Mastering the Art of Employee Engagement and Retention

Employee retention has become an unexpected challenge for businesses in the recent years. Uncertainty in the labour market have risen across the country, amplified by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The issues of high turnover rates and the pursuit of high-performing talent has pushed organizations to rethink their retention strategies. As a result, some employers have adopted strategies such as providing financial incentives to current employees to reduce turnover. However, it is also apparent that such incentives alone may not be enough to retain top talent. A LifeWorks (now Telus Health) survey reveals that over one in three Canadians are considering leaving their current jobs. The results of high turnover not only incur financial costs but it also demoralizes existing employees. The constant arrival and departure of both new and old colleagues can ruin the sense of stability within the workplace. The human cost of high turnover adds another layer of complexity to the challenge of employee retention.

As more challenges arise from employee retention, employee engagement becomes more important. The current workforce now seeks more than just financial compensation from their employers. Things like meaningful engagement, professional development opportunities and a healthy work-life balance are equally, if not more, valued by employees. This strategy of employee retention requires a multifaceted approach, where various elements help create an environment that not only retains employees but also allows them to excel. The following sections will explore strategies that leaders can implement for successful employee retention.

Set Clear Expectations

Unclear job expectations can lead to confusion and stress in employees. Many individuals seek more than just financial compensation; they find meaning and purpose in the work they do. When expectations are not set correctly, employees may begin to establish their own goals and standards, which can lead to silos and inefficiencies. Clear expectations can establish common goals for the team, driving higher performance and engagement. Leaders can set clearer expectations by:

Involving Employees in Defining the Big Picture

This involvement can take in the form of team meetings, offsites, and discussions where employees have the opportunity to provide their input on how their work can contribute to the company’s overarching objectives. This collaborative approach creates a sense of involvement in the organization’s journey, giving employees a meaningful direction. As a result, employees can see their significance of the contributions and are more likely to feel motivated and engaged.

Adopting a Coaching Approach

Micromanagement can be demoralizing and counterproductive, leading to reduced employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction. Offering guidance and support, while giving employees the autonomy to make decisions and address challenges is an important strategy. This approach not only encourages employees to take ownership in their work, but also helps them grow professionally and personally. Additionally, it also shows trust in their capabilities, contributing to a culture that encourages initiative and self-reliance.

Ensure Expectations are Realistic and Hold People Accountable

Setting clear and achievable expectations plays a huge role in keeping employees motivated. It is important that expectations are realistic, considers the available resources, timeframes, and align with the employee’s skillsets. As well, it is equally important to hold employees accountable for meeting these expectations. Accountability should be balanced with support and guidance so that employees have the right tools and knowledge to achieve these expectations.

Set Clear Expectations

Unclear job expectations can lead to confusion and stress in employees. Many individuals seek more than just financial compensation; they find meaning and purpose in the work they do. When expectations are not set correctly, employees may begin to establish their own goals and standards, which can lead to silos and inefficiencies. Clear expectations can establish common goals for the team, driving higher performance and engagement. Leaders can set clearer expectations by:

Involving Employees in Defining the Big Picture

This involvement can take in the form of team meetings, offsites, and discussions where employees have the opportunity to provide their input on how their work can contribute to the company’s overarching objectives. This collaborative approach creates a sense of involvement in the organization’s journey, giving employees a meaningful direction. As a result, employees can see their significance of the contributions and are more likely to feel motivated and engaged.

Adopting a Coaching Approach

Micromanagement can be demoralizing and counterproductive, leading to reduced employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction. Offering guidance and support, while giving employees the autonomy to make decisions and address challenges is an important strategy. This approach not only encourages employees to take ownership in their work, but also helps them grow professionally and personally. Additionally, it also shows trust in their capabilities, contributing to a culture that encourages initiative and self-reliance.

Ensure Expectations are Realistic and Hold People Accountable

Setting clear and achievable expectations plays a huge role in keeping employees motivated. It is important that expectations are realistic, considers the available resources, timeframes, and align with the employee’s skillsets. As well, it is equally important to hold employees accountable for meeting these expectations. Accountability should be balanced with support and guidance so that employees have the right tools and knowledge to achieve these expectations.

