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5 Keys to Drive Employee Engagement and Retention

Strong employee engagement has shifted from something companies want to something that they need in order to grow and retain their most important asset – their People. Companies that aren’t connecting with their employees stand the risk of losing them, while businesses that drive engagement by putting their people first will lock in a huge advantage.  

The trouble is, worldwide data paints a pretty grim picture. In fact, research shows only 15% of employees across the globe are engaged in their work and over 80% of employees are actively considering leaving their employer (source). Business leaders are starting to see this, as 63% of companies find retaining employees to be more challenging than hiring them. These numbers are only rising during this “Great Resignation”.  

Across all industries, employees are experiencing high levels of dissatisfaction. What can you do to change the tide in your company? Spoiler Alert: The foundation to all of these strategies comes down to consistent feedback and communication.  

Feedback Equals Employee Engagement 

People want to be challenged, understood, and valued. The best managers drive employee engagement and performance through consistent feedback, both constructive and celebratory. Leaders that push their employees to be their best, coaching them to hit their personal and professional goals, will maximize engagement across their organization. Similarly, when leaders celebrate the wins of their people and recognize their growth and success, morale rises. 

Communication goes both ways – and this is the key that is often missed by leadership. Employees want and need feedback, but they also are looking for their voice, opinions, and ideas to be valued. Organizations with the highest levels of employee engagement and satisfaction make it easy for employees to give them feedback, too.  

So how do you make this happen? It takes a lot more than simply saying, “Send us your opinions!” – that will get messy in a hurry. To have a well-oiled feedback loop, implement these five techniques and watch your engagement and retention rise. 

1) Be Clear and Concise. While employees are looking for feedback, they aren’t looking for the soapbox. Avoid beating around the bush when delivering feedback – a problem that is much more common when delivering constructive feedback. Rather, get to the point and stick to the facts.  

This can also be applied to positive feedback you give employees. It may seem like a good idea to make a big deal out of every “win,” and while that might work for some employees, a simple comment or note to recognize their accomplishments goes a long way for most. Clarity in positive feedback is essential as it tells your employees exactly what they did that you appreciated. 

2) Continuous Feedback. Sending out an employee feedback survey once is not going to improve engagement. Similarly, having a single annual meeting to discuss performance can have a negative effect on employee engagement and morale. Think of it this way: If you have a performance review in December, how will you ensure your teammates are feeling supported and motivated in April?  

Effective feedback needs to occur routinely, in regular meetings and throughout the day or week. When something or someone is successful, it should be pointed out right then and there. When there is a failure or a miss, that needs to be addressed quickly too. The faster it’s addressed, the easier it is to remedy the situation, prevent further damage, and establish a proper coaching plan. 

3) Team Spirit. This is easy to say, but harder to develop. The hierarchy in many companies has an “us against them” vibe. Management is seen as the “bad guys” to the majority of the workforce and management, in turn, looks at their employees as “underlings”. If that is the culture of your company, you’re definitely going to have a bit more of an up-hill battle, but it is possible to see the change you’re after.  

Approach feedback with a team-first mentality by owning all criticism with patience and accountability. Whether delivering or receiving feedback, if your culture views feedback as a gift that makes the team better, you’ll see your team embrace feedback in a way that drives engagement.  

How can you build comradery virtually, you ask? Start by setting aside a budget to meet in-person at least once per year. The facetime is essential, but so is ensuring that the agenda for the time together is productive, meaningful, and inspiring. On a day-to-day, team chats with IM tools make people feel connected. Speaking of teams, ensure you have a team-wide meeting once per week that isn’t all business. Starting with a simple 10-minute segue is highly recommended. And always have your weekly meetings over video instead of the phone. 

4) Invest in Employees. Keeping an employee is way more cost effective than finding a new one, and one of the easiest ways to retain employees is by investing in them. Through providing your employees with frequent opportunities to give you feedback, you can learn more about what makes them tick, areas in their personal and professional lives they would like to grow, and talents they would like to use more in their work. Who knows, you may have a future leader in your midst, all you have to do is discover what your staff wants and see how you can help them succeed! Then their successes become your successes and that bond of appreciation grows exponentially. 

Do this by better understanding what experiences they want within their role. Do they want to travel more, be more client facing, work more intimately with local charities, obtain a professional certification? These gestures go a long way for people, allowing them to feel more challenged and stimulated within their roles, often for small financial investments from your business.  

Lastly, helping build a custom succession plan or ideal career map for your teammates is a surefire way for employees to feel like they’re valued and appreciated. One of the main reasons people are leaving their companies at such a high rate, is that they cannot see a future for themselves at their current organization. Stay ahead of the game.  

5) Create a Safe Space. If feedback is going to work, it needs to go both ways. There needs to be a relationship built on trust that’s created so it feels safe for the employee and the manager to be honest. Telling someone they missed the mark isn’t always easy, but it’s part of a manager’s job. When there’s trust and openness, it’s easier. Similarly, if an employee feels a manager is doing a poor job providing them the support, resources, and tools they need, then they need to have a place where they can express that without fear of repercussions. This atmosphere of comfortable conversation is not a one-and-done process, it’s ongoing and it takes both work and vulnerability to be successful. 

If your company can prioritize feedback between management and employees (both ways) and even among co-workers, then a lot of great things can grow out of this fertile ground. People begin to feel heard and valued and they begin to appreciate having an employer that promotes sincerity, transparency, teamwork, and opens the door to honest employee engagement. 

Want to learn more insider strategies to take your employee engagement and performance to the next level? Learn more about our Manage 4 Performance™ software by clicking the button below! 

