How to Retain Top Talent: Employee Engagement in 2018

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Ping pong tables. Beanbag chairs. Pet health care. You’re well acquainted with all the ideas to keep employees engaged and reduce company turnover. And rightfully so. Some estimates show that more than 20% of employees are disengaged at work. You know employee engagement is critical to the success of your business. And you know productive and engaged employees can give you the competitive edge you need while also reducing your turnover rates. But what tactics and strategies can you use to keep your workforce engaged, and prevent top talent from packing up and going somewhere else?

Engagement continues to take center stage as a top priority for leadership teams. And 2018 will be no different. While there are a variety of options you can use to keep your employees engaged, top trends for 2018 are starting to emerge.

Supportive Leadership Teams

Leadership teams need to provide support for employees throughout every level of the organization. Managers need to provide clear instructions and transparent goals ensuring that each employee understands how their contribution drives company success. However, as simple as this sounds, it’s often overlooked. Each employee should have a corresponding glide path bringing transparency to their expected outcomes. Without proper direction, employees will flounder and disengage.

In addition to clear expectations, coaching and feedback are critical to employee development. Gone are the days where it’s acceptable to review an employee’s performance on an annual basis. Employees want immediate feedback on their job performance. And they want more than just a pat on the back or a high five. They are looking for managers to tell them (specifically) where their performance is good and areas they need to improve. Research suggests that feedback given once a month is significant enough to improve employee performance and enhance engagement.

Opportunities for Meaningful Work

Engaged employees are assigned job roles that match their core skill set. They are motivated and stay engaged by leveraging their knowledge and skills to accomplish job tasks. Ensuring that employee skills are matched to the right job roles is crucial in maintaining engagement. An employee who is unable to use their skill set in their current role will rapidly become disengaged. In addition, each role within your company should have its core competencies and behavioral attributes defined. As you hire new employees, you’re able to check and balance their skills with the needed competencies for the role.

Employees place a high value on the opportunity to work autonomously and as part of a self-empowered team. No one likes to be micromanaged. And when employees can work independently or on small agile teams they are much more engaged. These teams break through barriers, remove bottlenecks, and get results. Employees stay motivated and engaged when they are able to achieve success.

Inspiring Work Environment

All employees are looking for work/life balance. And employers can continue to provide this benefit by offering flexible work schedules. Employees enjoy flexible work opportunities, and the ability to work outside the office as an option. Companies are also starting to limit the amount of time employees are using their cell phone to check email or conduct business outside of normal operational hours.

Wellness programs will continue to be big in 2018. Gym memberships and fitness classes are readily offered to help employees develop lifelong healthy habits. Other wellness options, such as stress management seminars, are provided to support employee wellbeing.

Creative benefits packages are also key to attracting and retaining talent. Many companies are offering student loan repayment plans or tuition reimbursement. Other companies are offering continuing education college credits for those employees who want to earn a degree while working full time. Employers are also offering financial management classes to help employees invest and budget effectively.

Continuous Learning & Growth Opportunities

Employees continue to seek development opportunities within the workplace. Training and on the job support are great ways to enhance employee development. Corporate LMS training curriculum is expanding beyond competency based training and equipping employees with a variety of life skills. Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership training can all be part of an employee’s learning path.

In addition to ad hoc soft skill development, employees are also looking for opportunities to upskill or cross-skill with other departments. This creates the perfect space for collaborative learning and provides employees with an opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with their co-workers. Social learning also has other benefits such as breaking down departmental silos. Cross-functional teams allow employees to engage with other departments and learn new skills.

Employee engagement will continue to be at the forefront in 2018. And some of the key trends to watch for will be creating a positive work environment with outstanding leadership teams, the integration of creative benefits packages, and health and wellness options.

As the year ends, companies will continue to take a more holistic approach to employee engagement. It takes a humanistic management style to retain top talent and keep employees engaged.