Top 13 practices to drive enhanced Employee Engagement & Retention

So far in this series, i have enumerated Tips on Managerial Effectiveness. Now let us look at some of the best / next practices that can be adopted by Managers / HR Teams to drive employee Engagement initiatives. However, before I get into the practices, It is imperative that we understand the context and accordingly take create / adopt practices. Looking at the context of IT / ITES industry which employs more than 4 MM people, one of the key problem that I have witnessed in majority of organizations; that people at Team Leaders / Assistant Managers level are promoted because of their Operating Excellence and after promotion, they are made in-charge of the career of ~6-8 people, however, majority of organization do not spend up-front in building people competencies for these folks and hence Managerial Effectiveness issues emerge. Another area of concern that I have come across is lack of perceived Bias for Action, Employee Empowerment at lower level and overall organization focus on employee capability building.

When I ask a question to myself - what made me stay with GE for close to a decade? then the answer that I get without even blinking is - investment in building employability.  I believe, we as HR Managers must invest in conceptualizing practices that will help enhance people capability that will act as a win win for both organization as well as employee. We should play a critical role in bringing capability building, employee growth and growth from within, at the forefront of leadership mindset.

Lot of us grapple with this menace of attrition and we make hell lot of efforts to curb attrition, however, in my view, we really can't do anything about it. What we can instead do is to focus on building employees capability and creating an environment where people enjoy their work and in the process enhance their EMPLOYABILITY. If we do so and take care of basic hygiene( i.e. paying on time, doing appraisal on time, providing career direction etc. ), the key outcome that we as HR folks strive for i.e. enhanced RETENTION and  EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION, will take care of themselves. 

In the above backdrop, I can share a few engagement initiatives that may help you achieve the desired outcome i.e. enhanced retention  and employee satisfaction score.

1. Out of the Box-Idea :-  An improvement suggestion offered by the employees for enhancing the functioning of the various departments. Modalities and incentive process can be worked out keeping in view the organization context.

2. Mood Barometer:- The objective is to gauge the mood of employees on various parameters leading to enhancement in employee happiness index

3. Visual Approach to drive bais for action : - There is generally a perception amongst the staff that they are not empowered enough. To mitigate this perception and drive bias for action / responsive culture, we can set up the whole workplace with signs, labels etc highlighting top 4-5 problems being faced i.e. Leadership Touch, HR Responsiveness, Performance Management, Administration etc. and whenever, there is a problem, employee can change the Flaps (they could be of Red / Green color) from Green to Red.  The success of this program will depend on the ownership alignment. It would be of great help if the floor ownership is aligned with the respective people who sits in Cabin or larger work places.

4. Pro-active Assessment of Attrition Risk (PAAR) :- We tend to ask employee post their resignation How can I help you? and generally employee will say, you should have asked me this question few months back. This is where PAAR comes into play. Proactive Assessment of Attrition Risk (PAAR) program helps us to pro-actively identify the high risk employees in terms of attrition and a plan can be laid to retain them or prepare a back up to ensure there is no impact in business continuity. Key to success depend on the review rigor.

5. Talent Vitality Index : The objective of this program is to provide opportunities to staff to further build their capabilities and employability. Through TVI, all employee who complete specified period of time in the organization (can very from organization to organization depending on the nature of role) are tracked with an objective to understand their career aspirations and efforts are made to do the requisite alignment to available positions in line with their personal career objective.

6.Employee Catalyst Program : -  There is always a pressure on support headcount and HR is no exception. It is expected from HR to have their ears to the ground. Generally, Employee Relationship Managers handles 200-250 people. It becomes extremely difficult to keep the two available ears on ground 24*7, hence it is essential that we leverage operating employees to get the requisite People intelligence and at the same time work as such that this collaboration of efforts results in a win-win situation for both. As we all know that for every manager at least 30-40% of their job relates to people / people practices. Hence the need for a program that will help develop requisite competencies up-front in the associates at junior level.

