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How We Teach Employers to Improve Employee Engagement

As a business owner who happens to be in the corporate talent development industry, we discuss the issues surrounding employee engagement every day. It’s a challenge I face as an employer and it’s a challenge we help our customers solve. Employee engagement is a complex issue, driven by many causes. For example, today employees no longer think of jobs as long term engagements, but instead as a stepping stone to that next great opportunity. Meanwhile, recruiters are continually poaching employees as they’re fighting the corporate “war for talent” every day in our newly improved economy. If as an employer you can’t engage employees, they’ll rotate out quickly, leaving you to spend significant time and cost recruiting replacement talent. So, what can you do?

When we talk to customers, here is how we typically tackle the problem together with them.

1. Diagnose the employee engagement problem.

There are many obvious, immediate reasons for employee disengagement – a tough work environment, a bad manager, compensation. However research has illuminated one consistent underlying reason – one of the top reasons that employees are disengaged is lack of a clear career path and the support to achieve that goal. According to Right Management, a lack of career development opportunities is the #2 reason employees leave, above reasons like leadership, culture, and even compensation.

One of our customers provides the perfect example to illustrate this point. It’s a national hospital network, with several hundred physicians. When physicians first start out, they’re informed it takes seven years to make it to the next level, “associate physician.” However the bosses of these new physicians are busy physicians themselves, juggling practice and research every day, with little time to articulate the path to career success. With new physicians left to figure it out on their own, many end up disengaging over those first few years, and the hospital network is spending more time than they’d like fighting attrition.

2. Create a career development solution for their unique situation.

Not all solutions are one-size fits all. While a mentoring program may work great to solve an employee engagement problem for one company, another may require more of an extended onboarding training solution. In the case of this customer, we worked together to set up a few key directions for their solution:

  • Communicate a clear career path for these new hires
  • Make it easy for the hospital to provide the career development needed to achieve this path
  • Above all, because this is a busy hospital, enable people to help themselves

We helped them architect a solution that involved a suite of career development options for their new employees. First, we helped them develop a formal mentoring program. Next, we created an online marketplace where physicians can see what specialty learning opportunities were available. Administrators can post upcoming research projects in radiology, for example, or post a new job rotation program, or advertise an upcoming seminar in neonatology. By unifying the career development experience for their busy staff in one online portal, the hospital is enabling physicians to engage themselves to continue learning and growing, and in turn, ultimately stay longer. Now career development is part of their daily work life. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

3. Provide measurement opportunities.

This is where a lot of programs can fall apart. It is wonderful to launch new programs, but how do you know they’re working? One of the best ways we’ve found to check in on a new program is by surveying employees to measure satisfaction rates. So far, all indicators are good for this hospital with our software reporting more than 90% satisfaction from the program participants. Over time, the hospital will also measure their employee retention rates so that they can provide data-driven evidence of the program’s success to their leadership teams.

I hope this article will help your wheels start turning. What can you provide in terms of career development to engage your employees? Or, perhaps you have some different experiences to share about how you solved the problem of engagement? Either way we’d love to hear back from you. Please leave a comment below.

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