How Leadership Can Impact Employee Engagement and Retention

The best organizations develop the strongest engagement by realizing that employees have the keys to their own motivation and self-management.

As a business leader, the most important thing you can do to drive engagement is to be maniacal about finding people who are a strong fit for your culture.

Your company culture is unique; your business is on a specific journey with specific people headed toward a specific goal. Hiring employees who embody your culture not only will help you move toward your goals, but will continue to strengthen your organization from within as you develop an attitude of engagement.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for improving engagement and retention.

1. Value innovation and agility. Businesses tend to move fast and change frequently. Employees who are willing and able to create positive change in your organization and respond enthusiastically to unexpected bumps in the road are extremely valuable. Make sure your employees know these qualities are valued in your organization. Communicate openly and give them room to challenge processes and bring their ideas to the table. Provide employees with the opportunity to evolve and contribute to the company’s growth to develop deeper engagement and commitment within your workforce.


2. Provide adequate training. New hires often struggle to get up to speed; it typically takes eight months for a new employee to reach full productivity. However, organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new hire productivity, and effective onboarding programs can improve employee performance by 11.5%.

3. Facilitate a mentorship program. According to a 2013 study, mentorship programs improve employee retention by 72% for mentees. Another study conducted around the same time found that employees who serve as mentors experience greater job satisfaction and a higher commitment to their employer. Mentor programs go further than morale. Sun Microsystems, for example, reported that increased retention rates resulting from their mentorship program saved their business $6.7 billion as they avoided costs associated with staff turnover and replacement.

Navigating organizational structures can be difficult for even the savviest employees; new hires can be overwhelmed by the challenges of understanding company priorities while figuring out day-to-day responsibilities and creating goals for the future. A mentor program that pairs new hires with seasoned employees can generate additional guidance and institutional knowledge, as well as an opportunity for continued growth and personal engagement with your organization.

4. Measure engagement. Implementing effective employee engagement strategies is meaningless without taking time to analyze the outcomes. For maximal impact, your strategy should include regular measurement of engagement among your employees.

Measure your efforts with an online form tool or data collection platform to conduct thorough annual, semi-annual, or quarterly employee engagement surveys. You also can create quick polls to send out more frequently. These surveys and polls will help you gather actionable data about what is motivating or discouraging employees—which means you’ll be able to make informed decisions to boost engagement in the workplace.


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