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Engagement Matters to Retention
According to Wikipedia, “An "engaged employee" is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests (Wikipedia, Employee engagement). In other words, employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel fulfilled, the extent to which they feel passionate and committed to their jobs, and the extent to how much discretionary effort they put into their work. A highly engaged employee would be more fulfilled, passionate and committed to their jobs than a disengaged employee. The engaged employee would also be more likely to put additional effort into their work thereby allowing for more productivity for the organization. An engaged employee would allow for a more productive unit, but is this the only benefit? There are many benefits to high employee engagement, but the one we will focus on for the purpose of this article is retention.
Retention is the company’s ability to support current employees in a work environment that will motivate them to remain within the company. According to John Baldoni from the Harvard Business Review, there was a meta-analysis of 1.4 million employees conducted by the Gallup Organization comparing top-quartile companies to bottom-quartile companies, and it showed that the engagement factor provides a noticeable difference. He stated that “top-quartile firms have lower absenteeism and turnover. Specifically, high-turnover organizations report 25% lower turnover, and low-turnover organizations report 65% lower turnover (Harvard Business Review, Employee Engagement does more than boost productivity, 2013)”. This suggests that having more engaged employees brings about higher retention.
According to Business 2 Community, 87% of highly engaged employees are less likely to leave an organization. So what causes a disengaged employee? There are many reasons why an employee can become disengaged, such as incomplete onboarding, inflexible work arrangements, lack of socializing with peers, lack of communication with their manager, or not being recognized or appreciated for the work delivered.
In order to avoid disengaged employees, it is important to engage them. So how do we engage them?
According to the Alberta HR Trends Report of Spring 2017, the most popular way organizations reduced turnover was with better on-boarding, flexible work arrangements and more team-building events. Other areas to improve engagement include strengthening communication between organizations, managers, and employees, and providing recognition programs. Let’s look at these factors more closely.
According to Maren Hogan, TLNT Talent Management and HR “one third of new hires quit their job after about six months”, and “73 percent of organizations revamp their onboarding to improve their employee retention” (TLNT Talent Management and HR, 9 Employee Retention Statistics That Will Make You Sit Up & Pay Attention, 2015). This is important information, as we can deduct from this that companies need to have stronger on-boarding methods in order to increase retention.
As a company, you are developing your relationship with this new employee. First impressions matter. On-boarding conveys your organization’s brand and values and allows you to promote your company culture, ensuring that the employee is constantly being communicated to with feedback and performance measurement. As a company, you want to align your organization’s values with the employee’s work. This process is not just when the employee is hired, but may span from one to two years after. At the start of employment, it is also important to ensure that the employee is set up effectively to be productive within their position. The employee wants to feel comfortable, and is ready to be productive. New employees are excited and want to do a good job and make a great impression, so make sure you let them know you are there for them. Be ready for questions and engage them within the organization. They should get to know their team and other members of the company that they will be interacting with. Stronger on-boarding means stronger engagement.
Flexible Work Arrangements
In 2016, the University of Minnesota and the MIT Sloan School of Management studied a Fortune 500 company to find out if flexible work options have any real, measurable benefits for 700 workers. The answer was yes where flexible work made a positive impact, and when asked if they have left or have considered leaving a job because it lacked flexibility, more than half said yes (Flex jobs, 5 Big 2016 Stats about Flexible work and 3 predications for 2017, 2016).
The fact is that more employees are looking for flexible work arrangements. Employees with families may want to balance their family time with work, and in order to do that they are seeking out jobs that have flexible work arrangements, with more control over their schedules. For certain positions, allowing an employee to be flexible with work hours with potential opportunity to work from home allows for more engaged and fulfilled employees. These employees feel more supported by their managers, which may also increase job satisfaction and productivity. By allowing flexible arrangements for employees, companies increase their retention.
Team Building and/or Social Events
Employees need to connect with their team members; some ways to do that include team-building events, a day away from the office off-site, or even social events like a company lunch or a similar activity to get employees feeling more engaged. This in turn builds trust, improves employee morale, encourages communication, addresses conflict and increases collaboration. By investing in these team-building events it will improve productivity, increase engagement and therefore reduce turnover in the future.
Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate!
According to Business 2 Community, 43% of highly engaged employees receive weekly feedback (2017). Employees want to be communicated to. Do not confuse this for micromanagement. Employees want to be trusted to do the work they were hired to do without constant check-ins, but they do want to have a manager that is available and willing to listen. They want regular feedback from their manager with set goals.
Employees want to feel appreciated. Sometimes that means a reward and sometimes it means just being thanked. A good recognition program for employees can help develop engagement and make them feel appreciated for their accomplishments. “Organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.” (Bersin by Deloitte, The State of Employee Recognition, 2012). The employees want to align themselves with company values and goals, and if they are appreciated that only strengthens that factor.
If a company can successfully provide the engagement factors listed, the company is likely to increase their overall engagement factor and thereby increase their retention. Retention and engagement have a joint relationship. As we increase retention and improve organizational stability with employee engagement, success and productivity are likely to improve. Effective engagement is an important factor in retention, and when implemented properly, can become a significant part of your organizational culture.
- Alberta Trends Report – Spring 2017, Human Resources Institute of Alberta
- Baldoni, J. (July 4, 2013. Employee Engagement Does More than Boost Productivity. [HBR Webinar]. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/07/employee-engagement-does-more
- Bersin & Associates Unlocks the Secrets of Effective Employee Recognition. (June 12, 2012). [Bersin & Associates]. Retrieved from https://www.bersin.com/News/Content.aspx?id=15543
- Employee Engagement. (n.d). [Wikipedia]. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employee_engagement
- Hogan, M. (November 30, 2015). 9 Employee Retention Statistics That Will Make You Sit Up and Pay Attention. [TLNT]. Retrieved from https://www.eremedia.com/tlnt/9-employee-retention-statistics-that-will-...
- How Can I Increase Employee Engagement and Retention? (n.d). [Gusto]. Retrieved from https://gusto.com/framework/hr/how-can-i-increase-employee-engagement-an...
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- Quarin, R.,(n.d). Employee Retention: Why Employee Engagement Matters. [IQ Partners Inc. Executive Search and Recruitment]. Retrieved from http://www.iqpartners.com/blog/employee-retention-why-employee-engagemen...
- Reynolds, B., (December 5, 2016). 5 Big 2016 About Flexible Work, and 3 Predications for 2017. [Flexjobs]. Retrieved from https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/2016-stats-about-flexible-work-and-pr...
- Robins, A. (April 5, 2017). 10 Shocking Statistics about Disengaged Employees. [Business 2 Community]. Retrieved from http://www.business2community.com/human-resources/10-shocking-statistics...
- Six Strategies you can use to Improve Employee Retention. (September 8, 2016). [Forbes Human Resources Council]. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2016/09/08/six-...
- What is Employee Engagement? (n.d). [Custom Insight]. Retrieved from http://www.custominsight.com/employee-engagement-survey/what-is-employee...