By Gemma Morris
16th December 2015

Getting through the recruitment process to find the right employees is one thing. Keeping them with you for the long-term, especially in the competitive data management field, is quite another.

Retention isn't just a matter for HR anymore – it’s a critical business challenge. That’s why employers are taking a closer look at employee engagement. Not to be confused with company loyalty, job satisfaction or performance (although it certainly encompasses all three), employee engagement as a means to commitment and motivation – and even well-being – is a concept that’s been increasingly embraced by management in recent years.

So what is employee engagement? Essentially, it’s working towards the goal that all members of your organisation are giving their best each day, share the company’s mission and values, and feel a sense of fulfilment – on a personal, as well as professional, level. Here are our suggestions for how can you take steps towards building a culture of engagement, starting with the basics and moving through to the more conceptual.

Rewards and perks

Flexible working hours, holidays, activities and outings… all of these are a great start to building a culture of engagement. As an employer, demonstrating commitment to work/life balance is the crucial first step towards keeping your employees happy. However, it’s just that – a first step – be aware that other companies, especially those in the IT sector, which has always been a bit ahead of the curve in this regard, are offering appealing benefits as well. Keep informed as to what programmes and perks your competitors might be offering, and to the extent you can, make adjustments to ensure your company is keeping pace.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The benefits of a meaningful CSR policy – sustainable practices, charitable support, matching donor programmes and such – are evident for employers and employees alike. First, in an era of increased scrutiny, CSR addresses the business need for transparency and good corporate citizenship. Second, such policies can fill the need we all have as humans to feel we’re contributing to making the world a better place. These types of practices are an ideal way to let employees know you care about the same things they do, and can foster a sense of participation, teamwork and goodwill.

Learning opportunities and performance recognition

An engaged employee wants to know they’re doing a good job, and what’s more, wants to get even better. A sense of stagnation is one of the main reasons top talent might move on in search of other opportunities. That’s why it’s so important to examine your performance review policies, to ensure you’re giving frequent and constructive feedback and rewarding good performance. Training and development programmes are a vital component as well; giving employees the opportunity to learn and grow – and then put their new skills into practice – gives them an increased sense of value and lets them know you’re committed to them long-term.

Increased transparency and accountability

How can an employee feel fully engaged, or know what is expected of them, if they’re not aware of what management is doing? Whether it’s your long-term strategies and goals, or your values and mission, workers want to know they’re pulling their oars in the same direction as everyone else. Sudden shifts in policies or projects, with little warning or clarity from management, can be unsettling, so be sure to take a look at how you express to your workers what direction the enterprise is going in – and be sure to invite two-way communication. Everyone wants to feel their voice is heard.

A sense of purpose

An employee should know what they’re doing at work, but – just as important – is why they’re doing it. This sense of purpose needs to happen on two levels. First, on a practical level: “How does what I do fit into the overall business strategy?” And second, on a deeper level: “How does what I do make a difference in a larger sense?” This story is a perfect example – when asked what he was doing, a janitor at NASA was said to have replied “I'm helping put a man on the moon.”

To cite another example, Google is often ranked as one of the best employers. And whilst people may think it's because of their culture (open floor plans, free food, games and leisure), the top reason employees actually cite as to why they love working there is that they believe what they're doing matters and makes a difference. And having that reason to go into work every day? That’s true engagement.

Especially in the competitive data management field, there has to be more to keep top talent truly engaged in their work and supportive of your company’s purpose than more holiday time and pizza parties. 

Employee engagement

What methods do you use to boost morale, develop commitment, and improve retention? Please share your thoughts with us below.

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