How to Keep Talented Employees Engaged
Written by:Tara A. Collison, Ph.D.
Naturally, your company wants to attract new talent, but before you take another step, ask yourself: What am I doing for the talented employees I already have? Maintaining an atmosphere that suits the needs of your existing talent is no easy feat, because as your company grows, so do its employees. Don’t become a revolving door for talent. Experience is as valuable an asset as gumption or a fresh perspective.
So, how do you get your best employees to stick around? As expected, research shows compensation is one of the best ways to retain talent, but a strong focus on culture, development, and communication can go a long way, too.
While nothing’s a sure thing, ensuring talented employees’ workplace culture stays intact or improves is important. According to a 2017 survey by Fortune, this often starts with leadership. Pay attention to how you conduct yourself. Are you giving them a reason to work for you and with you? What is it about you as an individual or management team that encourages your employees to stay? This could encompass your overall management style, the way you communicate with your team (more on that in a minute), or how you embody a culture that enables employees to thrive. Identify these success drivers in your leadership and do your best sustain and amplify them.
Are your employees engaged with your company culture? The Fortune survey reports that there is only a 5% chance of employees sticking around if they don’t love where they work. Assess every aspect of your company’s culture: the actual workplace environment, the way your team gets things done, your stated values, and even the unspoken assumptions about how your company functions. No detail is too small or insignificant to consider. Ask yourself or, better yet, ask your team why they love working for your company. Ask them why they don’t. Look for the common threads, both positive and negative, and address them.
Significant change can’t happen without a strategy. Start by demonstrating that you’re aware of what works and what doesn’t, then plan your next steps. In the meantime, a major part of your culture is how you demonstrate the value of your talented employees. Expressing their value is something every leader can and should do. It’s a “no regrets” move, no matter what is happening within your organization. No one, especially those who shine a bit brighter, appreciate feeling like a cog in a machine. Your team is made up of diverse thinkers who all bring something different to the table. Allow employees to be themselves and encourage their unique perspectives.
Learning and growth are a key driver of engagement. We all want to feel like we are getting better and better. It's key to a sense of thriving at work. While promotions and other new opportunities aren’t always realistic, there are still plenty of ways to make your talented employees feel like they’re getting the most out of the job. One way to do this is by managing success in their current roles. Find avenues that will allow your employees to hone their best skills or explore new ones. Of course, it’s important that this is done in a way that intersects with the company’s overall needs. Facilitating new experiences for your best talent is a great way to make your company run more efficiently and demonstrate your commitment to your team’s professional growth.
One popular tactic, although not right for every talented employee, is the opportunity to self-manage. Just as you allow every team member to be his or herself, allow them to govern their own roles within your organization. Give them a bigger hand in how their position might develop over time or new directions it could take. Chances are they know more about their day-to-day position than you do. Again, just as you’ve given them more agency in the company itself, allow them the opportunity to govern their own work.
How you communicate with your employees is paramount. It’s important to have candid conversations with those employees who are really shining in their roles and doing more than expected. Communication with these employees lets them know their effort isn’t going unnoticed and can make them feel like real stakeholders in your business. Allowing these employees’ more frequent audiences with your management team is a great way to foster continued investment on their part. Keep employees confident in not only your company, but their place in it.
Another important aspect to communication is honesty. Be upfront about what avenues there are for growth and how often they are available. Never dangle opportunity in front of your team—especially those employees who are willing to work for it. You will wind up letting them down when that new position doesn’t come to fruition. You will lose their trust, you will lose respect, and you might wind up losing a good employee.
Instead of hinting at or even promising opportunities that may never come, work within your company’s framework. What other avenues can you provide that increase your chances of talent retention? While that new position or promotion might not be in the cards, investing in your employees’ professional development is a great alternative. Talk with employees about areas they’d like to improve in or learn more about. Collaborate on an action plan that couples their regular responsibilities with opportunities for growth.
Manage Your Company’s Talent with an Aligned Strategy
Regardless of how you empower your talented employees, it should leave everyone at your company pulling in the same direction. Your goals and your employees goals should align. Only through an aligned strategy can your best people really make a difference. As mentioned earlier, when talented employees feel like stakeholders in your company, everybody wins. So it goes when everyone’s goals are accounted for.
Luckily, Meddlers is all about alignment. Teams that are aligned and engaged are better at collaboration, more innovative, and produce better results. We can help you manage your growing talent and find that incentive for people to stick around. Learn more about Meddlers and what we do, or contact us to see how we can help you grow your business!