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Hire. Retain. Engage.

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In Western Europe only 14% of employees are engaged according to Gallup’s 2013 research. 66% are not engaged, meaning 20% are actually actively disengaged. So employers of all sizes are facing a real struggle, but the problem is often magnified when it comes to startups since they have less money to play with. Addressing the problem comes down to three key areas: hiring, retaining and engaging.

First of all it is essential for every company to ensure they are hiring the right people – people who are a good match with the company. Evaluate candidates against personality, fit, motivations and areas for development. By allowing company culture to guide hiring decisions, hiring will have a long-term view for both company and candidate. Today’s workforce are far less hung up on salary than their predecessors so finding a balance of salary, bonuses, and long-term incentives for new hires is key. 68% of women would rather have more free time than more money, so more often than not benefits trump pay.

A significant part of retaining employees comes down to personal and professional development. Employees under the age of 25 rate professional development as their number one driver of engagement, so it is vital to focus on individual contributions and have a clear development path paved for every employee at every level. This could be training for example. Over two thirds of workers believe it is management’s duty to provide them with training opportunities in order for them to stay – so invest in skills.

By continuously pursuing a growth strategy and communicating the company values, goals and visions, employees will remain engaged. While values define the culture, goals create alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction, but these do have to be revisited and discussed regularly. Ensuring employees who are doing well are being recognised will also increase engagement. Companies with a high recognition culture actually have a 31% lower voluntary turnover that companies with poor recognition.

NASA has very successfully put all of this into practice. During a visit to the NASA space centre back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor working and said to him, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”. The janitor replied “Well, Mr. President, I’m helping to put a man on the moon.” No matter the company, employees should all know the mission and what their role is in getting there, no matter how big or small.

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