By Brenda LaMarche / Guest Column
In today’s competitive employment market, employee retention is a hot topic. The key is employee engagement, which has its roots in your company culture and vines its way into every aspect of your business. The more committed and stimulated employees feel, the more likely they are to stay with your company.
Consider this: 47 percent of those actively looking for a new job say company culture is the main reason they are looking to change, according to a 2017 Hays study.
Lack of engagement can result in increased turnover, which is painful and costly. It has become more difficult to hire qualified candidates for existing job openings. While some turnover is good and to be expected, a lot of employee churn is bad and costly to a business. The cost of recruiting and training continues to increase, and time spent on these tasks can take away from other activities.
There are three types of employees: engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged. When an employee is engaged, they work with passion and feel connected to the company. A study completed by Aon Hewitt in 2017 found that approximately 24 percent of the American workforce falls into this category. Half of employees are simply not engaged – they put in their hours, neither driving nor eroding business performance. And then there are the actively disengaged employees, who make up 20 percent of the workforce. These individuals may actively undermine projects, coworkers and managers, creating a toxic environment.
Through improved communication and training, your company can cultivate better relationships with its employees and reduce churn.
Employee engagement should be part of the company’s overall strategy for success. All departments, managers and even employees can become involved – all they need are tools and guidance to take an interest in the company’s culture.
One challenge for diverse companies is adopting the appropriate communication methods for different audiences. Blue-collar workers may require a different approach than white-collar workers, who have regular access to email. Different age groups may also require different modes of communication. Are you communicating in a way that works for them?
No matter the makeup of your workforce, the goal is to build trust, and that begins from the top down. Give supervisors the tools they need to develop themselves and empower them to engage other employees more effectively. This will help in building a stimulating company culture that employees appreciate.
Ways to cultivate engagement
Empower employees. Give them more responsibility and freedom to make decisions and lead projects. Greater responsibility will engender greater trust in you, your management team and your company. Think about how giving employees more control can contribute to the company mission. The results can be significant.
Get to know your employees. A culture of trust and open communication goes a long way toward stimulating engagement. Care about your employees’ interests and what drives them. Build relationships. Communicate your company’s mission, strategy and performance regularly and honestly. Help employees understand how their job fits into the big picture.
Share successes. Look at different ways to recognize employee and company successes. Praise employees simply and often, using the appropriate communication channels. Sharing kudos can result in significant positive outcomes, and, best of all, it costs nothing.
Provide training and development opportunities. Employees appreciate the chance to enhance their skills. Look outside the company to find training that will stimulate employees and provide relevant skill-building.
Building a culture of engagement doesn’t happen overnight, but it will have a positive effect on your company. Take the time to help employees feel engaged in their work and connected to your company’s success, and you’ll increase retention and save on recruiting costs.
Brenda LaMarche is the president and founder of BRL HR Consulting, based in Coralville.