Increase Engagement & Retain Your Top Talent

By Steve McClatchy, President, Alleer Training & Consulting

Think of a time in your life when you were highly engaged. You seldom ever looked at the clock. You may have even missed meals or become dehydrated because your concentration in the moment overshadowed your basic needs. Hours, days, or even weeks just flew by. You didn’t watch TV because you were engrossed in a real-life passion that was far more interesting than someone else’s acting. You were learning, growing, achieving, accomplishing, connecting, and you not only enjoyed what you were doing, you truly loved it and believed in it. You knew exactly where you wanted to go, and you did everything necessary to get there. Some call it “being in the zone,” others call it “flow,” and now it is often referred to as being “engaged.” 

Great movies are filled with this type of scene. The protagonist is challenged, disrespected, set on a mission if they “choose to accept it,” or gets an inspiring idea that will change the world. Scenes that come to mind are Rocky preparing for the big fight, Dorothy’s journey to Oz, the Avengers’ struggle against Thanos, Jack and Rose trying to survive the Titanic, Luke Skywalker fighting the dark side, or the mission of a sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to kill Jaws. During these epic quests can you picture any of these characters asking what time it is or the day of the week? In these movies they don’t eat, sleep, or waste time. The action is too exciting and pervasive.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a job where you felt this way all the time? How about some of the time? How about ever? Most of us are not fighting battles against interstellar forces every day, however, when we are learning new skills, meeting new people, gaining new experiences, solving problems, taking on new projects, setting goals and achieving them, we experience growth, movement, and progress. That is when we are engaged in the work that we are doing and in our own lives. These experiences, whether you achieve them personally or professionally, are essential to preventing the feeling of burnout. A new Gallup study revealed that 65-80% of workers are burned out. Of the 20-35% minority who report being engaged in their work it would take more than a 20% pay increase for them to even consider leaving their jobs. That is the powerful effect that engagement has on our lives.

Engagement is real, it is very valuable, and it directly affects an organization’s bottom line. Engaged employees are profitable employees. They work harder, stay focused longer, they are more productive, they are more innovative, they are happier in their roles, and they are much more difficult to lure away from a company. Engagement is typically measured and quantified by tracking discretionary effort. There are many different engagement surveys available which present agree/disagree statements designed to reveal engagement level. Statements include everything from “I am learning and growing in my role” to “my job inspires me” to “I have a best friend at work” to “I have worked after hours in the past two weeks because I wanted to” to “I like my direct manager.” All of these statements are designed to see if any part of your work includes the emotion of desire.

That’s the key! What all these statements are designed to uncover is desire. Engagement is not about being obligated to do something but rather wanting to do something. It’s “have to” vs. “want to”. Desire is the difference between just having a job and being engaged. When you are engaged there is a part of your job that you enjoy, that you want to do, that you are good at, interested in, or look forward to. It might be helping you to grow, become more, or move you in a direction you want to go. It is during these times that we consider ourselves engaged. When you are engaged you don’t focus on how much you are being paid or when you will be finished for the day. You are more interested in enjoying the day-to-day tasks, making a difference, having an impact, seeing something through, feeling a sense of accomplishment, or learning and growing. Enjoying the tasks of your job or gaining a feeling of progress is a valuable feeling and employees that experience that are less likely to leave their organization. The Gallop study also predicts for 2023 that, at any given time, an average of one-third of your employees are actively being recruited away from your organization. That means that by the end of this year everyone in your organization is likely to be offered alternative employment and will choose whether or not they want to stay. Do they experience enough desire and engagement at work to stay?        

Gallup found that workers aged 18 to 24 consider upskilling a more important benefit than retirement, sick leave, parental leave, life insurance, and vacation. Even among workers aged 55 and older, more than half (53%) say upskilling is “very” or “extremely” important and 48% would consider switching jobs to be able to do it.

Another study by Zippia showed that 68% of workers who receive consistent feedback feel fulfilled in their jobs, while a whopping 98% of workers disengage from their work when they receive too little feedback. That is a game-changing statistic. Knowing how to deliver sincere positive feedback and improvement feedback in a way that helps an employee to increase their impact and productivity is an extremely valuable skill and one that organizations need to invest in developing if they want to, not just keep their employees, but keep them engaged.

Another area that needs to be addressed for its impact on retention and engagement is workplace conflict. A study by CPP Inc reveals that 67% of workers reported that they have gone out of their way to avoid a colleague because of conflict at work. Another study by Randstat reports that 58% of workers have considered quitting a job due to a disruptive workplace. At a minimum workplace conflict erodes collaboration, teamwork, communication, and trust, and it creates toxicity in the work environment. At its worst workplace conflict can lead to lawsuits, disengagement, burnout, and turnover. Being able to address workplace conflict in a way that resolves the conflict and allows the working relationship to move forward is, again, a very rare and valuable skill.

If you are facing some of these issues in your work environment, stop allowing them to erode your company culture and get some help. The skills needed to provide effective feedback and to address conflict, passive-aggressive behavior, disrespect, broken agreements, gossip, politics, turf wars, manipulation, hidden agendas, revenge, and other behaviors that destroy engagement are essential to building a productive, high-performance culture where employees are willing to give up a 20% increase in pay to stay. If your team leaders don’t have these skills put a plan together and make it a priority to develop them. The resources you invest, including employees’ time away from the desk, will pay off many times over once these skills are utilized and implemented.

Steve McClatchy

Steve McClatchy is the president and founder of Alleer Training & Consulting and the author of the award winning, New York Times Bestseller Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress & Lead by Example and the forthcoming book Leading Relationships: Increase Engagement, Retain Your Top Talent, Hold Others Accountable & Lead High Performance Relationships.  Steve provides keynotes and workshops on the topics of Leadership, Time Management, Consultative Selling and New Business Development.   If you would like to learn more about the ways Alleer can be a resource to your organization visit, email or call 610-407-4092.

Copyright © Alleer Training & Consulting. All rights reserved. / 610-407-4092 /

Book Steve Today!

Schedule Your Event

Steve McClatchy Headshot

Book Steve