Employee Engagement: Leadership, Learning & Development

As tides are ever changing – ebbing and flowing, so is the talent landscape in the world of recruitment and staffing. The pendulum can quickly swing from an excess of incredibly qualified candidates and not enough available job openings, to having a shortage of talent with too many open roles to fill. The latter is where we are finding ourselves today. The ball is in the court of our consultants. With more jobs than job seekers, they are afforded the luxury of being able to be more selective and discerning in their search. As a result, we have had an influx of inquiries from hiring managers on ways to keep their current teams engaged and retain good talent.

Let’s begin by defining ‘employee engagement.’ According to Forbes employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and it’s goals. In simple terms…it is the level at which employees actually care about their company and their work. It means that they are not necessarily just working for a paycheck or their next big promotion, but that they are also working on behalf of the company’s goals.

With a new year comes new initiatives and for many organizations this means an increased focus on employee engagement and retention. Because it costs more to onboard a new employee than it does to keep a good one and job seekers can be choosy, employers need to step up their game. If you, as a manager or leader find yourself in this situation, here are two vital components of employee engagement to consider: Leadership & Learning and development.

Leadership:

Engagement starts with leadership. Employees who feel valued by, are inspired by, and who trust their leader, they will likely outperform their counterparts. How can you, as a leader work to accomplish this?

  1. Check in with your employees – Ask them questions. Find out if they have everything they need to be successful. Don’t assume that they have all of the tools they need, or the level of training and support that they require to be successful.
  2. Get to know your employees – Find out what motivates each one individually. Are they driven by verbal recognition? Are they motivated by money? Are they introverted or extroverted and how does this impact their place on you team? Find out what makes them tick professionally and even personally. Ask questions and take a personal interest in them. Show your employees compassion and try to identify with them where appropriate.
  3. Foster transparency and frequent communication – Communication is key. Communicate often and communicate well. Employees appreciate knowing what’s going on in the company or what’s happening on other teams. Give them insight. Maybe let them know what projects are coming down the pipeline or what initiatives the company will be focusing on in the near future. Take it a step further and give your employees an opportunity to offer their own ideas and feedback. This can lead to more open dialog and employees feeling like they have a say in and a stake in the company.
  4. Provide feedback and ask for feedback – Employees want to know how they are doing. When they are doing well, let them know. Recognize them for work well done and express that feedback as soon as it’s noticed. Likewise, if you are noticing struggles coach them and offer support right off the bat and make an effort to help get them back on track. Strive to be an encouraging leader because boosting morale can have a direct impact on employee engagement.
  5. Create a culture that blends business and vision with purpose and fun – People inherently want to be fulfilled and to achieve but they also want to enjoy what they are doing and enjoy where they are. Let’s face it…many of us spend more time at work, than we do anywhere else and by creating a positive culture with defined goals, a purpose, and a common vision, employees may feel more engaged. Convey your vision and goals clearly, cultivate a feeling of purpose, and then integrate this into team building events (simple or elaborate), community involvement or charitable activities and sprinkle elements of fun in wherever and whenever you can.

Learning & Development:

Although, much of employee engagement begins with leadership, there has been a recent push towards learning and development and the importance it plays in employee engagement. Learning and development opportunities are one of the most sought-after incentives for employees today. Moreover, according to  Deloitte’s analysis of “the 21st Century Career” millennials rate learning and development opportunities as the #1 driver of a good job.

According to Deloitte, 88% of organizations offer e-learning. 88% sounds like a sweepingly great number, however where many companies are falling short with this, is course relevance. Much of the e-learning offered is compliance-related material, basic business practice or corporate policy. Employees are looking for learning opportunities that are relevant to their careers and industries. For example: What will help take them to the next level in their career? What technologies are coming down the pipeline? What social skills will be needed as AI continues to impact business? What skills are key to become a leader in this organization?

If e-learning is not plausible for your organization or you already have a solid system in play, consider offering employees other avenues to develop their skills. For example, send your employees to relevant conferences, seminars, or courses. Provide employees with memberships to professional organizations or networking groups. Bring in engaging guest speakers to discuss relevant topics over a catered lunch. If you are in a field where certifications are important, perhaps offer your employees assistance in the pursuit of various certifications.

Not only is it becoming essential for companies to offer learning and development opportunities but it’s becoming clear that creating an overall culture of development plays a huge role in employee engagement.