Strong employee engagement has shifted from something companies want to something that they need in order to grow and retain their most important asset – their People. Companies that aren’t connecting with their employees stand the risk of losing them, while businesses that drive engagement by putting their people first will lock in a huge advantage.  

The trouble is, worldwide data paints a pretty grim picture. In fact, research shows only 15% of employees across the globe are engaged in their work and over 80% of employees are actively considering leaving their employer (source). Business leaders are starting to see this, as 63% of companies find retaining employees to be more challenging than hiring them. These numbers are only rising during this “Great Resignation”.  

Across all industries, employees are experiencing high levels of dissatisfaction. What can you do to change the tide in your company? Spoiler Alert: The foundation to all of these strategies comes down to consistent feedback and communication.  

Feedback Equals Employee Engagement 

People want to be challenged, understood, and valued. The best managers drive employee engagement and performance through consistent feedback, both constructive and celebratory. Leaders that push their employees to be their best, coaching them to hit their personal and professional goals, will maximize engagement across their organization. Similarly, when leaders celebrate the wins of their people and recognize their growth and success, morale rises. 

Communication goes both ways – and this is the key that is often missed by leadership. Employees want and need feedback, but they also are looking for their voice, opinions, and ideas to be valued. Organizations with the highest levels of employee engagement and satisfaction make it easy for employees to give them feedback, too.  

So how do you make this happen? It takes a lot more than simply saying, “Send us your opinions!” – that will get messy in a hurry. To have a well-oiled feedback loop, implement these five techniques and watch your engagement and retention rise. 

1) Be Clear and Concise. While employees are looking for feedback, they aren’t looking for the soapbox. Avoid beating around the bush when delivering feedback – a problem that is much more common when delivering constructive feedback. Rather, get to the point and stick to the facts.  

This can also be applied to positive feedback you give employees. It may seem like a good idea to make a big deal out of every “win,” and while that might work for some employees, a simple comment or note to recognize their accomplishments goes a long way for most. Clarity in positive feedback is essential as it tells your employees exactly what they did that you appreciated. 

2) Continuous Feedback. Sending out an employee feedback survey once is not going to improve engagement. Similarly, having a single annual meeting to discuss performance can have a negative effect on employee engagement and morale. Think of it this way: If you have a performance review in December, how will you ensure your teammates are feeling supported and motivated in April?  

Effective feedback needs to occur routinely, in regular meetings and throughout the day or week. When something or someone is successful, it should be pointed out right then and there. When there is a failure or a miss, that needs to be addressed quickly too. The faster it’s addressed, the easier it is to remedy the situation, prevent further damage, and establish a proper coaching plan. 

3) Team Spirit. This is easy to say, but harder to develop. The hierarchy in many companies has an “us against them” vibe. Management is seen as the “bad guys” to the majority of the workforce and management, in turn, looks at their employees as “underlings”. If that is the culture of your company, you’re definitely going to have a bit more of an up-hill battle, but it is possible to see the change you’re after.  

Approach feedback with a team-first mentality by owning all criticism with patience and accountability. Whether delivering or receiving feedback, if your culture views feedback as a gift that makes the team better, you’ll see your team embrace feedback in a way that drives engagement.  

How can you build comradery virtually, you ask? Start by setting aside a budget to meet in-person at least once per year. The facetime is essential, but so is ensuring that the agenda for the time together is productive, meaningful, and inspiring. On a day-to-day, team chats with IM tools make people feel connected. Speaking of teams, ensure you have a team-wide meeting once per week that isn’t all business. Starting with a simple 10-minute segue is highly recommended. And always have your weekly meetings over video instead of the phone. 

4) Invest in Employees. Keeping an employee is way more cost effective than finding a new one, and one of the easiest ways to retain employees is by investing in them. Through providing your employees with frequent opportunities to give you feedback, you can learn more about what makes them tick, areas in their personal and professional lives they would like to grow, and talents they would like to use more in their work. Who knows, you may have a future leader in your midst, all you have to do is discover what your staff wants and see how you can help them succeed! Then their successes become your successes and that bond of appreciation grows exponentially. 

Do this by better understanding what experiences they want within their role. Do they want to travel more, be more client facing, work more intimately with local charities, obtain a professional certification? These gestures go a long way for people, allowing them to feel more challenged and stimulated within their roles, often for small financial investments from your business.  

Lastly, helping build a custom succession plan or ideal career map for your teammates is a surefire way for employees to feel like they’re valued and appreciated. One of the main reasons people are leaving their companies at such a high rate, is that they cannot see a future for themselves at their current organization. Stay ahead of the game.  

5) Create a Safe Space. If feedback is going to work, it needs to go both ways. There needs to be a relationship built on trust that’s created so it feels safe for the employee and the manager to be honest. Telling someone they missed the mark isn’t always easy, but it’s part of a manager’s job. When there’s trust and openness, it’s easier. Similarly, if an employee feels a manager is doing a poor job providing them the support, resources, and tools they need, then they need to have a place where they can express that without fear of repercussions. This atmosphere of comfortable conversation is not a one-and-done process, it’s ongoing and it takes both work and vulnerability to be successful. 

If your company can prioritize feedback between management and employees (both ways) and even among co-workers, then a lot of great things can grow out of this fertile ground. People begin to feel heard and valued and they begin to appreciate having an employer that promotes sincerity, transparency, teamwork, and opens the door to honest employee engagement. 

Want to learn more insider strategies to take your employee engagement and performance to the next level? Learn more about our Manage 4 Performance™ software by clicking the button below! 

Post Categories: Insights
Date Published: Jan 5, 2022
Post Categories: Insights
Date Published: Jan 5, 2022