Source: John Panigas, Mental Health and Work – Part One: Understanding the Mental Health Crisis

Get to Know Your Employees and Embrace Differences

The multigenerational workforce has brought new dynamics to the modern workplace. As of 2023, five generations coexist: traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. These generations have their own working styles, motivators, and values, which can lead to misunderstandings. To create strong teams, leaders can conduct regular check-ins and encourage opportunities for the multigenerational teams to learn from each other.

Regular check-ins between managers, employees, and the team serves a way for open communication and feedback. These are essential for building trust and mutual understanding in the workplace, making the employee feel valued and supported. These check-ins serve as a way to express what they need from managers and team, ensuring that they have the necessary support to excel in their roles. Additionally, these interactions allow managers to share the organization’s high-level goals providing the opportunity for collective contributions and collaborative efforts towards the same goal.

Recognizing that different generations may have distinct strengths can help encourage employees to learn from each other. This not only creates a rich exchange of ideas, experiences, and perspectives, but it also encourages teamwork among colleagues. Embracing generational diversities ultimately promotes a culture of learning and collaboration.

Source: Eddie LeMoine, Navigating The Talent Gap: How Aging Population & Immigration are Reshaping the Canadian Workforce

Get to Know Your Employees and Embrace Differences

The multigenerational workforce has brought new dynamics to the modern workplace. As of 2023, five generations coexist: traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. These generations have their own working styles, motivators, and values, which can lead to misunderstandings. To create strong teams, leaders can conduct regular check-ins and encourage opportunities for the multigenerational teams to learn from each other.

Regular check-ins between managers, employees, and the team serves a way for open communication and feedback. These are essential for building trust and mutual understanding in the workplace, making the employee feel valued and supported. These check-ins serve as a way to express what they need from managers and team, ensuring that they have the necessary support to excel in their roles. Additionally, these interactions allow managers to share the organization’s high-level goals providing the opportunity for collective contributions and collaborative efforts towards the same goal.

Recognizing that different generations may have distinct strengths can help encourage employees to learn from each other. This not only creates a rich exchange of ideas, experiences, and perspectives, but it also encourages teamwork among colleagues. Embracing generational diversities ultimately promotes a culture of learning and collaboration.

Employee Development

Employee development is often an overlooked, but important part of employee retention. According to a study by Gallup in 2020, organizations that have made an investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees. This is because employees are more inclined to remain loyal to an organization that invests in their professional and personal growth. Furthermore, as employees are continuously learning and developing their skills, they become more adaptable to the changing business environments, making the organization more competitive.

Employee development doesn’t necessarily require substantial financial investments. Engaging in meaningful conversations about suggestions for improvement and what areas employees want to expand in, are also valuable avenues for development. Encouraging the discussion around professional growth within the workplace empowers employees to take an active role in their professional development. Businesses can also widen the range of professional development opportunities by exploring partnerships with other companies, offering access to different kinds of workplace education and training sessions. This approach not only encourages a culture of growth and learning within the organization but enhances the skill set of employees.

Employee Development

Employee development is often an overlooked, but important part of employee retention. According to a study by Gallup in 2020, organizations that have made an investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees. This is because employees are more inclined to remain loyal to an organization that invests in their professional and personal growth. Furthermore, as employees are continuously learning and developing their skills, they become more adaptable to the changing business environments, making the organization more competitive.

Employee development doesn’t necessarily require substantial financial investments. Engaging in meaningful conversations about suggestions for improvement and what areas employees want to expand in, are also valuable avenues for development. Encouraging the discussion around professional growth within the workplace empowers employees to take an active role in their professional development. Businesses can also widen the range of professional development opportunities by exploring partnerships with other companies, offering access to different kinds of workplace education and training sessions. This approach not only encourages a culture of growth and learning within the organization but enhances the skill set of employees.

Inspire and Motivate

Recognizing and acknowledging achievements is a powerful tool for increasing employee morale, confidence, and satisfaction. These acknowledgements help employees see that their contributions are appreciated and valued by their team, making them less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. While celebrating achievements is important, addressing setbacks in a supportive way is equally important. By embracing roadblocks and challenges as learning experiences, leaders can create a culture of learning and improvement.

