4 Secrets to Employee Engagement and Retention

Employees giving high five

Here’s a surprising employee engagement statistic: A new Gallup poll shows 38% of workers are fully engaged, which is the highest level since Gallup began tracking engagement more than 20 years ago.

In these times where a common refrain is “nobody wants to work anymore,” it seems counterintuitive that employees are engaged at such high levels. Even more surprising is that today’s high rate of employee engagement follows a historic drop where engagement levels fell to as low as 13%, according to this same Gallup study.

What’s going on here? Researchers say the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped how U.S. workers view their employers. After experiencing the terrifying impact of a health crisis, many people are no longer willing to accept poor leadership from their managers. To put it another way, they’re totally engaged until they’re totally gone.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

Despite an increase in benefits packages, many organizations struggle to retain employees due to lack of communication. Disengaged employees are twice as likely to quit within a year if their feelings about their work are not adequately communicated. Benefits don’t always translate into loyalty. Today’s workforce expects a comprehensive employee experience that aligns with the organization’s brand and culture. Organizations must be creative to attract and retain talent and take steps to ensure employees are happy in their roles.

Today’s workers want positive role models with highly effective leadership styles. Otherwise, they’ll decide to jump ship to another employer. With this in mind, here are 4 secrets that will help you attract, engage, and retain top talent.

Maintain Clarity in Communication

One of the most common reasons why employees disengage is a lack of communication about company policies, changes, and expectations. When people feel disconnected from the reasons behind policies that impact them, they’re more likely to give up and look for employment elsewhere.

Communication goes hand in hand with empowerment. A company’s communication with its employees shouldn’t be a blast of informational updates. Instead, it should be a two-way interaction where the employees always feel empowered to play a role in company processes and provide feedback.

The Harvard Business Review reports that the following three communication-related employee engagement strategies are most likely to retain employees who are at the point of considering leaving the company:

  • Ask for their help. Welcome their diverse perspectives, even when their opinions are hard to hear. Show that the company is listening to their feedback.
  • Give them agency. Empower them with the ability to make changes that will improve their daily working conditions.
  • Focus on outcomes. Demonstrate that certain circumstances will reliably lead to certain positive outcomes for the employee, plus the company as a whole.

Address Social Issues and Tensions

Today’s employees are keenly aware of how their employers handle social issues like economic disparity, racism, imbalances of power, climate change, healthcare, and civil rights. Any employer that ignores these issues is putting employee engagement in jeopardy.

For example, Gallup found that the death of George Floyd increased racial tensions in many U.S. organizations. This situation caused many employees to reexamine working for employers that seemed unaware of the incident’s impact on their staff or unwilling to address it. 

Using effective leadership strategies to support workers and listening to their concerns during difficult times will encourage workplace engagement.

Support Employees Through Rough Periods

A period of transition at the company, such as a company merger or time of rapid growth, is stressful for your employees and brings up emotions like uncertainty and fear. Your employees will need extra support to navigate these phases.

It is important to remember that employees are human beings who sometimes need extra help coping with change. Your leaders will need to use emotional intelligence to provide support and reassurance.

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This involves the dual tasks of maintaining current employee engagement and continuing to attract top talent to your company. If prospective employees can sense that something about your company seems unstable or chaotic, they’re far less likely to accept a job offer.

Help all of your employees—brand-new hires and longtime employees—picture a future that’s not so rocky. Use employee engagement strategies like talent development and succession planning to demonstrate that each employee holds an important place in the organization and will play a key role in its future.

Provide Leadership Development, Not Just Training

Retaining your top employees takes strategic thinking and careful planning. For meaningful and lasting change, experts recommend incorporating leadership development programs, as opposed to traditional training programs.

Traditional training is simply a one-off experience. The employee takes away a few tips but doesn’t necessarily gain deeper wisdom about personal or professional growth. By contrast, robust leadership development programs fully support each individual employee as they develop new leadership skills, knowledge, and talent. The experience also has a lasting, positive impact.

Start Improving Your Employee Engagement Efforts Today

At Leadership Resources, we provide the leadership development programs it takes to retain superstar employees and keep them engaged. We can help your company with a wide variety of employee engagement strategies like improving interpersonal skills, building emotional intelligence, conducting strategic business planning, and many other aspects of running a successful company.

To learn more, download our ebook about identifying and leveraging employee leadership potential.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

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