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The Impact of Employee Engagement on Retention Rates

In 2019, the CONNECT2Lead Blog focused heavily on employee engagement. It's the key to success in any business initiative, so it deserved all that attention! As we wrap up the year, we're bringing you guest posts from experts in HR and related fields to share what they're saying about employee engagement, too.

Original Post by Steve Graham

Conversations around reducing employee turnover, also known as talent retention, have been around since work began. Even though the topic is not new, the challenges facing employers and their approaches to reducing turnover is.  Generational attitudes about how long a person remains at one job has dramatically shifted. For decades, people identified a career or found a job and they stayed with one employer until retirement.

One reason for this shift in tenure, is how the modern career path is navigated. Many of the foundational thoughts on “career” do not apply in today’s workplace. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review , by psychology researcher Tania Luna and international executive Jordan Cohen, said “ Modern employees are suffering from their belief in the "career myth," what they describe as "a delusional belief in the outdated idea of linear career progression." Luna and Cohen explained, “People today can no longer rely on an outdated system of career advancement — one that presumes employees will be given incremental chances for career advancement along with raises and title changes.”

What is most important is ensuring your strategy and the approach addresses the new thinking about careers and the modern workplace.  

These shifts in career management and view of careers have created new challenges for the modern workplace in reducing turnover. Some may argue about the importance of emphasis on talent retention, as a result of these changing attitudes about work and career. Having a talent retention plan as part of an HR strategy is well advised. What is most important is ensuring your strategy and the approach addresses the new thinking about careers and the modern workplace.  

Understand that people will leave no matter how well developed your talent retention strategy, your benefits, perks, work-life-balance, etc. People move on and understanding this reality will enable a better-prepared workplace for reducing turnover.  Experts argue over the key driving factors that cause turnover, and likewise, there are a lot of opinions on what helps reduce turnover. 

Turnover factors can be unique to an organization and industry sector. There are common methods in reducing it that can be applied to almost any work environment. The goal of preventing turnover is not a reality. Reducing turnover should be the focus. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides benchmarking data on turnover. They have found, regardless of industry type or bias, employee job satisfaction and engagement factors are key ingredients of successful employee retention programs. In a recent SHRM study, Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Doors of Opportunity are Open research report, employees identified these five factors as the leading contributors to job satisfaction:

  1. Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels of the organization.
  2. Compensation and benefits.
  3. Trust between employees and senior management.
  4. Job security.
  5. Opportunities to use their skills and abilities at work.

Related to factor five above, finding purpose is essential in creating an environment that promotes talent retention. People who approach work with a purpose are more likely to be engaged and receive value in what they do, therefore, helping to reduce turnover. Provide a work environment that allows people to find purpose and contribute at their highest levels.

Having leaders with a servant approach can help cultivate purpose-friendly workplaces. Zoe Mackey, of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, in her article titled: Why Servant Leadership Reduces Employee Turnover Rates said, “Adopting servant leadership can be an important part of the solution. After all, servant leadership is based on the foundational idea that learning to serve those around you helps them achieve their greatest potential. Who wouldn’t want to work for a boss like that?”  By creating a sense of community and strong foundation of trust, reducing turnover using a servant leadership approach works. 

The sense of value to the employee is a driver in loyalty. This is an important piece in talent retention. 

People will not find purpose unless they are allowed to grow. That is why a focus on career development helps reduce turnover. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) has extensive information on career development’s influence in reducing turnover. A recent article from ATD stated, “Career development also can help with retention because employees can develop a sense of loyalty for employers who are willing to invest in them. Likewise, when it is time to hire new employees, career development programs can be attractive to job-seekers.” The sense of value to the employee is a driver in loyalty. This is an important piece in talent retention. 

Turnover is never fun, but it is a reality. Shifting your strategy to better align with the needs and attitudes of the modern career path is the first step. Make it hard for people to leave your organization by offering them outstanding value and return on their investment in working for you. 

Special thanks to Stephen Graham for authorizing PFPS to re-publish this post. To see the original post and other great content from Stephen, visit his LinkedIn Page.