Initiatives built around these could help curtail a potential mass exodus of employees, emboldened by the positive economic outlook. For the past few years, employee engagement has been cited as THE key strategic priority for organisations. It is a topic that has elicited a lot of discussion, with senior leaders, Human Resource professionals, and even the government is now espousing the importance of engaging the workforce.

This exponential growth in interest could be said to be the result of the vast swathes of evidence highlighting the benefits of engagement. The research shows that employees who are engaged tend to be more productive, proactive, and likely to stay at the organisation. In fact, studies have demonstrated that organisations with more engaged employees report greater revenue growth, profitability and customer satisfaction.

During the recession many organisations have needed to do more with less. Their very survival has rested in the hands of employees who are motivated and focused. Therefore senior leaders became more aware of the importance of employee engagement and the difficulty in maintaining it. As the internet was bursting at the seams with evidence for engagement’s organisational benefits, any potential ambassadors of the engagement cause were armed with the tools to persuade the unconverted and sceptical. This therefore turned a topic perceived by some as a bit soft and not something to be concerned by into a top priority for some organisations.

In 2014 the financial outlook for the UK is very different to what it once was. The economic fog seems to be subsiding. A recent Reuters poll of economists report that Britain's economy will be the fastest growing amongst the group of seven major industrialised nations. This is fantastic news for many organisations; however, this may have huge negative implications for employee retention and may spark a global talent exodus.

The economic crisis ensured that many talented employees stayed at their organisation as they felt leaving would be very risky. Now the shackles of economic uncertainty are no longer present, many of the talented employees who were critical to the organisation’s success or even survival, may now see this as their moment to leave. This is especially an issue for organisations who haven’t embraced engagement as a key issue or implemented initiatives that don’t work.

A key pitfall of many organisations is thinking events like days out, picnics and parties are the key to enhancing engagement. Despite being fun, these activities tend to be expensive and have effects that are unsustainable. Only a true change in their daily work experience will make employees feel emotionally connected to their organisation and elicit the behaviours that you are looking for.

To understand what the most effective real changes to the work environment are, we have carried out research with employees from over 100 organisations to identify what drivers lead to the greatest impact on employee engagement. If you apply these strategies they will enhance engagement and will hopefully curtail a potential mass exodus of your top talent.

  • Interesting work: provide employees with variety in their work that they find interesting and challenges them.
  • Leadership they believe in: provide employees with a clear vision of the future and be transparent.
  • Autonomy in their role: provide employees with the chance to deliver and organise their work as they wish.

If you implement these very simple strategies you will help ensure you retain your talent and be ready to make 2014 a real success.

Reuters reference: