By Laurie Cure and Barb Ward

On our blog a few weeks ago, we talked about how hiring the right candidate is the first step in a successful employer/employee relationship. This article is the follow-up we promised on employee engagement and retention.

So, once you’ve got the right candidate, how do you keep them?

It’s a commonly known fact, and research supports, that people do not leave organizations—they leave leaders. And, while you may think that keeping employees engaged is just a feel-good tactic, engaged employees have proven to be willing to go the extra mile for their employer, be more productive, and be absent less. This is important because every person in your organization is affected by employee engagement, either positively or negatively, and employee engagement directly impacts your bottom line.

According to a Gallup survey, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability. If you convert these percentages to dollars, you can estimate a loss of 34% of that employee’s salary. And that is only one member of your staff. Now, imagine if this one disengaged employee is negatively impacting those around him/her: you could potentially end up with a team of non-engaged employees, costing your organization in both productivity and profitability.

What’s more, according to a 2017 survey, Gallup reports:

  • Only 33 percent of American workers are engaged at work, meaning they love their jobs and try to make their company better every day
  • At the other end, 16 percent of employees are actively disengaged—they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build.
  • And further, the remaining 51 percent of employees are not engaged—they’re just there.

These figures illustrate that a shift in leadership is necessary to increase employee engagement that will ultimately increase an organization’s productivity and bottom line.

Businesswoman Listening

So, first, how do you determine whether your employees are engaged?

Typically, engaged employees will go above and beyond because they feel a strong emotional connection to the organization, or to their leader. For the engaged employee, success is a personal achievement. Typically, these employees:

  • Are self-motivated
  • Understand how their contribution to the organization matters
  • Have ownership in their contribution to the team
  • Feel a connection to their team and to the larger organization

Additionally, in an organization that has high employee engagement, you will find that the employees have developed trust amongst their team members, have well-defined roles and expectations, have opportunities for professional and personal development, and enjoy the people around them.

Second, how can you increase employee engagement in your organization?

Organizations that are aware and invested in building strong employee engagement have several traits in common. They offer:

  • Meaningful work. Employees are willing to work harder and tough it out through difficult transitions if they feel there is meaning to their work and if they feel their effort is making an impact.
  • Autonomy. Once the parameters of the job are set and onboarding is complete, allowing individuals to determine the best way to approach their job based on their personality and skill sets is important. Giving employees autonomy in how to complete their job requirements demonstrates your confidence in them and empowers them to work independently.
  • Flexibility. Providing an option of flexing hours to fit their life schedules or enabling employees to work offsite without compromising quality or productivity offers greater work-life balance, which many workers now seek in their employment options.
  • Opportunity for growth. While salary and benefits are important for job seekers, many also want an opportunity to grow in their careers. Staying challenged, having the ability to grow their skills, and seeing opportunities for career advancement are all integral aspects of keeping employees excited about their jobs and the organization.
  • A voice. Engaged employees are enthusiastic and passionate about their jobs and their organizations; they feel they can contribute. As part of a two-way commitment to their staff, leaders can benefit, both through potential improved communication and processes and through increased employee engagement, by listening to the valuable insights their employees can offer.  
  • Authenticity. A leader is someone people want to follow. Leaders must demonstrate that they care, have empathy, are trustworthy, are loyal to their employees, and exhibit integrity. What’s more: these characteristics must be authentic. If a leader is not consistent in the way s/he handles situations, employees will see through it and will easily become disillusioned.
  • Employee recognition. Recognizing an employee’s contribution helps to build pride in their work and loyalty to the organization. No matter what level, people want to feel their contribution is respected and valued by their superiors and the organization.

Young People Working

Changing the culture of an entire organization is a daunting task; however, if leadership is committed to making this shift, it can be done. Engaging help from a company that specializes in Organizational and Culture Development can be integral to ensure a successful outcome.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to learn about executive coaching, leadership development, employee engagement and more.