6 Crucial factors for employee engagement & retention




Time and time again businesses and managers ask me what to do to engage employees.

Why does an employee that has been loyal and productive for years suddenly leaves without even looking back?

Maybe we are not hiring the right people?

What are the best strategies to improve retention?


For years, my response has been in alignment with studies and best practices:

  • Work Flexibility

  • Employee Recognition

  • Opportunities to grow and develop

  • Work-life balance

  • The right Management & Leadership styles

  • Training


I'm not saying that this was not right, all I'm saying is that the implementation of these strategies, cannot be uniformed. One Size, does not fit all...


My response today is STOP asking others and START asking the employee.


The number# 1 reason for employee resignation is: "LACK OF COMMUNICATION WITH EMPLOYEES"

So let's see how the implementation of these strategies look like with employees' input


1. Work Flexibility

Focused on trends: A company decides to increase the working hours by 1 hour every day so that employees can leave work early on Friday. Nice, right? If only James who is a new father could convince the day care to remain open one more hour...


Focused on the employee: A supervisor notices that James declines meetings after 4pm even though the working schedule ends at 5pm. He asks James the reason and finds out that he has to cross town and pick up his son from the day care before 5pm. The supervisor asks James how can a flexible working schedule could help him and designs few optional working schedules that will allow the team to still work together and achieve goals. James is happy to choose a schedule that better fits his needs. He feels empowered, appreciated, and heard.


2. Employee Recognition

Focused on trends: A company decides to provide a yearly bonus based on performance. Nice, right? If only Anouska had previously agreed with his boss on performance objectives or had received any feedback throughout the year...


Focused on the employee: A supervisor notices that Anouska comes to work every day on time, with a lot of energy. However, non of the work she produces is what the supervisor is expecting. He decides to talk to Anouska about her job, her understanding about her duties and how she plans to achieve her targets. Anouska is happy that she was asked because she had no idea what the objectives were. The previous supervisor never gave her any feedback or set clear objectives. The new supervisor sets clear goals, explains the criteria to evaluate them, and gives her regular feedback. This boosts Anouska's motivation. She feels appreciated, valued and eager to learn more.


3. Opportunities to grow and develop

Focused on trends: A company decides to promote Andrés from the field to an office position as Manager. His field experience is going to help the company to better select high potential engineers. Nice, right? Andrés is happy about the salary upgrade but every time he goes offshore he overextends his stay. He misses the hands-on work...


Focused on the employee: A supervisor notices that Andrés has a very good eye in selecting successful crew members. He is passionate about working on the rig and he always improves the processes and systems. He speaks with Andrés about his career plans and explores options. Andrés is happy to support the recruitment panel once a month, while he plans to join the Quality department which includes regular time on the rig, at the same time that further learns to develop & evaluate new processes.


4. Work-life balance

Focused on trends: A company decides to have a daycare centre in the workplace. Nice, right? Only 20% of the workforce have children in daycare ages...


Focused on the employee: Only Anna and Patricia have kids under 3 years old. Mathias is taking care of his dependent father. Natalia is studying for her master's degree. Roland attends yoga classes to help him cope with stress levels. Their supervisor would like to support all of them but the budget is tight. He decides to allocate an amount per employee to support different work-life initiatives, create a policy to regulate its eligibility & usage, and allow employees to choose.


5. The right Management & Leadership styles


Focused on trends: A company based in Germany has subsidiaries around the world. They open a new division in Sweden and send a manager that knows headquarters policies, procedures and management approach. This will help to standardise approaches and develop a company culture, right? 3 employees have left the department during the first month of his incorporation. 1 Spanish, 1 Italian and 1 Dutch.


Focused on the employee: A company based in Germany is opening a new subsidiary in Sweden. The due diligence on the subsidiary showed a diverse workforce. Therefore, they select an experienced manager capable of adapting his management style. The manager spends time with each of his team members to understand their roles, objectives and their expectations from management. He sets clear objectives allowing input, explains his expectations from the team, asks for input on how each member can contribute to the common goals, and what do they need to achieve them.


6. Training

Focused on trends: A company offers employees a library of training courses on the soft-skills that the business requires, for free. Nice, right? Nancy is a Business Unit Manager for IT. Competitors are way ahead because they have obtained their CCNP Cisco certification and she has not even obtained the CCNA. She is looking for a new job.


Focused on the employee: Nancy has a performance evaluation session with her manager. This session covers the set up of business objectives as well as personal objectives. Nancy shares her career goals and her desire to start developing her networking skills in order to stay abreast with competitors. They both explore the options and select the right certification course. There are certain requirements for the company to sponsor further education (past performance, no discipline issues, commitment to stay 6 to 12 months or pay back the cost), but with that certification Nancy is glad to continue her growth in the company.

7. Bonus: "Ask candidates about their work preferences BEFORE you employ them"

It is very good to engage with employees, but it is even better to attract the right employee in the first place and make sure they are a good "value and cultural fit" for your company.

Make sure you ask candidates what are their expectations, before you even share what the company can offer them.


Once they sign up for your company, ensure that communications ways "are" and "stay" open. Identify communication barriers and implement communication supporting structures/systems.


But first and foremost "Be honest" with your business and your candidates.

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