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Tips for Boosting Employee Engagement and Retention

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6 min read
how to boost employee engagement and retention

Lack of employee engagement in the workplace is a major problem affecting organisations across the UK. A recent Gallup study revealed that only 21% of UK workers are actually engaged at work. 

Engaged employees have the power to drive our organisations forward; employers that acknowledge this reap the rewards in more ways than one. However, if organisations don’t make a conscious effort to drive employee engagement, retention can take a hit. This is when great talent is lost and turnover metrics begin to soar. This article will talk through how organisations can boost employee engagement and retention and why this is crucial to business success.

What is Employee Engagement? 

Employee engagement is that intangible thing that describes how committed an individual is to their role and their organisation. Gallup defines employee engagement as “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace”. Engagement is essentially how the individual feels about their organisation. This feeling then dictates how they behave in their day-to-day activities and interact with others both inside and outside their organisation.

Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Retention

Engagement is about driving commitment, investment and enthusiasm from your employees, whereas retention focuses on how organisations keep top talent within their organisation. Although the two concepts are distinct, they are intrinsically linked; there is a direct correlation between engaged employees and high levels of retention. Essentially, engaged employees stay at companies for longer. 

But what is the key to driving engagement in employees? 

Every organisation is different and will need to try different strategies. Organisations have different goals, motivations and values, plus their workforces may be interested in and motivated by different things. There is no one size fits all approach to retention. Organisations need to think about the set-up of their organisation to truly understand what it is that will keep their employees satisfied.

Benefits of Employee Engagement 

  • Improved wellbeing 

Employee well-being undeniably improves when employees are engaged with their work.  The CIPD explains that high levels of engagement will lead to “happier, healthier and more fulfilled” employees. Plus, a great byproduct of having employees who are happier in their day-to-day working life is that they will be great cheerleaders for your organisation and will help to further drive engagement. 

  • Higher levels of productivity

In addition to that, the CIPD identifies increased “productivity, better products or services, and innovation” thanks to employee engagement. Engagement is a surefire way to gain that competitive edge and surge ahead in the marketplace. Not only this, but The Porter-Lawler Model explores how productivity is conducive to job satisfaction and time spent within an organisation! 

tips on boosting employee engagement and retention in the workplace

  • Profitability

Employees who are actively disengaged could cause more issues for your organisation if they choose not to move on. Disengaged employees can be obstructive and can cause real problems when it comes to customer experience which could impact your company’s bottom line.  

Research also shows that employees with the greatest levels of engagement are 87% less likely to leave their employer by choice. Engagement is, therefore, crucial to avoid the hidden costs of recruitment which can include costs to cover work, recruit for a replacement and onboard and train new team members. The total cost of replacing an employee is estimated to be around £30,000. That could put a sizeable dent in overall profit.

What Impacts Employee Engagement? 

Employee engagement is influenced by:

Leadership 

Team leaders, managers, and senior leaders – all have the power to engage or disengage an employee. From their communication style to their processes and procedures, the decisions our leaders make heavily influence how engaged our employees are. Employee engagement is partly about how employees are treated as individuals. If leaders are treating employees fairly and with respect, they are more likely to be engaged.  

This includes HR, who are the ‘people’ team, after all!  HR will support initiative idea generation whilst also ensuring policies are followed. They should regularly measure the engagement and consider ways to do temperature checks throughout the year.

The values of an organisation

The wider values of an organisation also impact employee engagement. If an organisation has clear values and employs candidates that are aligned with these, employees are more likely to engage with its wider goals.

The role

An individual’s role also impacts how engaged an employee is. If an employee is interested in and excited by their role, it will likely help them become engaged at work. Alternatively, if their role is monotonous and comes without reward, this will have the opposite effect. Employee engagement can even be connected to how much you have to do in your role.  Too much and even too little work might lead you to be disengaged. Job satisfaction plays a big part in how emotionally invested you are in an organisation.

Tips for Boosting Engagement and Retention 

Employee engagement can’t be boosted overnight. Your strategy needs to include a consistent and genuine sequence of initiatives to truly make a lasting impact on your engagement and retention levels. Here are some effective ways to boost both. 

