Previous generations of employees were assured of a role for life, spending their career within one organisation. In today’s fast-paced, high-turnover climate, effective employee engagement is critical to ensure knowledge retention, morale and employee loyalty. Most organisations recognise this, yet ONS 2015 retention figures indicated that up to 18% of staff are changing roles annually.
Having an engaged workforce brings significant benefits to any business. Staff who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to be productive, understanding that over-performance will result in recognition. Similarly, employees who are satisfied in their role and feel supported are less likely to seek alternative opportunities elsewhere, helping organisations to develop and to retain skills in-house.
Given the obvious benefits of lasting employee engagement, how can firms improve staff buy-in, enhance morale and support their team to over-perform?
The power of employee monitoring
The first step in developing a powerful employee engagement programme is to understand the baseline point for improvement. Without conducting employee surveys and research to determine how staff currently feel, there is no benchmark against which to track whether your engagement strategy is working.
Request employee feedback on a regular basis, through surveys, two-way communication, discussion forums and suggestion schemes. This supports targeted strategies for future improvement, while also sending a very clear message to your staff that their views are important, and will be listened to.
Even staff who may not feel loyal to a company brand will feel engaged and motivated if they have an effective line manager. Management teams who take time to cascade messages, provide pastoral support and promptly resolve issues are critical to employee satisfaction and buy-in. Implement a sound programme of management development and training, to foster healthy and effective line management across the business.
Effective management is more than just annual appraisals and team meetings. Strong managers delegate appropriately, set clear objectives for their team, celebrate success and manage fairly and positively. Staff who understand their role and responsibilities in relation to the overall strategic direction of the business, will recognise how their individual contribution supports the firm. A great line manager will have the skills to coach and develop staff to optimise their contribution, achieving improved engagement across the team.
Offer clearly-defined progression pathways
All employees benefit from seeing the long-term career development opportunities within their organisation. A policy of internal promotion supported by effective training maximises retention, while providing opportunities for staff to develop into roles. Staff should have regular Training Needs Analyses, and be offered accreditation, mentoring or coaching in order to progress.
Having the freedom to move across an organisation into different career pathways supports experiential refinement and further builds motivation.
Foster a sense of teamwork
Promoting teamwork and a sense of shared responsibility for business success goes far beyond arranging an annual away day, or holding team building sessions. Team loyalty is built over time, through celebrating success, collectively working towards targets, and flexibly accommodating individual employee needs.
Enabling teams to collaborate on choosing shared targets and taking responsibility for the effectiveness of their department will have a positive impact upon engagement. Staff will feel jointly and individually motivated to achieve, while benefiting from a supportive and collaborative working environment.
Through strong communication, investment in training and management, and a commitment to staff development, firms can overcome current high turnover trends and achieve effective on-going employee engagement.