Faced with a record labor shortage, employers across the country are investing in employee engagement strategies to keep and attract great workers.What Is Driving the Current Labor Shortage?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings reached a record-breaking high of 10.1 million by the end of June 2021.
What's unique about the latest data on available jobs is that it not only represents growth and demand but it also represents openings from workers leaving their jobs - experts are calling this record-breaking departure, The Great Resignation.
During the pandemic, many workers seized the opportunity to reassess their jobs. As a result, many opted not to return for a number of reasons:
- Workers found that working remotely at home had many benefits, such as flexibility, more free time for family, and reduced costs by eliminating work-related expenses, such as commuting.
- The lack of affordable childcare options, remote learning mandates due to closed schools, and increased workloads drove many women out of the labor force (nearly 1.8 million).
- As workers examined their work-life balance or the lack of one, they found better paying, more fulfilling opportunities than the jobs they left or lost during the pandemic.
- Remote work allowed workers the flexibility to move to new markets where they were able to improve their lifestyles. Once employers required workers to return to the office, many remote workers opted for more work-life balance.
- Many workers fulfilled their dream of starting their own businesses.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is not just about keeping employees happy. It’s about understanding what motivates your employees to perform in their jobs and how strongly employees are connected to their work and their employer.
Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?
When employers take care of their employees, the benefits are many. Some of the most common include:
- Happier and Healthier Employees
- Reduced Absenteeism
- Increased Productivity
- Stronger Employee Retention
- Improved Customer Service
According to one Gallup report, businesses lose up to $605 billion each year because of employee disengagement. And the cost of employee turnover is also expensive. On average, expect to pay approximately 20% of a salary to rehire.
Who Should Lead Employee Engagement Efforts?
Employees want to develop relationships, especially with a manager who can support their goals and help them reach the next level. Because managers are responsible for overseeing their employee's work and helping employees understand how their work connects to business success, managers have great influence over engagement. Employers can empower managers to take the lead in implementing employee engagement strategies and look to HR team leaders to oversee the process.
As you build an employee engagement program, consider the following strategies:
Understand What Employees Need and Want. What can employers do better to engage workers? Beyond a paycheck, many employees want purpose and meaning from their work, and they also want a work-life balance.
First, take an in-depth review of your current culture. Then, survey employees to learn about what is working and the improvements that need to be made.
A new study conducted by Deloitte Global on Women at Work shows that women who work for employers with an inclusive work culture report better motivation and mental well-being and increased productivity. They are also more loyal to their employers and more likely to remain with their current employer.
Offer Flexible Hours and Remote Work Options. Look to build relationships with employees that focus on wellbeing. Thanks to technology, employees can be productive in any location. Offer options such as a flexible work schedule and remote working arrangements to help encourage a work-life balance. Studies show that by providing employees the culture and support to help them to succeed, employers have a more productive and motivated workforce and are likely to report greater retention results.
Provide Employees with the Tools and Support to Ensure Success. Many workers have transitioned to a new way of working. That means businesses need to find new ways to help employees meet expectations, such as additional training, tools, and resources.
Be Transparent and Consistent with Communication. Regularly check in with employees and create an environment where employees feel safe to provide helpful feedback. Also, communicate with transparency and let them know how your business is performing.
Support Employee Growth. According to a recent LinkedIn report on Workforce Learning, 93 percent of employees would remain at their current job longer if their employer invested in their professional development.
Allow employees to grow by enhancing their skills. Professional development and training enable workers to shift into new roles with growth opportunities or prepare for changing job responsibilities.
Create a Culture Where Employees Feel Valued. According to a Deloitte study on Human Capital, 84% of those surveyed named the employee experience as a top issue. Look for ways to create an environment where workers are valued and are treated as humans – not employees.
Recognize Employee Efforts. Show appreciation and recognize your team for their hard work and contributions, especially those working remotely and working new schedules.
Offer a Competitive Employee Benefits Package. Great benefits attract and keep great employees. According to a Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) study on The Evolution of Benefits, employers that improved their benefits packages reported better overall employee performance and improved recruitment and retention results.
This may require enhancing your health insurance plans to include mental health benefits or adding a retirement plan. Thanks to new legislation, the SECURE Act, it’s now easier for small businesses to offer employees a competitive and affordable retirement plan. Consider options such as PEO insurance which features more competitive health plans at lower rates. Also, look for ways to include more perks to your employee benefits package, such as more time-off and incentives for reaching personal goals.
Engaging Employees is a Long-Term Investment
Employee engagement is not a new concept. But in today’s environment – where there are more job openings than job seekers - it's important to understand the motivation, commitment, and connection employees need to their job and their employer. Developing a successful employee engagement program doesn’t happen overnight. However, employers can learn ways to improve the connections between employees to work and the workplace to keep workers engaged.
Propel HR President Lee Yarborough
Propel HR President Lee Yarborough was recently elected Chair of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) Board of Directors. She spoke with PEO Insider magazine to share where she thinks the industry is headed and how NAPEO can continue to grow. Download a pdf version of the full interview: A Passion To Serve
You Got This! Lee was also featured on the podcast, TWO FEET IN. In season 2 of the podcast, Coach Heather Macy highlights “inspiring women who are focused on empowering other women.” In this short but in-depth conversation, Lee talks about changes in the workplace due to the pandemic, faith over fear, listening instead of giving advice, making smart business decisions, trusting her intuition, and her favorite version of herself. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.
About Propel HR. Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for 25 years. Propel partners with small to midsized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs.