“Employee engagement” is a hot buzzword in the HR world today—but unlike some buzzwords, this is one every small business owner should care about. As the recession cut into salaries and increased workloads, especially at small companies, it’s become increasingly challenging to keep employees engaged.
The recently released Employee Engagement Report 2011 from leadership development firm BlessingWhite has some insights that might help. The company surveyed levels of engagement and also looked into why employees leave their jobs and why they stay.
Overall, the report found 31 percent of employees are engaged, while 17 percent are disengaged. Not surprisingly, employees who were older, had been with the company longer and had more senior roles were more likely to be engaged. Also not surprisingly, more employees are seeking opportunities outside their current company than they were in 2008.
But there’s also some surprising news about why employees leave and stay. Here are the top reasons employees stay with a company:
- My career. I have significant development or advancement opportunities here. 17 percent
- My organization’s mission. I believe in what we do. 11 percent
- No desire for change. I am comfortable here. 10 percent
- My job conditions. I have flexible hours, a good commute, etc. 10 percent
- My finances. I expect a desirable salary, bonus, or stock options. 7 percent
- Other (the economy, my manager, my colleagues) 15 percent
And here are their top reasons for leaving:
- My career. I don’t have opportunities to grow or advance here. 26 percent
- My work. I don’t like what I do or it doesn’t make the most of my talents. 15 percent
- My finances. I want to earn more money. 15 percent
- My desire for change. I want to try something new. 12 percent
- My manager. I don’t like working for him or her. 10 percent
- Other (the economy, job conditions, organization mission, colleagues) 18 percent
While managers and business owners often think that pay or benefits are the top reason employees’ consider career change, BlessingWhite found that overall, career development was the top factor for employees of all ages. In fact, the workers who were motivated by money were generally less engaged. As the study sums it up, “Engaged employees stay for what they give; disengaged employees stay for what they get.”
So what can you do to keep your best employees engaged? BlessingWhite offers two suggestions for you and your key managers:
- Coaching, relationships and dialogue: Managers must understand each person’s talents, interests and needs and match those with the company’s objectives. They also need to build personal, trusting relationships with employees. And they need open and frequent dialog with employees to head off problems that can lead to disengagement.
- Trust, communication and culture: At the top level, a business owner must earn trust by being consistent in words and deeds. It’s also important to communicate frequently. Finally, create a culture where your company’s values are truly reflected in day-to-day business practices. In other words, walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk.