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More than 40% of the global workforce are considering leaving their employer in the next 6 – 12 months.

Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index outlined findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries as well as analysing trillions of productivity and labour signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn, including perspectives from experts in collaboration and social capital.

“Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft

Driving business success through better employee engagement

Employee engagement is emerging as a critical driver of business success, retaining talent, fostering loyalty and improving organisational performance and stakeholder value.

In a recent study by Personio, 26% of HR decision makers say that talent retention is an organisational priority. Certainly, for today’s HR leaders, there are two key challenges –  not only to attract and retain the brightest talent, but also to maximise organisational productivity by optimising the effectiveness of its employees in this new hybrid workplace.

Employees are effective when they are engaged, nurtured, developed and fulfilled – and when they are clearly encouraged to pursue opportunities internally to reach their potential. When the average cost of replacing each professional employee is 213% of their annual salary, encouraging them to grow with you is a much better alternative.

Ongoing training and development plays an increasingly important role here.

Our team has been involved with facilitating training workshops recently for large clients who want to encourage internal mobility. Supporting employees with career coaching, networking, CV and interview strategies increases the chance they will move within your organisation rather than leave. It convinces them that their long-term future is with you. When you give them all the training and development they need to progress with you by creating compelling internal career paths, the impetus to leave is gone.

Measuring engagement as part of your retention strategy

Technology can help you keep your finger on the pulse of employee engagement.

At City CV, we partner. Their cutting-edge platform enables you to quickly and easily benchmark engagement every 90 days, allowing you to see the impact of leadership decisions and changes in your business, including retention and engagement programmes. The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and results are fed back through an online dashboard that’s easy to interpret.​ The initial benchmark survey is free for your whole organisation.

Forward-thinking organisations are increasingly taking advantage of opportunities for “engageable moments,” when they can motivate and provide direction for employees. Watson Wyatt’s WorkUSA  report identified the following formal and informal “engageable moment” opportunities:

Formal opportunities include:

  • Recruitment; onboarding
  • Performance reviews
  • Goal setting
  • Training
  • Communications by senior leaders
  • Employee surveys

Informal opportunities include:

  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Career development discussions
  • Ongoing performance feedback
  • Recognition programmes
  • Company social events
  • Personal crises

Exploring the enduring value of coaching

Coaching brings perspective and new ways to tackle old problems. Our experience has demonstrated that employees develop a deeper sense of self-awareness through understanding how to manage conflict and boost resilience. They become aware of any ‘blind spots’ and recognise beliefs or attitudes that may be blocking clear vision and holding them back. From an HR perspective, this can be very valuable when the ultimate goal is to strengthen culture, engender team spirit and improve business outcomes.

Career coaching is a partnership, giving employees the space to reflect on their experiences over both the short and long term to understand their value. Coaching sessions on a personal level help build authority, enrich professional relationships and boost performance. Wider benefits to the organisation include:

  • Improved staff retention
  • Reduced attrition & absenteeism
  • Enhanced professional relationships
  • Maximised engagement
  • Raised productivity & profitability
  • Prioritised wellbeing & mental health
  • Stronger, more effective teams
  • Boosted business performance
  • Better leadership
  • Improved capabilities

Focusing on a future first approach

In our experience, career development coaching is most successful when there’s senior level commitment and it’s planned and delivered in a structured way. Some companies worry that offering career coaching will mean that their employees leave – but actually the opposite happens. Engaged, rewarded and supported people are more likely to stay and develop their career with you.

With retirement ages rising, advances in technology, automation and new ways of working, taking out time to re-train, top up skills or even change career direction completely will become the norm.

Individuals need to plan for all of these changes. But realistically, they won’t be able to do it all by themselves. Smart companies will embrace and support these emerging trends rather than feel threatened.

Professional, structured coaching programmes or a talent acceleration programme will enable your people to take stock, and be absolutely clear about their aspirations and direction of travel.

Motivation through mentoring

As they progress, we’ve witnessed that many professionals crave the insight, knowledge and guidance of coaches from outside their organisation. An external, impartial careers expert provides a safe space for them to discuss ideas, real feelings and short and long term ambitions. Yet, according to research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) published in HR Director, only 22% of organisations currently run a coaching or mentoring programme. Interestingly, many of those senior managers acting as mentors have never actually received any mentoring themselves.

The AAT research concluded that: “Companies that run mentoring programmes show a marked increase in engagement and a reduction in both staff turnover and absenteeism. Mentoring is a win-win all round, and the more you invest in people, the greater the returns.”

As part of our leadership solutions business, we train leaders to become remarkable mentors, empowering them to enable their teams. Many organisations are starting to introduce sponsoring schemes to support their employees and to boost their confidence when making internal applications. Often confused with mentoring, sponsorship is very different. A career mentor supports and advises, acting as a sounding board and helps build self-esteem. In addition, it can be really effective at helping new employees learn about behaviours, culture and organisational politics.

A sponsor takes a more direct role as a career champion. They will advocate for a colleague, open doors, provide access to knowledge or contacts and help them earn promotions and pay rises. Evidence suggests that developing a structured sponsorship programme can shift the employee retention and diversity dial quite substantially. According to new research from Payscale Inc, those who have a sponsor are paid 11.6% more than those who do not.

Make coaching part of ongoing career conversations

Coaching gives insights and a deeper understanding of specific issues which are threatening, or halting, employees’ career progression. It helps your people thrive within your organisation rather than just ‘making do’ and therefore increases productivity – it’s a win/win.

Top business schools, such as the London Business School, are now urging students to be as strategic about their internal career progression as they are about their external moves and to develop the skills and relationships needed to accelerate their career internally.

We’ve witnessed great benefits in sustaining close contact and flexing the support that organisations offer in line with an individual’s needs and aspirations as they progress. Some companies may not have the time or in-house resources to devote to this – and yet it’s here that the pains become gains, cementing the relationship with individuals and investing in their growth and progression. This is where ongoing coaching can be enormously helpful, supported by tools and resources to embed knowledge and empower individuals.

The challenge of retaining and nurture top talent so that they stay with you, reach their potential and bring extra value to your organisation inspired us to develop our Engagement and Retention programmes.

These include access to resources that engage employees at all levels to help them progress their careers and fortify their skill set as well as promoting self-development, better mental health and enhanced wellbeing. Our Career Refinery sets out a specific journey for each user, including targeted learning programmes and a prescribed set of activities to work through, followed by an updated measure of progress. It gives each employee the ability to gauge the impact of their learning. And it works.

Whatever challenges you’re facing in your organisation, we are here to help. Call us today on +44 (0)20 7100 6656  or get in touch for a confidential discussion about what we can do to support you.

About the author – Rebecca

Rebecca City CV, Why HR leaders should be powering up their people strategy

Rebecca is passionate about supporting individuals at all levels, helping them to secure their dream role through City CV’s expert coaches and writers. She also oversees City CV’s outplacement and employee engagement programmes for corporate and public sector clients, drawing on more than 20 years’ experience servicing UK and global organisations with career transition support, redundancy, redeployment and retention programmes, and recruitment solutions.

This includes outplacement and employee engagement  packages offering individual and group career support, in addition to City CV’s online Career Refinery Portal & App.

Following an early legal career, Rebecca spent more than 15 years with top recruitment agencies, providing talent solutions to the world’s largest corporates across industry sectors. She subsequently joined itris, where she enhanced in-house HR functions, recruitment management and candidate experience through a range of systems, tools and training.