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Employee success is the single most important factor behind a great employee experience. That’s why millions of American workers have left their jobs, fueling The Great Resignation of 2021. In this installment of our employee retention series, we’ll walk you through how to drive employee retention using continuous employee success practices– the newer, more effective form of performance management.
Employees leaving? Check out the other pieces in our employee retention series:
- 9 Employee Retention Strategies to Retain Top Talent
- 10 Strategies to Retain Diverse Talent (DE&I)
- The Manager’s Role in the Great Resignation
- Need to Keep Employees From Quitting? Start Recognizing Them
- 20 Ways to Boost Employee Morale and Prevent Burnout
- The Employee Experience that Cuts Quit Rate in Half
When asked what they value most in a work environment, employees report they most highly prioritize the following:
- A sense of purpose in their work
- Feelings of belonging or connectedness
- Appreciation from their managers and executives
- Whole person care
- A thriving company culture
- The clear possibility of professional growth
But executing those ideas can feel overwhelming at first. Where do you even begin?
We’ve identified four key areas of a successful employee experience. These are necessary for your people to be aligned and inspired. We’ll do a quick flyover, then explain how to support them with continuous employee success.
Here are four key areas you can build on; they’re proven to boost employee engagement, sharpen performance, improve job satisfaction, and ultimately reduce turnover rates.
(We’ve covered these in-depth in our past talent retention articles, so we’ll stay pretty brief here. For more explanation, check out those pieces along with our Employee Experience Manifesto.)
People want to feel connected to their peers, managers, and the mission and values of the organization. 93% of employees say connection matters to them. The problem is, more than half say it’s not important enough to their employers.
83% of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their leader recognizes them. And the proof is in the quitting. The top two reasons cited for leaving during The Great Resignation are: 1) feeling undervalued by management (52%), and 2) feeling undervalued by an organization (54%).
People can’t thrive without an understanding of what success looks like in their role. Unfortunately, roughly half of employees surveyed by Gallup report that they’re not clear on what’s expected of them at work. And when that happens, engagement plummets.
A survey by Randstad reveals that many people leave their jobs due to a lack of access to growth and career advancement. A whopping 58% report that their current organization doesn’t offer enough growth opportunities to make them want to stay.
No doubt about it: Each key area has a clear tie to retention. And your employee success practices should bolster all four of the employee experience key areas. But just as your recognition and rewards program has a special impact on connection and appreciation, your continuous employee success process is particularly necessary for alignment and growth.
How continuous employee success supports employees’ need to perform
The employee experience key area we call “align” refers to employees knowing what the expectations are for their work, and having the support and resources to fulfill them. This starts with strong, continuous performance conversations. It means having regular one-on-one Sync-Ups between managers and employees to clarify questions, strategize around blockers, clearly define personal goals, tie them to team and organizational goals, and form a strong, continuous coaching relationship..
It works. Regularly reviewing accomplishments and impact with a manager makes employees 3x more likely to stay at their job. And 72% say an awareness of that impact helps them deliver a better customer experience
How employee success practices support employees’ need to grow
Top performers want to grow into the best version of themselves, rather than become stagnant. Continuous employee success practices help people learn from timely feedback, discern their unique strengths, and build new skills quickly. It helps managers keep their finger on the pulse of team members’ interests, competencies, and aspirations.
As a result, managers who collaborate with their team to set challenging professional development goals are more likely to see them stay in their jobs.
And the numbers line up: 93% say they’d be willing to stay longer if their employer invested in development opportunities.
Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. Here are the 6 continuous employee success techniques your organization must employ to drive retention.
1. Regular 1-on-1 Sync-Up conversations
When managers prioritize relationships, their team members’ experience an increased sense of belonging, connection, and psychological safety.
Regularly scheduled Sync-Ups allow for:
- Catching up on personal life
- Reviewing individual and team goals
- Realigning with organizational values
- Offering accountability for current project progress
- Troubleshooting challenges
- Keeping open communication about career ambitions
- Extending opportunities for growth
They also critically shift the manager-employee relationship. The manager becomes a partner, rather than j an enforcer who merely makes sure the work gets done.
