By: Helios on September 30th, 2021

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Employee Engagement and Retention Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Employee Relations

Managing a team has never been more challenging than it is right now. If you're a leader, the chances are that you've witnessed a drop in engagement recently, as your pandemic-weary staff yearns for a break. Meanwhile, you're probably worried about the impact of The Great Resignation and whether you're at risk of losing your best people.

To deal with these two challenges, you must first understand that they are inherently connected. Employee engagement and retention are two sides of the same coin. They are both aspects of the overall employee experience, and they are both measures of your team's feelings about their jobs.

Download a sample Employee Engagement Survey 

How to measure employee engagement and retention

Instead of allowing things to reach a crisis, you should always be on the lookout for signs that team members are unhappy. And the easiest way to do that? Talk to them!

The effects of low employee engagement and retention are plain to see. Low engagement means low productivity, more sick days, and an absence of initiative or creativity. Low retention means that you've got an unsustainably high staff turnover rate, which threatens the integrity of your team.

These symptoms often mean that you've passed a crisis point. Something is unsettling your team, and the result is poor engagement and increased turnover.

Instead of allowing things to reach a crisis, you should always be on the lookout for signs that team members are unhappy. And the easiest way to do that is to talk to them.

There are lots of ways you can reach out to your people, such as:

  • Pulse surveys: Pulse surveys are short, focused surveys that aim to answer specific questions. For instance, a pulse survey can help you gauge the general mood on topics like remote work or vaccination policies. You can do a pulse survey at any time to get a feel for your team's overall mood.
  • Employee satisfaction survey: These are more in-depth surveys that look at the entire employee experience. You might conduct this kind of survey once or twice per year. It's often a good idea to bring in an external HR consultant who can help design a survey that covers all angles.
  • Exit interviews: When someone leaves, it's always best practice to conduct a thorough exit interview. Even if the ex-employee has a personal reason, such as moving to another city, you may find that they can offer a unique insight into the overall employee experience.
  • Stay interviews: Stay interviews work just like exit interviews, except that the subject isn't leaving. Interviewing a team member can help you dig into the employee experience and learn more about what you're getting right, what you could improve on, and what it's like to work on your team.

People will often be happy to describe the pros and cons of the employee experience if you give them the opportunity to speak freely. And this employee engagement and retention data will help you create a targeted action plan. 

Related reading: The Complete Guide to Employee Retention Strategy

How to improve employee engagement and retention

Even if current levels of engagement and retention seem okay, there's always room for improvement. Here's how to ensure a consistent employee experience that leads to happy teams. 

1. Listen to feedback

It's great to conduct surveys and gather data about your team. But you also have to act on this data, and your team needs to see that you're listening. You can do this by: 

  • Giving the team an overview of the survey results
  • Highlighting the areas in which you're succeeding and the aspects that could be improved
  • Outlining your plan for creating an even better employee experience
  • Sharing progress details for your improvement projects

Creating a sense of meaningful dialog will help build trust and make your team feel like things are moving in the right direction.

2. Review individual career plan

Everyone on your team is an individual, and each of them is following their own career story. As an employer, it's up to you to figure out your role in that story. Will this role be a stepping stone in their career journey? Or will this be the place where they achieve their dreams?

Long-term success is more likely if you and the employee can agree on a career plan. This plan will include: 

  • Attainable goals that can be achieved within the organization
  • Details of training and professional development to help reach those goals
  • Schedule for manager check-ins to assess progress

When your stories are intertwined, employees will become much more invested in the company's fortunes. This leads to fully engaged employees and improved rates of employee retention. 

3. Offer meaningful Total Rewards

Total Rewards is the sum of all benefits that employees enjoy while working at your company. An active career plan is one of these core benefits, as well as: 

  • Salary: Make sure that your salaries are benchmarked against other employers in your industry and locale.
  • Benefits: Employee benefits should be relevant to the employee's needs. Employees should also have choice so that they can select the benefits that best suit them. 
  • Recognition: Everyone likes to be thanked for a job well done, whether that comes in the form of a performance bonus or an official commendation. 
  • Wellbeing: The pandemic emphasized the importance of health and wellbeing. Employees now want employers who support them through wellness initiatives, Employee Assistance Programs, and flexible working patterns. 

Remember, rewards are only valuable if they are relevant to the individual. Make sure everyone is getting a blend of benefits that meets their unique needs. 

4. Celebrate your purpose

When you've got problems with employee engagement and retention, it's often because your team members don't know the answer to a vital question: "why am I doing this?"

The why of your business should be at the heart of your company culture. But that why isn't always apparent. When an employee is staring at a pile of paperwork on a Monday morning, they might not always feel like they are contributing to something meaningful.

Leaders need to be proactive about sharing the organization's purpose and talking about how each team member plays a vital role in this purpose. You can do this by: 

  • Hosting seminars to discuss the company's strategic vision
  • Celebrating wins and keeping the team updated on important milestones
  • Building a recognition structure around goals that connect with the organization's purpose
  • Listening to feedback and allowing employees to shape your journey

Team spirit can help create a culture of engagement. If you include everyone in your vision, you'll help build an environment where employees feel like an important part of the mission. 

Expert help with employee engagement and retention

None of these suggestions are short-term fixes. These are long-term strategies that will help you grow a stable, collaborative team united by a common goal. 

If you need immediate help with employee engagement levels or staff turnover, it's a good idea to talk to an HR expert. Set up a no-obligation call right now and let Helios HR help you build a fully engaged team that's ready to succeed. 

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