Employee Engagement

You have greater control over the fitness and survival of your company than you realize. The foundation of growth and success is a recipe that blends together company culture, communication, goals, and products or services. Your people are the prized bakers that make it all happen. You want to create the perfect cake? Start with hiring and keeping the right bakers. But how? In today’s job market, recruiters are reaching out to employed workers and presenting them with enticing offers available at your competitors. Think it only happens to the big companies with hundreds or more employees? Think again.

Employee engagement and retention is super important in so many ways! Turnover occurs at a rate of about 10 percent as a whole in the US as of this year. The rate may be higher or lower for your specific industry.  Tracking and measuring your company’s annual turnover rate will provide you with valuable information that impacts your goals and success strategies. The bottom line is that you want to hire the good people and keep them because constant turnover not only affects morale and performance, but frequent employee turnover is very costly. In fact, the cost
to replace and train an hourly or lower-mid-level employee or manager ranges from 20-30 percent of that person’s pay. Hiring and training a mid-level manager or executive can cost about 50 percent of that person’s pay.

The first step is to measure the turnover rate at your company. This can be done quarterly, annually, or however often you need. The formula used is to decide on a set timeframe, such as a year or a quarter, and count the number of people who left your company. Then take that number and divide it by the number of employees you have now, and multiply that by 100. That will give you a snapshot of your turnover rate and prepare you for setting goals for improving retention and engagement. You can even break this down further by department. Doing so will show you problem areas that can be addressed within departments such as specific managing styles or other issues that are impacting employee satisfaction.

Statistics show that employees in the US workforce feel engaged in their work at a rate of about 30 percent. World-wide that rate is 15 percent, so US workers overall are more satisfied with their jobs, but think about that rate and ask yourself if it is good enough for your company. Are you okay with 70 percent of your employees not being engaged? Remember, turnover is expensive and an unhappy employee impacts productivity. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve in these areas.

The goal is progress, not perfection.

By investing just 10 percent of your time and money into training and development, you will see improvement in your employee relations and your company’s bottom line. Talk less, listen more and think We, not Me. Ask yourself if your team has all the tools they need and how you can make their job easier and more enjoyable. Provide proper and consistent training. Focus on basic civility. Rather than having to be right, know that being kind is more important. Saying please and thank you can have a big impact on teamwork and promotes respect. Work on building relationships with people and be purposeful.  Say hello to them and take time to listen to them. Be genuine when you ask them how they are doing and when you ask for feedback. Meet with them outside work by hosting monthly breakfast or invite a handful of employees each week for drinks after work to get to know one another outside the office. Make sure you are meeting with as many people on your teams as possible and adjust your communication style to fit each person.

Engagement begins when onboarding. During exit interviews it is common to hear that employees left because they felt lost and/or undervalued. There are two things that can help start a new hire off on the right foot, and both are checklists: one for onboarding and the other for training.

New employees need to be introduced and welcomed into the company culture and family with care and consistency. The tendency is to pair the new person with the employee best at the job or who has been there the longest, but this might actually be less helpful to your new hire. Longtime employees, while very important to your company, often are so well-versed in the details of their job that performing those duties natural to them and they forget those things that helped them to learn the job in the first place. Picking an employee who is somewhat newer to the company can be very beneficial because the training and the experiences of being new is still fresh in their mind. Also, have a second or backup person assigned to the new team member so there is always someone available to answer questions and assist.

The first day is important! Have someone at the office early to meet the new employee so they feel welcome right away. Even if they had received a tour when interviewing, take them on another tour and introduce them to each person individually so they can start building relationships right away. Make sure to give them a chart or list with training details and schedules so they are not overwhelmed. Have their direct supervisor take a few minutes to share with them his or her background with the company. Make sure the new employee is introduced to the company culture by having it written down and talking about it. Once your new employee has been settled in for a couple weeks, check in on them to see how they are doing. Help them to feel included from the start builds employee buy-in, and this promotes engagement and retention.

To learn more about these strategies, check out “Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships” at Work by Todd Davis and “Tribal Leadership” by Hale Fischer.

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