Improvements in the U.S. job market have led to a significant tightening in the talent market. Midsized business owners especially are looking for new ways to retain employees and attract top talent, so a renewed focus on employee engagement could serve to kill two birds with one stone.

According to the ADP Midized Business Owners Study, 76 percent of midsized business owners are concerned about employee engagement, representing a 25 percent spike since 2012, and 40 percent of midsized owners have expressed "high levels" of concern about keeping their talent engaged. The fact that this issue has become a key concern is certainly worth exploring — in 2014's study, it wasn't listed among compliance and health care costs as the top three areas of focus. The increased focus on engagement can be attributed to the fact that owners are realizing it is critical to talent retention, but only a little more than half feel they have the processes necessary to facilitate it.

1. Drive Engagement With Human Capital Management Tools

According to the ADP study cited above, 43 percent of midsized owners believe that a primary goal of human capital management (HCM) is to drive engagement. HCM should offer solutions and services for the following areas in your organization:

  • Payroll
  • HR administration
  • Employee health benefits
  • Talent management
  • Time and labor management

A lack of trust in management and HR can have a devastating impact on engagement at midsized organizations. According to an article in Fortune, Dave Gilboa, CEO of Warby Parker, is a firm believer that trust is earned "over time through consistent behaviors and actions." Adopting the technical infrastructure necessary to support effective HCM can lead to consistently high-quality benefit administration and talent management, which allows employers to instill critical trust in their employees.

2. Facilitate Face Time

Facilitating "face time" between team members can be a powerful tool for building relationships and engagement at midsized organizations. Deloitte research reports that inclusiveness, transparent goals and "empowered teams" are all vital engagement factors. Daily group meetings to recognize achievements and discuss company values can reinforce those factors.

For example, SeniorHousingNews writes that American Baptist Homes of the West, a midsized eldercare and housing provider, implemented the "ABHOW Advantage," a comprehensive employee engagement program. In addition to orientation and values training, the team participates in 10- to 15-minute, employee-led "huddles" at the start of each shift. The result of the program has been a 26 percent increase in employee engagement scores. With the help of communication technologies for team web conferencing, the concept of a daily huddle is even possible for midsized organizations with flexible workforce policies and remote workers.

3. Use Smart Data to Improve Engagement

Big data isn't a solution reserved for the largest organizations. Organizations of all sizes have begun incorporating smarter data as a tool for recruitment, retention and engagement-driven activities. By benchmarking your organization's teams, departments and goals against your competitors, you can help ensure that your workplace provides sufficiently competitive total compensation, benefits and environment to drive engagement.

When adopting smart data for employee engagement research, it's crucial to define key questions to ask prior to the benchmarking process. Are you hoping to explore your total compensation? Flexible work arrangements? Factors that contribute or detract from current employee satisfaction rates? By working with specific research questions, you can streamline your data collection processes. By working with colleagues in other departments, midsized business owners and analyst teams can collect all necessary data sources to begin creating talent and compensation benchmarks and other forms of data-driven intelligence.

Keeping employees satisfied, confident and focused on organizational goals should always be at the forefront of any HCM strategy. By utilizing effective human capital management tools, relationship building and smart data, midsized business owners can develop deeper insight into the factors that are driving engagement and optimize their strategy accordingly.

Tags: Retention HCM Strategy big data Employee Engagement