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Why organisations should consider the social aspect when it comes to employee retention

By Josephine Witt, HR Business Consultant at Alight Solutions

March 11 2024 - Why do you choose to work where you work? It is not surprising to most that workplace benefits and monetary recognition are fundamental for not only attracting but also engaging and retaining employees at the organisation. Alight's recent workplace benefits study showed that to differentiate from competitors, companies should change their approach to benefits with human-centric programmes. They should ask employees what benefits matter to them and tailor a plan accordingly.

While workforce benefits play an important role in this, there is something else that organisations should heed to, namely, the social aspect.

Humans are social creatures. Many of us crave connections and recognition from others, the feeling of being valued and part of a network, a sense of belonging.

The same Alight study, focusing on European countries, shows a lack of alignment between employees and employers in considering the social aspect. While social relationships are very much considered a top need by employees, they do not appear in companies' top priorities. This is a gap employers must bridge in order to truly keep their employees fulfilled and satisfied.

Workplace benefits, from healthcare to discounted gym memberships, are very much relevant. However, not acknowledging the importance of the social side contributing to employee retention and wellbeing can lead some organisations to lose despite comprehensive benefit programmes they may have in place.

What comes into play here is the notion of social recognition.

Research has found that people who were thanked at work in the last month are:

  • Half as likely to be looking for a new job
  • More than twice as likely to be highly engaged
  • More than three times as likely to see a path to grow in the organisation

These findings go to show that, sometimes, a simple 'thank you' can do wonders. That's the power of appreciation. Consider the potential advancements that may arise when a team member establishes a professional relationship within the workplace.

How can organisations leverage this knowledge?

Start by fostering an organisational culture where recognition is ingrained in the workplace. This is easier said than done, but a practical approach is to integrate this culture in a continuous performance management process within the organisation.

Having regular conversations with the manager in place can already help in building a feedback culture in organisations. Supported by the right technology, it also allows and encourages peer-to-peer recognition.

While employee recognition reinforces other desired behaviours, recognising others is a desired behaviour. So, bringing this idea to the next level, rating the behaviour of giving feedback and recognising others in the employee's performance review could help foster this culture. It can showcase where the priorities lie for the organisation, helping them pursue a common vision of the organisation's future state.

The objective here is that, instead of treating recognition as an afterthought, it becomes natural to celebrate the achievements and contributions of employees, so they feel valued and seen.

Leveraging social recognition can reduce turnover, improve employee engagement and increase motivation and wellbeing. Companies can benefit from acknowledging the importance of the social side of work and set up a culture-based programme that allows for recognition within the organisation between managers and employees and among employees.



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