Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report has troubling news for employers: 48 percent of American workers are actively looking for new job opportunities or at least keeping an eye on the market. Gallup also reports that only 34 percent of U.S. workers are engaged, signifying widespread discontent in the workplace.
With many employers facing candidate shortages, replacing departing employees is particularly difficult right now. Employers need to be doing everything they can to retain as many workers as they can.
And they need to invest in the engagement of these workers, too. After all, the cost of the productivity lost by unengaged employees who stay on the job is equal to about 18 percent of the employee’s salary, according to Gallup. In larger companies, that can add up to tens of millions of dollars per year. That’s not a sustainable situation in a competitive economy.
Employers can turn it around. They can retain and engage more employees by deploying the following three strategies:
1. Recognize the Whole Person
Your employees have lives outside of the office. Do you honor that fact or ignore it?
Employees want to know their employers see them as individuals; they want employers to care about and invest in their well-being. This is especially true for millennials and Gen. Z-ers: According to Gallup, an organization that cares about employee well-being is their top priority when hunting for job opportunities.
There are formal and informal ways to show your employees you value them as people. For example, some employers provide paid time off to engage in hobbies or volunteer work, explicitly recognizing that employees have interests outside the workplace. That said, you don’t need to implement a program to value your employees. Simply asking them about their lives outside the office can go a long way toward showing you care.
2. Encourage Employees to Take Advantage of Wellness Benefits
Most large companies provide wellness programs, but participation rates are typically low. According to Gallup, only 60 percent of U.S. employees are even aware that their employer offers a wellness program, and only 40 percent of those who are aware leverage the programs.
It’s time to address that. Exercise can lower stress and improve a person’s overall sense of well-being, making your wellness program a key component of employee engagement efforts.
Talk to your employees about their wellness benefits. Help them find the right levels of activity for their lifestyles, and make participation in the program fun by including motivational elements like rewards and challenges. Gamifying the program can also encourage lasting behavior changes and get more employees active in the long run. With many workplaces still operating remotely or planning a hybrid return to the office, it’s also a good idea to give employees digital options to participate in wellness activities.
3. Hold an Active, Ongoing Conversation With Your Team
For employees, part of being valued is feeling like your employer hears you. Open up the communication channels between yourself and your employees so they always feel in the loop.
Hold meetings where employees can share their concerns. Actively ask for employee feedback via surveys, and then follow up to demonstrate that you’re listening. Celebrate employee successes.
Transparency is also essential, especially following the tumult of the past year and a half. People are on edge, and having more information can help them regain a sense of control and stability. Share your vision for the company’s future and help each employee understand how they fit into your plans.
Research shows that employee engagement is directly linked to productivity and overall organizational growth. Employee well-being and retention is an investment that ends up paying for itself. Plus, a more engaged workforce also gives you a competitive advantage on the recruiting front. You’ll be more likely to get referrals from existing employees, and you’ll garner more positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor, which will attract the attention of top candidates.
By treating employees as individuals who have value outside of their job functions, motivating employees to participate in your company’s wellness program, and engaging in ongoing communication, you can improve the way your people perceive the company and give them a greater stake in your business. That’s the best way to keep employees engaged and productive.
Paul O’Reilly-Hyland is CEO and founder of Zeamo.
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