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When people find out that I’m an HR Consultant and Recruiter, they often reach out to me for help. Usually, they want to make a change and are looking for advice on how to embark on this journey. I get questions about resumes, cover letters, or the use of social media. Their reasons for coming to me vary but their reasons for seeking a move are often the same. Ninety percent of the time gainfully employed job hunters don’t feel like they are making a difference and they often don’t feel valued by their boss or employer.

Every day we see on LinkedIn positive phrases promoting employee engagement and we may share those same sentiments as the employee. Now step back as the manager. Are you applying those same principles with your staff?

Let’s state the obvious. Happiness is a part of why people stay. Study after study puts salary well after other “feel good” factors. Money does matter, though, and studies show that if people want to make more, they should change jobs more often. An article in Forbes stated that employees who stay in jobs for more than two years make 50% less.

As employers, we care so much about the money that we often forego the smaller cost of a pay hike or one-time bonus for the much higher cost of employee disengagement or replacement. Many statistics  show costs ranging from 30-50% of salary for an entry-level employee to 400% of salary for an executive. When things aren’t going great and your staff isn’t “feeling the love,” those external lures of money and the possibility that the grass is greener elsewhere can prod your best people to seek greener pastures.

Think about your most solid employee, probably the one you think will stay forever. We’ll call him or her “Chris” for the sake of this exercise. See how many times you answer “yes” to the questions below:

In the last month:

  1. Have you had lunch with Chris or sat down to talk without the agenda of a performance review?
  2. Have you asked Chris if her job is going okay?
  3. Does Chris need help in any area?
  4. Have you noticed how many hours Chris is working, and have you asked her if she’s happy with her schedule?
  5. Have you empowered Chris with decision making, perhaps saying something like, “Well, if you think it’s a good plan, I’ll leave it up to you,” or “I’ll let you decide?”
  6. Have you complimented Chris on anything work related?
  7. Do you know what Chris likes to do, wants to do, or aspires to be?
  8. Are you open with Chris about future compensation plans, or your initiatives on her behalf?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you are on the right track. Get through the others and pat yourself on the back. “Chris” is going to have a harder time leaving you, guaranteed. If you didn’t answer “Yes,” think about why. Why are you uncomfortable asking these questions? Are you afraid that you won’t like the feedback?

Maybe the idea of communicating like this just isn’t your personality. If makes you break out in a sweat, take a deep breath and think of it as a “Business To Do.” Be deliberate in implementing this change and unveiling the new you. Schedule questions 1-8 on your calendar and commit to getting through the list in a month. These aren’t the only conversations to be had, but it’s a start.

Employee engagement is important in retaining the best talent, and feedback is an integral component of employees feeling engaged. Feedback amounts to communicating with your employees, not talking TO employees but asking questions and really hearing the answers.

Use these 8 questions to drive greater engagement. Tell Chris how you appreciate her work and, sure, if you can… think about giving Chris a raise. If you follow this plan, Chris won’t be calling me.

Peggy Hogan
Peggy Hogan
Peggy is Purple Ink’s Vice President of Talent Services. She is passionate about helping organizations be more effective at sourcing and retaining top talent and loves the powerful effect connecting people to the right opportunity can have on their lives.

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