Employee engagement can be a tough nut to crack. The problem is, many employers are out of step with what people (especially top talent) actually want from their jobs. The reason: companies often forget that the first rule of engagement is ‘know your audience.’
A recent report from Right Management found that two-thirds of the factors that motivate performance at work are tied to career conversations and development opportunities. Companies that train managers to deliver these effectively have 29% higher revenue, lower turnover and talent acquisition costs, and stronger customer loyalty. Yet 68% of managers are not engaged in their team’s development.
That’s a big opportunity for corporate America. It also points to a fundamental shift in how employees see their jobs and careers generally.
The rewards top companies have historically offered in exchange for loyalty continue to shift and change. Pensions, pay raises and job security, while still important, are no longer at the top of the list; rather, they are table stakes. Today, top talent is more conscious of developing their skills and doing work that interests them and are therefore looking for jobs that help develop their skills, which in turn increases their long-term employability and opportunities.
Earning employee loyalty today takes a new mindset
It requires actively promoting career development within the organization so that the give-and-take between the work employees do and their own personal growth and development is in greater balance. Research shows that organizations providing career development opportunities are six times more likely to engage their employees than organizations that don’t.
Embedding career development into your culture may sound like a daunting ordeal, but it doesn’t have to be. The best approach usually involves a modular process over time. Right Management’s report lists more than 10 things you can do to begin integrating career development into your hiring strategies. Some highlights include:
1. Ensure Leadership Commitment. Ensure top leadership makes career development a No. 1 priority; regularly and consistently articulate its value and importance.
2. Enable Employees. Provide access to tools and resources like self-guided training that enable employees to develop skills and build capabilities. Help them manage their own careers in ways that increase their engagement and drive value for the organization.
3. Develop Manager Coaching. Train managers how to have meaningful career conversations with employees and celebrate and recognize the successes.
4. Create Clear Linkages. Employees need to see a direct way to sync their career goals with those of the organizations. Facilitate these discussions to ensure everyone is clear on how best to align personal aspirations with business objectives.
After years of investing in short-term programs promising an overnight fix, it is time for companies to start taking employee engagement seriously. Those that learn to embed career development in their corporate cultures—from the hiring process to management to performance evaluations—will find it significantly easier to attract and retain top talent.
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