Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

"4 Ways to Reduce Turnover & Build Employee Engagement "

Newsletter Jan 21, 2015
In this ever-changing business climate, employee retention and longevity is not what it used to be. The evidence would indicate that a large number of employees in today's US workforce will change jobs every two years. In the first 10 years of their career, many younger workers may have as many as 8 jobs. Japan isn’t at that level of labor liquidity as yet, but things are changing. The supply of young workers in Japan is declining as the population ages, so there will be increased competition to keep good staff. So whether it is in the Western economies or in Japan, what can businesses do to retain top talent? Engaging employees is key. A recent survey of almost 90,000 workers in 19 countries, conducted by consulting firm Towers Perrin, revealed that about 50% of engaged employees say they have no plans to leave their company.
We recognize that many professionals will consider changing companies for additional work experience. There are certain steps businesses can take to keep employees engaged and evoke loyalty in order to cultivate strong talent. The pursuit of professional bliss is a lifelong journey. Businesses in today's market must provide their staff with opportunities to grow in their current positions, as well as experience various fields of work. Multinationals in Japan don’t follow the job rotation system practiced by Japanese companies, so they need to think about how they can provide staff with opportunities for wider experience in flat organizations
Additionally, engaging the 'hearts and minds' of employees through sincere appreciation, rewarding accomplishments and encouraging ideas, enables them to feel engaged in their company's initiatives. This connection to the company provides employees with a sense of commitment making it less likely that they will leave. Here are some suggestions when considering programs focused on engaging employees and developing high potential talent:
1. Support employees in building strong skill sets. Top talent is often hired to support a project or strategic initiative. At the point employees believe the project is losing visibility or their learning curve is slowing, they begin to consider leaving the project, the department, or the organization. By supporting employees in building both technical abilities and transferable skills (communication, confidence, leadership, and people skills) an organization can demonstrate their interest in the professional development of their employees. A more holistic approach to employee development is a key first step in employee engagement. This will be particularly applicable to younger employees, where we are seeing turnover at the three and four year mark after initial entry to the organization. 
2. Prepare employees for, and support them during, times of transition. Individuals face transition in both their personal and professional life. Starting a new job, taking on a new role, moving to a new location are all times when the transition can overwhelm an employee. By helping employees prepare for job and role transitions, supporting them during the transition, and then recognizing their successes in the new situation, organizations can create a connection with employees that strengthens their engagement with the team and their willingness to help others during their times of transition. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply knowing there is someone there they can turn to for advice is important. They may be too shy to ask for it, so managers can do a lot by proactively offering to help.
3. Foster a sense of ownership within employees. The old encouragement to "act like you own it" is good advice. The challenge is making the adage practical. It is difficult to build a sense of ownership when the plans, activities, and details are dictated to you. Managers need to find ways to actively engage employees in contributing ideas to plans, activities, and outcomes. Remember we all own the world we help to create. The more employees share in the rewards of success and are supported in turning failures into learning and growth opportunities, the more they can build a sense of ownership for their projects and become fully engaged in providing successful outcomes consistently.
4. Help employees see the link between current efforts and future opportunities. When employees view their efforts as a disconnected series of activities it is easy to begin looking for other opportunities where their work can be more meaningful. If employees are engaged in seemingly insignificant tasks then their manager must either consider if those tasks are still critical to the process or they must clearly explain to the employee how their work supports positive results of a more strategic nature. Providing employees with a clear line of sight between their work and the larger initiatives of the organization is a solid method of engaging employees and retaining top talent. We are usually pretty good at telling staff the what and sometimes we may even help them out with the how. Unfortunately , in this busy life, we often forget to tell them the why. The latter is the key piece to getting people behind initiatives so let’s make a point of always including it, no matter how busy we are.
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