4 Reasons Employee Engagement and Retention Should Have Your Attention

You could have heard a pin drop. The SVP of HR was sitting with his CEO and reviewing the recent dismal turnover numbers. For the sixth month in a row, things were not getting any better. “I have an idea, let’s do that engagement survey you’ve been wanting to do the last few years and we will find out where our problem areas really are….” Is it any wonder the HR leader just shook his head in despair.

It was getting harder and harder to retain key talent yet alone hire for the 100+ open jobs the company was creating. Three years ago, it was easier to get talent, mainly because the economy was so bad. Sure, he was happy the CEO was now recognizing the problem, but there was something more going on here. Their Glass Door reviews were atrocious and the younger employees were leaving in droves.

The 25-year old company had been built on the backs of a hard driving “get it done yesterday” set of marching orders with a group of baby-boomers who were soon set to retire. The new talent didn’t view things the same way—sure they were committed to growing the business and their careers, but they also wanted work-life-balance and a boss who cared about them. Things were going to have to change and fast if the company was going to survive and keep growing at the rate it had in the past.

A Company’s Biggest Issue: Lack of Engagement Makes People Vulnerable to Leaving Your Company

Reason #1: The Numbers Don’t Lie

In Deloitte’s recent 2015 research “Leading in the New World of Work” 87% of companies across the globe cite “culture and engagement” as the most important issue business leaders face with more than half the companies citing the matter as urgent. Couple this data with Gallup’s long-standing research that less than 15% of workers are truly engaged at work and you begin to see why so many companys are scrambling to figure the best way to capture the hearts and minds of their talent.

Sprinkle in Great Place to Work’s findings that companies with the highest engagement scores produce earnings 300% higher than those companies where talent is disengaged and you find a compelling case for understanding what it takes to create a culture of engagement in your company.

Reason # 2: Leadership is Still the Issue

Retention remains elusive and engagement low because there is a lack of leadership quality. Why? For one thing, there just aren’t that many of them. The average organization has 15-20% of their organization listed as high-potential. For engagement surveys to really return their investment, an organization needs to stress the importance of all leaders seeking improvement.

Those that lead people must be made to understand that the engagement scores don’t just diagnose the “culture” of the organization, they diagnose the missing leadership needed to have people want to stay and engage at a higher level.

Until leaders and companies attack the data from a place of dual responsibility, change cannot happen. Note: Ratings and remarks posted on Glass Door can also tell an organization a lot about what employees think about their leaders! While the overall company culture still matters to employees, working for a bad boss will accelerate your departure and your disenchantment with work more quickly than anything else.

Reason #3: Your Talent is Already Looking for a New Job!

A 2015 Talent Trends Survey of 20,000 employed professionals across the globe says 1 in 3 people is now looking for a new job, up from 1 in 4 last year. Why are so many people open to a headhunter calling? Probably because the economy has recovered and because they’re just not that in to you! Loyalty is reserved for only the most engaged at work. So what can you do to counterattack this openness to entertaining other jobs? Make work more meaningful for those you employ and make sure they know you value them by training and developing them.

Reason #4: Taking the Engagement Survey is Only Half the Battle!

Every company we work with is doing some kind of workplace engagement survey, yet very few companies have a consistent action-oriented process for doing something with the data! If you consistently do surveys of your organization and do nothing with the data points, you are wasting your money. And, sharing the data with only the Executive Team is not doing something with the data. The action-planning process following an employee engagement surveyshould be a transparent practice to allow:

  • People to understand the results in a safe manner
  • People a way to discuss the meaning behind the scores
  • People a place to partner on creating change for the better

So what happened to our client from the example above? After the initial frustration, the SVP of HR rekindled his interest in putting an engagement survey plan in action. He created the following steps to getting his arms around employee engagement and retention at his growing company:

  • He gathered the Executive Team (with the CEO’s full support) together and laid out the vision for what needed to happen
  • He researched the best survey companies and landed on one
  • He rallied his HR team behind the strategy and the goals for the program by focusing the project around creating a culture of engagement and leadership
  • He rolled out the planning process with the company VP’s and Directors
  • The survey launched and 87% of the company participated
  • Results were shared transparently via town hall meetings
  • Action-planning was conducted for all VP and Director Teams
  • Company wide roll-up of committed changes was communicated to all employees.
  • Employee turnover improved the first year after the survey

While the work to create culture where people feel they can do their best work can be very hard to do, the rewards outweigh themselves. More engagement creates a place people want to stay and that creates an environment that is good for everyone!