Why Employee Engagement is a Key Employee Retention Strategy

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Employee engagement and retention is a major concern (and challenge) for HR professionals and businesses. One of the smartest, most cost-effective ways to retain talented employees is to keep them engaged.

Engaged employees feel connected to their organization in a way that makes them happy to go to work in the morning. They feel that they are important to their team, and they are excited to help their team meet its goals.

Engaged employees do their jobs well, innovate new products and processes, and drive their companies toward financial success. They are infrequently absent, have few safety incidents, and are more likely to stay at their jobs. Considering the high costs of employee turnover, your best course of action is to find ways to engage employees from day one and keep them engaged.

A 2017 Gallup poll found only 15% of employed people around the world feel engaged in their current jobs. This is setting up small and large employers everywhere for high turnover rates. Here’s why your organization should focus on improving employee engagement to increase retention rates.

Why Are Unengaged Employees a Problem?

Unengaged employees pose a threat to your company – from the inside.

At best, unengaged employees reluctantly show up to work and spend their morning thinking about what they will order for lunch. At worst, they set out to apply their unhappiness during business hours by driving away customers and instigating conflict among co-workers. Managers with unengaged employees on their team will be forced to spend a disproportionate amount of time and effort working with these unhappiest crew members.

Preventing it from becoming this way can seem easier said than done – but it is possible.

How Personal Fulfillment Fits Into Employee Engagement

We all enjoy the feeling of personal fulfillment. The Society for Human Resource Management published a study in 2017 that found the average American employee is only moderately engaged. And while 44% of study respondents said they were very satisfied with their work opportunities and 41% were happy with the work they do, 40% said they were considering seeking employment elsewhere in the next year. This goes to show that job satisfaction isn’t enough; employee engagement is the key to keeping your best employees.

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SWOOP Analysis for Employee Retention

To help employees feel empowered and engaged at work, provide them with more opportunities to develop their talents and skills. A good way to help employees is to coach them through a self-analysis. Set up employees with a SWOOP assessment, which consists of the following factors:

Strengths

  • What do they already do well?
  • What hard and soft skills have they mastered?

Weaknesses

  • What could they do better?
  • How could this person benefit from additional training or experience?

Opportunities

  • Where are the open doors for this person?
  • Are there ways in which he or she could serve another purpose for their team or company?

Obstacles

  • What is standing in the way of this person achieving their professional goals?

Passion

  • What parts of their job do they love?
  • Do they have a passion that isn’t currently connected to their job, but could be?

Human Resources should make self-assessments part of every performance review. These exercises can reveal important facts about the employee you would never know otherwise. Plus, learning about their secret passions and frustrations can transform the employee’s trajectory and reveal the best ways to engage and retain them.

Retain Great Employees by Creating Human Connections

One of the most important jobs a manager does is to know his or her team. Their familiarity must go far beyond memorizing each employee’s resume and skill set. A great manager will get to know their team as people.

They should know who on their team has young children. Who is working on their degree at night? Who is interested in cross-training with another department or preparing to join the management team? Great managers ask these questions and many more in order to best support employees’ professional growth and foster engagement.

The role of HR in this process is to ensure managers get the coaching and tools they need to effectively connect with their team.  Not all managers will come to your organization with the knowledge necessary to help their team feel engaged and important.

Therefore, it’s important to front-load your new managers with that critical information they need. Work with each manager to create a custom development plan that is meaningful to that individual, and will help ensure they can build trust and promote engagement for their whole team.

Learn more

The TERRA Staffing Group website has more tips for improving employee engagement and retention. Learning more about employee engagement, professional development, and cultivating a strong culture is the duty of HR professionals. A great place to start is by watching our recent HR HotSpot about creating meaningful development plans.

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