How to Build a Great Team: 4 Tips for Employee Engagement and Retention

April 6, 2021 Aaron Kinne

5-minute read

“The war for talent … empower[s] the best employees to choose their workplace based on more subjective criteria than money or security.” 

– Eric Mosley & Derek Irvine “Making Work Human” 

coworkersDespite the economic devastation brought on by the 2020 pandemic – an event  that caused unemployment to spike to 16% in May 2020 – the competition for top talent will be fierce as we move further beyond the crisis. And even afterward, constant efforts to build a successful employee engagement and retention strategy will be needed.

According to a report from Monster, 82% of employers in the United States plan to hire in 2021, “including 37% who plan to re-hire backfill jobs and 35% who plan on hiring for net new jobs.” With that as a backdrop, finding and retaining highly qualified workers will continue to be a key challenge for the foreseeable future — intensified by an ever-widening skills gap. As the report notes, “a third of U.S. employers say the skills gap has increased compared to last year, and 80 percent of employers say they have difficulty filling openings due to skills gaps, as opposed to a year ago.”

Here are four employee engagement strategies HR leaders can use to attract and retain the top talent their organizations need to thrive.

1. Create and nourish a company culture of engagement and recognition.

In the competition to attract and keep skilled workers, a culture of recognition can be a dramatic game changer. Such a culture empowers and engages employees, making them feel like the work they do has purpose and meaning. But how do you shape and fortify a culture that will make employees eager to work at your organization – and even more eager to stay?

The short answer? Employee recognition. A comprehensive, values-based employee recognition program – built on world class technology such as Workhuman’s Social Recognition® platform – amplifies the employee experience through recognition and broadcasts it throughout your company. Recognition forges a workplace environment that fosters appreciation, empowers individuals, strengthens employee  relationships, and provides a clear purpose aligned with achievable goals.

Workhuman® research finds 2x lower turnover rates for employees recognized 7-10 times annually. And in the first year, recognized new hires leave 3x times less than unrecognized new hires.

That’s the kind of culture that will help you build your brand and help you attract — and retain — the world-class talent your organization needs to thrive. Not to mention, you’ll also significantly increase employee satisfaction.

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2.  Make DE&I your organizational DNA.

In “Making Work Human”, co-author’s Mosley and Irvine contend: “Diversity, inclusion, and belonging align organizational culture with the need to hire and retain the best talent. They make companies attractive to more people.” 

Clearly, there’s a strong business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) – including its profound and very real power to attract the best talent and build high-performing teams. Because let’s face it, knowing that an organization is fully committed to DE&I is a key consideration for many – if not most – of the candidates you’ll be recruiting in the near future and beyond. That’s especially true for the millennial and Generation Z employees who will dominate the workforce in the coming years.

And while DE&I is a top priority for leaders at companies looking to attract and keep the right talent, progress has been slow. That’s why – for those organizations looking to compete for the very best candidates – it’s time to double down on their commitment to DE&I initiatives and employee retention efforts.

With data from social recognition programs like Workhuman’s Social Recognition platform, leaders can uncover bias, inequity, and other harmful practices going on throughout the organization. Learn more about how recognition data can inform your DE&I strategy here.  

3. Make continuous feedback a cornerstone of your culture

A Brandon Hall study found organizations that embrace a culture of feedback and coaching realize a significant improvement in employee retention rates. At companies where managers discuss growth opportunities with employees, the impact on retention was dramatic – 41% saw an increase in employee retention, versus just 18% in companies where managers fail to discuss growth opportunities.

By promoting a continuous performance management model — facilitated with solutions such as Workhuman’s Conversations® — HR leaders can evolve a dynamic organizational culture that celebrates peer coaching and feedback and lets every engaged employee support, mentor, and reward others. Such a culture helps align employees with company values – while boosting employee engagement.

Cultivating this culture of engagement in which open, honest, two-way feedback is embraced and nurtured is one of the most effective ways to create a workplace culture that attracts top candidates – and compels them to stay.

4. Elevate a culture of celebration.

Imagine a culture that celebrates the career milestones, life events, and group achievements of your employees. A culture that promotes community, connection, and belonging among your work family. Now imagine the impact such a culture – a culture of celebration – can have on your efforts to attract and keep the kind of world-class talent your company will need in the years to come.

The need to belong has always been part of the human condition. And by building a culture of celebration – a culture where people feel they participate and belong – you’ll be creating an environment of greater social support and affective commitment, increasing your employees’ desire to join and grow with your organization.

The innovative solutions of the Workhuman Cloud® can help your organization create a culture of celebration. One that future employees will want to be a part of. And one where every engaged employee wants to stay.