Engaging and retaining talent

Ana CanabarroRetaining top talent and achieving high employee engagement is a top priority for most organisations and we believe it’s never been so important. The latest CIPD survey confirms that 55% of their respondents said they would like to work in an organisation ‘with a family feel’, one that has an established culture.

So what is the secret of creating an engaged team that new talent will want to be a part of?

Firstly, it’s important to understand engagement goes beyond happiness or satisfaction towards what is called a ‘discretionary effort’, where someone truly wants to do a job, not just for a pay cheque but because they feel part of something bigger than themselves. It’s a conscious choice in intention and behaviour. No one has to ask them to stay longer to complete a project, they just choose to do it. No manager has to tell them to do more for customers, it’s in their mind-set to want do so.

This isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ either, there are proven benefits of the effects of engagement on performance and ultimately, the bottom line. So here are our four tips to creating a culture that fosters engagement and supports talent retention: 

Don’t just have a vision, have a purpose

With a vision, people understand where to go. With a purpose they understand why they are going there. Avoid the ‘plaque on the wall syndrome’ by ensuring everyone understands how they make a difference to the overall picture. Great leaders can translate an overall vision and values so that it’s meaningful and easy to incorporate in every day operations.

As Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Connect people emotionally (to that purpose)

People stay in a job for much more intangible reasons than we often think. There are a number of ways you can connect people emotionally: from recognition to team fun; from charity initiatives to personal development plans. Firstly hold good conversations with your teams and then, since it will be different for different people, find out what matters to that individual so you can adapt accordingly.

Trust people fully, within clearly defined boundaries

It used to be the norm to micro-manage every job and every employee, which is an industrial revolution mentality that can still be found in offices across the country. Truly engaged teams require a different approach. People want to be able to have autonomy and power to make decisions so, as much as possible, let them! Of course, create do’s and don’ts but once your team understand what is required and know they have your support, get out of the way and trust them. Always make sure you are upholding standards, not rules.

Have a learning culture

Your response to failure is very important, so ask yourself: what do people get told-off for in your team? If you want people to be honest about their mistakes (so you can fix them) and to keep innovating and taking initiative, it’s crucial to instil a learning culture. Mistakes will happen, especially when people attempt something new, so what is your response to those mistakes: do you back them up for trying and encourage them to learn from it? It’s unlikely they intentionally messed-up and therefore your response to failure could determine what they will do next time. When it comes to inspiring a learning culture, could you be choosing to minimise risk at expense of innovation?

By Ana Canabarro, Senior Operations Manager at Mitie Client Services.

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