Five Ways to Keep Your Team Engaged – and Happy to Stay With You

After decades of corporate discourse about the war for talent, it appears that the battle is over, and talent has won. Employees today tend to have increased bargaining power, the job market is highly transparent, and attracting top-skilled workers is a highly competitive activity.

The balance of power has shifted from employer to employee, pushing business leaders to learn how to build an organization that engages employees as sensitive, passionate, creative contributors

Many companies are now investing in analytics tools to help figure out why people leave, and the topics of purpose, engagement, and culture seem to weigh on the minds of business leaders everywhere.

Recent research conducted by Bersin by Deloitte suggests that the issues of “retention and engagement” have risen to the number-two spot in the minds of many business leaders, second only to the challenge of building global leadership. Those concerns are grounded in disconcerting data:

  • Gallup’s 2014 research shows that only 13% of employees surveyed worldwide are “highly engaged,” and 26% are “actively disengaged.”
  • Glassdoor, a company that allows employees to rate their employers, reports that only 54% of employees using its site recommend their company as a place to work.
  • In the high-technology industry, two-thirds of all workers surveyed believe they could find a better job in less than 60 days if they only took the time to look.
  • Eighty percent of respondent organizations believe their employees are overwhelmed with information and activity at work (21% cite the issue as urgent), yet fewer than 8% have programs to deal with the issue.
  • More than 70% of millennials surveyed expect their employers to focus on societal or mission-driven problems; 70% want to be creative at work; and more than two-thirds believe it is management’s job to provide them with accelerated development opportunities in order for them to stay.

In short, in many cases, the balance of power has shifted from employer to employee, pushing business leaders to learn how to build an organization that engages employees as sensitive, passionate, creative contributors. The shift taking place is moving from improving employee engagement to a focus on building an irresistible organization.

In this article, we’ll discuss how the traditional employee-work contract has changed and why companies should embrace the shift needed to become irresistible.

Time for a change

In a recent survey of 80 of the most advanced users of engagement surveys, only half believe their executives know how to build a culture of engagement. Among the broader population of companies, the percentage is far lower.

Consider the radical changes that have taken place at work: employees typically operate in a transparent job market where in-demand staff may find new positions in their inboxes. Organizations are often flattened, giving people less time with their direct managers. Younger employees have helped increase the demand for rapid job rotation, accelerated leadership, and continuous feedback.

Finally, the work environment is highly complex. Where employees may have once worked with a team in an office, they now work 24/7 with email, instant messages, conference calls, and mobile devices that have significantly reduced the barriers between work and personal lives.

These changes to the workplace have altered the engagement equation, causing many organizations to rethink it. For example, a well-known pharmaceutical company found that its executives and scientists in China were leaving the company at an alarming rate. The annual engagement survey provided no information to help diagnose this problem.

By running a statistical analysis on all the variables among these departing high-potential workers, the company realized that in China, compared with other parts of the world, their people were expecting very high rates of compensation increase every year. The job market there was highly competitive, so people were being poached based on salary progression alone.

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