3 No-Cost, High-Value Ways to Boost STEM Employee Engagement and Retention

According to a Forbes.com STEM retention article, voluntary STEM employee turnover costs billions of dollars annually.1 While articles and studies about how different STEM employees’ wants and needs are from their non-STEM and more traditional counterparts, there are several fundamental similarities. Like their non-STEM counterparts, STEM workers also put a great premium on perks and practices that promote clear career paths, work-life balance, and the sense of being valued.

  • Define Career Paths – while there will always be merit to “simply doing one’s best,” STEM workers demand defined, quantifiable goals as well as a well-plotted career path. Being very clear about expectations, their roles, and how what they do contributes to the organization is a great way to instill confidence in both prospective and present employees. Our 2020 SCALE provides job descriptions to help you establish what’s expected from the employee, and can aid you, along with resources such as your organizational chart, in outlining career paths for your team.
  • Offer Flexible Hours – whether it’s to pursue their passions, or to spend more time with their families (particularly parents looking to curb daycare costs), not being locked in a traditional 9-5 work schedule is a coveted perk.2 In fact, 73% of surveyed employees ranked flexible hours as highly desirable – some would even go as far as to take a pay cut to have it, but only 37% of employers offer this very appealing, cost-free perk.3  The McKinsey Global Institute predicts a potential global shortage of 38 to 40 million high-skills workers in 2020. Not offering this much-desired perk seems more like something employers can’t afford to do.4
  • Give Support and Feedback – there’s a lot to be said in having pride in one’s work, but support and feedback, also known as active or experiential learning,4 means even more for today’s professionals. Who doesn’t enjoy being complimented on a job well done? Just as importantly, knowing that your boss and colleagues have your back, and are there to help you get it right, makes you feel like a valued part of the team. Being generous with praise, providing helpful input, and giving constructive feedback have become the ace up the sleeve of many smart managers1 looking to attract and retain keepers.
  1. Build STEM Work Environments That Retain STEM Skills, Lahti, Ryan, Forbes Coaches Council (08/31/2017) https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/08/31/build-stem-work-environments-that-retain-stem-skills/#5899d65d375c
  2. Attracting STEM Talent: Do STEM Students Prefer Traditional or Work/Life-Interaction Labs? DeFraine, William C., DeFraine, Williams, Wendy M., Ceci, Stephen J. (02/27/2014) https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0089801
  3. 6 Tips: How to Effectively Attract and Hire STEM Talent, Zakinthinos, Aris (02/21/2019) https://www.achievers.com/blog/6-tips-how-to-effectively-attract-and-hire-stem-talent/
  4. Focus On Employability Skills for STEM Workers, Banks, Shawn, Edwards, Tim, Frimbres, Lorena, Gerstein, Arielle, and Lackey, InDia (07/2015) https://www.stemconnector.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Focus-on-Employability-Skills-Paper-1.pdf

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