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16 Feb 2024

The best employee engagement and retention strategies

Wondering how to retain the best talent in a rapidly changing working environment? Here are some ideas

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As the world becomes more interconnected, workplace demographics shift, and technology continues to advance at a lightning pace, the challenge for organisations to retain the best employees is greater than ever.

Businesses need employee engagement strategies that can support employee retention and increase employee satisfaction.

Recognition programmes

Best-in-class recognition programmes not only celebrate employee achievements but can help to build a positive workplace culture through all the moments that matter in an employee lifecycle.

From onboarding through to major service and personal milestones, recognition programmes can support in acknowledging each employee’s time with the business and demonstrate the organisation’s appreciation of their personal value and contribution.

Strategic recognition programmes allow for a consistent reinforcement of company values and behaviours and can be used with strategic business priorities such as DEI to increase inclusion efforts and sense of belonging.

The best and most effective approach to recognition is a three-dimensional strategy that encompasses base recognition, strategic recognition and performance-based recognition. This can bring significant reductions in voluntary turnover and major financial benefits. 

Incentive and recognition rewards

Over and above pay and benefits, rewards provide a unique opportunity to magnify recognition. Implemented well, incentive and recognition rewards can inspire and motivate employees to deliver more discretionary effort, increase satisfaction, and improve loyalty and retention.

Research shows the most effective rewards are non-cash-based, such as travel and experiences due to their ability to inspire and tap into emotions in a way cash and cash alternatives can’t. Building programmes that offer a mix of reward earning opportunities is an effective way to sustain engagement and employee retention.

Personal development and progression planning 

As technological advancements change how we deliver our work, organisations will need to focus on training and development to ensure they don’t get left behind. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, “rather than being identified through their job titles, employees are instead profiled by their talents. These talents form part of a ‘skills marketplace’ that allows managers to profile projects based on the expertise they require and match it with the experience available within the business.

This approach also enables organisations to more accurately assess where they might have skills gaps.

Organisations should be looking to build structures and processes that support, encourage and recognise creativity, innovation and risk taking with learning opportunities that go beyond roles and allow employees the option to explore and develop their strengths and skills that can add value across the business.

The more opportunity they have to develop their skills the more likely they are to feel they belong at their organisation.

Wellbeing initiatives

From ways of working through to pay and benefits and everything in between, assessing your organisation’s approach to supporting employee wellbeing is key to sustained engagement and retention. 

To ensure your organisation is getting this right it’s critical that your employees are included in the approach. The HR Daily Advisor suggests “a simple step any organisation can take to increase its employees’ level of commitment is to foster greater two-way communication instead of the top-down approach many organisations default to”.

More important is personalisation. When it comes to wellbeing, what works will differ for each employee, so building flexibility and choice into your approach will help maximise the inclusivity and impact of your solution.

Manager and leadership training

Research shows that managers are at the front line when it comes to influencing employee engagement and, subsequently, retention. Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units yet suggest only three in 10 managers are equipped to be effective.  

Effective managers help their teams thrive, through personalisation and by focusing on value and supporting creativity and innovation as employees progress. 

With this in mind, investments should be made in programmes that focus on manager training as well as tools to support those that need extra guidance to deliver a positive employee experience. The Harvard Business Review outlines that to support retention, managers need help and support to deliver upon three key areas:

  • Focusing career conversations on progression, not promotion – this should include activities such as strength spotting and creating connections.
  • Making career experiments easy, including providing opportunities to ‘dip a toe’ into other roles and skills marketplace where employees are identified by their talents and skills rather than their job titles. 
  • Measuring managers on people potential, not team performance, including focusing metrics on mobility of employees in the organisation and empowerment to help employees demonstrate and develop their transferable skills.
  • Employee engagement strategies such as recognition can offer a wealth of tools and insights to support in these areas. Using recognition data to identify trends and patterns in recognition behaviour can be a great way of revealing strengths or under-used skills within employees, as well as highlighting where company values and desired behaviours are being expressed around the organisation.

The BIW recognition solution also features a number of tools including Recognition Advisor, which, based on research, nudges managers when recognition is overdue to help build up recognition habits and increase employee satisfaction.

Click here to read our full article: How does employee engagement impact retention?

In partnership with BI WORLDWIDE

BI WORLDWIDE is a global engagement agency delivering measurable results for clients through inspirational employee and channel reward and recognition solutions.

Contact us today