As a hiring manager, if employee engagement and retention aren’t on your priority list yet - they should be. The jobs market has changed, and many employers are finding that they no longer hold all the cards when it comes to retaining staff in today’s fast paced environment. Employees no longer prioritise holding a tenure with their current company over seeking a job elsewhere that better suits their lifestyle and career aspirations.
This means that if you’re not doing all you can to keep your staff happy, you could be at greater risk of losing your best talent (and future business leaders) to your competitors. The good news is that many effective employee retention strategies involve little to no money.
7 key employee engagement factors that really matter to staff:
Providing a clear career path
Top employees want to know they have a future at your company. Make sure you meet with team members regularly to discuss their professional goals and how they can achieve them at your organisation. How can an employee envision a future at your company, if you have not set out a clear progression path? Do your part to support your employee’s professional goals and objectives by offering resources such as access to mentors and training programs. Your commitment to offering staff the chance to upskill will not only benefit the individual, but also your bottom line.
Having a rewards program in place is an excellent retention strategy to acknowledge staff achievements, focusing on fairness and consistent delivery. When people feel that leaders notice and truly value their contributions, their motivation and loyalty grow. Be careful that the same employees don’t constantly receive all of the praise or that you only offer recognition out of a sense of obligation, because it can harm morale. Raises, bonuses and other financial rewards are a good starting point when it comes to employee engagement, but understand that offering a public “thank you” at a staff meeting can be just as meaningful, if not more so. Consider combining this verbal act of praise along with a simple reward, such as a gift card issued by a local restaurant or Gold Class movie tickets as a token of your appreciation for a job well done.
Cultivating a culture of freedom
It’s hard to feel productive or trusted if someone is looking over your shoulder all day long as you work. Most strong performers value a degree of autonomy and thrive in an environment where they are free to explore their own innovative ideas. As a manager, even if you’re not hovering physically over your staff, you’re giving the same feeling of micro-managing if you require excessive updates and approvals on assignments before they can progress. If you’ve done a good job of hiring, you should be able to rely on your employees to complete their work successfully. Provide staff with sufficient details at the beginning of projects and then let them take the ball and run with it. Chances are, they will rise to the occasion and so will your retention rates.
In terms of employee engagement, flexible work arrangements are among the most highly prized elements of a work environment you can offer your talent. These can range from simply making it easy to attend to family emergencies or school activities, to offering flexibility, job share and work-from-home arrangements alongside individual work hours. By doing this, you will help your staff balance their work and personal demands, which can be very meaningful to time-pressed people. It shows your staff that you have a vested interest in their wellbeing and this can lead to strong loyalty to your company.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
People also want to work for companies that are a force for good. Ask yourself if your firm falls into this category. Do you promote ethics first when interacting with customers and employees? Are your products safe and reliable? Do you have a commitment to fairness and diversity? Does your organisation support community causes financially and/or with volunteers? Do you demonstrate environmental stewardship? Actions such as setting up a day in which staff throughout the company can volunteer for a philanthropic event as a group can go a long way in building positive spirit and loyalty.
Salaries are another critical retention strategy that can either work for you or against you when it comes to keeping your most valued people employed. By offering more than the average salary bracket, you can attract the cream of the crop when it comes to talent – and vice versa when you pay people below market value, it suggests that you don’t truly value them or their work. If you withheld raises and bonuses during a downturn and have yet to implement any positive changes, you’re at real risk of losing your best staff. The job market is continually changing in response to economic and industry-specific factors, so be sure you’re re-evaluating salaries at least annually by reading the latest association reports, salary guides and government statistics. If you're not in a position to top up pay packets, the other retention strategy you can employ is reassessing the little extras you offer to your staff that round out your remuneration package. This can include everything from free healthy snacks in the break room to on-site exercise facilities and tuition reimbursement for professional growth. It’s surprising how these perks can often be part of the reason you not only retain staff but also attract new employees when it’s time to hire.
Clear lines of communication
Last but definitely not least, unambiguous communication should be the cornerstone of foundation for all your other employee engagement strategies. People want to feel they’re a key part of the organisation and that they play a role in upcoming plans. Keep your employees in the loop when it comes to the latest developments at your company. Consider conducting regular employee engagement surveys to hear feedback and ideas on initiatives. The more involved they are from the outset, the more connected they will feel to the outcome of projects.
The steps you take now to build an effective employee engagement and retention strategy can help solidify your teams motivation and loyalty. Not only will you help to ensure you attract and retain the very best talent, your business will also benefit from increased output and a harmonious, sought-after working environment.