Clearly, there is room for improving employee engagement—and plenty of reasons to do so. But what is employee engagement, how do you measure it, and how do you reap the benefits for your business? In this article, we will share some employee engagement activities that will foster motivation and commitment in your team—and we are not talking about old-fashioned trust-fall exercises.
Employee engagement is an indicator of employee enthusiasm, commitment, and motivation. Engaged employees are invested in their employer’s business success, values, and goals for the future. These employees are willing to put emotional, mental, and behavioral energy into their jobs and go above and beyond what is asked of them.
When your employees are engaged, they perform at a higher level. This higher performance is beneficial to individuals, teams, and your business as a whole. Some of the benefits you could see in your company include:
Conversely, disengaged employees will have a negative opinion about their jobs and have the opposite effect of highly engaged employees. Instead of being brand advocates for the company, they promote their unfavorable judgment to co-workers and people outside the organization. Here are some consequences of having a disengaged workforce:
It's impossible to know how to improve employee engagement without knowing what you're doing right and where you're falling short. Employee engagement surveys enable you to pinpoint specific areas of improvement to create a thriving environment.
There are two parts to all communication—sending and receiving information. In other words, presenting and listening. Ensuring you’re maintaining a two-way communication channel with employees is vital. Here are some practical tips to get started.
Many companies use Slack or similar messaging programs to communicate internally. Start threads for specific topics for feedback, messages from leadership, and more. Some Slack channel examples include #suggestion_box, #company_culture, #feedback, #training, or whatever works best for your organization.
You can also implement an always-on work environment survey that employees can assess on-demand. Whatever feedback channels you choose to implement, actively encourage employees to engage. Make sure they know what options are available to them and that you are taking their feedback seriously.
Gathering feedback is important, and acting on feedback is crucial. Do not just take feedback - do something with it! Change a policy, add an item to a company meeting agenda for discussion, or buy updated equipment. Following through on employee feedback lets employees know they are valued and heard.
Make sure your employees have multiple ways to communicate effectively. While some will embrace a forum and public feedback, others will be more comfortable speaking one-on-one with a manager or HR representative in person or via video conferencing. Still, others will prefer anonymous channels. Frequently encourage your employees to engage on whichever platforms they choose and keep communication flowing in both directions.
Pulse surveys are short, focused surveys given regularly—we suggest conducting them quarterly. Pulse surveys do not replace annual surveys but measure the progress you are making with your employee engagement plan so you can right your ship if you start to drift off-course!
Measuring employee engagement effectively involves a structured approach to gathering data, analyzing results, and taking action. Define your objectives, key performance indicators, and a process that is rinse and repeatable.
An often overlooked ingredient of high employee engagement is recognition. This low-cost, high-impact practice acknowledges employees’ efforts, accomplishments, and behaviors that support your business. Here are several ways to practice employee recognition.
Your employees should be familiar with your vision and goals for your company. Show them how they influence progress towards those goals, and create a flowchart or description demonstrating how their contributions ultimately lead to fulfilling the company’s goals or vision. You can even use physical reminders like graphs or charts for sales team members.
Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a gift? Recognize employee efforts and achievements with a care package to add positivity to their day. Care packages are a great way to boost virtual employee engagement and make remote workers feel valued and included.
Send high-quality branded backpacks filled with company swag and fun gifts. Drinkware, stationery supplies, apparel, headphones, snacks, or custom gift boxes are great signs of appreciation—and connection.
Publicly recognize new employees, promotions, work anniversaries, and job-related milestones with announcements, thoughtful rewards, or certificates. Looking for more ideas? Recognize them on social media, or give them a monetary bonus.
Your employees have lives outside of work. Take the time to celebrate community awards and other non-work accomplishments. Understanding that your employees are more than their work goes a long way toward engagement and can help unite employees with similar interests.
Once you’ve reached the point of conducting an exit interview, your employee has already decided to leave. Rather than waiting until someone has already found a new job, conduct regular stay meetings. These meetings allow one to check in and determine how each employee feels about company culture, work conditions, salary, training opportunities, and more. With this information in hand, you can implement changes to keep the employees engaged at your company.
Keep it casual with informal team lunches. Cater lunch in-office or (for remote and hybrid teams) a virtual get-together. Your company can send a gift card to a delivery service so remote employees can order lunch from their favorite restaurant and join the conversation online. A team lunch is a great way to get the whole team together to unwind and include virtual employees.
When you create goals for your company, ensure you include clear goals for DE&I. Engage employees in setting achievable DEI goals and look for patterns in suggestions when prioritizing goals. Hold your company accountable for promoting DE&I in the workplace and building an inclusive environment.
Be aware of unconscious biases and acknowledge and celebrate holidays of all cultures. This fosters a culture of belonging and increases employee awareness of the diversity that exists in their workplace. Acknowledge multicultural holidays on the company bulletin board and hold an all-inclusive holiday celebration.
Invite your employees’ families or significant others into the office—or virtual meeting—when you’re hosting fun activities. Replicate the old idea of the company family day with games, raffles, music, and food!
Create a designated in-office area where employees can take a break from their workspace and chat with each other. For remote employees, this may be a virtual hangout, message group, or forum to take a break from their work and engage with others. Set up comfortable seating and even an air hockey table for in-office employees!
Help employees connect over mutual interests and promote work-life balance by creating clubs. Some examples of clubs you could promote include:
Organize a group volunteer day during the workweek once a month — for remote teams, try finding opportunities for skill-based volunteering, virtual fundraising, or participation in a volunteer activity of their choosing. Remote teams can gather after their volunteer events to share their experiences.
Whether you invite an outside speaker or ask internal teams to share their expertise, lunch and learns are a great time to combine a team lunch with new topics. Team members or guest speakers can present subjects they’re passionate about—anything from mindfulness to cooking to cryptocurrency. It doesn’t have to apply to work.
Engage your team with speakers on various topics that will enhance their knowledge and inspire them. Whether it’s a motivational speaker, an expert on team dynamics, or someone with intimate knowledge of your industry, introducing a new perspective will energize your employees.
In addition to monetary rewards, think about incentivizing goals with gift certificates for dinner, shoutouts on social media, or company swag. You will show your employees they are valuable to your organization and their work matters.
A health and wellness program encourages healthy living among employees - it is also a way to improve overall life and career outlook.
Businesses are already implementing flexible work hours and locations, but if this is not something you currently offer, try it! You’ll be surprised at how productive employees can be when given more workspace flexibility.
A workday can get monotonous and sometimes painful if you have a repetitive job. Increase the number of short breaks for employees to give them time to stretch and clear their minds so they can come back to their desks refreshed. Try including one five-minute break per hour.
Flex or recharge days are a motivating reward for a job well done, and they help to promote a healthier work environment by reducing burnout. Many offices already implement casual Fridays, but if you don’t already, consider adding it to your weekly schedule. Casual days allow for a more comfortable atmosphere in the workplace and self-expression.
There are plenty of ways to improve employee engagement in your organization. Communicate clearly, listen to your employees, and take action to help your employees become more engaged. These ideas are a starting point. Where will you take them?
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