For a few weeks we’ve been releasing content about great workplaces. We’ve been asking: What makes a company a great place to work? And how do direct selling companies stack up next to other employers?
We’ve discussed the Direct Selling News’ yearly special section about the best direct selling companies to work for. The top companies have included Jeunesse, LegalShield, Nu Skin, Team National, USANA, LifeVantage, Younique, and Zurvita. Last week, on our podcast, we released a fascinating conversation with Todd Eliason, DSN Editor-in-chief, about their selection process.
This is a popular topic in both the business world and in academia. Doing what you can to keep your employees has a real payoff. As Todd mentioned on the podcast, “the average cost to hire an employee is $4,129 … 33% of those new hires are going to start looking for a new job within the first six months … and one in four will leave before their one-year anniversary.” Keeping your existing employees makes sense.
The question for all companies is “How do you attract and keep talented and dedicated people?” Today, we’re going to talk about one of the topics that seems to come up again and again in conversation about designing great workplaces. Employee engagement.
Four ways to Increase employee engagement
The intellectually and emotionally engaged employee will have better feelings about work and higher job satisfaction which leads to better organizational outcomes such as efficiency and creativity. This is the focus of the employee engagement model—how can an organization help an employee have positive feelings about work.
Most people would agree that being an engaged employee and having engaged employees is better for both employees and companies. But how can companies foster that engagement? Let’s look at some of the proven strategies.
1. Give employees a sense of meaning
Employees seem to have an increased need to do meaningful work. Companies can create meaningful work by selling a product that makes a positive difference in consumer lives. If that’s out of reach for the work your company does, another strategy in this area is to devote resources to bettering the world.
Many direct selling companies employ one or both of these strategies to promote distributor loyalty. Damsel in Defense sells products that can literally save lives. Shaklee has produced environmentally friendly products starting in the 60s. The examples are too numerous to list here, and I’ve written about this elsewhere.
2. Don’t leave employees in the dark
Work cannot be engaging if the employee doesn’t know what to do. Being in the dark about one’s role in the company would sap nearly anyone’s confidence. Access to multiple forms of information boosts employee engagement.
Good managers make expectations known, provide the resources an employee needs to do his/her work, and offer feedback on how well they are doing. In addition to giving out information, managers need to listen to employees. Employees want to know that they have a say in the direction and future of the organization.
3. Make sure your employees feel appreciated
I already mentioned feedback, but it’s important to note that feedback includes praise. Praising employees continues to be an important element of the engaging environment. Early job satisfaction efforts put their focus primarily on praise. Though the average workday looks different than it did in the 50s, we certainly have not lost the need for recognition.
Employees have individual needs when it comes to how they receive recognition and how often they need recognition. Typically, we need more recognition when a role is new to us than we do later on in that same position. However, we all need a boost periodically. A good manager will recognize that employees need different types and amounts of recognition and might even ask individual employees their preferences.
4. Offer your employees a chance to grow
Employees also seem to want more opportunities to grow professionally in their work. Check out this Forbes rundown of advice from HR professionals that mentions growth opportunities 7 times. Managers can foster employee development by providing opportunities to grow.
Growth opportunities come in many forms. The most obvious is the ability to advance to better positions and increase one’s income over time. But the chance to learn and improve is another growth opportunity along the way. Many companies have programs to pay for coursework that improves the employee.
Finally, growth can be personal. Employees seem to favor companies that show they care about employee health and wellness goals. Employers can show that they care about their employees’ wellbeing by offering free gym memberships, healthy snacks, and on-site massage therapy (our sponsor company, InfoTrax, offers all three).
Set engagement goals (and meet them!)
To sum up, happy and engaged employees perform better and stay longer. If you want happy and engaged employees you need to give them a sense of purpose, be transparent with them, make sure they have the information they need, show them appreciation, and give them chances to grow.
You might be thinking “I’m doing all of that! Why is my turnover still so high!” It sounds easy enough, but it’s not a one-and-done proposition. Keeping employees engaged takes time and continual effort to adapt to individual employee needs. The Direct Selling News series I mentioned above demonstrates that having engaged employees in the direct sales space is possible.
If you find you can’t hold on to talented employees, set a goal. Once you’ve set that goal, communicate it clearly to your organization and seek buy in. Each manager must work to foster your goal in their group. Managers set a tone and feel in their group. That tone and feel might not reflect the overall norms of the company. Without their buy in and commitment, the company will have a hard time meeting its employee engagement goals.