We usually hear about company culture and flexible/hybrid/remote work environments as key factors in employee retention, but there is more that goes into the recipe for keeping your most valuable asset, your employees. For example, do you know if your employees are satisfied and/or engaged in their position at your company? Do you know if your employees have strong, trusting relationships with their manager and their co-workers? Do they have input into the work they perform and the discretion to do it in the manner they see fit, and finally, do you have a good understanding of what drives your workforce based on your company demographics? Let's take a deeper look.
Employee Satisfaction vs Employee Engagement
Although the concepts of employee engagement and job satisfaction are somewhat interrelated, they are not synonymous. There is a difference and knowing the difference could help you not only retain your valuable employees but also increase the overall positive profile of the organization.
Employee Engagement is an emotional state. It’s a feeling employees have of wanting to put effort into their jobs, a feeling of what can we do together to help us succeed. Engaged employees are actively involved in advancing organizational goals. They have strong relationships with their manager and co-workers and trust in the leadership of the company. These are your employees who show a passion for learning and naturally go above and beyond their job description.
Employee Satisfaction, while important, does not motivate employees to put effort into their jobs. Employees may be content and satisfied with their company, but they may not be necessarily engaged with their job. Satisfaction elements are usually one-sided and reflect what the company can do for the employee.
Both Employee Engagement and Employee Satisfaction elements are important if you wish to build a strong workforce that will help your business thrive and allow you to retain your engaged employees.
Actively focusing on employee engagement will reap rewards in a number of ways, including:
- Increased productivity – engaged employees tend to work harder as they know their work is appreciated and valued
- Lower absenteeism – engaged employees are pleased to come to work in the morning
- Increased retention – happy employees are loyal, and their positive experience in the company keeps them from looking elsewhere
- Better customer satisfaction – they are advocates for the company and this reflects in their behavior and attitude and how they deal with customers
- Better employee safety – when employees have the right mindset and are not distracted or stressed they focus better and are less like to make mistakes that can lead to work accidents
The Look and Feel of Employee Engagement – Implementing Engagement Strategies
There is no doubt the Pandemic has changed the employer/employee relationship and understanding the Engagement and Satisfaction elements mentioned above, as well as your workforce, and what drives your employees, will make for a mutually beneficial long-term partnership.
Understanding your Workforce: Demographic Factors to Consider in Employee Engagement and Employee Satisfaction
The first step in understanding your workforce is to review some basic employee metrics:
What is the age of your employees? Is there one age group over another that tends to have more turnover? What is your average tenure? Are your managers’ mentors or are they command and control (drill sergeants)? Who are your high performers? Metrics play a role in how you go about building a strong, engaged workforce, however, using data at a macro level does not replace the need to understand your workers individually.
Generalized Workplace Value Systems of Different Generations in the Workplace
Baby Boomers - This generation is motivated by being valued and needed. They see their career as translating into self-worth.
Provide attention and recognition for their efforts as this group wants to be recognized for their knowledge and skills. Put them on projects that gain them recognition. They also enjoy flexible/hybrid schedules, but not to the extent of the other generations.
Messages that motivate Baby Boomers: "You are valued, you are needed."
Gen X – Flexibility is key. Want time to attend a child’s play or soccer game. Will usually make up the time by working nights/weekends. Tell them what needs to be done, but not how. Like to have fun in the workplace. Likes informal environments so may approach authority casually. May prefer more time off as opposed to an increase in salary.
Messages that motivate Gen X: "I have confidence in you – feel free to do it your way."
Millennials - Prefer flexible/hybrid/remote work hours and an informal work environment. Also, value a balanced lifestyle and value continuous feedback. To increase retention among this group businesses will need to emphasize opportunity; understand their goals and explain how they fit into the big picture. Provide plenty of opportunities to learn and grow and develop their skills. Millennials don’t want to be judged by the hours they put in, but rather by the quality of their work. They seek deeper purpose and as such a company’s mission, values, and diversity and inclusion efforts resonate with this group.
Messages that motivate Millenials: "You will work with the best people we have so you can learn from the best"
Generation Z – Agile and accustomed to real-time updates on just about everything as they have been exposed to the internet from a very early age. They expect regular feedback from their supervisors and ongoing learning opportunities, training, and development. They rely heavily on digital tools and will expect cutting-edge technology tools to be integrated into their work setting. They may prefer some flexibility in the way they accomplish their work and the opportunity to add input on process improvement.
Messages that motivate Generation Z: "You will have opportunities to train, learn, and develop through our mentors and continuous feedback. "
*Note: Compensation may not be a motivator for engagement, however, with inflation on the rise and the job market favorable to job seekers, money is taking a pivotal role in job satisfaction and retention, causing a lot of turnover across the generations. Providing more money has been shown to have only a short-term impact on behavior, making it more effective as an incentive, rather than as a long-term motivator.
Employee Retention Tips:
- Engagement starts at the top – establish expectations for first-line leaders.
- Employees who report feeling valued by their employer are more likely to be motivated to do their very best
- Engagement is not about employee satisfaction
- The number one engagement driver is employee’s relationship with their manager
- Individualized engagement – people are motivated by different things – what do they like, what are they good at, what are their values
- Create feedback, reinforce and reward the right behavior
Sources: Achieve Global on Generations in the Workplace, SHRM, America Psychological Association, and AEU American Equity Underwriters, an AmWins Company.
Beacon Mutual's, President and CEO, Brian J. Spero, spoke with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce on this very issue. Watch the recap of "Beacon Mutual: Retaining and Engaging Employees – It Starts with Workplace Culture".
One way to engage and retain employees is by keeping them safe on the job!
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