Employee engagement is an important part of employee retention, and retention of the most talented individuals is critical to an organization’s long-term success. We know this; we talk about it, read articles about it, and make it the center of our HR strategy.  There are five gifts we can give to our employees that, when given freely, will help ensure engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.

These five gifts are not only related they also reinforce each other.  They are foundational, not hierarchical, and if one is missing the other four get weaker.

Trust – this first gift is needed for all good relationships, an environment of mutual trust. Trust is one of those funny things that you start getting when you give it (I call it the emotional boomerang effect, if you throw it out there in the right way it will come back).  You build trust through open and honest communication.

Clarity – the second gift can be tough. The future is never clear, and the world is always changing. If you have ever had a supervisor that constantly changed his mind, contradicting himself between conversations that were 10 minutes apart, you understand the importance of consistent clarity.

Empowerment – giving this gift illustrates trust in our people.  From a customer standpoint nothing is more frustrating than being told “there’s nothing I can do about it,” and from an employee’s standpoint feeling powerless to make the right decision is a sure path to disengagement.

Input – having a voice in their own destiny is all anybody wants. When people in the executive suite and the field interact effectively we do our best work. The field can help hone leadership’s plans, identifying potential pitfalls, strengthening the process.  Each level of an organization brings a unique insight to the process, but we won’t find out until we ask.

Support – there is comfort and safety when you know someone has your back. It brings together trust, empowerment, input and clarity, and without it, the rest fall flat.

If you find yourself with a disengaged employee, and you’re not sure why, ask yourself if you are giving them what they need to be successful. Like a boomerang, what you get back will be amazing.


This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on September 19, 2016

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