Can you provide any guidance on keeping our employees and making sure they are simultaneously engaged?

We are having trouble retaining and engaging employees, any guidance on keeping our employees and making sure they are simultaneously engaged?

Let’s face it: Retention and engagement are real challenges right now. And they’re not just challenges holding back business performance; Legal should be concerned as well. Why? Well, three reasons :

  1. Litigation activity increases when employee engagement decreases.
  2. Solving the challenges of the labor shortage – with incentive compensation, automation, artificial intelligence, snazzy benefits – each of these new ideas require compliance assessments. We have to stay engaged in the conversation about retention and satisfaction if we want Legal’s voice to be heard.
  3. As employee expectations and leverage shifts, so does the strain on management. Strained management is a litigation risk.

We’re in an era of spectacular levels of stress, and widespread dissatisfaction. And its bubbling into a boil of defiance. Defiant supervisors break the rules. Defiant employees quit and file claims. Exasperated executives demand policies that are sometimes more reactive than proactive. Legal should be at the table when we talk about the mystery of why everyone is so… disappointed with work these days.

And here’s the first step – it’s not what you might think. Take a deep breath and remind yourself: I am an employee too. The first step to engaging and retaining employees is good old-fashioned empathy.

In fact, many studies on human behavior and the effects of stress at work point toward an opportunity to engage employees through two simple concepts: TRUST and CARE.

What if any employee – even the in-house lawyer – can say what they might have already been thinking: “I don’t think this idea is very caring to the employees.” Or “I trust our workforce to get the job done in the best way they can.” How would employees respond? How would you feel if someone gave you that level of care and trust?

We can start building the kind of trust and care that increases employee engagement, with a few of the simple tools employers have lost sight of during the pandemic.

Teach and encourage managers to communicate effectively. Allow them to be vulnerable and share the business challenges they face. Create employee-facing promotion and training opportunities that consider the long-term, not just this week’s emergency.  Try new schedules and flexible solutions – and be upfront that it’s an experiment. Never hesitate to demonstrate care, for yourself, your colleagues, your direct reports, and your company.

Give positive feedback. The positive feeling from recognition – being seen – can compound and lead to more engagement and trust from employees. And we all need that now, more than ever.

For more information on engaging employees in today's workplace, please reach out to your Littler attorney.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.