Ideally, your managers should be having 1-on-1 Sync-Up conversations with their team members weekly. If this is new for your organization or to a particular manager, check out our Ultimate Guide to Effective 1-on-1s for Managers. This guide walks leaders through what to do before, during, and after the 1-on-1, including key steps and sample questions. Our Goals & Feedback solution makes facilitating Sync-Ups easy with reminders about upcoming conversations, a shared meeting agenda, and space for notes and recording follow-up items.
2. Check-Ins (aka quarterly performance reviews)
Gone are the days of annual performance reviews. The old system actively harmed the bond between managers and team members by failing to provide timely, actionable insights. As a result, it often crushed morale. Instead, quarterly Check-Ins build on the foundation established through more frequent Sync-Ups.
With Check-Ins, managers deepen the conversation about good performance markers, new skill development, productivity, personal reflection, well-being, team dynamics, future options, and more. Rather than waiting until the end of the year, team members s engage in a conversation that mirrors their recent experiences, and problems can be addressed while they’re still small. That’s why shifting to a continuous performance review process is tied to a 40% drop in employee turnover.
Still skeptical? Check out the case in the article Annual Performance Reviews Don’t Work: Here’s What to Do Instead.
When employees receive real-time feedback, there’s a 400% increase in work quality. The key here is real-time. It’s simple, but delivering guidance while the person can still do something about it transforms constructive feedback from a belated blame game and into an actionable, and inspiring, growth opportunity.
It’s also best for feedback to be:
- As specific as possible
- Constructive, particularly regarding the impact of the behavior (i.e. “When you did X, Y was the result”)
- Well-intentioned (never treat feedback like a blame game or dumping ground)
- Multidirectional (including peer-to-peer, employee-to-manager, and so on)
4. Recognition & Rewards
Feedback matters. But when it’s all constructive, you’re missing the point. After all, the #1 reason people leave their jobs is a lack of recognition. Real-time positive feedback, or recognition, builds morale, connection, and the sense of meaningful impact. Which is to say, recognition is worth its weight in gold.
The options are endless for honoring high performance and great attitudes. Think a simple thank-you in the hallway, a high-five on the shared recognition feed (accessible in WorkTango’s Recognition & Rewards solution), a shout-out on social media. What’s important is that praise is timely, genuine, specific, and offered in a way that’s most meaningful to the person. Some individuals love their praise broadcasted, while others would prefer a hand-written note. Building a great employee experience includes options for everybody.
Learn more about the link between employee retention and recognition in our article, Need to Keep Employees From Quitting? Start Recognizing Them.
Nearly 3 out of 4 of employees whose managers help them set goals report they’re actively engaged at work. That’s almost double the national average of engaged employees.
Goals should be visible company-wide, clearly aligned from top-to-bottom, and set collaboratively with clear indicators for success. Regular Check-Ins and 1-on 1 Sync-Ups support the goal setting process by providing accountability and affirmation. Having a Goals & Feedback solution keeps the whole chain of individual, team, and organizational goals front and center for every person.
6. Incentives and gamification
Incentives are what brings everything together. The big picture? Employees earn rewards points in the Recognition & Rewards portion of your Employee Experience Platform for engaging in actions that drive your organization’s goals forward. This includes completing safety training, acting as an onboarding buddy for a new hire, completing employee surveys, or even exercising.
More integrally, you can use Incentives and other gamification tactics to support your existing employee success initiatives. Incentivize employees setting and meeting goals, participating in Sync-Ups, completing self-evaluations, and more.
Need an example? Check out our story on how Elderwood incentivized its eldercare employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Continuous employee success
While “The Great Resignation” continues, it’s important to remember this doesn’t have to be a losing game. It also gives you an opportunity. The organizations that invest in employee experience initiatives today will be those that attract and retain top talent tomorrow. And if you’d like our help, let’s talk.
At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only holistic Employee Experience Platform built for the modern workplace that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback.
WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. To learn more, check out our platform overview video, or schedule a demo.