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Making steps to improve employee retention is very important across all Pharma and Life Sciences when it comes to keeping current staff, maintaining a good level of productivity and reducing turnover. The retention rate of any business directly determines its employee turnover and replacement needs, as well as effecting things like morale, culture and productivity.

Effective employee strategies incorporate a wide range of processes that make a company a desirable place to work, which enables them to both attract and retain talented candidates.­­­­

Employees can leave or resign because they feel that their employers do not have a supportive workplace culture or they feel a sense of detachment. Feelings like these existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic but cultural changes and home working can serve to further highlight existing issues.

What can I do to improve my staff retention?

A company’s employee retention improves when:

  • Employees know they will be recognised and appreciated for their contributions
  • Employees see opportunities for professional growth and career development
  • Employees understand when change within the business happens and why

All of these factors help to make employees feel engaged by establishing a trust between the workforce and the employer.

It is a widely accepted fact that Employee Engagement can be an important tool to utilise when improving staff retention and it has been positively linked to many aspects we most associate with measuring success.

Highly engaged employees:

  • Are self-motivated
  • Have a clear understanding of their roles
  • Recognise the significance of their contribution
  • Focus on future training and development
  • Feel that they belong to the community—that is, the organization

Highly engaged employees lead to:

  • Better profitability and productivity for businesses
  • Higher sales/growth
  • Increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and engagement

According to Gallup’s 2020 study on employee engagement and performance, teams with higher employee engagement saw both a reduction in negative outcomes—like turnover and absenteeism—and a big lift in organisational success. Results showed businesses with high employee engagement experienced 23% higher profitability, 18% more sales productivity and 10% better customer loyalty.

 So, what are the 9 key elements to improving Employee Engagement?

1.    Onboarding

The purpose of onboarding is to provide everything a new hire needs to help them settle into a team and to understand their role in their first few weeks. A strong onboarding strategy is crucial when it comes to retaining good staff and providing an engaging culture because it helps people to feel accepted and welcomed.

Research shows that employees who experienced effective onboarding were:

  • 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organisation
  • 30% more likely to feel strongly integrated into their workplace culture
  • 30 times more likely to have high job satisfaction

Key steps in the onboarding process include:

  • Communicating with the new employee before their first day and
  • Helping them learn about your organization and get acquainted with their workspace and co-workers
  • Providing clear expectations about work responsibilities
  • Providing all the resources they’ll need to do their job
  • Clear comms to show how they can get any questions or queries answered


2.    Encouragement

Employees’ engagement and intention to stay with their current company is dramatically higher for employees who agree that their managers care about their wellbeing. Therefore, it is important for managers to understand what motivates their team and to make sure there are strategies in place to encourage them to reach and achieve their goals.

Leaders who struggle to motivate often fail to see the link between Employee Engagement and motivation. With no engagement, employees lack motivation and this effects their ability to perform at their best. When employees lack motivation, they become disengaged and unproductive. Encouraging employees tackles motivation issues by assessing and adjusting the employee experience and increasing engagement. 

Practical ways to offer encouragement to employees in the workplace are as follows:

  • Have one-to-ones with employees and plan individual long-term goals
  • Offer opportunities for training and development where possible
  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Be flexible – be open to different personalities and different work styles
  • Allow employees to take ownership of their work
  • Ask open questions and gain insight before making demands 

3.    Recognition

Employee recognition has never mattered more than in today’s workplace. Employees want to feel valued—especially in the context of remote working. When they don’t, it can cause them to become disengaged, unproductive or result in them wanting to leave a role altogether.

According to a survey by OnePoll, almost half of workers (46%) left a job because they felt unappreciated. Another 65% of respondents said they would work harder if they felt like their contributions were noticed by management. However, 65% of those surveyed felt they would remain in a position with an unappreciative boss if their co-workers appreciated their work which shows that it’s not just gratitude from managers that makes a difference.

Ideas for improving colleague recognition can include:

  • Bonus schemes
  • Verbal praise
  • Reward and performance schemes
  • Company awards or monthly
  • Staff newsletters and circulation ‘shout outs’

4.    Communication

Effective internal communication develops trust within an organisation and significantly impacts employee engagement, organisational culture and productivity. 

An effective approach to internal communication needs to be cohesive and strategic and should draw on a range of digital channels and tools so that it is accessible for everyone.

There are many benefits that come with successful communication:

  • A shared sense of purpose which is aligned to organisational strategy
  • Individuals feel listened to and valued.
  • Improves and encourages openness and the sharing of information
  • Drives genuine dialogue
  • Leads to good people management
  • Improves people skill and an understanding of others within the business
  • Creates a trusting and psychologically safe environment
  • Builds rapport and relationship


5.    Transparency

Keeping employees in the loop when it comes to business changes and decisions promotes trust and in turn encourages loyalty within a workplace. Organisations that are secretive and divulge information on a “need-to-know” basis cause lower engagement rates among employees.

