When you have the right group of employees who perfectly complement one another, it feels like you can accomplish anything-as long as the team is intact. "Your people are your greatest investment", says Leena Paul, an Account Manager with WSPS. "And if you want to keep your people, you need to keep them engaged." That's especially true in today’s labour market, where there seem to be job openings in almost every field. In 2022, the CBC reported that nearly 400,000 jobs went unfilled in Ontario. If an employee is thinking about making a move, there's no shortage of places to go. So, how do you ensure your best employees stay engaged?
Ideally, proactively working to keep employees engaged is something organizations should be doing all the time, not only during a labour shortage. "Think of this as an opportunity to prioritize engagement. It’s an opportunity to embed it into your organization's culture," says Leena. She has some tips, outlined below, to help you prioritize engagement and keep your team intact.
- Maintain regular, open communication. "Communication is a joint responsibility," explains Leena. "Employees need to be open about what they need from their managers. And managers need to set clear expectations for their employees." Without this level of straightforward communication, misunderstandings can lead to negativity, which may result in disengagement.
- Take the time to know and understand those who report to you. "When you have a good relationship with your employees and understand their individual needs, it's much easier to recognize when they may be unhappy or disengaged", says Leena. If you sense that something may be going on with one of your employees, talk to them and find out how you can help. Showing support to an employee when they're experiencing a problem, whether it's work-related or not, reminds them that they are valued.
- Set boundaries with senior managers to protect employees' time. Most organizations fully support their employees' right to disconnect, which is great. However, their workload needs to align with this right. If you see that your team is becoming overworked and heading for burnout, speak with senior management about it. Keep workloads realistic to respect your employees’ time.
- Ensure assigned work matches employees' skills and interests. We tend to be more engaged in work when we enjoy it and do well. When assigning work or adjusting responsibilities, factor in people's strengths and skill set. "If an employee expresses interest in a particular area, give them an opportunity to gain some experience in that area," advises Leena. Ignoring requests like this over time often leads to disengagement.
- Provide opportunities for professional development. A great way to keep employees engaged is to provide new challenges through learning opportunities and professional development. When people do the same thing year after year, boredom can set in. Organizations that offer their employees avenues for change and career progression are more likely to retain them long term.
How WSPS can help
Connect with a WSPS consultant to find out more about healthy workplaces and workplace mental health.
- Psychological Health and Safety for Workers (1 hour, eCourse)