5 ways HR professionals can keep employees engaged

  • career advice
  • May 25, 2017

No one ever said retaining your top performers is easy. That’s particularly true in a strong employment market. How can human resources (HR) professionals ensure that their company’s staff remain engaged at work and happy in their jobs? It’s a tough one to get right. At a time when job hopping has become the norm, employers are being forced to provide extra incentives to keep employees from jumping ship.

To keep workers happy, HR professionals are getting creative with benefits. What are the top things the best talent want? Employees want to work flexible hours and have the option to work remotely. Other popular perks include getting the individualized services they want – from standing desks to student loan repayment programs to month-long sabbaticals.

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) research finds that professionals most value compensation, flexibility and health care. Similarly, Randstad’s 2017 Employer Branding Survey reveals the top three most attractive employer traits are salary and benefits, work-life balance and job security.

workers are less engaged

Now is a critical time to focus on retention. Only 32.2 percent of American workers say they are engaged at work and only 1 in 5 feel managed in a way that motivates them to do great work, according to Gallup's annual State of the American Workforce report. For savvy HR professionals, this is a wakeup call. Given the 10-year-low national unemployment rate, top performers will consider moving on to greener pastures if companies don’t proactively keep them engaged and rewarded.

One thing we are seeing many companies do is to recapture the attention of young workers — Millennials and Gen Z — by surrounding them with dynamic content on screens to make work more like the social media and video games they love. Efforts like this can pay off since Millennials will make up half the workforce by 2020.

Here are some ways HR professionals can keep employees engaged:

make it social and collaborative

Collaboration and communication are not only drivers of operational and workplace performance, they are also directly correlated with the engagement and retention of younger generations. Still, companies need to improve in this area. Only 55 percent of employees worldwide currently give their organizations high marks for effective collaboration across departments and functions, according to Randstad employment research.

For example, let employees like and share, comment or vote on the employee of the month, or their favorite local lunch spot. Show real time internal social from any of today’s popular collaboration tools to drive further collaboration and engagement.

promote the good you do

An incredible 76 percent of Millennials consider the social and environmental commitments of a company crucial when deciding where to work, and 64 percent say they won't work for an employer without a strong corporate social responsibility profile.

HR professionals that want to attract and retain talent will promote their charitable activities. They should encourage staff to participate, whether that means showing pictures of a team volunteering at a local food bank, or offering opportunities to do something positive in the world outside the office.

support health and well-being

Companies like to encourage wellness because it creates happier staff and reduces time off for health reasons. They can project their commitment through wellness campaigns such as bike-to-work initiatives or by creating a leaderboard based on the step counter of employees' Fitbits.

According to Gallup, having close work friendships also enhances employee satisfaction by 50 percent. For happier, more engaged workers, blur the lines between work and social life to have a little more fun at the office. It pays off.

give workers flexibility

Since many firms have limited ability to increase pay, they are finding other ways to reward workers in today’s competitive market. Those include flexible hours and the option to work at home.

“Workers have challenges with time,” says Cassidy Solis, senior advisor of workplace flexibility for SHRM, who manages the When Work Works award program that exemplifies innovative employment practices. “More and more employers are saying they want workers to have lives outside of the office.”

In fact, Solis says she is seeing more and more companies providing training for managers about how to create flexible workplaces. “Moving to a new work style, it is important to empower managers to learn how to support flexible work.”

offer competitive pay

Paying above-average salaries is a great way to attract and retain skilled talent. A TD Ameritrade study found that 46 percent of Generation Z say their biggest financial concern is student debt. It’s no wonder that these employees cite more money as the top incentive to work harder and stay at their companies longer, according to Randstad’s global Collide @ Work study.

If you wish to retain younger workers at your organization, don’t lowball their salaries just because they are new to the employment market. Research what positions pay in your area through the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, competitors’ job listings and Randstad’s Salary Guides.

In this competitive job market, the best HR professionals have their sights on implementing creative ways to keep the top performers on their team.
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