Once upon a time, employees would get an entry-level job, grow with their company for decades, then retire after an impressive stretch of service to one business. Nowadays, though, workers tend to jump around a lot more — on average, the modern working American will switch jobs about a dozen times before they retire. These changes often provide them with better benefits, such as promotions and raises, but it also comes at a great cost to the employer, since hiring and training new staff costs money and time.
One way to keep workers around for longer is to increase their engagement with their work and the company. These seven unique-yet-simple ideas can make employees happier and more focused on their work which, in turn, saves the business money by retaining talent for as long as possible. Try a few and see how they work.
1. Make your mission clear
Today's employee doesn't want to work to just make the business richer and more prominent. Millennial workers, for instance, strive to find employment within a company that has a mission — don't just tell the world what you do, but why you do it. In fact, millennials just want to make sure what they do serves the community or the world in some way, so align your company with a mission to boost engagement.
2. Start a mentorship program
Whenever a new employee joins the team, partner them up with a more experienced staff member to help them through their early days. Sometimes, it can be tough to be the newbie — you have lots of questions, but don't want to pester the manager with all of them. The mentor can be the first point of contact in such a situation, thus helping novice staff settle into their roles comfortably. And, when it comes to it, former mentees will surely love to step up as mentors for a new crop of employees.
Plenty of companies have created mentorship opportunities with great results:
For instance, Bain & Company has a program to connect minority employees for coaching and professional development, propelling their staff forward.
At Concentrix, mentees shadow their mentors, giving them an idea of the opportunities available within their new company — this type of experience helps them see the potential their job provides, and they might stick around longer because of it.
3. Provide volunteering opportunities
Doing good makes us feel good — why not tie that sentiment into how staff feel about their workplace? Many companies have volunteering programs, either organizing events for their staff or enabling employees to work together to plan a do-good event of their own.
New City Moving successfully planned a day working with a local dog shelter, donating supplies and spending time with pets that needed homes. The team not only bonded together, but one of them even adopted a pooch in need.
Regardless of the volunteer event you choose, the end result is usually lets staff feel great about what they’ve accomplished, enabled them to bond together as coworkers and friends, whilst contributing positively to society, which is something today's worker values. It's a win-win-win.
4. Improve everyone's health
Employees will give more to your company if they feel like they get something in return. Of course, they're getting a paycheck, but what more can you provide to make their lives better? For many companies, this idea has translated into an improved employee health plan.
We're not necessarily suggesting you increase or enhance your insurance options, although that could help. You can provide further benefits to ensure they stay healthy, such as nutritious on-site lunch options, gym-membership subsidies, pedometers and step challenges.
To further incentivize such a program, remember that exercise can help reduce anxiety and stress. Many employees end up leaving their jobs because they become too stressed, so providing them an outlet might entice them to stick around longer.
5. Celebrate accomplishments
There's nothing worse than working hard to achieve something and have no one notice. Make sure your employees know that you see what they're doing. It could be something as simple as highlighting strong efforts in a company email or mentioning them at the next meeting. You might consider awarding larger prizes for routinely high performers, too.
No matter what you do, it will make your staff feel as though their work means something, and they'll remain engaged for longer because of it.
There are plenty of examples of how companies do this. At SnackNation, for example, the CEO pens handwritten notes to staff to highlight their accomplishments. Plus, teams gather once a week and they share examples of each other's hard work. This type of acknowledgment will only make people want to work harder and for longer.
6. Give — and take — feedback
This goes hand-in-hand with celebrating your team's accomplishments — they also want actionable ways to improve so they can receive accolades, raises, promotions, etc. Just make sure you provide feedback that's helpful and specific. Be sure to highlight specific instances where an employee worked hard and made an impression before delving into areas of improvement. When you do the latter, focus on the action that they could do better — if you make it more about a particular task than about them as an employee, it will be much better received.
On top of that, you should openly take feedback from your staff, too. Send out regular anonymous surveys or encourage managers and team leaders to leave their doors open for conversations with their team. A manager or boss who's willing to change and keep staff happy will, in turn, retain employees for longer.
7. Go non-traditional
Finally, don't feel like your staff have to sit in stuffy cubicles and wear business attire every day to get the job done. Many of today's companies have swapped compartmentalized workspaces for more open floorplans where staff can easily engage with one another throughout the day.
Cooler layouts and comfortable furniture will keep staff engaged, as will the ability to dress more comfortably. Of course, not every job can allow its staff to wear casual clothes each day. If your company falls into this realm, perhaps try a "dress for the day" system, in which staff only have to dress formally on days when they meet with clients, pitch an idea, etc.
Engage and succeed
These are just seven of the many ways to improve staff engagement. Therefore, this is only the beginning — the more you do to make them feel valued and purpose-driven, the more likely you'll keep them around for years to come. And everyone will be better and happier because of it.