3 ways to drive employee engagement and retention

At a time when skilled workers are a precious commodity, keeping existing employees engaged and satisfied at work is a key focus for businesses across the globe. And yet, many organisations are finding themselves increasingly faced with a workforce that is both disengaged and unhappy with their work.

So how can businesses avoid falling victim to these trends, and ensure their workforce remains engaged and retained? Here, we look at three common challenges and the ways in which your business could begin addressing them:

Challenge – Quiet quitting: A lack of meaning at work has resulted in what experts are calling the ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon where employees who feel uninspired are mentally “checking out” and simply doing the bare minimum to avoid being sacked – and it’s now so bad that just 9% of workers in the UK are engaged or enthusiastic about their work. Employees are unhappy, and would even consider taking a 10% pay cut in order to find a greater sense of purpose and a happier workplace.

Solution – Assessment & career management technology: Our research tells us that implementing assessment into the interview process increases the chances of hiring a candidate that is a good fit for the role by 80%. An employee who is well aligned to their role from the start is far more likely to be enthusiastic about their job, and will feel a greater sense of purpose as a result of completing work that is aligned to their own values and drivers.

If an employee is unhappy in their work life, it can often stem from feeling as if they’re not equipped with the skills or knowledge needed to perform their role. Career management tools like Right Management’s RightMap provides employees with insight into their strengths and development areas. Having access to this information will enable employees to identify a route for upskilling in order to better fulfill the responsibilities of their current role, or inform their decision to seek an alternative position within the organisation that is better suited to their skillset – ensuring talented individuals are retained wherever possible, albeit in a different capacity to their original employment.

Challenge – Substandard career opportunities: A lack of career progression and mobility opportunities are further stymieing employee engagement. A survey by IRIS Software Group revealed that 68% of UK workers said that they are facing delayed career growth due to a lack of support, while McKinsey research found that 41% of respondents cited a lack of opportunity for upward mobility at their company as the primary reason they left their most recent role. With no clear development pathways visible to them, employees are disengaging and voting with their feet.

Solution – Regular career conversations: An employee who has no sight of potential development and career opportunities within their current role or the wider organisation, is inevitably going to disengage from their work over time. Line managers are best placed to combat this, and when equipped with the skills to conduct consistent career conversations, can enable the ongoing development of their team members and help boost talent retention by encouraging internal mobility.

Unfortunately, our research tells us that line managers aren’t being equipped to conduct these conversations, shown by the fact that 67% of workers say there is no written plan in plan with their employer to map their professional development. This is likely a result of the fact that one in five employees have never had a career conversation with their line manager, which directly ties into more than 40% of workers being unaware of suitable job opportunities with their current employer.

By upskilling line managers to have ongoing career conversations, they will be better equipped to map out career plans for each direct report. Managers can then quickly identify any flights risks, skill gaps or dissatisfaction during these conversations, helping them to effectively signpost employees to relevant development opportunities and alternative career pathways within the organisation – thus promoting a culture of ongoing learning and career mobility – both of which will help keep employees engaged and retained within the organisation.

Challenge – Lack of learning pathways: As issues with workplace culture and a lack of learning and development remain concerns for many workers – 19% of employees claim that their job offers no opportunity for training, meaning they’re unable to upskill or move out of their role; just as nearly two-fifths (38%) feel better communication is needed from leadership to improve workplace culture – organisational leaders are looking for ways to avoid a mass exodus of talent.

Solution – Access to professional development opportunities: Coaching and training support has been identified as a key enabler for employee engagement and loyalty. Not only do 89% of employees cite training and skills development as the main driver of increased job satisfaction and contentedness at work, but 74% of workers who have been career coached plan to stay with their organisation. Meanwhile, the Harvard Business Review reports that companies who combine coaching with training increase productivity by over 80%.

When granted access to ongoing training and coaching, employees are able to refine their skillsets and take greater ownership of their careers on an ongoing basis. 73% of UK employees acknowledge themselves as being responsible for their career development, but many aren’t being given the opportunity or tools to do so – with three in ten employees not being offered any coaching support by their employer.

To address this problem, a culture of ongoing learning and development needs to be established from the top down. Role modelling from senior leadership is critical, as when senior executives spend time on training and development, a permission structure for the rest of the organisation will follow suit. Once employees at all levels feel encouraged to spend time on their professional development, proactive career management will become the norm, thereby creating a positive workplace culture of continuous learning that employees will want to be a part of.