Employee engagement is all about making sure that employees are enthusiastic about their jobs and the ideals and ethics that a company stands for, so it’s important to make sure that this is the case. In order for a company to perform to the best of its ability and capacity, its employees must be productive and engaged in their jobs so that they can work to the best of their ability.
Employee engagement is therefore important to a business, and it is essential that employers work to create an engaging and productive atmosphere for their employees to perform well.
In this article, we’ll provide some examples of employee engagement strategies to ensure your workforce is working well together and why it’s important that employees are engaging with their work.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
According to a survey conducted by Gallup, 71% of employers say that employee engagement is essential to making their business run smoothly, however, only 15% of employees are actually engaged in the workplace, according to the same survey. Employee engagement can often get overlooked as employers focus on more obvious ways to improve their business while employee wellbeing isn’t acknowledged. However, employee wellbeing is closely linked with engagement in the workplace as employees who feel happier in their jobs are more likely to engage well with their work and in turn, be more productive. Companies with higher levels of engagement also get a higher rate of employee retention, profitability, and productivity.
Employees should be enthusiastic about their jobs, and about the ethics and the ideals of the company they work for. Workplace engagement is closely linked with their experience in the workplace; when they have a positive experience they develop a good relationship with their job and are more likely to engage and participate better. When they don’t, it can have a detrimental effect on other members of a workforce and can end up demotivating a number of workers, leading to teams not working as well together. If, as the Gallup survey revealed, only 15% of employees are engaged in their work, a lot of companies could implement a number of new engagement strategies to improve their employee engagement rate.
There are eight ‘employee engagement drivers’ of workplace engagement, which are aspects that feed into whether employees are engaged with their work. When these are worked on and there are strategies put in place to improve all of these aspects, employee engagement will come naturally. The 8 engagement drivers are;
- Employee rewards
- Social relations
- Workforce data
- Brand alignment
- Employee Wellness
- Workplace satisfaction
- Career growth
Improving workplace engagement is a workplace ethic initiative that has a number of benefits for the company; happier and more productive employees, increased revenue and ROI, lower employee turnover, and even a better reputation as a company. As strategies can be put in place for each of the engagement drivers, it can have a huge impact on the efficiency of a company. A company’s employees are a reflection of the company itself, and if they’re not motivated and unhappy with the company, it will reflect badly on the business too. When employee engagement is high, a business functions much better than it would otherwise.
12 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement
Given how important engagement is to a company, there’s a range of ways to improve it! With the importance of corporate wellness becoming more and more apparent in recent years, employee engagement can increase when workplace wellness is prioritized. These workplace engagement strategies will focus on ways to improve each of the eight employee engagement drivers we looked at earlier and increase levels of employee performance.
Get Decorating in the Office
An exciting workspace is much more likely to encourage a higher level of engagement among employees than a dull office environment; this engagement strategy certainly can make employees excited about coming to the office when done well. Bright colors and good lighting are a great place to start in making the workplace a more welcoming and productive place to encourage employee engagement. Introducing ornaments and photos or prints are also a cool addition and adds a different dimension. The University of Exeter even found that adding houseplants into an office space can increase employee productivity by 15% as employees reported feeling happier and had improved levels of concentration. Giving employees autonomy over their own offices and workspaces can also be a great personal touch in making their days more fulfilling and less boring. Small things like this can just help to improve the willingness of employees to come into work each day and be productive and create a lighter and happier workplace.
Recognize Employees’ Hard Work
This workplace engagement strategy is one that works towards improving both career satisfaction and career growth engagement drivers, as it helps employees work towards a goal of being recognized. Recognizing when certain employees have gone above and beyond in their work or have achieved highly can make employees feel better about themselves, increase employee performance, and set a good example for others around them. This could involve small gestures such as mentioning them in a weekly email blast or staff newsletter which publicly congratulates the employee and encourages them to continue succeeding with their efforts. If you want more extravagant motivational initiatives then you can try offering food or shopping vouchers, personal development opportunities, or even company holidays for the highest achieving employees.
Train New Hires Efficiently
Studies have shown that a third of new employees know whether they are likely to stay in a new job by the end of their first week there, and another third leave before they have completed six months in a company. When employee turnover is high, companies lose money in the hiring and training processes of onboarding new employees, however when the employee retention rate is good, it leads to more productivity and teamwork in the workplace, and when a workforce works well together, the engagement in the workplace goes up. Employing an engagement strategy to ensure that new employees get all the right training, even if it is a little time-consuming, means that they will feel more comfortable in their position and able to do their job to their best ability. It also means that informal training won’t fall on other current employees when new staff needs help, causing those employees to feel resentful towards having to take up this extra work and be less enthusiastic about their job. It’s also important to check in regularly with new employees to make sure they are getting on well with their work and don’t need further assistance. It’s important that they feel valued, looked after, and welcomed in properly, which will set them up well and ensure they don’t feel neglected. Employees need to feel like they’re part of a team in order to feel comfortable and accepted into a company, and it’s not enough just to hire someone to make this happen.
Go for a Team Building Day
One engagement strategy that works well is taking a day off to work on team building. This can greatly improve employee engagement by getting staff to get to know each other better and encourage them to work well as a team. If a workforce is falling apart slightly because employees aren’t getting on well, or there is tension between certain members of staff, then productivity will be low and employees will be less happy in the workplace and unlikely to engage as much as they otherwise would. However, to prevent this from happening, working on employee relationships is an important and useful initiative to save unhappiness and resentment within the workplace.
