Great employee engagement produces successful business outcomes including a loyal customer base. And this leads to increasing sales and profits. The reverse is also true. Employees who are not engaged have no passion for their work, are frequently absent, make mistakes, and cost the organization its customers. Understanding what engages employees involves connecting with them. We can’t make a universal supposition of what engages people. Instead, we need to understand the diversity of our workforce which includes gender, culture and the different generations.
Many companies with retention problems tend to focus on the compensation issues. Compensation is definitely important. However, it loses its importance as an employee moves up the career ladder. It certainly is important for a business to understand the competitive wage levels for the positions in its business. However, business is making a mistake by paying extra money to buy loyalty. Let’s consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In that context we would consider money to be a basic hygiene factor, especially with mid-career employees. Once money is satisfied other factors such as work environment matter more. An employee’s work must represent meaningful value to him or her and must take advantage of individual talents. If an employee in this latter category were to leave for another company you probably cannot turn that around by offering the employee more money to stay. If nothing changes in the employment environment the employee will leave again.
What action would you take if your employees were to give a negative answer to the statement, “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?” Of course, you would want to give them work that made use of their skills. But do you know how to do that? Meaningful work means different things to the different people. It is affected preference, personality and also generational and cultural differences. Get to know your employees and what is important to them. A baby boomer’s (born 1945-1964) wants are different from Generation X (Born 1965-1979). And Millennials born 1980 and after are different from the other two. The engagement solution does not involve pushing a round peg into a square hole but rather matching each employee to a position where he or she can be the best.
If your organization is suffering from a retention challenge this can be costly in expense and lost customers. When you consider recruiting and training, lost customer service, lost productivity, and lost morale in others who are left, the cost is at least two times the employee’s salary. An engaged employee becomes more valuable as he or she grows. In addition, high-performing companies have loyal customers because they have loyal employees.
What is the engagement strategy for your organization or your team? This should be a line item on your P&L. This is an investment rather than an expense. The strategy should include careful selection to see that an employee is matched to a job where he or she has a chance to excel, an assessment plan to identify key employee strengths, and a development plan to leverage those employee strengths.
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