How employee engagement can reduce turnover

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July 2021

Employee turnover is a common challenge faced by many CEOs, HR teams, and operations managers, but the causes can be incredibly varied. Many employees leave their job due to stress, poor management or because they feel undervalued. But one of the biggest factors underlying staff turnover is simply that employees are no longer invested in their employer’s success. 

When employees are engaged, they value not only their work but their role in driving the organisation forward. There may be challenges to overcome, but ultimately the company’s goals and mission makes all the work worthwhile. Leaders may understand the importance of employee engagement, but be unsure about where best to invest their time and resources in keeping employees invested and motivated. In this article, we’ll be exploring the crucial role of employee engagement in reducing staff turnover.

What is the difference between employee engagement and employee retention?

Employee engagement refers to how actively committed an employee is to performing their role and tasks, while employee retention refers to their commitment to stay with their current employer. 

Initiatives focusing on employee engagement and retention may overlap, but the actual concepts are quite different. For instance, an employee may be motivated to do their job well, but feel disengaged from the company’s overall mission. Therefore, they may be simply biding their time until the next opportunity comes along.

How are motivation and engagement related to employee retention?

Engagement drives motivation, which in turn compels employees to realise their goals within their organisation rather than looking for external opportunities. Highly engaged employees have a strong personal motivation to perform because they feel a sense of purpose and fulfilment in their work. When this is the case, employees are far less likely to be lured away by new opportunities. Conversely, if employees are feeling dissatisfied or demotivated, they’re more likely to become disengaged. They’ll stop being proactive in their suggestions for improving company performance. They’ll also become less invested in their own personal development.

Too many leaders become complacent about investing in employee engagement. They may think: ‘I’m invested in my company’s success, I pay my employees for their hard work, and I think we have a good company culture. What reason do they have to leave?’

People know their value, and they won’t stay long term if they don’t have a good reason to. That’s why leaders need to continually invest in new strategies to keep employees engaged not only with their work but with the organisation’s long-term vision.

Driving performance and retention through employee engagement

Engaging your workforce is about more than hiring enthusiastic or highly motivated people – it’s about actively creating an engaging work environment. This can be achieved with the creation and implementation of an employee engagement strategy. Here are just a few tips to help you get started:

  • Analyse the current state of engagement in your employees and identify any current concerns that may impact engagement. Research has shown that leading causes for disengagement can include a weak organisational culture and poor management, a negative workplace experience and a lack of recognition. Measuring the current levels of employee engagement can be done through surveys, exit interviews and anonymous feedback tools.

  • Create professional development and career advancement pathways. Engaged, active employees are usually seeking ways to build their career and are prepared to leave organisations if a competitor can offer a step up the ladder. In fact, employees who stay in the same role for an extended period are more likely to leave. Make sure that these employees are recognised and given every opportunity to move up the ladder rather than looking for external change.

  • Train up management. We all know the saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers – and it’s true. Just under half of the employees in the UK left their job because of a poor relationship with management, and only 18% say they trust their boss. It’s important to make sure your managers are on board with your engagement strategy and know how to work with their team to pin down pain points and develop effective solutions. Here, it’s a good idea to use anonymous feedback processes, monthly or bi-weekly catch-ups with your employees, and maintain open, clear lines of communication.

  • Onboard employees effectively. A new hire is expensive, and the last thing you want is to lose them in a few months and have to restart the process. The onboarding process may be to blame (or may even be non-existent, as is the case for 76% of respondents in an SHRM survey). Onboarding should help employees to fit in as quickly as possible in terms of skills and social connections as well as understanding their role. Rather than making it all about paperwork, it should integrate new hires into the company culture and should continue for 2-3 months from the point of hire. Read more in our latest report Forgotten Hires: How to get onboarding right.

  • Prioritise genuine appreciation and recognition. According to research, just 32% of UK office workers feel appreciated at work, with “feeling valued at work” being second only to salary in terms of employee priorities. While financial rewards are often effective, there are other ways to create this sense of value and recognition. Ask managers to send in notes on employees who have performed well, publicly thank and acknowledge this work in a genuine and personal way, and create a rewards system for a fun way to say thank you.

Increasing employee engagement with Totem

Totem is an innovative, culture-focused employee engagement app, designed to help leaders get to the heart of their company culture. We use machine learning technology and always-on analytics for a rich insight into how employees feel about their role in an organisation. Finally, we provide a dedicated space for workplace culture so employees can connect and recognise both professional and personal milestones. Interested in finding out more? Request a FREE demo of the Totem platform today!

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