Is your team struggling with low morale? Now more than ever, company culture is central to how people navigate their career paths. Glassdoor reports that over 50 percent of professionals care more about company culture than salary. That’s why employee engagement is key to acquiring and retaining talented employees. According to Gallup, teams that rank in the top 20 percent for employee engagement experience 59 percent less turnover. They are also 21 percent more profitable.
Keeping employees engaged requires ongoing effort, so you will need to develop a strategy to meet both your team’s and the organization’s evolving needs. While this larger strategy takes time to develop, even small changes can make a significant difference for employee engagement in the short term. For example, defining your company’s core values, investing in your employees’ personal development, and creating an encouraging work environment are just a few ways to improve employee engagement. Ensuring that your employees are motivated and engaged is an investment, but one that—when properly executed—consistently generates strong returns.
This article will explore strategies and guiding principles to help you improve employee engagement both in the short term and as your company grows into the future.
Employee engagement is at the heart of everything Effectory does. When we began over 25 years ago, we noticed that feedback systems were dedicated to the wishes of the C-suite. But listening to and learning from employees has incredible benefits for any organization. That’s why we’ve built a suite of surveys scientifically proven to extract relevant data from employees, and a method for building a continuous listening strategy that puts the organization’s goals right at the heart of the project.
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Develop an Employee Engagement Strategy
Employee engagement is not something you can afford to ignore. Disengaged employees represent approximately half a trillion dollars' worth of lost productivity annually, and that’s just in the United States. Thankfully, there are many proven techniques for improving employee engagement. Every company is different, so it’s essential to develop a strategy that’s specific to your team’s needs.
Come up with a plan, implement it, and track your results. By regularly assessing each initiative you implement, you can evaluate if your strategy is significantly boosting engagement within your organization. Your company is continually growing and changing—so too are your employees’ needs. That’s why, when it comes to building feedback loops, Effectory recommends a continuous listening strategy. To maintain strong employee engagement, your strategy needs to grow and develop alongside them. In short, regularly reevaluating your strategy is a crucial part of improving employee engagement.
How to Engage Employees from Day One
It’s never too late to engage your employees in a meaningful way. If you can engage them from the moment that they’re hired, however, it’s much easier to maintain a high level of engagement over time.
Your employee engagement strategy should start with onboarding. New employees who receive clear communication, individual attention, proper training, and the necessary resources are far more likely to thrive and stay with the company. BambooHR found that effective onboarding results in employees being “18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization.” Effective onboarding also results in a 30 percent increase in the number of employees who feel strongly connected to the company culture and a 33 percent increase in employees feeling engaged overall.
New hires need guidance and clearly defined expectations, but they also want to feel supported and understood. They’ve been hired to fill a role, and they should also feel that they were hired for what they specifically can bring to the team. Onboarding is an opportunity to demonstrate the values and principles of the organization firsthand to a new hire. Make them feel like part of the company faster with a mentor or buddy system that helps integrate them into the team.
Employee Engagement Starts at the Top
Strong leadership is essential to company growth; employee engagement is no different. Gallup estimates that “nearly 85% of employees worldwide are still not engaged or are actively disengaged at work”. Achieving employee engagement takes company-wide effort, and that starts with the leadership. Too often, it’s relegated to the HR department as solely their responsibility.
Employees will never adopt the company values as their own and become ambassadors if leadership hasn’t. Efforts must go beyond town halls and company memos. The CEO, CFO, CMO, creative director, and other leaders all need to demonstrate their investment and engagement on a daily basis. From there, you need engaged middle management, which is a crucial bridge between the company’s leadership and the larger employee base.
When managers and supervisors are authentically engaged, they’re better positioned to motivate the employees on their team. Employees will be far more receptive to a manager who is genuinely engaged than one who appears to be half-heartedly implementing HR-mandated initiatives
Gallup reports a 59 percent increase in the likelihood of employees being engaged when they work with highly engaged managers. Furthermore, managers—and how they interact with employees—influence overall employee engagement up to 70 percent. This is why managers should receive ongoing training in employee engagement; it needs to be an integral part of their management style, not a secondary concern or afterthought. Successful employee engagement demands conscious, ongoing efforts.
