How to successfully engage with staff at a time when staff attrition is high and employee engagement is low.

With every new ping of a jobs bulletin on a smartphone, another employee is lost at sea. From the continued specter of the Great Resignation to workplace burnout to quiet quitting – it’s hard to remember a time when so many were so dissatisfied at work. The pandemic and new expectations of workplace flexibility are just two factors compressing employee engagement and fueling staff attrition.   

Gallup’s latest global workplace report, found only one in four employees strongly agree that they feel connected to their workplace culture and one in three has a strong sense of belonging. As well as making work a miserable experience for everyone, this modern phenomenon has a price tag. Conference Board estimates poor employee engagement costs companies approximately $450 to $550 billion per year and, when you consider the associated costs of staff attrition and diminished productivity, it’s easy to see why. 

So, what can HRM and senior management do to boost employee satisfaction and engagement? Here are four proven ways. 

1) Give employees authentic and regular recognition 

As Gallup’s survey makes clear, employee recognition is not just for quarterly appraisals or summer barbeque awards’ ceremonies. Instead, recognition should be a central and regular part of the way your business is run. And all recognition was not created equal. To really hit the mark, the survey found, recognition must be authentic, equitable, personal and embedded an organization’s culture.  

When employers nail this, employees were five times more likely to feel connected to their culture and four times as likely to feel engaged. They were also five times more likely to see their future at an organization. The bad news is, less than a quarter of employees surveyed felt their employers manage to strike this balance. So, what does work? 

For example, Legal Monkeys has a company appreciation board where staff can share a colleague’s achievements. The recipient can then do the same thing for another employee. The company also posts the recipients’ photographs on Facebook to share the kudos with a wider audience. As CEO Corey Cormier explains in a company YouTube video, the program has boosted both morale and productivity amongst staff. 

2) Listen to your employees 

Organizations need to ask for — and listen to — employees’ opinions in order to have greater employee engagement. That’s according CustomInsight, in a survey involving more than 18,000 employees. 

Southwest Airlines, for example, tapped employees from its technical operations, cargo, ground ops, and other departments to help design new uniforms it debuted in 2016. More than 120 employees also tested parts of the proposed outfit for comfort and functionality during the design phase. 

3) Be a brand employees can believe in 

Modern Americans don’t just want to buy brands that support the greater good. They want to work for them! And a sure-fire way to guarantee true employee engagement is to be a brand they can believe in and to tell them and show them what you stand for.  

A WeSpire survey showed a correlation between engagement and employees feeling their employer is making a difference. Seventy-five percent of workers at companies that have a formal engagement strategy feel their organization is making a positive impact in the world, compared to 50 percent of employees whose employer doesn’t have an employee engagement strategy. Similarly, 88 percent of employees at companies with an employee engagement strategy feel they’re making a positive impact within their organization specifically. 

4) Follow the money 

It’s not that money can buy happiness. It’s just that a lack of it can breed near-certain misery – particularly in today’s global inflation crisis! Research from ORC International and PadillaCRT indicates student loan repayment concerns can be a job satisfaction issue for many millennials. Thirty-seven percent of women and 25 percent of men say they’re less likely to stay with their employer because of their financial situation; and 59 percent of millennials say they value student loan repayment assistance over other HR employee engagement initiatives. As the popularity of student debt forgiveness makes clear, this remains a huge issue for may American workers. 

Some companies offer financial consultation services, classes, and other assistance to help employees avoid money-related stress. Sixty-seven percent of those organizations feel the initiatives have been successful, according to an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans report. 

For other ways to boost employee engagement, why not take a look at the 3 things your employee engagement program needs, HR initiatives to invigorate employees across an widespread organization, the ways innovation can help fuel engagement, and how to improve employee engagement by making them feel proud of where they work.