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Commit. Engage. Excel. Keeping and Engaging Your Talent.

Commit Engage ExecuteTalentKeepers just released its 2013 Talent Engagement and Retention Trends Survey Report which is now the largest and longest running study of its kind.  This year’s research signals another shift in nearly every aspect of how organizations manage human resources is underway, and finally this time the shift is signaling a brighter outlook. This optimism shows up in a wide range of measures as organizations gain confidence and take a longer view in planning their talent strategies.

In all, it’s a great, comprehensive report and a valuable read for any human resources and employee engagement leader and practitioner.

What Was Learned

Viewed broadly, the trends are clear. For example, in the four year period from 2010 to 2013:

  • Organizations reporting significant layoffs or employee downsizing dropped from 43% in 2010 to 21% in 2013
  • Urgency in making changes in major business practices declined significantly, and broad changes in business strategy have steadily slowed being replaced with a greater focus on execution
  • Fundamental human resources practices such as compensation and benefits have largely stabilized, with just 18% planning significant changes, down from 31% in 2010.

The study also highlights a more significant trend. Employee engagement and talent retention are becoming more embedded as a core talent management practice and, more importantly, an integral business strategy. For the first time, over 30% of the respondents are operations executives, from sales and service to finance and manufacturing. Sixty-five percent of all organizations now budget for engagement initiatives and another 18% are considering formal budgets for it.

Benchmarking the Best of the Best

This report also includes, for the first time, data for a select group, which represents the top 10% of all organizations that lead the way in commitment, focus and results. This “Best in Class” group keeps their employees engaged in their jobs and create a culture where employees want to stay with them in spite of options elsewhere. As benchmarks, the report highlights the specific strategies and practices that achieve high performance they consistently do well and from which others can learn. Specifically:

  1. dedicating resources;
  2. executing impactful processes;
  3. holding leaders accountable at all levels for energizing their teams and retaining them longer; and
  4. showing proven results.

Executing for Change

Isolating the Best in Class group gives deeper insight beyond just high level “best practices.” Now, we were able to determine an array of strategies and tactics that, when executed systematically, greatly increase the likelihood of achieving the targeted outcomes. There is synergy among particular strategies that warrants close attention when planning your next steps.

In all, there are seven strategies and tactics that can be learned from the Best in Class. Some we’ve seen before, for example, actively involving senior leadership or effectively sizing the problem. One of my biggest challenges for this year is to align my efforts with business practices not only through strategy but through data, so it’s nice to see metrics appear in the list of best practices. You can read the full report to see the entire list of seven practices, but below are my personal top three:

  1. Work from Data through internal metrics and well-designed employee surveys which yield highly valuable data and make sense for your organization and culture, and will resonate with executives in your company; hold stakeholders accountable for improving key engagement metrics just as you do sales, service and productivity metrics
  2. Link Engagement and Retention Metrics to Business Results to build sustainability and to negotiate for resources; recruit accounting or other internal support teams to develop a small number of metrics that everyone can agree on
  3. Focus on High-Impact Areas including onboarding, job/career discussions, strong relationships with leaders and co-workers

The Ultimate Goal: Sustainability

The most important lesson we can learn from the Best in Class has less to do with selecting strategies and everything to do with systematic, sustained execution over time. This is the hard part. Building and strengthening an engaged culture where retention is the norm is a process that requires a well-grounded foundation and continuous reinforcement over time. Meaningful cost savings and performance gains require vision and tenacity. And those attributes will take you well down the road to best in class results.

TalentKeepers® offers proven, award-winning employee engagement and retention solutions that span the employee performance continuum. From igniting engagement during on-boarding and creating an energized culture that promotes high performance, to comprehensive employee and leader survey and development tools, they specialize in creating a thriving culture built on mutual trust and collaboration.

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