  • Give your employees a voice 

The first step in boosting engagement should always be to give your employees a voice using internal communication channels. Once they’ve had their say, listen. Employee surveys are the best way to gather honest feedback from your teams. Organisations should interrogate the data they’ve collected. 

A key step organisations often miss is informing their employees how they are going to address the points flagged during surveys. It’s essential to communicate an action plan back to the team. Employees must feel listened to and know they have a say in how things operate within the organisation. If they don’t, the chances of them mentally ‘checking out’ are higher. 

Your work isn’t done here. Organisations should continually provide opportunities for their employees to have a voice. This can be done through pulse surveys to take regular temperature checks of employee engagement. This is also a great way to understand whether an engagement initiative is having the desired effect. 

free survey checklist for employee engagement and retention

  • Develop company culture 

Culture needs to be purposeful and thought about; it’s not built overnight. Research tells us that 47% of employed individuals said they would rather have a friendly workplace than a 3% pay rise. This speaks volumes about the power of culture when it comes to engagement and retention. 

Organisations should conduct internal research and find out what their organisation might be missing. Is it an opportunity to feel part of a team? If so, organising team-building activities might be a viable solution. Or do employees feel frustrated with the lack of clear communication and direction? Establishing streamlined communication channels and clarifying your company’s mission and goals could really help here. 

  • Upskill and develop your teams 

A substantial part of employee engagement is personal development. Employees want to work for organisations that offer upskilling and provide opportunities for promotion from within. 

Remember to have regular conversations with your employees to understand where they want to go and what support they need from you to get them there. This could be achieved through refresher training sessions on a company process or a longer course from a recognised education provider. You could also consider coaching and mentoring as a way to develop future leaders and support succession planning. 

By investing in their development and carving out clear career paths, employees will feel valued and appreciated. This will improve loyalty to the company and retention as a result! 

  • Train your managers 

People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. Managers should receive regular training in the essentials of line management and HR to improve their understanding of employment law. This will make them think more carefully about how they approach situations in the workplace. 

tips on boosting employee engagement and retention in the workplace

  • Review your salaries 

Salaries and wider benefits should be competitive, or at least on par with market rates. Employees noticing their job in another company is paid at a much higher level will lead to resentment and disengagement.  Show your employees you value their knowledge and experience in their field!  

  • Human beings, not human resources

Treat your team for the people they are, not just numbers on a payroll spreadsheet. Consider offering an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) to show your appreciation for hard work and to support the well-being of your staff. 

  • Monitor your turnover 

As well as running initiatives to proactively boost engagement, organisations must also probe further when it comes to their turnover metrics. Employers should be holding exit interviews with employees who have resigned to identify the root causes of their decision. Use these issues to shape your retention strategy and assess whether any patterns have emerged that need to be addressed. 

Measuring Engagement with Factorial 

With Factorial, you can create customisable, automated surveys to help you understand the main causes of disengagement.

One great way of measuring employee engagement is by using an eNPS (employee net promoter score), which can be easily added to the survey stage outlined above. 

This approach simply involves a formula that looks at the ‘promoters’ (those who are engaged) and ‘detractors’ (those who are disengaged). The eNPS score is generated by misusing the % detractors from the % promoters.

This is a strong approach to measuring engagement because it analyses quantitative data rather than qualitative data which can be subjective and interpreted in different ways. It also gives a clear benchmark for an organisation. With Factorial, you can automate and centralise your eNPS to regularly monitor employee engagement and satisfaction. 

Our all-in-one platform can also help to make your communication channels easy and streamlined for everyone. With our cloud-based software, employees can log in wherever they are and receive regular updates from team leaders. This is a great way to build a consistent comms strategy and keep your employees informed. 

✅ Boost your engagement and retention today with our 14-day free trial!

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Amy is a knowledgeable People professional with over a decade of experience across a variety of private and public sector organisations. With a particular interest in employee engagement, Amy is an advocate for employee-centric approaches in all areas of HR which is reflected in her writing. Before a career in HR, Amy read English and Creative Writing at university and later studied for her CIPD, HR Management.

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