That's exactly where Catalysts program for staff level come into play. An employee catalysts is an employee from the floor who increases the effectiveness of people practices without being an HR person. The catalysts will play a key role in facilitating integration of new joiners, Guiding the Employees to access HR Info, Help drive Fun@ workplace initiatives, Support HR Initiatives, Enhance Employee Engagement, Facilitate Better communication, Improve Work Environment etc. They should undergo a structured training programme which helps them build Cross Functional Learning, Opportunity to develop People management, Interpersonal and Facilitation skills, Opportunity to Enhance Communication Skills, Exposure to Leadership, Training on HR Fundamentals  etc. which leads to their development as potential people leaders who have an edge when they get to Team leader level over the folks who get those positions without undergoing such program.

7. Coach Protégé Framework :- While we make investment at staff level in terms of Catalyst program, we need to something for middle management as well. It is here, Coach Protégé Framework comes to my mind. This program will help both Coach and protege in engaging in relationship which focuses on developing and improving performance by cultivating work related skills, knowledge and aptitude. All people at Team Leaders and above can be aligned with a coach who in simple terms will act as a friend, philosopher and guide and help them enhance their domain depth and breadth while sharing tricks of the trade. The coach protégé program can also serve the purpose of providing future leadership pipeline (if executed flawlessly).
8. Retention Contest :- Competition amongst different units within specified timeline, where attrition of the Unit is assessed and team with the lowest attrition as per the criteria is rewarded.

9. Train the Trainer : - Harness the latent talent from with in the organization. This involves selection and rigorous training, enhancing employee value creation and building organizational capability.

10.Women’s Network : - It provides networking opportunities internally and externally with other organizations, adding value to the personal and professional growth of the woman staff members

11. Employee Engagement :- i) Employee Focus Group are set of meetings with the group or team of employees along with their business heads and HR. This platform can be used to share information, encourage people to ask questions and talk about their issues. ii) 1 on 1 meeting with Employees providing them sense of belonging and exclusivity thereby fostering open discussions and communication. iii) Fun @ work place helps improves the morale of the employees. Generally it has been observed that staff that plays together stays together.

12. HR Metrics :- It is imperative that we put put in place metrics to institutionalize people programs and practices. People Dashboard - The dashboard can be created with an objective to provide an insight into all people related practices including hiring, training, compliance etc. HR Scorecard - HR Scorecard can be created with measurement definition across all programs / activities to drive execution discipline in partnership with respective Business Leaders.

13. Leadership Councils - These councils are set up at SBU levels to drive strategy, people initiatives and operating excellence. People strategy / progress update etc. can be reviewed during during these council meeting as per agreed frequency.
With this, I conclude the series on Employee Engagement & Retention - Managerial Effectiveness. 


  1. This is a good article and outline on what you can and should do to create employee engagement.

    We struggled with many of the same things at my web development agency and found that our clients were also looking for ways to build a connection with their teams.

    There are lots of good ideas and intentions but the fact of the matter is - it is difficult to execute many of the above items without a system.

    We ended up building our own system and all of our clients asked if they could use it. We had so much interest in our grass roots product we ended up developing into a full blown SaaS system we call, Kudos -

    Kudos empowers the entire team to give recognition, management to mentor and for leadership to connect the team to the company and link strategy and effort to results.

    The key for any employee engagement or performance management practice to work is to keep it simple and to automate the the essential elements.

    From there you can build out a more robust program based on your needs, resources and strategy to create a complete solution, if required.

    It is amazing how far a simple Thank You can go to motivating team members. Recognition is at the core of a great company and is key to all employee engagement programs.

    Thanks, T

  2. The thing is that many companies have no idea how to encourage good employees to stay. As you pointed out in your article, HR plays a greater role than just hiring and firing. Unfortunately, there are quite a few HR professionals who just don't seem to realize that they play a vital role in reducing the number of good employees that their company loses to other organizations.

  3. Coaching can be a significant time commitment for both you and the employees you’re working with. Set up a realistic schedule for coaching sessions, but don’ engrave it in stone.
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