Engaging and Retaining High Performing Employees

By Emily Haynes posted Jul 30,2014 17:38


Article by Destree Rickard

Strict regulatory enforcement and high-profile penalties have made ethics and compliance professionals more in demand than ever, especially in the financial services industry.

For example, Citigroup recently announced plans to add 6,000 jobs in risk management, compliance and anti-money laundering, while HSBC Holdings recently added about 1,800 compliance officers, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

So how does this competition for quality E&C staff affect you? It increases the pressure to keep your workforce engaged and happy, especially if you are at smaller or mid-sized company without a big budget.

Engagement Equals Retention

Managers may spend more time talking about engagement than actually putting it into practice. In fact, a recent global survey by Gallup found only 13 percent of employees feel engaged in their workplace.

Here are four practical ways to keep your E&C staff highly engaged.

Offer Ample Growth Opportunities

Make sure you’re offering new challenges that stretch your staff’s skills sets. If you have a team member who specializes in mergers and acquisitions but hasn’t been as actively involved in an emerging area, such as anti-corruption, consider putting her on a project that will give her opportunities to work with it in a team setting.

Invest in your employees’ professional development by encouraging them to participate in continuing education, seminars and conferences.

Use Mentoring

Pairing new or less experienced ethics and compliance professionals with senior-level staff members serves a two-fold purpose: It demonstrates to the more junior employees that someone is personally invested in their success, and it can facilitate friendships, which is one factor Gallup uses to determine employee engagement.

The senior employees also benefit from regular interactions with someone who brings a fresh perspective.

Measure Engagement

If you want to know how engaged your employees are and determine how much improvement is needed, start by asking your staff.

Gallup measures engagement by asking employees to consider these 12 statements:

  • I know what is expected of me at work
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development
  • At work, my opinions seem to count
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
  • I have a best friend at work
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow

Start by getting a baseline of the attitudes in your department, and measure progress over time. Offer incentives for managers whose department or team ranks highly in engagement.

Boost Engagement By Hiring the Right People

Employee engagement varies widely according to economic conditions and across industries, but managers still play a significant role in encouraging it. Gallup found that employees’ perceptions of their primary managers influence about 70 percent of their engagement, while their coworkers’ attitudes and other factors account for the other 30 percent.

The best managers give their employees clear expectations and the freedom to determine the best way to achieve results. They also know who their best employees are and aim to hire more people like them. Gallup developed the Engagement Creation Index, a tool that measures a candidate’s talent for engaging others.

When hiring an ethics and compliance team, use tools like this to ask questions that evaluate a candidate’s ability to motivate others. Employee engagement starts and ends with people, so it's imperative to hire those who not only have the right skills, but the ability to lead a team.

Destree Rickard is Managing Director at BarkerGilmore, an executive search firm specializing in legal and compliance recruiting. An accomplished leader at the firm, Destree manages search engagements and specializes in driving the selection process, coordinating research, and directing recruitment efforts. Destree can be reached at drickard@barkergilmore.com and (585) 598-6556.