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Time to engage…


Everyone likes to be recognised and thanked for a job well done or to be acknowledged for continued loyal service to an organisation. It makes people feel good about themselves, happy in the workplace and more motivated to continue working hard and improving. A pat on the back and a simple ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’ are obviously always welcome but, in a time when some people change jobs like they change their socks, are these small gestures really enough as a staff retention strategy?


On average, staff turnover costs UK businesses £38 billion a year with around 18% of staff choosing to change their job annually. The cost of recruitment and loss of productivity is typically between £8–12,000 per employee in the UK. Consequently, the importance of keeping staff turnover to a minimum and retaining the best people is manifest at the bottom line.


With such high costs resulting from a constant churn of staff it has become increasingly important for companies to install strategies that will help to keep employees engaged and motivated on an ongoing basis. Often, effective engagement strategies become self-financing as the cost of staff turnover becomes replaced with higher levels of motivation, loyalty and productivity.


Promoting employee engagement is more critical to the success of UK businesses now than it ever has been. This is because employees are no longer simply grateful to have a job. They need to feel that their personal efforts and contributions are not only making a difference to the overall success of an organisation, but that they are also fully acknowledged and valued by their managers. Otherwise the employee will be left feeling demotivated, disengaged and will most probably start looking for alternative employment; somewhere where they are made to feel that their efforts are appreciated.


Finding ways to ensure that all staff are made to feel an important asset to a business and to know that their hard work and loyalty is appreciated should be the number one concern for all employers. A good place to start is with regular reward and recognition where praise and congratulations are given where they are undoubtedly deserved.


And, as they say, if a job’s worth doing then it’s worth doing well, so presenting staff awards should be made into a real ‘fanfare’ event. The employee’s achievement, otherwise, will slip by unnoticed and with it the integrity of a company’s reward and recognition programme will be lost.


A presentation of a hard earned incentive of loyalty reward in front of work colleagues, with a certificate to provide a long lasting record of the achievement, a bottle of bubbly and a few choice words of appreciation from a manager, for example, will turn a personal success into a real event that will encourage both a sense of pride in the individual’s role within the company and a sense of community among everyone in the workplace. The public acclamation of both management and colleagues often means as much to the individual as the gift itself. Importantly, the focus is brought onto the individual in a way that also helps in building team spirit and camaraderie too.

Management buy-in to such schemes is essential if employees are going to be enthused by the incentive and motivation programme on offer. It has to be sold to them in the same spirit as the company brand is sold to customers in order to build credibility. Essentially, a programme needs to be packaged and marketed in such a way that appeals directly to staff so that they actually want to take part – a half-hearted attempt is as bad as no attempt at all.   

One off gestures will not have a lasting impact either. Hosting regular award presentations will mean that as many members of staff can be publicly recognised throughout the year as possible. Getting everyone together for a light-hearted gathering at the end of the week, for example, will help to nurture a positive working culture and community that staff are pleased to be a part of. Getting everyone involved is also a great way of humanising the internal hierarchy of a business to demonstrate that every employee, from factory floor to management, is more than just a name and has an important role within the company.

In real terms ’employee engagement’ is all about encouraging employees to proactively drive the business forward for the good of the company as a whole. When staff feel personally rewarded by their efforts and benefit from the opportunities that are created they will be engaged enough to want success. This not only plays a key roll in staff retention but also helps to maximise productivity on an ongoing basis. In contrast, high staff turnover and absenteeism can only be seen as a measure of poor motivation for which the results, quite simply, have a profoundly negative effect at the bottom line.  


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