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Monday, December 07, 2009

HR on Employee Engagement and Retention

What can HR do to improve employee engagement and retention?

There is no single answer to this question. Everything that HR does or not do can impact on employees wanting to stay or leave a company. Let's look at them one by one.

Hiring the right people that can match the performance expectations of the company and those who can thrive in the company's work culture is an important function of recruitment. HR should strive to design it's recruitment and selection strategy so that it is able to distinguish between ones who can't succeed in the company and those who can. The strategy should include methods of describing people requirements, tools for screening and training of people involved in the process. If you want to hire people who are likely to stay in your company, here are your courses of action:
- Device a means to describe your requirements not only in terms of skills but also in terms of personality. Mind the potential boss and team mates. What kind of person will enjoy (or bear) working with them?
- Use the most reliable tools you can find to determine the presence of the characteristics you want to find in a candidate.
-Train your managers to screen applicants properly.

Another important factor in employee retention is engagement. One of the ways to help strengthen engagement is by establishing an onboarding process that begins when the employee accepts the offer of employment up to when the person fully assimilates the role. What should be included in the onboarding program? Here's a good related article I found on the web.

You are not interested in retaining all your employees for a long time. You only want to keep people who are talented, contribute highly to your organization's goals, costly to let go and hard to replace. A lot of these people are career and success oriented and will therefore want to choose and stay in a company where their needs for personal and professional development are addressed. It helps that the company has a good human resource development program in place where employees can draw their career path and be given various options on how they can develop the competencies needed to get them ready to take on the next higher responsibility.

Leadership Development
In a Gallup research, they found that many employees leave their bosses and not their company. (here's an interesting article on this topic)This emphasizes the importance of the bosses' ability to establish a good working relationship with their employees in order to keep them. In a third world country like the Philippines where work opportunities are limited for individuals with equally limited abilities, this may not be true. I've seen people hang on to dear job even if they're bosses are like devil incarnates themselves. But for those who have options, a bad relationship with the boss is a signal to move on. What can HR do? A good HR manager can influence the building of a positive work climate. Sell the idea of teamwork, appreciative inquiry and coaching for positive performance. Equip the leaders of your organization to create that positive work climate.

Performance Management
Help them succeed. Make their goals and roles clear. Give them feedback about their performance. Reward excellent performance and coach them so they can improve. Equip your managers with all the right tools to do all these. A potentially good performer may leave your company if he can't see himself succeeding in your organization.

If you don't have any of the above, you better have a really competitive compensation scheme, where employees would endure bad work condition just to keep the pay. Yes, I said the pay, not the job. The thing is, if the only thing that's keeping your employees is the pay, you cannot expect them to be engaged. Keeping your compensation scheme competitive is important. If it isn't, your employees will be curious about how much more they can get if they work elsewhere. This will tempt them to explore. it will take more than a competitive salary, however to keep them engaged.


  1. Ed

    I fully agree that all of the things listed are ways HR can/does/should positively impact their organization's employee engagement.

    I also believe that the true effectiveness of the HR department in all of these areas grows from the business culture.

    When (not if) a business embeds its culture with a clear definition of employee engagement and with tangible behaviors, the HR people have a much better chance at carrying out successful Hiring, Onboarding, Training and all the rest.


  2. Thanks, Tim!

    You raised a very important point. HR needs to develop the ability in influencing the organization to deliberately look at it's culture and define tangible indicators of employee engagement.

  3. Hi Ed,

    Really enjoyed your article and I think a lot of your points are right on for having happy and engaged employees.

    I work for a company (Questar, that does a lot of work with employee engagement and like Gallup we have found the boss to be important factor in why people leave their company, but interestingly enough we have found the senior leadership to be even more important. We just recently posted a blog on this topic, check it out when you get a chance (

  4. Fabulous Post! This is the way to enhance any business with dedication and sincerity. Above tactics are really beneficial as I have already used some of it to maintain my status with the clients in the market.

    Human Resources College

  5. Fantastic post!Very minutely studied description.I strongly believe that HR is the back bone for any organization.Nowadays soft skills play a dominant role in all firms.
    Human Resources College


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