Essential Employee Engagement and Retention Strategies
There’s a strong link between employee engagement and retention. Quite simply, if a company has engaged employees, it will retain them. Engaged staff members feel connected to the work they complete. Disengaged ones have their eyes on the door. In fact, a recent Gallup survey found that 74% of disengaged workers are passively job searching—an important statistic to consider when building an employee engagement and retention strategy for your business.
While job openings are down slightly from their record high of 11.5 million back in March 2022, it’s still a job seeker’s market. Organizations that approach this challenge strategically won’t just retain their workers, they’ll gain the attention of top candidates too. Here’s why more and more workers are leaving their jobs, and how businesses can combat the issue by successfully implementing employee engagement and retention strategies.
Why Workers Leave
To understand how to keep candidates in their jobs, let’s first take a look at why they leave them. Based on research compiled by Pew, the top three reasons cited by employees who voluntarily separated from their work in 2021 were pay, a lack of advancement opportunities, and a lack of appreciation.
63% of workers surveyed quit a job due to pay, with 37% citing it as the primary cause.
63% of workers also reported leaving a job because there was no room for growth, with 33% of them stating it was a significant factor.
57% of workers felt disrespected by their employers, with 21% considering it a primary motivator in their decision to leave.
Of those three causes, two are relatively straightforward. Either a business can afford to pay more (or offer advancement opportunities), or it can’t. The last one is a bit more complicated, but can be addressed by offering worthwhile incentives and showing employee appreciation.
Employees who reported feeling disrespected at work were more likely to leave their jobs. That feeling ties directly into employee engagement. Regular recognition through incentives and rewards builds a positive culture that fosters long-term employment.
Top Employee Engagement and Retention Strategies That Actually Work
Why should you consider an incentive and appreciation program in the first place? Recognition is a known performance driver. In fact, 37% of employees in a survey conducted by Fortune reported that personal recognition would encourage better performance. Of course, results will vary depending on the type of program used, but incorporating the following employee engagement and retention strategies can markedly improve performance outcomes:
Be Flexible With Your Rewards
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to employee recognition programs. What motivates one employee to work harder may have the opposite effect on another. And while many organizations use gift cards to reward employees because they’re convenient, affordable, and generally well liked, a common issue is that they usually limit an employee to a single brand or service (and to one they may not like). The best incentive initiatives are user-focused and allow workers to choose a reward from a wide selection of their favorite brands.
Recognize Employee Achievements in a Timely Manner
Workers will seek other employment opportunities if their achievements are not acknowledged in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, many incentive programs move at a snail’s pace because they’re entirely dependent on management. Someone who wants to send a quick thank-you note to a high-performing coworker typically has to jump through a lot of hoops to do it, for example. As a result, enterprises see low participation rates and end the year with drawers full of unused gift cards. Based on a Bankrate survey, more than $15 billion worth of gift cards go unused every year.
Ideally, managers should have some sort of incentive authority for spot awards, enabling them to speed up the recognition process by selecting the amounts and types of rewards that employees can send to each other.
Use a Digital Solution That’s Easily Integrable and Trackable
One key aspect that’s often overlooked when rolling out new workplace initiatives is the technology involved. The idea may be strong, but the actual infrastructure to execute the program might not be. This disconnect can actually serve as a demotivator in the workplace, with an Ivanti survey showing that more than 50% of workers say technology directly affects their morale. It shouldn’t be a burden for management to implement and maintain a new incentive program. Instead, it should seamlessly integrate with existing technology stacks used by the company.
While many digital employee incentive solutions support email functionality, only a select few work directly with other platforms that enterprises use every day to streamline their workflows and boost productivity, like Slack, Salesforce, and Qualtrics.
An integrable solution should be a trackable one, too. After all, employee recognition programs are an investment, and businesses hope to see a return in the form of increased engagement and retention. Leaders must be able to track and assess recognition programs to gauge their overall impact. Gleaning critical information such as every reward you’ve ever sent and to whom, open rates, and reward redemption details can go a long way toward optimizing future campaigns and retaining employees.
With the above employee engagement and retention strategies, businesses can get to the root of the problem and keep workers around for much longer. While improving pay and advancement opportunities isn’t always easy, employee engagement can be. All-in-one employee incentive solutions cost enterprises little but can pay dividends for years to come.
Cindy is passionate about the incentive industry. In addition to her role as Director of Channel Marketing here at Tango Card, she is a Certified Professional of Incentive Management who proudly serves on two industry boards. When she’s not working, Cindy enjoys spending time with her family—including three cats, two dogs, and a horse—and sharing her love of nature as a Nebraska Master Naturalist.