Want to Engage Employees? One Factor Makes the Difference

“It’s less expensive to keep an employee than to hire a new one.”

This long-held business maxim about hiring vs. retention is almost cliché by now. But the truth is that the costs of hiring a new employee exceed the costs of engaging and retaining current employees by a tremendous amount. According to a CAP study, the average cost of hiring new employees can range from 16 to 213 percent of their annual salaries.

Why so much?  Think recruiting expenses, interview time, and training. Then consider the impact of personnel changes on team productivity, interpersonal dynamics, and morale. Now, add in the fact that since so many jobs can be done remotely, employment is no longer tied to location – which makes competition for new talent more intense than ever. It all adds up. By contrast, employer branding and employee engagement efforts are far less expensive – if they connect to the one thing all successful retention efforts share.

The #1 Employee Engagement Success Factor

The number of ways to connect with your employees and show that you value them are virtually endless. For instance, you can:

  • Check-in one-on-one with employees to hear concerns and celebrate accomplishments.
  • Send team members thoughtful gifts or cash bonuses for significant achievements.
  • Create videos featuring employees to celebrate big wins and achievements.
  • Recreate in-office perks for employees working from home. For instance, if your in-office tradition included “Friday morning bagels,” reimburse breakfast purchases once a week.
  • Give employees a universal day off for self-care.
  • Offer the occasional no-pressure “happy hour” online. At the same time, recognize the realities of “Zoom Fatigue” and give your people breaks from being “always on-air.”

They’re all great ideas. But the success of these efforts will always hinge on one crucial component: How authentically they map to the organization’s internal work culture.

Why Culture Matters – and How to Make Yours Better

If your culture reinforces appreciation for employees as people, making them feel that they belong, gestures of gratitude will reinforce that culture, reminding employees why they love working there. If the day-to-day work experience is cold, impersonal, or insecure, however, no words or gestures – no matter how creative, heartfelt, or elaborate they are – will hit home.

Which sounds like your company – the warm, appreciative culture or the chilly, disconnected one? Either way, we’ve identified five things you can do to improve.

  1. Clarify your employer brand. Be clear about who you are, what you value, and why you exist as an organization. Successful employer branding depends on how well your employees’ expectations match the reality of working for your company.
  1. Recognize that your people are actually, you know, people. We used to talk about “work-life balance.” Now, with so many of us working from home, it’s closer to “work-life integration.” Children, pets, and other life components naturally intersect with the workday. So, enable the flexibility your people need to be present in their lives AND meet their jobs’ demands.
  1. Encourage, recognize and reward contributions. If you want to empower employees to work hard for your company, be clear about your expectations, recognize how their work contributes to the company’s success, and reward those successes with praise and, when appropriate, tangible compensation in the form of time or money.
  1. Build teamwork and trust. No one works well when they feel unduly scrutinized or if petty conflicts discourage effective collaboration. Celebrate teamwork, identify and resolve conflicts quickly and fairly, and avoid any appearance of “playing favorites” among your employees.
  1. Listen up! Solicit your employees’ opinions in ways that neither punish criticism nor reward flattery. Your people have perspectives on your business that may differ from your own – but are no less valid. Ask for honest feedback – and respond when they offer opportunities for improvement.

You probably can tell – employer branding and employee engagement are a passion for us at Relish Marketing. If they’re important to you, too – we’d love to hear about your challenges, your successes, and what you aim to achieve next. Drop us a note or call and let’s make a difference together.