When employees understand how corporate decisions will affect the workplace or how they should deal with situations, a trust is formed and they feel included and valued.

Transparency should be encouraged to allow employees to share concerns without judgement.

An open and transparent culture can be created by using the following strategies:

  • Encouraging an open door managerial policy
  • Creating clear lines of communication and encouraging openness
  • Making it understood that no question is a stupid question
  • Having regular meetings where company updates are shared
  • Creating employee portals or resources to send announcements or updates


6.    Investment

On average, a worker will spend a third of their lives at work - employees in any business are investing a significant portion of their lives into their employer. With this in mind, it makes sense to invest in your employees in return. Improving employee retention through increased workplace engagement benefits both the employee and the business in the long term. To invest in employee well-being is to invest in a company.

There are many different ways that employers can invest in their team:

  • Invest in personal and professional development
  • Invest in team building and social activities
  • Offer opportunities to take part in training/qualifications
  • Invest in employee health and wellbeing
  • Prioritise a work/life balance 


7.    Feedback

Feedback from employees is a primary driver of Employee Engagement. It is a tool that is hugely beneficial to both employee productivity and business practice – adding measurable value to both sides. Tangible business value is given to those who collect, analyse, and act on this feedback in an effective way – and it makes workers happy too.

An employee Zippia study found that:

  • 85% take more initiative when they receive feedback in the workplace
  • 73% collaborate more effectively when they receive feedback in the workplace
  • 48% care more about their work when they receive feedback in the workplace

 Creating instances where feedback can be given and received has the following benefits:

  • Provides informal recognition opportunities
  • Shows commitment to other employees’ growth and long-term careers
  • Helps create a candid, authentic company culture
  • Boosts employee motivation and productivity

Feedback shouldn’t just apply to current employees either. There are plenty of lessons to be learnt from speaking to past employees as well as those who have handed in their notice before moving on to a new role. Exit interviews are a great opportunity to help managers to understand why employees have decided to leave.

This information can be used to make changes in the employee experience to motivate employees moving forward. Feedback from current and former workers can be a great insight into creating improvements, ideally with the assistance of an experience platform that can isolate actionable insights from unstructured feedback.

 Good Exit Interview questions to ask are:

  • What were the reasons you began to look at alternative roles?
  • Did you feel like you manager was supportive during your time with us?
  • What was the best thing and worst thing about your role?
  • Do you feel your achievements were recognised during your time with us?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how we, as a business, could improve?
  • Is there anything that could have changed your mind about leaving?

There is more useful information about executing successful exit interviews here 

8.    Flexibility

In a job-rich market, candidates are looking for job offers which are not only favourable in terms of pay but also in terms of benefits, support and flexibility to help them achieve a good work/life balance.

Flexibility and freedom are important both for increasing employee satisfaction and reducing employee turnover. Offering flexibility in the workplace is to give some (or full) freedom to employees so that they can responsibly choose the time, location and manner in which they work. This shows a level of trust to employees and helps align organisation goals with individual needs.

Work flexibility shows a level of empathy and faith towards employees, providing them with options and alternatives to help them meet the demands of both professional and personal lives. This not only boosts employee satisfaction, but also results in happier and more productive workers.

Stats show that 78% of the employees feel their productivity increase when work arrangements are flexible. And 77% consider flexible work arrangements a major consideration while applying for and evaluating job opportunities.

There are many examples of flexible working. Here are some examples worthy of consideration:

  • Compressed week
  • Flexible year
  • Flex time
  • Results-only work environment
  • Job sharing
  • Unlimited vacation
  • Reduced hours


9.    Culture

Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterise an organisation. These are the foundation of any company and how people perceive a culture speak volumes about how employees feel about working within it. Organisations can have the right strategy and best intentions but if their culture does not support them, it can do more harm than good.  Culture and actions must align with the strategy to be successful.

Culture is also directly linked to staff retention - according to a study from global staffing firm Robert Half, 35% of workers would turn down the perfect job if they didn’t feel it was the right culture fit. 

 According to a recent survey from Jobvite, nearly 40% of workers ranked company culture as “very important.” Therefore, investing in company culture has a variety of long-term and short-term benefits.

A healthy and well-balanced culture should incorporate the key elements that we have discussed in this article:

  • A safe, supportive environment that offers teamwork and collaboration
  • Recognition and rewards for employee accomplishments, successes, and contributions
  • Alignment between company language, values, and actions
  • Workplace flexibility and healthy work-life balance for employees
  • Opportunities for professional growth, training and development
  • Strong and considered employee benefits/packages
  • A sense of trust
  • Transparency and accountability between employees and the management team
  • Compassion and respect for all employees 
  • A diverse and inclusive workforce 

At Carrot Recruitment, we are passionate about client and candidate experience, and this is the backbone of everything we do. We hope you found this article helpful. If you are looking to grow your team or need to speak to us about our staffing solutions, please get in touch. We offer a range of permanent and contract recruitment services and can adapt our approach easily to fit with your resourcing requirements.

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