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The Engagement Game

To say that the cost of employee attrition is extensive is a tremendous understatement. Turnover happens for a variety of reasons, and even so, leaders have an obligation to provide a working environment that encourages your team members to stay. It is all too easy to get distracted by your job responsibilities, and in turn for your employees to get lost in the day-to-day of execution.


Many sites and studies show that the cost of hiring a new employee is over $4,000, and that figure doesn’t necessarily include the hours of recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, or new hire training, not to mention the six to twelve months that it generally takes for an employee to become proficient in their job role. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employee turnover has roller-coastered since 2020 with these being some of the averages by industry in 2023:


  • Construction – 54%

  • Manufacturing – 37%

  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities – 49%

  • Professional and Business Services – 57%

  • Education and Health Services – 39% (kind of surprised this one isn’t higher!)

  • Leisure and Hospitality – 79% (yikes!)


Certainly, some turnover is natural, expected, and necessary. That said, once you have the right person in place, how do you keep them? How do you ensure that all pieces of the workplace puzzle are coming together?


While older generations of employees tend to remain in an organization out of loyalty, younger generations look for companies whose beliefs and purpose aligns with their own. They want to feel valued. They want to feel like they belong. They want to know that they are contributing to something greater than themselves and making a genuine impact on the organization while they do so. Use that desire as an inspiration for aspiration. In what ways can you encourage your current employee to advance departmental or organizational initiatives and know that their contributions are at least listened to, and at most implemented?


Additionally, every employee wants to feel that they are recognized for their accomplishments and acknowledged for their capacity to grow. Provide for both. Find ways to celebrate small wins and big wins. Employe mentorship programs so that your team members can learn from each other. Schedule regular one-to-one meetings, and give each person on your team feedback specific to their individual performance and needs. Doing so lets them know that not only do you notice their skills and contributions, but also that you are invested in their progression. Honor the good stuff, and improve the tough stuff.


Lastly, have some fun. For real . . . lighten up! Enjoy each other. Know each other’s birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or other momentous events. Recognize various holidays across the board and play into the silly ones (May the 4th, anyone?). In other words, get to know each other. What is important to them must be important to you, so pay attention, listen, and get to know more than just the employee. Know the person, allow the person to be themselves, and celebrate every person on your team in whatever way is best for them.


Acknowledge them. Respect them. Listen to them. None of this is to say that you don’t hold them accountable or lower your standards. Positive recognition and critical feedback are both possible in a trusting environment. The more opportunities you give your team to thrive, the more you exhibit faith in their ability, the more you hold them to task in an honest and honorable way . . . the more they will give to you, work hard for you, and be willing to contribute to the larger vision of what is to be.

employee putting together big puzzle pieces


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