There’s a war going on – a war for talent. But the battle isn’t happening just on the front lines with sourcers and recruiters scurrying to fill the open reqs by advertising their jobs. The fight begins on our home soil, inside the organization. Because no matter how much time and energy we put towards recruiting away talent from competitors or wooing the next young gun to choose us, if our top employees are leaving us, we’ll never win the war.
70% of U.S. workers don’t like their job, says the latest State of the American Workplace Report. The result? A disengaged workforce that’s less productive and an environment that’s unattractive to candidates who are evaluating potential employers. On the flipside, companies that recognize the direct business impact of employee engagement reap the benefits of a loyal workforce that doubles as the company’s best talent attraction strategy. Engaged employees are committed to their goals and they care about the people with whom they work. They feel recognized, encouraged, and supported by their leaders, and they are loyal to their organization. Companies with these engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202% and highly engaged organizations have the potential to reduce turnover by 87%.
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US businesses lose $11 billion annually as a result of employee turnover. And attrition doesn’t only have a financial impact – it can affect productivity and brand reputation as well. Are you putting equal resources towards engaging your current employees as you are in going outside your company to recruit new ones?
Here are five likely employee engagement mistakes that may be causing you to lose the talent war at home.
Keeping the Disengaged Employees Around. Oftentimes the ones who pose the greatest threat to the organization are not the employees who quit and leave but the ones who quit and stay – the actively disengaged employees. These disengaged employees are like a toxic cancer whose attitude and ethic can spread quickly throughout an organization, infecting even the most satisfied and loyal workers, actively undermining the work of those who are engaged. The longer they are kept around, the greater the risk of squashing the spirit of your engaged employees and sending the message that the company is equally apathetic.
Not investing in employees’ ongoing development. The best employees are driven to improve themselves and the best organizations recognize that. Starve engaged employees of the opportunity to continuously learn and grow under your roof, and watch them go elsewhere for it. Mechanisms through which to develop employees could include mentor programs, continued education coursework, or even just structured career-pathing. Whatever it may be, companies that make an ongoing commitment in the form of time, tools, and training to continually enhance the education and development of their employees will see ROI in the form of greater productivity, more widespread engagement, and lower attrition across the board.
Weak Managers. The saying “People leave managers, not companies” is spot on, because the relationship with an immediate supervisor is consistently one of the top five most important job satisfaction contributors. Having a ‘caring’ manager – one that takes interest in an employee’s personal life, regularly recognizes performance, and values the opinions of others – is an often overlooked driver of employee engagement. If an organization is full of weak managers who either lack experience or don’t exhibit the traits of compassionate leaders that can connect with their employees on a personal level, there’s a high risk of disengagement.
Poor Communication Between Employees and Senior Leadership. Engaged employees understand exactly and precisely how what they do at work every day affects the company’s business goals and priorities, and they know how they will be rewarded when successful. Most importantly, they know why their work matters. Conversely, actively disengaged employees are apt to regularly question their purpose and then infect others with their negativity. And what’s their likely next stop? The door.
Unclear expectations Employees are most engaged when they are accountable and can measure the outcomes of their performance so nothing can be more frustrating or discouraging than not being sure what’s expected on the job. In a performance-driven workplace, a lack of clarity regarding job duties and expectations can cause fear and anxiety among employees which will have them on the fast track to disengagement.