Employers: Ready, Set, Engage!

With U.S. employers competing for top talent in industries such as software, biotech and other highly competitive industries, retaining and engaging current employees is mission critical in today’s growing global talent market. As companies promote aggressive recruiting strategies, retaining and cultivating the talent that already exists is an equally essential endeavor.

With a known talent shortage in the U.S. in some industries, prioritizing the value of current employees makes great sense to the bottom line. When a candidate becomes dissatisfied with their current work environment, they are far more open to new opportunities: recruiters look for this open door. Hiring and training new employees, regardless of the industry, is far less cost effective than keeping current employees engaged and happy. In today’s market, 71% of U.S. employees feel they are “not engaged” at work, and 29% of employees feel they are actively “disengaged” (Gallup International 2011). With so many low cost and no cost ways to effectively engage employees and improve retention, why not spend more time building loyalty and stability in your existing team?

A recent report published by Deloitte indicates that key global players, including Australia and Canada, are stepping up their game by improving competitive immigration policies to take advantage of skills developed in other countries. Deloitte’s recommendations to address the lack of highly needed skill sets in the U.S., includes lightening up on licensing standards, while expanding technical and vocational training programs (as well as apprenticeships), to create alternative pathways to developing highly specialized skills.

Imagine an enormous ship sitting just 12 miles off the shore of California; although this looks like a cruise ship, there is no recreational agenda. The cabins are offices and the guests drop in to build businesses. Although this ship does not yet exist, the concept is the brain child of Blueseed, a company founded by a young entrepreneur, designed to offset restrictive U.S. immigration laws and to build new businesses, while reaping the benefits of new jobs.

On the local scene, Seattle recently witnessed the departure of Sarepta Therapeutics (formerly AVI Biopharma). Although the biotech industry is establishing a strong foothold in the area, Sarepta opted to move to Boston because the company wasn’t finding enough of the skill sets it needed in the Seattle area to execute on its strategy.

If you have a business with specific talent demands what does this mean to you? From a recruiting perspective, we know that landing good talent requires multiple approaches, a strong story, and impeccable timing, particularly if you own a small or mid-market sized business requiring the same niche talent that large corporations aggressively pursue. If a recruiter approaches a passive candidate with strong skill sets, the candidate has to have the motivation and appropriate incentives to consider the move (and the risk) to take on a new role.

The purpose of employee engagement is to build a culture of committed and loyal individuals who want to give more than what is required (and who are less likely to move to a competitor when approached by recruiters!). Below are some tips designed to help build awareness and improve employee engagement, regardless of the industry:

  1. Make sure your company has a clearly communicated mission, vision, and strategy. A sense of purpose drives employee engagement.
  2. Execute transparent communication; employees should have a connection to how the company is doing financially and how objectives are being accomplished; this creates a sense of “buy-in” and helps employees feel their work has a direct impact.
  3. Build a strong team; your Human Resources partner can actively develop healthy team dynamics, assist in overcoming minor communication issues that can become far more serious, and promote participation and recognition.
  4. Create a culture of trust. By facilitating an environment where employees feel their voices are heard and thoughts can be shared, a strong sense of community naturally follows.
  5. Recognize employees for what they bring to the table; positive affirmation and acknowledgement is a great no cost way to bolster a sense of loyalty within the team.
  6. And finally-make sure employees know what is expected. By providing the tools, training, and resources to achieve what is expected, employees will reward you with impactful work that benefits the organization as a whole.

If you have suggestions or methods that have been effective in building and retaining a strong team, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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