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8 ways to boost employee engagement and retention across APAC

8 ways to boost employee engagement and retention across APAC


In one, analysts believe it is important employees get the attention they need through recognition and pay, career opportunities, and support to get work done.

As leaders know it, today’s employees not only expect more from their employers. They are also more vocal about their needs, and more focused on their own values and purpose. Once employees sense a mismatch, their engagement rate would fall - which leads to, more often than not, high turnover rates which leaders have to pay the price for.

It is, however, not all doom-and-gloom - at least according to Kincentric's Global Trends in Employee Engagement 2022 report.

After looking at the data from 12mn employees across 125 markets including Asia Pacific, report analysts believe right now is the "era of opportunity" for leaders to "take a closer look, and proactively reassess, rethink, realign, and vitalise" the business for long-term success.

To create that inflection point in employee engagement, leaders can consider the following eight suggestions.

#1 Give talents the attention

As mentioned in the report, the “stay” element of engagement – defined as an employee’s desire to stay with the organisation – continues to decrease, indicating that employee turnover will remain a challenge. Hence, to mitigate attrition, leaders should thus address four domains:

  1. Recognition and pay;
  2. Career opportunities;
  3. Support to get work done (staffing & retention), and
  4. Resources.

Point A, for instance, should be addressed because approximately half (52%) of global employees surveyed feel they are "fairly paid", while close to six in 10 (59%) feel "appropriately recognised". As well, for Point B, only slightly more than five in 10 (54%) see "good future career opportunities".

With regard to Point C, exactly half feel there is "sufficient staffing" at the company.

As such, report analysts believe there is "a growing need" among employees to feel their efforts will be acknowledged and to better understand where they fit into the future of the organisation. They would also "need more" support to get work done, as there are concerns relating to insufficient resources and staffing levels.

With this in mind, it was said that leaders "must take this opportunity" to provide the attention, recognition, and support needed to invigorate talent and drive retention.

On that note, delving deeper into point A, for instance, leaders can consider:

  • Expressing appreciation for employees’ commitment, dedication, and hard work in the face of a labour shortage;
  • Balancing increases in pay offered to new hires with what they are paying tenured employees;
  • Redesigning the reward & recognition programme with shifts in working experiences in mind, and
  • Ensuring the recognition programme is aligned to values and that they are rewarding what they say is important.

#2 Don't neglect the element of D&I

Report analysts shared that diversity & inclusion (D&I) has become important to employees as they evaluate their work experience, strongly impacting their engagement and intent to stay.

Organisations must therefore increase efforts to improve D&I in the workplace by exploring more specific employee sentiment data around inclusive behaviours that show the variability of differences in the employee experience because D&I often varies by geographic region, industry, job level, and position.

To effectively tackle D&I, it was suggested that organisations measure employee sentiment based on a carefully thought-out definition of inclusion that also enables them to act on the results.

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#3 Let HR professionals have bold ideas

Based on data findings - which slightly more than half (55%) say people/HR practices create a positive work environment - "significant changes" in HR processes are needed to put talents at the center. "What worked before may not serve the needs of the organisation in the current environment," explained in the report.

It was also said that various environmental factors, such as hybrid working, staffing & retention challenges, and shifts in remuneration expectations affect not only how organisations design talent acquisition and pay structures, but also performance management processes and career development programs.

Report analysts, on that note, believe it is time to be bold, human-centric, and laser-focused on the employee experience when it comes to talent management.

#4 Ease the burden on managers

Trends over the last year underscore that mid-level managers are feeling more pressure and “squeeze” than ever before, resulting in lower levels of engagement and deteriorated perceptions around attraction and retention capabilities, sufficient staffing, and change management. This is because, report analysts explained, without fully engaged managers, organisations cannot have a fully engaged (activated) workforce.

"Given the extra efforts being asked of managers, it isn’t surprising that they are feeling underappreciated and underpaid. Leaders need to ease the burden - making sure expectations of managers are kept reasonable, clear priorities are set, support is provided and they are being developed to adjust to changes in roles and responsibilities," highlighted the report.

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#5 Keep the vision visible

It was discovered that "the gains" analysts witnessed in 2020 regarding the perceptions of senior leaders clearly explaining how companies will deliver on their strategies are "now eroding". As such, it was believed that it’s high-time for senior leaders to "double down on efforts" to communicate vision and strategic direction.

"Backing away from this kind of messaging can leave employees feeling untethered, resulting in misaligned actions and disengagement. Giving people a clear sense of purpose and charting where they can go with the organisation is just the kind of guidance they are seeking in these precarious times," report analysts said.

#6 Create a consistent culture

"Culture needs to create a more consistent experience for all employees," it was mentioned in the report.

"It is not enough to just share values, you must show how these values are actively in practice across the organization. When there is consistency in the work experience, we see significantly higher engagement and stay levels and feelings of belonging and trust/respect/fairness than when the experience is inconsistent.

"Actively facilitating culture helps to build the consistency needed to drive business success."

#7 No silver bullet (solution)

Leaders should note that creating an engaging work experience - and translating it into high engagement and retention - is "not simply a matter of doing one thing well", but "a culmination of doing several things consistently well" across a period of time. Several things could be recognition, career development, performance management, effective infrastructure, staffing, communication vision, and caring leadership.

Analysts explained that to have real impact on business outcomes, leaders cannot, for instance, just have good career development without a strong leadership vision and effective infrastructure.

Once leaders address "five or more" of the aforementioned elements actively together, work experience, engagement, and retention will then bring "above average" scores.

#8 Don't let the change paralyse

Last but not least, leaders and organisations, according to the report, must quickly move past any “learned helplessness” or defensiveness, toward change-positivity, resiliency, and adaptability. This is because change can often represent "the biggest opportunity of all".

As such, it is crucial to have the focus shift from the mindset of “everything is out of control” to understanding what can be controlled, and what actually makes a difference in the organisation.

Very much in essence like the old adage, change is the only constant.

Read alsoThe dos and don'ts of employee wellbeing: A check-in with seven leaders across APAC

Image / Kincentric

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region! 

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

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