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4 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement and Retention

By Adreana Young on December 5, 2019 in BlogNo Comments

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How to Earn More and Strengthen Your Business in 2020

With one month to go before the New Year, take some time to review your business as a whole to help you set yourself up for success in 2020.

Previously, we shared strategies for increasing revenue next year. However, in order to be successful, you need to have a strong team around you. From new hires to seasoned employees, here are four ways you can improve employee engagement and strengthen your business overall.

  1. Set clear expectations and manageable goals, then follow up

According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2018, only 33% of employees are engaged at their workplace nationwide. When highly engaged teams account for a 21% increase in profitability, creating an engaging workplace can be critical to success. To achieve an engaged team, you have to start with clear expectations and manageable goals.

If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to goal setting, here are a few steps to help get you started:

  • Establish and define your company-wide goals and initiatives that will guide each of your employees’ goals.
  • Develop each employees’ goals based on where they are in their career (skill and expertise level) and align them with the company’s goals.
  • Communicate these goals and expectations multiple times.
  • Hold employees’ accountable for their goals.
  • Reward employees for meeting their goals.

Without company-wide goals, you can’t create alignment with employees’ goals. Let’s say you want to add on a new service to your business this year. You will need to train your employees on how to perform that new service. Create a goal for those employees to learn the new skill and to complete one new job that year.

After you’ve developed the goals and expectation, clearly communicate those goals to your team again and again. How can you do that? Through annual reviews and official and unofficial check-ins throughout the year.

Official check ins should be once or twice a year where you sit down and discuss the goals that were set for your employee at the beginning of the year. Unofficial check ins should be more frequent and less formal, such as weekly or monthly one on ones, depending on what makes sense for you and your employees. Having frequent touch bases with your team will help you keep a pulse on how they’re feeling and give you the opportunity to reiterate your goals and expectations.

  1. Stay informed and get engaged yourself

While at first it might seem like you don’t have time for frequent check ins, consider the term human resources. Your employees truly are your most valuable resource. If you don’t take care of them and invest in their success, you can’t expect them to be engaged or driven to help you achieve your business goals. Again, when you consider that engaged employees can increase profitability by 21%, making time to create goals, communicate and engage with your employees doesn’t seem like a waste of time at all.

As the leader of your team, it’s critical that you have an understanding of your employee’s day-to-day job and their workload.

If you don’t have many opportunities to work directly with your employees, such as on the jobsite or in an office, be sure to touch base with them when you are in front of them. Ask them how things are going, what challenges are they facing and work with them to find solutions. It’s preferable to have dedicated one on one with your employees, but if you can’t get that on a regular basis, be sure to engage with them whenever you see them. Don’t miss an opportunity to check in.

  1. Train your employees and help them grow

Going back to that human resources thought, utilizing and growing employees you already have is critical to a company’s long-term success.

Just like finding the time to check in with employees can seem difficult, finding the budget and resources to provide professional development can be even more challenging. However, from the missed opportunities an open position can cost a business, to posting a hiring ad and background checks, to the expenses and time it takes to onboard new employees, hiring gets expensive—more expensive than paying for additional employee training.

Professional development can include a variety of things, such as cross training on different jobs, skill development and even soft skill trainings that can help create more well rounded employees.

Here are a few employee-training resources you can take advantage of:

  • Ewing Education courses: Ewing offers dedicated training opportunities for a variety of classes, such as agronomics, lighting, irrigation, pumps, business and more. You and/or your team can attend one of our scheduled classes or you can work with us directly to create a custom training class for your team, like Landscapes Unlimited did.
  • Industry associations, trade shows and conferences: This type of professional development is great for helping employees learn about new products, networking with other industry professionals and developing some soft skills. From regional associations and trade shows to national events directly related to your line of work, there’s something for everyone at these events.
  • Online trainings: Before sending your employees to large-scale conferences or supplier workshops, you can start by offering some online training courses. A good place to start is Ewing’s extensive library of YouTube videos, where you will find a variety of how tos and instructional content. For soft skills like time management, conflict resolution and team building, you can take advantage of sites like LinkedIn Learning.

Aside from the cost savings and direct benefits to that particular employee, professional development also benefits the entire team, because not only are you training that employee, but you’re also building employees who can help train and mentor other employees as well.

While training and professional development might seem like a big cost up front, the return on investment will be far greater and can save you money down the road.

  1. Compensation and offer benefits to your employees

Of course, if you want your employees to stick around, you have to compensate them well enough to be able to and to want to stay. No matter how fun a work environment might be, if you aren’t paying well enough or providing benefits, your employees might not be able to stay.

To know what you should be paying employees, determine what competitors in the area are paying. You can do this by interviewing employees of your competitors and asking for their pay range. When it comes to maintaining a strong team, compensation and benefits truly illustrate how much you value your employees.

Yes, compensation means how much your employees brings home every paycheck, but it can also mean bonuses based on performance, health benefits, paid vacation, ensuring year-round employment and other things. In addition to paying a comparable or higher wage than your competitors, consider offering bonuses rewarding high-achieving employees and additional benefits.

When creating your compensation and benefits package for employees, think about the overall value a person would get by working for your business. Is it worth it to them?

There’s never a shortage of things to get done when it comes to owning a business, but if you’re looking to grow the business, maintaining a strong team is critical. With manageable goals, communication, professional development and compensation that shows you truly value the work your team does, you can build a team that will help you achieve your goals and build a sustainable business.

Stay tuned for the next blog in the series How to Earn More and Strengthen Your Business in 2020 where we’ll share tips for preparing your business for long term success.

4 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement and Retention graphic
Adreana Young
Adreana Young is a customer insights specialist at Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply. She can be reached at ayoung@ewingirrigation.com.
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