In addition, leaders can inspire and motivate employees by setting a personal example. Through daily interactions that reflect company values, leaders not only earn the respect of their team but also instill a shared commitment to those values. It is also important to note that leading by example does not mean being perfect; rather, it involves the willingness to admit to mistakes and seek assistance when needed. This authenticity and leadership not only inspires employees, but it also motivates them to emulate the same authenticity in their interactions.

Inspire and Motivate

Recognizing and acknowledging achievements is a powerful tool for increasing employee morale, confidence, and satisfaction. These acknowledgements help employees see that their contributions are appreciated and valued by their team, making them less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. While celebrating achievements is important, addressing setbacks in a supportive way is equally important. By embracing roadblocks and challenges as learning experiences, leaders can create a culture of learning and improvement.

In addition, leaders can inspire and motivate employees by setting a personal example. Through daily interactions that reflect company values, leaders not only earn the respect of their team but also instill a shared commitment to those values. It is also important to note that leading by example does not mean being perfect; rather, it involves the willingness to admit to mistakes and seek assistance when needed. This authenticity and leadership not only inspires employees, but it also motivates them to emulate the same authenticity in their interactions.

Facilitate Work-Life Balance

As the business environment changes, the way people perceive work also changes. In today’s organizations, work-life balance and flexibility are essential for a thriving, productive culture. To encourage higher levels of engagement in the long run, work-life balance and workplace flexibility are essential for employees. This combination not only reflects an organization’s concern for its employees, but also motivates them. Employees and employers both play a respective role in ensuring work-life balance. Employees should pursue activities beyond their work for the sake of their health and well-being. However, employers bear a responsibility in creating an environment where employees can complete their tasks within working hours. Employers can contribute to this effort by creating a culture where employees do not feel pressured to extend their work obligations beyond their work hours.

Embracing flexibility in the workplace plays a crucial role in increasing employee satisfaction and reducing turnover. Employees who are able to tailor their work arrangements to their unique needs tend to exhibit higher levels of content and motivation. A 2023 study conducted by Cisco Canada shows that more than eight out of ten Canadian workers say that flexible work policies impact whether they stay or leave a job. Furthermore, an increasing amount of employees (79%) have reported that the hybrid work model has had a positive impact in their work-life balance.

Facilitate Work-Life Balance

As the business environment changes, the way people perceive work also changes. In today’s organizations, work-life balance and flexibility are essential for a thriving, productive culture. To encourage higher levels of engagement in the long run, work-life balance and workplace flexibility are essential for employees. This combination not only reflects an organization’s concern for its employees, but also motivates them. Employees and employers both play a respective role in ensuring work-life balance. Employees should pursue activities beyond their work for the sake of their health and well-being. However, employers bear a responsibility in creating an environment where employees can complete their tasks within working hours. Employers can contribute to this effort by creating a culture where employees do not feel pressured to extend their work obligations beyond their work hours.

Embracing flexibility in the workplace plays a crucial role in increasing employee satisfaction and reducing turnover. Employees who are able to tailor their work arrangements to their unique needs tend to exhibit higher levels of content and motivation. A 2023 study conducted by Cisco Canada shows that more than eight out of ten Canadian workers say that flexible work policies impact whether they stay or leave a job. Furthermore, an increasing amount of employees (79%) have reported that the hybrid work model has had a positive impact in their work-life balance.

Be a Good Leader

Gallup’s organizational research shows that at least 70% of the variance in team engagement is explained by the quality of the team leader. Leaders who embrace and possess essential skills like communication and collaboration can play a positive role in individuals and teams. A strong leader creates a shared vision within the organization, aligning team members with a clear purpose and direction. In doing so, they contribute to making the entire organization more innovative, collaborative, and productive.

Be a Better Leader

Gallup’s organizational research shows that at least 70% of the variance in team engagement is explained by the quality of the team leader. Leaders who embrace and possess essential skills like communication and collaboration can play a positive role in individuals and teams. A strong leader creates a shared vision within the organization, aligning team members with a clear purpose and direction. In doing so, they contribute to making the entire organization more innovative, collaborative, and productive.

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