Where are all the highly engaged employees?

Are you aware that at any given time, 55% of employees are looking for other jobs? What’s more, the average company annually loses 20% – 50% of its employees, according to HighGround.

eve ash

Source: HighGround

What a poor reflection on staff retention this demonstrates, despite the very real life and money insecurities many people are experiencing out there. Many recruitment ads specify passion and agility yet seldom suggest anything worthwhile about the company that’s advertising the role. Where is the two-way street?

For a motivated talented employee, such ads clearly spell ‘one-way street’ – they contribute all the enthusiasm, energy and hard work, while the employer basks in the deliverables.

A decent pay-packet will ameliorate certain disappointments, but you can be sure ‘gun hires’ will have one eye on what else will be out there, and will depart as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Many employees usually know within a week whether they want to stick around. 

How do lower turnover companies engage employees?

It seems hard to believe in this disruptive economy that there are indeed lower turnover companies. They may or may not be flashy up-to-the-minute work environments with compelling online presences, but they possess intangibles that make them mighty good places to work for.

They know that if staff are highly engaged (i.e. they love what they’re doing and deliver thoroughly and well), then they’re certainly not wanting to jump ship.

Put simply, their work is valued, they enjoy their colleagues (most of the time), and their contribution to projects is making a difference, somehow, somewhere.

Quick assessment of culture – engaging?

Timeliness and team size make an impact. Most employees look for:

  • A pleasant buzz about the place;
  • Polite, considerate and friendly co-workers;
  • Opportunities to grow, not oxygen thieves getting all the limelight;
  • Managers who are good role models, practising what they preach;
  • The “loyalty” programs are attractive, not meaningless and corny; and
  • A good “feel” – not too vast and impersonal, which can cause a good third to consider going somewhere smaller.

All shapes and sizes – give them a chance to shine

Companies need to recruit well to retain well. That means not being intimidated by the mature “overqualified” candidate or for that matter, the kid genius who looks as though they’ll outgrow the place within an instant. Think about it – why else are they presenting themselves for selection? Because they need the position and your company / the role looks interesting.

Not everyone is beguiled by an abundance of exposed wooden beams, pot plants and hot-desking colleagues with torn jeans. Some just want to get on with a role that tests their abilities and extends their skills.

Give everyone a chance to shine in an environment that values their contribution (financially, logistically and cooperatively) and they will want to hang in with you. End result: your company has low turnover but high engagement.

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here.


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Jerome Fandor
Jerome Fandor
5 years ago

Oh please Ash what a load of tripe. Who has the time to do all this. I am too busy as an employer avoiding being sued for unfair dismissal. It is you and your ilk who have planted the seed of expectation with almost every employee. Its all about them! The 50% who are always leaving couldn’t give a toss about the sorts of things you bang on about.
Regardless of what they get they are always going to leave so don’t waste your time.
If you want employees to stay keep it simple and only employ the plain Jane’s. The pretty young things are always on the look out and will lie and cheat to get where they want-only to find they can’t do the job anyway.
The plain Janes stick around because they cannot move positions so easily.

Trevor G Smith
Trevor G Smith
5 years ago
Reply to  Jerome Fandor

Who in their right mind would want to work for someone as openly hostile as you? Bitter, twisted and a serial whinger. If you find running a small business so irksome, shut up shop and join the entitled employees.