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February 19, 2014 / Brad Squibb

Employee engagement: Are you spending as much to retain employees as you are to recruit them?

Invest in employee engagement

From hiring recruiters to advertising, to creating top-notch onboarding programs, it’s no secret that companies spend millions of dollars a year to attract top talent. The problem for many organizations is the investment stops there – meaning far fewer funds are allotted to retention efforts after employees are hired.

“It is quite amazing that companies often invest so much in recruiting top talent and then once they have the talent, fail to budget and develop and execute programs to grow and retain them,” says Stan Kimer, president of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer. “Also, it is very interesting that financial execs especially spend so much time focusing on protecting cash, inventory turns, investments in buildings, etc., when people costs are often the highest expenditure in their companies! And they do very little to leverage or protect this large investment.”

No one argues it’s important to invest in attracting talent, but it should be equally as important to retain the quality employees you do have. There are numerous strategies to boost loyalty, increase job satisfaction and retain your employees.

Career development initiatives
Great employees always want to grow professionally and good companies should support this desire. “Not only do employees gain and improve skills, but the company sends a very powerful message – we value you and what you bring to the workplace – so much so that we’re willing to invest in you to our mutual benefit,” says Merge Gupta-Sunderji, a leadership and workplace communication expert.

Leadership training
Looking at long-term employee retention and development, leadership training should be made a priority. Keep in mind employees often lack engagement due to poor management within an organization – help build strong leaders to strengthen your company overall by adopting a leadership training program.

Effective communication
Open communication can be a winning strategy for engaging employees and making them feel valued. Solicit feedback from employees, encourage an open door policy, conduct an annual company survey and use the results to create an action plan afterward.

Work areas
Comfortable work areas, including leading technology, encourage productivity and help employees stay productive and happy. “Employees view their work environment as an extension of the level of care by their leaders,” says Gupta-Sunderji. “So poor temperature-controlled spaces or work areas that appear to be in bad condition create negative attitudes in the minds of employees.”

Rewards and recognition
Employees who go above and beyond should be recognized for their extra efforts. Managers should make it a point to personally thank hard-working employees and make sure they are recognized. Incentives beyond salary – whether a bonus or extra perk – are always appreciated and keep employees satisfied and hungry to work hard again in the future.

Flexibility and value-add initiatives
Going the extra mile to give employees opportunities to live healthier and improve their work/life balance can be great for retaining top talent. Extras like wellness programs and the opportunity to have a flexible work arrangement can really make your organization an attractive place to work long term.

What investments do you make in your employee’s engagement? Where do you see the biggest bang for you buck?