Recently Gallup released a new survey on employee engagement. When I read the commentary I could see that employee engagement is not static information but depends on company, employees, and time. We can’t use a cookie cutter approach. We can’t make universal supposition of what engages people. Instead, we need to understand the diversity of our workforce which includes gender, culture and the different generations. Engagement factors have changed.

Many companies with retention problems tend to focus on the compensation issues. Compensation is definitely important. However, it loses its importance as an employee moves up the career ladder. It certainly is important for a business to understand the competitive wage levels for the positions in their business. However, business is making a mistake by paying extra money to buy loyalty. Let’s consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In that context we would consider money to be a basic hygiene factor, especially with mid-career employees. Once money is satisfied other factors such as work environment matter more. Their work must represent meaningful value to them and must take advantage of their skills. If an employee in this category were to leave for another company you probably cannot turn that around by offering the employee more money to stay. If nothing changes in the employment environment the employee will leave again.

What action would you take if your employees were to give a negative answer to the statement, “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?” Of course, you would want to give them work that made use of their skills. Do you know how to do that? Meaningful work means different things to the different generations in the workplace. Consider not only generational differences but also cultural differences. Get to know your employees and what is important to them. A baby boomer’s wants and needs are different from Generation X and Generation Y is different from the other two generations. For more information on generations read this previous blog. The engagement solution does not involve pushing a round peg fit into a square hole but rather to match each employee to a position where he or she can be the best.

Is your organization suffering from a retention challenge? This can be costly. When you consider recruiting and training,businessuccess lost customer service, lost productivity, and lost morale in others who are left, the cost is at least two times the employee’s salary. An engaged employee becomes more valuable as he or she grows. In addition, high-performing companies have loyal customers because they have loyal employees.

If you are the CEO or the head of Human Resources you need to have an engagement strategy. This should be a line item on your P&L. The strategy should include careful selection to see that an employee is matched to a job where he or she has a chance to excel, an assessment plan to identify key employee strengths, and a development plan to leverage those employee strengths.

It’s time to have a strategic employee assessment and development plan in place.

Check here for more information on assessments.