Recognize To Engage To Retain - Recognition, and Ultimately Engagement, Offers the Power to Keep Critical Talent

by Traci K and BrightMove Applicant Tracking and Recruiting Software

Employees who are satisfied with their employment are obviously more likely to be engaged workers. Even if the position isn’t exactly what makes them happy, employees are willing to work harder for an employer that they feel cares about them. As well, if they feel the important factors they hold dear in their current position, such as a flexible work environment, a supportive manager or an upbeat company culture, could not be duplicated or a comparable could not be found at another organization, they will work harder to stay with that employer.

Strategies to increase retention are now becoming the top priority for businesses looking to not only survive the rebounding economy, but grow and prosper. Aberdeen Group, a research and analysis company, recently published a brief on engaging employees. The report included a breakdown of items companies have identified as pressing growth and performance challenges for their businesses. In descending order of severity:

  1. Economic conditions
  2. Ability to execute strategy
  3. Increased competition
  4. Retaining key employees
  5. Rising operational costs
  6. Improving employee engagement
  7. Market volatility
  8. Shortage of key skills available in the market
  9. Ability to identify key employees
  10. Workforce productivity

Of the top 10 challenges, six relate to employees and talent management. The recognition that retention is crucial has been made and employers are beginning to understand the ROI engagement initiatives can provide. Aberdeen Group’s report concludes that “when employee engagement and performance are high, many other critical company-wide metrics improve as well, from hiring the best talent, to bench strength, to overall organizational performance and customer retention”.

An important part of engagement has long-been recognition. Employees want to feel good about what they’re doing and they want to know that others recognize their efforts. 63% of Aberdeen’s survey respondents indicated that “formal reward and recognition programs are extremely valuable to impacting…individual performance” and 65% of their Best-in-Class employers already have these types of programs in place. “Employee recognition can be a powerful reinforcement, providing tools and an ongoing feedback mechanism that helps managers improve results throughout the talent lifecycle”.

In order to push recognition programs, HR must have the support of all levels of management. If you offer a recognition reward to an employee but they feel it is a disingenuous gesture from the manager that gives it, the effect of the reward can actually be that of deflation rather than inflation. Peer reviews have also become a prominent form of recognition.

To better enable the administration of employee recognition processes, technical tools are available to help manage them. These tools aid in peer-to-peer recognition and “help with alignment, by building in steps that require anyone giving recognition to state how the person being recognized demonstrated a behavior or competency that the organization has stated is critical to business success. It also helps management and leaders see which values are being brought to life in the organization and how active managers and peers are in providing this recognition”.

Not only can these tools help build esteem and promote engagement and sustainability of high tenure employees, but in providing overall feedback, these tools can also help relay necessary criticisms in a nonthreatening manner. Employees can utilize this feedback, view other employees that are succeeding in similar areas and follow their lead to improve performance. The first step to improving in a weak area is fully understanding what the perceived weakness is, then the employee can move on to correcting it. Provide proper feedback and recognition, increase engagement levels and reap the benefits of productivity increases and more open lines of communication.

Traci K. is an HR professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration.  When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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