As the economy improves, the risk of your talent jumping ship increases greatly. So while we’re not in a full-on “war for talent” across all industries like we’ve seen in the past, the reality is that organizations need to actively work to engage and retain their talent.
The connection between corporate performance and employee engagement makes it especially clear that keeping your employees engaged is a major contributor to bottom line growth.
The Warning Signs of Poor Employee Engagement
When things start to go wrong with employee engagement, there are always warning signs. But it’s sort of like a marriage that’s struggling and you choose to ignore what you know deep down in your gut to be true.
With engagement, a big warning sign is a drop in productivity across the organization. When the quality or quantity of work starts to dip for an employee or even an entire department, HR and managers need to take notice and figure out what’s at the root of the problem. Just like in a marriage, if you have a conversation and address the issue head-on, you have more of a chance of actually stopping things before they become a much bigger problem down the line.
Another warning sign that is often missed is a once-contented employee suddenly having complaints about their coworker, their manager or even leadership. Any shift in behavior of this nature is an indication that something is not quite right. Could it be a change in their workload? A new set of responsibilities or they are reporting to a new manager?
These warning signs are not just the domain of your HR team. They need to be something that your frontline managers and your executive team are keeping a keen eye on. Ensuring there’s clear, consistent communication across the organization can help mitigate risk as everyone understands not only the expectations but how they fit within them.
Now that you’re on the look out for the warning signs, how do you take your employee engagement across the organization from mediocre to marvelous?
#1. Understand Your Key HR Metrics
The days of HR being an administrative function are long gone. HR isn’t a department, it’s a critical business function that should be measuring metrics that are visible to the C-suite. Getting a good handle on key HR metrics such as your turnover rate and understanding retention risk can help everyone gauge the state of your talent today and implement strategies to improve those numbers over time.
Measuring these metrics shouldn’t be a once-a-year-event as they are important indicators of the health of the organization. They should, at a minimum, be measured quarterly. Managers should be well-equipped to report on areas of retention risk, HR should be tracking overall trends and C-level executives should be updated on where things stand in terms of engagement and retention.
#2. Look at Engagement with the Long View
If your organization suddenly goes from not measuring any of your key HR metrics to tracking them quarterly, at first, the numbers may look rather grim. Engagement is not a short-term project, it is truly a way of doing business, so focus on the big picture to see how things are improving over time. Once engagement becomes a corporate priority, managing and communicating with your talent will go from reactive mode where you’re always putting out fires to proactive mode where potential problems are stopped before they can start. Engagement is truly a partnership between employees and management that requires a long-term commitment.
#3. Turn Your Managers Into Coaches
Managers at all levels in your organization are truly your frontline when it comes to engagement and retention. After all, as the saying goes, people don’t leave the company, they leave their manager.
As an organization, emphasis should be placed on training your managers so they’re well equipped for the challenges of managing multiple generations in the workplace as well as the complexities of employees with different skills, preferences and even personalities. Don’t assume that managers have the skills they need to lead. You need to help them step into that role.
#4. Ensure Everyone is Pulling in the Same Direction
Strategic plans, long-term visions, mission statements and corporate values don’t matter at all if they’re not clearly articulated to each and every person in the organization. As much as possible, you want to create a clear link between the work each individual does on a day-to-day basis and how that ties to the organization’s goals.
That link, while it may seem tenuous, helps create a deeper level of employee engagement. And when the entire team is connected to the bigger “why” for what they are doing, they are personally invested, have more pride in their work and feel more satisfaction. The end result is a much more powerful and productive organization as business goals are that much closer to being met and even exceeded.
#5. Provide Development Opportunities to Every Single Employee
Employee development shouldn’t be the domain of a select few employees. It’s something that needs to be available to all employees regardless of title or department. Investing in developing your employee’s skills is critical in their career development but also serves another key purpose. Employees will be less apt to jump ship if they are getting opportunities to update their skills, learn new ones and grow as individuals.
Making employees feel valued and connected should be one of every organization’s top priorities. Employees who are acknowledged, appreciated and know their feedback is valued will ultimately be happier, more productive and more likely to stay with your organization for years to come.
QuestBack can help you get a handle on your employee engagement with the power of employee surveys. You can gain valuable insight into the needs of your individual employees so you can start to measure engagement and establish a practical plan to boost employee engagement.
If you have questions or comments about this post, meet us over on LinkedIn – we’d love to take the conversation further.
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