In today’s candidate-driven job market, employers are challenged with re-thinking HR retention strategies. Because candidates are increasingly influencing retention strategies, companies require a method of identifying which employees are merely satisfied and which are truly engaged.
One of the subtle challenges HR faces is making the distinction between engaged and satisfied employees. This distinction may seem small, but engaged employees and satisfied employees produce very different end results. A 2011 Corporate Leadership Council Study even shows that revenue expectations for companies with highly engaged employees is 23% greater than for those with a satisfied workforce. Engaged employees are enthusiastic about their work and committed to the organization. They are positive, always willing to learn and driven by improvement. On the other hand, satisfied employees are content with their job but generally lack enthusiasm about their status or career path. This can result in employees only meeting minimum requirements and staying comfortably in the same position within an organization.
Whether a workforce is made up of engaged or satisfied employees, understanding the key psychological conditions that drive true engagement can help companies craft winning HR retention strategies.
What Drives True Engagement for Employees
According to William A. Kahn, a sense of meaning within an organization “can be seen as a feeling that one is receiving a return on investments of one’s self”. For employees, these returns can be realized when employees are doing work that challenges them, is varied or is somewhat autonomous. When employees are micromanaged or expected to complete tasks unbefitting their skill level, they will start to feel their meaning within an organization is trivial, resulting in lower engagement. Additionally, when companies give their employees a sense of belonging and purpose within the organization, they will perform more effectively and become self-sustainable.
Another key driver of employee engagement is safety. Kahn describes safety in the workplace as feeling able to express one’s self without any negative consequences. By giving employees a safe place to voice their concerns, frustrations and criticism, they will feel valued and rewarded for their engagement. In the same study, Kahn stresses the importance of supportive, resilient and clarifying management in spearheading engagement initiatives. When team leaders encourage employees to provide honest feedback and communication, the result is a greater sense of safety to express innovative ideas.
The final condition critical to driving engagement in the workplace is psychological capacity or availability. Kahn’s research found that having the right physical, emotional or psychological resources to personally engage is the key element for properly engaged employees. Providing these resources is best achieved through understanding the talents and motivators of employees. With the understanding of the various skill levels and abilities, companies can challenge employees and nurture their growth, which drives engagement.
By fully understanding the conditions required to convert satisfied employees into engaged top performers, companies can build winning HR retention strategies. Through instilling a culture of meaning, safety and capacity, employers can improve workplace productivity. To increase your knowledge about the effects of employee engagement, explore how disengagement can be threatening the leadership development in your company.
See You at the 2017 Total Rewards Conference
If you want to learn more about how to effectively engage employees in the workplace, meet up with us at “Begin with TEEM — Transparent Employee Engagement Model: An Adventure Through the HR Looking Glass” at the #WorldatWork 2017 Total Rewards Conference in #WashingtonDC. See you there!
Begin with TEEM — Transparent Employee Engagement Model: An Adventure Through the HR Looking Glass – Wednesday, May 10, 9:30AM
- Tammy Sharp, Senior Compensation Analyst, Austin Community College