In this uncertain economy it is important that we understand the historical engagement and retention trends that paint who we are, the existing trends that mold our behavior, and the expected trends of the future that shape our plans. Settling for complacency within our workforce should no longer be an option.
TalentKeepers’ annual Talent Engagement & Retention Trends 2012 survey, including results from 430 organizations, provides us a comprehensive overview of today’s employee talent, engagement, and retention trends.
The overwhelming majority, 81 percent of organizations agree (33 percent strongly agree, 30 percent agree and, 18 percent slightly agree) employee engagement is a strategic priority, so we challenge organizations everywhere to push employee engagement to the next level.
Employee engagement is your employees' ability and willingness to contribute to organizational success, especially their willingness to give "discretionary effort", going beyond what is typically required in their position to make the organization successful. This can be accomplished through four main drivers of engagement:
- job/career satisfaction
- a high performing organization.
TalentKeepers’ research and client results show that higher levels of employee engagement are linked to employee commitment, a high performing workforce, satisfied and loyal customers, and a productive and profitable organization.
Figure 1: Engaged Workforce Model
When considering the factors that are impacted by lack of engagement, we typically think of the people factors like lowered employee morale and more stress. Because disengagement and attrition directly align with organizational effectiveness, these can also have a great impact on operational factors such as lost productivity, which was cited by 66 percent of organizations surveyed and lost organizational knowledge affecting 54 percent of organization surveyed. The operational costs associated with disengaged employees often far exceed the costs of turnover.
Strategies for Engagement and Retention
Push employee engagement and retention to the next level by implementing a systematic approach.
Begin with senior leadership engagement. Nearly half (48 percent) of organizations surveyed reported that diminished trust and loyalty has eroded employee engagement over the past year. Of the organizations with diminished trust and loyalty, the largest decrease has been between employees and senior managers. Senior leaders need to “keep employees in the know” as much as possible, they need to be visible, share the organization’s vision, breed openness for employees to communicate about concerns and suggestions, and they need to produce a culture of appreciation and recognition.
Value and take action on employee ratings like you do customer ratings. With the multitude of surveys and vast amount of time organizations invest in customer ratings, we should consider investing the same type of energy and time into our employee ratings. You need to push employee engagement and retention to the next level by offering your employees those factors that make your organization exceptional in your market and in your industry…better relationships with their co-workers, leaders, and senior leadership.
Build co-worker engagement. Support from co-workers and a sense of belonging among peers is often the extra glue needed to help employees stay longer with your organization. Although 81 percent of organizations surveyed agree that their co-workers have a good understanding of each other’s work styles and preferences at work, only 11 percent of organizations feel they are very effective at leveraging co-worker engagement.
Be aware of and appreciate generational differences. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of organizations agree that their organization is challenged by generational differences when managing the workforce. Push employee engagement and retention to the next level through awareness of generational differences in the workplace. Today there can be potentially four generations in your workplace: The Silent Generation/Traditionalist 3 percent, Baby Boomers 27 percent, Generation X 33 percent, and Generation Y 37 percent (Bureau of Labor & Statistics, 2012). As a co-worker, consider the perspective of another employee that may be in a different generation than your own. As a leader consider how you may need to engage each employee differently based on their generation.
Implement a systematic approach to engagement and retention. Implementing a systematic approach to build a culture of engagement and retention today, will help your organization to create a competitive edge now and in the future. The top strategies organizations are currently providing to engage and retain employees include:
- on-boarding tools (56 percent)
- exit surveys (45 percent)
- leader training on how to manage, engage, and retain employees (43 percent). The number of organizations implementing leader training on these elements is at an all-time high throughout the eight years TalentKeepers has been conducting this research.
Measure engagement levels through surveys. Conduct engagement surveys regularly to measure employee engagement and retention levels. Always thank employees for participating and let them know you heard their voice. Share the results appropriately by sharing role-relevant data to all stakeholders, from senior leadership through individual contributors. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of organizations surveyed administer an employee engagement survey, and of those organizations (40 percent) administer an employee engagement every twelve months.
Address leadership factors with skill building and training. Continue to take action on engagement and retention levels by developing your leaders. Fifty-four percent of organizations rate leadership factors as the factor that would have the largest impact on employee engagement if addressed. Results indicate there is still room for improving the effectiveness of leveraging leadership factors to improve employee engagement for 85% of organizations surveyed. The good news is that a larger majority (53 percent) of organizations agree on some level that their organization is allocating the necessary resources to ensure that managers develop the behavioral capabilities required to manage teams and processes to successfully achieve business goals/results.
Utilize a standardized exit process. Fifty-five percent of organizations are missing out on vital engagement and retention data by not surveying their exiting employees. Among the 45 percent of organizations currently using exit surveys, we recommend that organizations use those results to push engagement and retention to the next level by leveraging the identified common issues found in the exit survey results to modify existing pre-hire and employment practices. Our research shows when it comes to exit surveys, it’s worth it to ask. Fifty-nine percent of exiting employees state that their organization could have done something to keep them from leaving and of those employees, 73 percent said they would return if the issue was addressed.
About the Study
Organizations that participated in this study represented nearly every industry from all geographic regions of North America including Healthcare/Pharmaceutical, Finance/Insurance/Real Estate, Business Services, Retail Trade, Automotive, Computer/Electronics/IT, Educational Services, Government, Oil/Gas/Petrochemical and more. Survey participants include mostly Human Resources professionals (76 percent), but 17 percent represent various operational functions such as Operations (8 percent), Sales (3 percent), Marketing (2 percent), Finance (2 percent) and Customer Service (2 percent). The majority (51 percent) of our survey respondents are senior leaders, holding director-level or higher positions.