As the economy improves, the risk of your talent jumping ship increases. And, while not all industries are engaged in a full-on “war for talent” as we’ve seen in the past, we are in a reality where organizations need to actively work to engage and retain their top performing employees.
There is a clear connection between corporate performance and employee engagement. This means that keeping your employees engaged is the most reliable way to grow your bottom line.
The Warning Signs of Poor Employee Engagement
When things start to go wrong with employee engagement, there are always warning signs. It’s like a marriage that’s struggling, you have to identify the problems before you can make improvements.
With employee 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. As with any relationship, if you address problems head-on, you’ll have a stronger chance of fixing them before they escalate.
Another warning sign that’s often missed is a once-contented employee who suddenly has complaints about a coworker, their manager, or even leadership in general. 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 are they reporting to a new manager?
Spotting these warning signs is not just the responsibility of your HR team. They need to be something that your frontline managers and your executive team are also keeping a keen eye on. Ensuring that there’s clear, consistent communication across the organization can help mitigate risk – make sure everyone understands not only corporate expectations, but how they fit within them.
Now that you’re on the lookout for the warning signs, how do you take your employee engagement from mediocre to marvelous?
#1. Understand Your Key HR Metrics
The days of HR just being an administrative function are long gone. HR isn’t a department, it’s a critical business function that should be measuring metrics and sharing the results with the C-suite. Getting a good handle on key HR metrics, such as your employee 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. At the very least, they should be measured quarterly, if not more often. 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. Take a Long Term View of Engagement
If your organization suddenly goes from not measuring any key HR metrics to tracking them quarterly, the numbers may look rather grim at first. Engagement is not a short-term project, it’s 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 (where you’re always putting out fires) to proactive (where potential problems are stopped before they can start). Engagement is truly a partnership between employees and management that requires a long-term commitment.
Managers at all levels in your organization are your front line 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 therefore 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 dealing with employees who have different skills, preferences and 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 won’t be completely effective if they’re not clearly articulated to each and every person in the organization. As much as possible, create a clear link between the work each employee does on a day-to-day basis and how that ties into the organization’s goals.
That connection helps create a deeper level of employee engagement. And when the entire team is connected to the company’s overall purpose, they’ll feel personally invested, have more pride in their work, and have greater satisfaction. The end result is a more powerful and productive organization and business goals that are much closer to being met – or 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 employees’ skills is critical in their career development, but also serves another key purpose. Employees will be less apt to leave 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 by harnessing the power of employee feedback surveys. You can gain valuable insight into the needs of your individual staff members so you can start to measure engagement and then establish a practical plan to boost employee engagement. Learn more here.