7301111312_491815bfdaIn this time of major workforce transition, climbing turnover rates and dismal engagement numbers, it is vital for leaders to keep a pulse on these trends. There is so much advice, countless opinions and thousands of surveys out there to tell leaders how to increase engagement and retention in their workforce. Good old Gallup has boiled it down to a just a couple of retention boosting factors that translate across all three major generations in the workforce today –Millennials, Generation Xers and the Baby Boomers.

I’m well aware that there are currently four generations in the workforce, but with traditionalist showing such consistently high engagement rates, coupled with the fact that they make up a mere 4% of the workforce, we can leave those satisfied few out of this one.

Drumroll please….Gallup’s research shows that:

#1 Focusing on giving employees opportunities to do what they do best is one of the strongest factors for boosting retention.

Everyone wants to be good at what they do, whether management believe (or facilitates) that or not, it’s true. Quite often, workers are pigeon holed into their very specific roles so that management can set and forget their position. You don’t have to make huge changes in your office to let workers discover or prove their skills. Try a few of these tactics from management expert and Inc. contributor, Harvey MacKay:

  • Ask employees to rate their own performance and explain what areas they are especially interested in developing.
  • The employees who share innovative ideas may also be the folks who have some hidden talents that would help incorporate their suggestions. Reward the best ideas, and recognize them publicly so that others will be encouraged to share their skills.
  • When a new project comes along, instead of just making assignments, invite employees to step up and take on the tasks that suit their interests and skills.

When leadership loosens the reigns and uses power to empower, it can be pretty amazing what happens next. MacKay uses the example of the viral video of one very special Southwest flight attendant who used her personality and skills to find a unique and fun way to get passengers to listen to the announcements.

#2 Helping them connect to the mission and purpose of their company is another of the strongest factors for boosting retention.

So you’ve got a mushy mission statement on your homepage, big whoop. That in no way facilitates your workers actually making the connection between their own professional goals and those of the organization as a whole. The average is that about 60% of employees can’t define the company’s goals, tactics, strategies or values. CEO of OpenX, Tim Cadogan wrote a great piece for LinkedIn about his own journey defining and implementing company values. Cadogan said:

“Values are one of those things that can sound soft and squishy, especially in the context of a company. The reality – I have found – is actually quite the opposite. They form the most solid bedrock of any group or organization and really matter to the individuals.”

There is quite obviously a lot more to creating and fostering a workplace that encourages retention and engagement, but you have to start somewhere right? Any genuine initiative that you make will make a difference by either directly improving your workers’ experiences, or by proving their worth to the organization through your efforts. Start somewhere; whether it is at the macro or micro levels of engagement, it’s time.

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