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Look at some of these statistics on employee engagement – pretty scary, right?
90% of millennials would choose to stay in a job for the next 10 years if they knew they'd get annual raises and upward career mobility (Qualtrics)
90% of executives said keeping new hires is an issue in their organizations (Korn Ferry)
83% of employees with opportunities to take on new challenges say they’re more likely to stay with the organization (ReportLinker)
42% of employees believe their accomplishments go unnoticed (OC Tanner)
59% of employees said that access to projects to help keep their skills up-to-date would keep them satisfied at their current company (Execu-Search)
72% of employees don't think management cares about their career growth (Monster)
49% of employees say their company understands their unique interests and skills (Mercer)
We know from the various companies who do research on employee engagement that the statistics have not been promising in the last few years, and indeed, may be getting worse. We also know that the relationship between manager and employee is the #1 factor in an employee’s choice to stay or leave a company. Globoforce reports that 36% of businesses see employee engagement as a top challenge. What can be done to engage an employee throughout his/her life cycle?
If we look at the job curve below, we can see various natural and logical stages an employee will likely work through in a company. It starts with onboarding and assimilation through finding a new job, either with the company or not.
The opportunities abound for a manager to engage with an employee throughout this life cycle! Let’s look at how, recognizing that each one builds slightly on the one before it.
Employee engagement includes everything from getting to know the employee, explaining the department mission/purpose and direction, understanding the culture, identifying expectations, helping an employee learn about the company and how to navigate the landscape. Each employee has unique motivations and desires in his/her career trajectory. Really learning about these underpinnings helps throughout the cycle.
Engagement changes slightly here to focus on understanding what the employee is learning and still needs to learn, answering questions about projects and people, sending him/her to training programs, looking for good mentors or buddies to help with skill building, and networking with fellow employees. Discussing wins and successes at this stage can also be helpful.
Employees eventually become very good at what they do and move with ease and confidence in their jobs and in this part of the lifecycle. Engagement takes the form of evaluating strengths and development areas, discussing stretch assignments, learning new skills, sharing opportunities for increased visibility and cross functional projects, and very importantly, expressing value, appreciation and contribution of their work to the department.
If a manager did well in learning about an employee, this stage of the lifecycle would be easy to overcome. Engagement here emphasizes what new roles or assignments will help in the employee’s growth and career moves, new skills to be learned, discussing ways to increased responsibilities or adjacent roles, formulating plans for what will increase job satisfaction and innovation.
Employees rarely stay in one job forever. Further statistics reveal that millennials will stay in a job for a maximum of 2-3 years. Managers need to anticipate this to be prepared to engage with an employee looking for the next great job. Engagement is purposeful in developing the employee to take on a new or expanded role, moving into a new department. The costs to replace an employee who leaves a company can be 30+% of their salary and long lead times as competition for talent heats up.
Managers are so instrumental in these stages and engaging employees in various conversations is critical for retention. Business evolve and so must employees. Helping employees grow and develop as the business changes keeps productivity at good percentages.
Unfortunately managers lack skills for engaging employees well. Many lack an understanding of the role they play in retaining an employee. Further, increased workloads keep managers from spending this important time with employees over the long haul. Inexperienced managers are often at a loss for how to engage well.
To overcome these identified barriers, The Piras Group has created a management tool to help increase employee engagement: The Engagement Cards. Using a gamification concept, a simple deck of cards with five categories of topics and questions can be used in one-on-one settings or group meetings to support engagement throughout the employee life cycle. Takes all the guesswork out of the “how”.