human resources. A third-party organization can aid in the creation of methods for these programs and provide beneficial consulting services.
  2. Work environment – company culture, diversity, and a sense of belonging are all factors of a favorable work environment. Interpersonal relationships with team members and leadership contribute to a better sense of belonging. Therefore, developing your leaders is a solid primer toward laying the foundation for an advantageous work environment. Moreover, a healthy work-life balance and flexible working arrangements can also influence and revamp a work environment.
  3. Rewards and recognition – a culture of recognition where peers can actively congratulate and reward their coworkers for achievements increases employee engagement. Again, leaders in your organization can directly impact engagement through leader-to-team recognition. Furthermore, rewards for milestones and above-and-beyond actions can incentivize employees and help keep them engaged on the job.
  4. Career development – possibly the most important long-term consideration, 94% of employees will stay with a company longer if they have a clear-cut path to furthering their career. Workshops for employees to learn how to effectively manage their careers and for managers to give constructive feedback about goals can further engage your workforce. Mentorship program frameworks can also help with career development and improve professional relationships between senior employees and their juniors.

Talent management and employee engagement

Talent management and retention are often tied to managerial support — the case is the same for employee engagement. A strong upper management and human resources team results in better implementation of the strategies listed above. Human resources management (HRM) is often directly responsible for curating a rewards program, as well as caring for and improving the general work environment. On the other hand, management teams can provide daily recognition of talent and offer mentorship for career development. In summation, both teams help create a stimulating work environment, resulting in higher retention rates. 

Develop your management teams and increase employee engagement

A connected and motivated workforce is vital for the success of any organization. At Keystone Partners, we use decades of expert consulting experience to create tailored solutions that drive upward mobility for all employees within your organization — keeping them engaged and on track in their careers with your company. Our customized leadership development programs are designed to increase employee engagement while also improving company culture. Working closely with our consulting teams ensures your leaders have the skills they need to help their teams excel and grow. Contact us today to learn more about our leadership development and career development programs and how we can help your organization succeed.

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