Successful talent retention programs come in all shapes and sizes. From implementing cultural assessment tests to offering unlimited paid time off (PTO), many companies go to great lengths to figure out winning formulas for increased retention.

They often use the phrase “employee engagement” to describe what they are trying to achieve. However, what does it mean to be truly “engaged?”

Defining Employee Engagement

According to a study published by the Deloitte Review, Becoming Irresistible, “retention and engagement” have become the second most important challenge on the minds of business leaders. Employers want to increase retention and engagement, however often struggle to execute a successful plan.

Many in the HR community advocate for cultural and personality assessment tests. The idea behind such tests is that they will help companies to not only hire people who are a good cultural fit in the workplace, but will also help to place people in the right positions depending on their personality and skill set. While assessment tools may work in the short term, the main flaw with this strategy is that it still does not account for better ways to engage employees – they do not address the ongoing solutions that will ultimately drive and maintain employee engagement.

Employee engagement needs to be a continuous demonstration of open communication and follow-through prompted by an employer. The Deloitte study challenges organizations to think about what engagement really means for their organization and how to hold their leaders accountable. After two years of research, they concluded that employee engagement is driven by five major elements:

  1. Meaningful Work
  2. Hands-on Management
  3. Positive Work Environments
  4. Growth Opportunities
  5. Trust in Leadership

They even went as far as to narrow down to the 20 underlying strategies that influence each of these five drivers, one of which includes implementing a culture of recognition. They reported that “high recognition companies have 31% lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures.” Some other factors include empowering teams by keeping them small, providing transparent goals, offering flexible work environments, and providing training and support on the job.

Taking a Unique Approach

Have you ever had a Clif Bar? The California-based company, which started in the kitchen of their Founder, Gary Erickson, is now a multi-million dollar business with an astonishing 97% retention rate. Clif Bar & Company believes “leadership must walk the walk.” In an effort to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to this belief, they built a state of the art gym onsite and employees are encouraged to use it as often as possible. Employees are paid up to two hours per week to work out in this gym. Clif’s CEO, Kevin Cleary, has a strategically-placed office near this gym. He’s not there to discourage use. He’s there to make sure employees are utilizing this benefit and putting their health first. Often times, Mr. Cleary can be found in the gym putting in his daily workouts alongside the other employees. This public demonstration of making health a priority sets the tone for his employees, “If it’s important to my leaders, it should be important to me, too.”

What works for Clif Bar & Company may not necessarily work for your organization. The idea is to determine first what drives employee engagement in your culture and then to implement programs and activities that reinforce that specific driver. Keep in mind that leadership support and engagement will play a major role in the success of any employee engagement program.

With so many products and services now claiming to help organizations improve culture and meet retention goals, it can be hard to distinguish viable choices when companies seek to enact such changes. While some plans may feel like an “easy” solution, taking the time to honestly assess your culture will be more rewarding for you, your team, and the entire organization in the long run.

How to Use this Information

As a national provider of executive recruitment services, Executives Unlimited has exposure and insight to some of the top performing employee engagement strategies. In addition to helping you recruit your next executive, we can help you transform the way you retain talent. Call us at (866) 957-4466 or contact us online today.

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