9 Ways to Improve Your Employee Engagement Strategy

Retaining top talent is crucial for the success of any business. High turnover rates lead to increased recruitment and training costs and affect the overall morale and productivity of remaining employees. It can even damage the company's reputation, making it harder to attract new talent to your organization.  

Hiring managers often look to hire qualified candidates who will stay with the company for years to come. So, when you meet highly qualified individuals who align with your company mission and goals, how can you retain them? How can you inspire them to make your organization a destination where they can grow and experience career success? The answer is simple, keep them engaged. How can you improve your current employee engagement strategy? Here are a few ideas: 

1. Make Onboarding a Priority 

Never underestimate the impact of getting people off on the right foot and the long-term effects it can have on retention. The onboarding process is one of the most crucial parts of the employee experience and can significantly influence their success and satisfaction in their new role. 

First impressions go both ways. Make sure on an employee’s first day they are welcomed and that they are introduced to the team and paired with a buddy or mentor to answer their ongoing questions. Leaving a small welcome gift, card, company swag, etc. on their desk on the first day can also go a long way. Another way to maintain engagement during the onboarding process is to make sure to communicate the new employee’s schedules during their first week, so they know what to expect and what is expected of them. 

2. Set Clear Expectations 

Provide new employees with a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. This will help them hit the ground running and help them feel ready to make a positive impact at the company. The first few days and weeks set the tone. For the new hire, it may determine whether they made the right decision in accepting the role. It can make the difference between them settling in as part of the team or trying to find a new job quickly enough that they can skip this one on their resume. 

3. Communicate with Every Employee 

Encourage open and transparent communication between employees and management. Formal feedback systems such as surveys and annual reviews are one route to knowing what is on the minds of your employees, but it’s equally important to engage with them regularly on a more casual and personal basis.  

Especially when new employees are new, fostering a sense of collaboration and teamwork is essential to help them feel supported and valued. This will help them to thrive in their role, see their place in the organization, and inspire them to become an asset to the company. Team building experiences can help form those working relationships, which could look like team lunches, outings, or small group activities. Alongside team building activities, encouraging employee involvement in decision-making processes also gives them a sense of ownership in the company that can create long-term retention. 

4. Ask About Their Long-Term Plans  

You can make things easier for yourself and your ambitious applicants if you understand each other from the beginning. Make sure you ask the right interview questions and find out all you can about a candidate's plans, what motivates them, and their ideas for the future. If your company offers a ladder to these destinations, take note, be clear, and let them know what their future could look like on the team. 

These conversations should be continued through one-on-one manager meetings, as well as quarterly and annual reviews. Building relationships between managers and employees is one of the most effective ways to increase retention, no matter the business or industry.  

5. Provide a Positive Company Culture

Foster a positive and inclusive culture within the company with employee events, team-building activities, and community outreach. Invite employees into an environment that will have a positive and lasting impact on their lives. Offer encouraging feedback to support their strengths and expand their skills and take the time to celebrate their progress. Employee recognition can look like stopping by an employee’s desk to tell them how well they did on a project or sending them a card to let them know you have noticed their hard work; show them regularly that you value their contribution to the company.  

6. Equip Them for the Future  

Provide professional development opportunities for employees to learn and grow within the company. Consider in-house training, mentoring programs, and tuition reimbursement for those who want to further their education.  

Make it clear employee professional development is valued, and the company is invested in their future. If they complete a program or obtain a certification, let them share what they have learned with your staff. If they demonstrate a continuous record of excellence in their work, ask them about their long-term goals within the company. If possible, create a pathway to get them there.  

If you don’t have an immediate opportunity within their desired department, see if they might be willing to make a lateral move to broaden their skills. You can even prepare them for positions that may open in a few months or later in the future.  

7. Encourage Work-Life Balance 

Employee burnout is real. To maintain employee longevity, employers need to encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Management must model this attitude. If employees hear you say that life-work balance is important but see their supervisors work through lunch or allow untaken PTO to pile up, they won't feel as comfortable taking time for themselves. Offering flexible hours, remote working options, and time off for personal and family commitments is one-way companies can mitigate burnout. 

Empowered employees are engaged employees. Giving employees autonomy and providing them with the resources to find a balance between work and personal life should be a top priority.  

8. Show Employees They are Valued 

It all begins with compensation. Offer competitive compensation packages that include salary, benefits, and bonuses. Regularly review and adjust compensation packages to benchmark them against your competitors to ensure you’re able to attract and retain top talent.  

Recognize and reward employees for their hard work and contributions to the company. Offering bonuses and prizes and recognizing employees at company events and meetings are an easy way to incorporate this concept into your company’s engagement strategy. You can also show appreciation for your employees through simple gestures like writing thank-you notes and celebrating their work anniversaries, birthdays, and other life achievements. 

9. Reevaluate Your Hiring Process 

Two of the most critical factors in retaining talent are hiring the right people and having an efficient hiring process. The hiring process is your first opportunity to engage with the potential employee and set a foundation for a successful working relationship. 

Before posting a position, make sure you clearly understand the role you're hiring for, including the responsibilities and qualifications required. Everyone on the hiring team should understand this and be on the same page. This will help you recruit the right candidates and ensure they know what they need about the job requirements and are confident it matches their interests and goals.  

Establishing an efficient and structured interview process is important because it ensures that all candidates are evaluated fairly. Include a mix of behavioral and technical questions and an assessment of the candidate's fit for the company culture. Don't skip the reference-checking process. Talking to previous employers and colleagues can provide valuable insight into a candidate's work history, skills, and behavior. Once the interview process is complete, decide promptly and move forward with the next step in the hiring process. 

NOTE: Keeping candidates waiting can result in them accepting an offer from another company or losing interest entirely.  

Today’s job market is competitive, and talented candidates have several opportunities available before them. However, the steps mentioned above can start your relationship with your new employee on the right foot and keep them in your company for years to come. Invest in your staff, and they will be more likely to invest in your mission and business. If you have further questions on this topic or other employment-related needs, contact our experts at Palmer Group.