3 Strategies to Drive Engagement and Increase Employee Retention 4 minute read Written by Shawn Bakker, I/O Psychologist ‘Quiet Quitting’, ‘The Great Resignation’ and employee retention are multi-faceted problems. Yet a significant portion of these challenges have a common root – a lack of employee engagement due to poor leadership. Only by addressing this leadership gap can organizations realistically improve in these areas. What the Research is Saying About Employee Retention Teams with low engagement typically have turnover rates that are 18% to 43% higher than engaged teams. It takes more than a 20% pay raise to lure most employees away from a manager who engages them – BUT – disengaged workers are poached for next to nothing. Managers who are not able to balance employee relationships with results have three to four times as many people who fall into the quiet quitting category as managers who can. Leaders do not have a great read on what is truly important to employees. As Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman state in their article, “Quiet quitting is about bad bosses, not bad employees.” With that in mind, here are 3 strategies to drive engagement and decrease employee turnover. How to Increase Employee Retention Rates #1: Start with Leaders Engagement problems are often a people management problem, so it only makes sense to start with your people managers – AND – the best first step for people managers is to better balance employee relationships with results. For many leaders this requires a shift away from their natural, more analytical and task-focused approach. Leading people, especially those who are working remotely, requires greater effort on the part of leaders to initiate connections, involve others, and understand the needs of employees. This shift to higher levels of consultation and collaboration allows leaders to target the real reason for poor engagement and attrition – a lack of understanding and misalignment in needs, values and desires. #2: Discuss Opportunities for Growth & Development Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic we have seen a significant increase in the number of employees who value career development and opportunities for growth. A whopping 50% more people see opportunities to learn new skills, tackle new challenges and move forward in their career as a critical motivator and source of satisfaction. To engage employees who are feeling disconnected and expressing a higher desire for career growth, leaders need to get active. They need to begin connecting with their direct reports. Here are some good questions to ask to get things going: What are you passionate about? Do you think that your talents, interests and skills are being fully utilized? If you could change one thing about your position, your team, or how this department functions, what would it be? The best way to make things better for employees is by asking them how to make things better. #3: Don’t Micromanage After years of facilitating team workshops I have heard people share their hatred of micromanagement more times than I can count. When people expressed their intense feelings on the subject I would follow up with two questions: Why do you hate it? – and – What behaviours does your boss engage in that are micromanaging? The answer to the first question usually involved feelings of trust and competence. When bosses engaged in micromanaging behaviours employees felt that they were not trusted or seen as competent. In essence, their bosses were questioning the value of having them as employees. When responding to the second question, people responded with variations of bosses checking in or providing guidance when there was no real reason to do so. Some common examples: When the boss sets a deadline for a projects and then asks employees before the deadline if they are finished. Bosses providing directions on how to do something to employees who know what they are doing. These sound like easily avoided minefields for leaders, but it happens all the time. Leaders need to ask themselves, why am I checking in on my employees and is it for a valid reason? Often leaders are checking in due to their internal push for results, but it comes at the cost of effective relationships. Which brings us back to issue number one – if people managers focus on results at the expense of relationships, higher turnover and quiet quitting are the inevitable results. How Assessments Can Help with Employee Retention If leaders are to balance relationships with results, discuss growth opportunities, and avoid micromanaging employees, they need self-awareness. Often described as the leadership superfood, self-awareness is the ability of leaders to recognize the impact their behaviours have on others. This is where valid and reliable assessments of personality and behaviours are especially useful. Only when leaders can align their intentions with the impact they have on others can the successfully implement the three strategies. Contact us today to learn how bringing assessments into you organization can help to drive engagement and increase employee retention.