Offer Longer Lunch Breaks
This engagement strategy might seem simple and perhaps counterintuitive, but longer lunch breaks are actually proven to increase productivity within the workplace as they allow employees to recharge and come back to their work feeling more refreshed and able to carry on. Not getting enough breaks throughout the day leads to workers becoming lethargic and unable to work to the best of their ability. Being overworked significantly decreases the brain’s ability to think, create and even remember as well as it can with significant rest, and therefore will have a significant impact on the amount of work an employee is able to do. Increasing lunch hours by just 30 minutes can also allow employees to exercise; go for a run or walk or even take advantage of a nearby gym if possible.
Improve your Work Perks Scheme
Employee engagement strategies are all about making staff members more enthusiastic about their jobs, and about coming into work. Data suggests that 48% of employees take into account work perks when looking for a new job, which means that if your company isn’t offering the same benefits as a rival, employees may be less likely to apply for positions with you. It also means that your employee turnover may be higher than it needs to be, and it wouldn’t take much to fix this. Simple things such as condensed hours on Fridays paid birthday holidays or flexible hours and holiday schedules are all considered work perks. They not only improve employee retention rates but increase productivity and engagement by making employees more positive and more excited about coming into work. Work perks are a great employee engagement strategy to lighten the mood in the workplace but they’re not enough to make your employees stay if other areas of their jobs are unfulfilling.
Offer more Paid Time Off
An extra holiday is an engagement strategy that is popular with a lot of employees for a number of reasons; it allows them to spend more time with family and children, take part in activities or hobbies, or just take more time for themselves and relax. In fact, they’re so popular that 37% of workers globally, and 40% of US employees say that they would prefer to have a more paid holiday than receive a promotion or pay rise. As we mentioned earlier, being overworked is detrimental to an individual’s productivity and in turn to their engagement to their work at any job. Having the option to take a few extra days’ holidays, especially if the schedule is flexible, means that when things get tough outside of their job, employees don’t have to worry about juggling their work and home life, and their job satisfaction increases.
Allow Working from Home Where Possible
If giving extra holiday doesn’t seem to be a viable addition to an engagement strategy in your company, then consider allowing employees to work from home a few days a week. This may be less costly to the employer and also means workers don’t have to spend time and money commuting and are in a more relaxed environment where they might even work better than they do at the office. 65% of those who already work from home at least partially, claim that their productivity has increased, and 80% say they enjoy being closer to their family. With the development of new technologies like video calling and cloud-based drives, it’s possible for almost all industries now to allow their workers more flexibility, and office working is becoming less frequent than ever. There will certainly be those who prefer working in the office, so being flexible is key. Giving those who would prefer to work from home the option to do it even just once or twice a week can be a great employee retention strategy that improves mental health, job satisfaction, and even productivity.
Include Free Snacks in the Workplace
67% of employees at companies that provide free snacks and hot drinks at work say that they are ‘very happy’ with their current job’s work perks, whereas the average work perk satisfaction is just over 50% in the US. It’s a small initiative, and it may seem like it wouldn’t go far, but having the option to grab a biscuit during the day clearly has its advantages even beyond being just an engagement strategy. This may be because it can be an advantage from a social point of view – if a large number of employees share one break room, they may meet workers from other sections grabbing a cup of tea or coffee. 70% of employees say having friends at work is essential for a happy working life, and surprisingly nearly 60% of people would turn down a higher paying job if they didn’t get along with their coworkers. Those with fewer friends at work also admit that they feel less engaged in their work and it’s been proven that having work friendships help performance and engagement. Putting strategies in place for employees to get to know one another is a great step towards improving employee engagement.
Set Clear Goals
Giving clear goals and aims to work towards in the workplace gives employees more incentive to get things done on time. It stops procrastination and a lack of motivation, especially if there is a reward at the end of each goal. It’s important to get clarity on a team’s structure and ensure that every team is working well to achieve the goals it is being set, whether it be each day, week, or month. Long-term career goals should also be thought about as part of an engagement strategy; things such as where employees want to be further down the line. Talking to employees to get an idea of where they see their career going is important in ensuring that they are able to progress and grow efficiently and realistically with the company’s own objectives.
Make your Company Values Known
When employees are enthusiastic about their job, their engagement levels are undoubtedly likely to be much higher than those who don’t share this enthusiasm. It’s hard for anyone to work hard for something they don’t appreciate, and so making sure your company’s values are instilled in your employees is important in getting them to appreciate what they’re working for. However, employee engagement is not about taking a dictatorial approach, and if employees are not enthusiastic about the company or the product they’re working for, they’re unlikely to engage. Screening future employees thoroughly and making sure they can show why they want to work for you is a key part of making sure they will remain enthusiastic and productive. It’s also important to make sure your company is adhering to its values, and that what it says it stands for really is what they believe, otherwise employees may feel misled and unhappy.
Prioritize Your Employees Needs
The most important thing when trying to improve your employee engagement rate is finding out what your employees need in order to do that. Surveys and questionnaires are easy and simple ways of finding the information you need to start implementing changes effectively. There’s no point in implementing changes that may be costly or time-consuming if they don’t fit with what your employees feel they want and need in order to engage more with their work.
Irrespective of how HR wishes to improve employee engagement, there need to be systems in place to measure employee engagement.
How are you improving your company’s employee engagement?