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Мария Динева

Talent engagement and retention: How to use metrics and data in the process?

The topic of employee engagement and retention is extremely popular in the current labor market, marked by an unprecedented series of changes - pandemic, global inflation, political uncertainty, the entry of the new workforce, etc. Manpower Bulgaria, as an HR partner, provides its clients with comprehensive business solutions. We have an extensive portfolio of research measuring a variety of aspects that are important to organizations and their success. Maria Dineva, HR Research Expert at Manpower Bulgaria shares her thoughts on why employee engagement and retention are important, how they are perceived by employers and tells us how they can be measured.


Why the topic of retaining people in the organizations has become so popular lately?

Over the past few years, the labor market has undergone a huge transformation and is now at its greatest "peak" of change. The peak as such can be seen as both negative and positive - on the one hand we have a huge shortage of employees and professionals in specific fields, and on the other hand new professions, new ways of working, new processes have gradually started to emerge, which are becoming interesting for young talents. These changes, as well as COVID-19 and the various political and economic changes, have put businesses in a situation of needing a definitive change. I would go as far as to say that to date we are still adjusting and learning new practices to build permanence in our organizations.


Retention became paramount when employers realized that they needed to treat their employees first and foremost as individuals with individual needs and requirements for the job. Employees, on the other hand, have adjusted their expectations to the "new normal" and are no longer willing to settle for less than they can get. Let's not forget that during the pandemic a huge number of employees in sectors such as tourism, working in hotels and restaurants were forced to retrain and look for other job opportunities, but also quite a large number of them did not return to these businesses for a number of reasons - uncertainty, low profitability, substandard working conditions, more positive benefits in other sectors.  


The pandemic confronted the business with the unconventional and the unknown, when it wasn't ready for it. Proof of this are the new, already familiar, ways of working - "home office" or "remote working", which were something rather standard for foreign companies, but not a practice or a way of thinking for business in our country, and now it is one of those benefits that are among the must-haves for employees. Talent now has complete freedom to demand this way of working and not to accept offers that don't offer it


Faced with all these changes and innovations, organizations have begun to realize that attracting new hires is an expensive resource filled with uncertainty, and putting effort and adaptability into retaining and engaging current employees is fundamental to organizational success.  


Which metrics and data "speak to us" about the state of an organization? What are the most popular solutions for creating and improving retention strategies in companies?

Good organizations implement different processes to measure their status - asking the opinion of their employees, customers, partners. On the other hand, to be successful (competitive and desirable as an employer) in this dynamic market where employees are demanding, an organization must be innovative.

With the addition of our “Research” department to the Manpower portfolio, we support organizations that want to be innovative and adaptable to the dynamic changes in the labour market. Through a variety of metrics and methodologies, we help organizations make smart decisions about their development.


The status of a company can be measured using many different aspects. The most preferred way by employers to measure their labour market condition is to collect data with our "Salary Benchmarking" research, whose main objective is to change or protect the current remuneration in the organization itself. This is one of the things employees want and seek - high salaries. But one of our recent surveys about young talent's attitudes towards employers shows that in addition to high pay, the new workforce is also looking for status, security and professional development through interesting projects and a dynamic environment. And how can we be sure that a high salary will be the factor that will retain employees? What do our people really want? Often our partners tell us that even after salary increases, positive employee emotions last no more than three months, and the goal of keeping talent in the organization is a projection for the longer term.


Another method by which employers can measure their status is by analyzing the internal organization and culture of the company.  The data from one such survey, based on metrics from the well-known Hofstede model, measures employees' organizational effectiveness, and in parallel, what type of employees they are - process- or goal-oriented. The method compares the formal and informal settings in the organization, while measuring the strengths and weaknesses of both the employees and the processes. Structuring a good action plan, aligned with the company's mission and goals, based on data from this survey can help employers be not just competitive but also desirable to candidates.

Following these steps, a successful employer must also pay attention to building a solid and strong plan for a good employer brand. Our R&D department accompanies our partners in this endeavour, and in addition to analysis from the perspective of the external market, we also reach out to our partners' employees, gathering data from different groups of people in order to build a good and effective long-term plan for adapting to the innovations and dynamics of the 21-st century. We analyze the testimonials they have, measure their satisfaction - both with the work they do, the products, the company name and everything they are involved in. The goal is that through the Net promoter score we can give transparent feedback and build a workable plan for change and employer brand recognition.


How is employee engagement measured in the company? How could this help employers?

We are all familiar with the standard engagement and satisfaction questionnaires that large organizations distribute internally at some point for employee feedback. However, this method proves ineffective most of the time - often employees don't actually share what they think and what suggestions they have for improvement.

Engagement is the key to retention, no matter which business sector we are talking about. If we look at the trend of the big resignation, it is the engagement with the processes, the company, the work as a whole that is at the heart of employees choosing one employer over another. Measuring it is not that difficult, the challenge comes in using the right methodology and analyzing the results.

By transforming standard engagement questions and adding motivation metrics, focusing on the level and quality of satisfaction itself and recognizing the right retention factors tailored to the business and its specifics, companies can arrive at much more detailed and credible information to build true employee engagement.