Employee engagement and employee retention: what moves the needle?

By Gabe Scorgie

5 min read

Employee engagement and employee retention: what moves the needle?
Image by Kevin Yu

It's no secret that businesses worldwide struggle to keep employees engaged and happy. The traditional view of employee engagement is that it’s enough to improve the tide of employee retention. However, that isn't entirely true. Engaging employees in the workplace helps, but it isn’t enough to move the needle. For real change to happen, organizations need to focus on creating a culture of success. 

Unfortunately, poor engagement numbers and record levels of unhappiness show that organizations are struggling to accomplish this. To make a difference, employers need to go deeper than just trying to engage their staff; they need to invest in creating a better environment that allows their team members to thrive. That is when employee retention will improve. 

Fancy mission and vision statements won't move the needle either. Employees need t o see it in action. Only when organizations foster a sense of individual and collective success does real change occur. Companies must focus on assisting employees with their careers and creating a positive work environment where everyone can thrive. By actively listening to employee feedback, understanding their needs, and providing them with support and motivation, organizations can empower their employees to succeed—--and ultimately make tangible strides in improving employee retention rates.

Why is employee retention important? 

Retaining talent is integral to the success of any business. Better employee experience and retention help foster a strong team atmosphere, creating loyalty between staff and promoting better collaboration among departments. Financial savings are also a powerful motivator, as it takes time and resources to develop new staff, not to mention the money that can be saved by costs associated with turnover and onboarding. 

Long-term employees also develop a deep familiarity with business operations. They understand how to get things done efficiently. With high employee retention, businesses have more stability which can help overall productivity and profitability.

Improved profits

Retaining employees leads to enhanced profits in several ways. For example, invested employees are more likely to increase productivity, leading to better output and improved financial metrics. Additionally, efficient training of long-term employees leads to less time spent on recruitment costs and improved job continuity, resulting in greater financial gains for the organization. 

Moreover, competitors may attempt to poach your talent if you have high-performing talent, which can cause hefty recruitment fees and loss of institutional knowledge due to the inability of a new hire to pick up where the old employee is left off.

Employee turnover can also be costly in terms of lost productivity and high replacement costs for executives, which can run as high as 203%

So when it comes to making the most out of your business, creating an environment that encourages employees to stay with you is key. Companies like Google provide perks like on-site gyms, nap pods, and even on-site chefs to help get the most out of their talented staff without worrying about them looking elsewhere. Therefore creating a welcoming atmosphere by offering incentives such as these can make all the difference in elevating profits from retained employees.

Increased productivity

Employee retention is the key to increased productivity in any organization. New employees can spend several weeks and months adjusting to their job roles and responsibilities, learning company policies and practices, building relationships with colleagues, and adapting to their environment. 

Having a staff composed mainly of veteran team members results in quicker onboarding, greater familiarity, and employee trust and team collaboration, thus leading to higher productivity. Companies that offer competitive salaries, bonuses, and incentives; create a respectful work environment; encourage open communication; and apply appropriate rewards for successful performance have better rates of employee retention which then translates into a boost in productivity.

Preservation of internal best practices

Employees who stay in the same company for longer gain a deep understanding of the organization and its systems. This knowledge helps them develop valuable best practices that could be lost if those employees leave or move to different roles. 

For example, a long-term employee may have mastered quick and efficient methods for finding information and getting work done. They may have created templates or processes that others would not know about until after a significant amount of time onboarding and learning on the job. Ultimately, employee retention enables companies to preserve traditional methods of operation without sacrificing efficiency — best practices that are invaluable to keeping any business running smoothly.

Can employee engagement improve employee retention?

Employee engagement can be a helpful part of improving employee retention, but it must be accompanied by other strategies to ensure lasting results. Focusing on engagement alone may make employees frustrated with their work if they cannot see progress or the impact their work has. 

The key to successful retention is creating an environment where employees feel appreciated and that their contributions are valued—this will help them stay motivated and engaged. By creating such an atmosphere, companies can enjoy happier and more productive employees who will remain invested in their roles long-term.

Employee engagement can help lower employee turnover

Employee engagement can play a role transforming a  workplace, leading to improved morale and loyalty, which can, in turn, boost employee retention. But only if org's delivering on promises and commitments made to people throughout their journey together. Employees need to be able to do work that matters. With good practices around minimizing the employee engagement gap, there's no doubt that businesses will see greater success in fostering strong relationships with their workforce.

Employee engagement is basically an employee's commitment, satisfaction, and enthusiasm for their job. Connected and invested employees are invested in their org's goals and values. This allows them to create more meaningful relationships between managers and team members, which consequently makes them more likely to stay at their job. 

But engagement alone won’t improve employee retention

While employee engagement is important to ensure a workplace culture of meaning and purpose, it is not enough to improve employee retention. Continuous and intentional efforts for employee success must be put into creating an authentic and equitable environment for employees if employers want them to stay. This means investing in tools, training, and resources that give employees access to meaningful work that encourages ownership and personal growth. 

Taking the extra step to recognize successes, especially through career development initiatives such as mentoring programs or continued education, demonstrates an investment in employees’ futures which can have a lasting positive effect on their choice to stay with the organization. To conclude, while employee engagement initiatives are necessary for a happy and productive workplace, they are just one piece of the puzzle for improving employee retention.

To really make a difference, organizations need to focus on creating a culture of employee success. By doing so, they’ll not only improve employee retention but also create a more positive and productive work environment overall. What steps is your organization taking to ensure employees feel supported and successful?


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Gabe Scorgie

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