Most employees can see right through hollow attempts at team building. When leadership is genuinely engaged, however—and management effectively conveys their commitment to their teams—employee engagement grows in kind.
Simple Ways to Improve Employee Engagement
Here are some of the easiest techniques for improving employee engagement:
- Company values: Establish guiding company principles so your employees can feel proud of where they work. Find small ways to demonstrate these values regularly.
- Mission statement: Employees have a greater sense of community and purpose when the company as a whole is working toward a clear overarching objective.
- Realistic goals: Give your team clear, achievable goals and benchmarks to aim for in the short term. This provides structure and frequent opportunities for employees to feel accomplished.
- Address problems: Fix the procedural issues and recurring roadblocks flagged by your employees. When employees feel like their comments fall on deaf ears, they disengage, and productivity plummets.
- Performance feedback: Frequent, meaningful, balanced feedback makes employees feel seen. It also communicates to the employee that you’re invested in their development. Make it a two-way street and create a space for them to share their concerns.
- Extra benefits: Invest in your employees’ wellbeing by adding mental health and fitness services to their benefits. Employees are more likely to feel committed to organizations that care about their health and wellness.
- Recognize individual achievements: Celebrate your employees’ successes with public recognition and praise. Take this further by honoring those who go the extra mile with bonuses and rewards.
- Group volunteering: Reinforce the company’s values by inviting employees to contribute to a worthy cause and give back to the community. This should take place during work hours to show that the company itself is invested in the cause.
Foster workplace friendships: Create opportunities for your employees to bond and encourage a sense of community. Outings and group activities are a great way to reinforce positive team dynamics.
Ongoing Strategies for Employee Engagement
Here are some more far-reaching initiatives that encourage engagement in the long term:
- Meaningful work: Employees want to understand how they are contributing to the team’s larger mission. Show how each assignment matters—frame supporting work as the essential building blocks for a project rather than secondary or non-essential tasks.
- Employee development: Invest in your employees. Create paths for career growth within the company. Show employees that you’re committed not just to the team, but to them as individuals.
- Flexibility: Work-life balance is more important than ever. Flexible hours and remote work options communicate to employees that you recognize their individual needs. Acknowledge your employees’ worth by making room for their lives outside work.
- Positive environment: Make the office a place employees want to be. Small investments in communal spaces, workplace perks, and high quality of life on the job go a long way.
- Encourage sharing ideas: Employees who feel like their opinions and insights matter tend to be more engaged. When you create platforms for open discussion where employees can contribute ideas on how to better meet company goals, they’re more likely to feel invested in ensuring that the company meets those goals.
- Talk about employee engagement: Make employee engagement an open and ongoing discussion. Employee engagement is all about inclusion and making employees feel seen and heard, and that starts with the employee engagement strategy itself.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for employee engagement. It cannot be solved simply by bringing in an outside consultant, holding sporadic workshops, or organizing a company retreat. Employee engagement depends on continuous, meaningful efforts to make your employees feel recognized, supported, and motivated. It’s a mutual investment. Employees need to feel like they’re part of an organization they believe in and that the organization believes in them.
Making small adjustments will help you see results quickly. By combining them with far-reaching long-term initiatives, your company can achieve ongoing engagement that will, in turn, increase productivity, reduce turnover, and foster the sort of company culture that will attract new talent to help your company grow.
Don’t let the competition gain a competitive advantage. They’re probably already thinking about their employee engagement growth strategy, too. Effectory is here for any sized organizations who want to build an impressive listening landscape.
We’ve got an easy to use, self service Essential plan for companies with up to 200 employees, a Pro plan for organizations that want a little bit more help with executing their listening strategy, and a Premium Listening plan, which is perfect for enterprises seeking a completely customizable package. Come talk to us, we’re ready to hear from you.
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