In this modern era, employees are looking for an engaging work environment as much as employers are looking for engaged employees. It’s not enough to just keep them happy; employees can be happy or satisfied with their pay, workload or hours, but not actually engaged with their jobs.
In fact, studies have found job satisfaction is directly related to the contractual details of an employee’s role (pay, benefits, job security), whereas engagement levels are largely influenced byday-to-day experiencessuch as trust, recognition, communication between employees and management, and work assignments. Engaged employees want a positive work culture, work-life balance, development opportunities, and a chance to make a real contribution to their organisation. In return, they are17% more productive,hile the organisations they work for achieve a 21% increase in profitability and 41% reduction in absenteeism.
Here, we’ll take you through understanding what is hindering your employee engagement, developing employee engagement strategies, incorporating those into a plan, and demonstrate how this can help make your business more successful.
Building an employee engagement strategy
A truly engaged employee is emotionally invested in not only their personal success, but the success of their employer. On the other hand, a disengaged employee shows up, does what is necessary to get paid, and goes home. Turning a disengaged employee into an engaged stakeholder in your organisation requires an employee engagement strategy.
But before you can think long-term, you need to start with your basic pillars: tactics and initiatives. Your tactics are the main drivers of your overall strategy. Initiatives are the specific actions you take towards achieving those tactics. Think of it like this: You want to get fit. Employee engagement is you at your Arnold Schwarzenegger best. Your strategy is to go to the gym five days a week. One tactic is to focus on cardio to lose weight. The initiatives to achieve that specific tactic might be attending HIIT classes, walking outside every day or completing 30 minutes on the treadmill before every workout. Everything adds up, little by little.
Anemployee engagement surveywill help you decide what tactics to focus on, straight from the source. This can be structured using open-ended questions (e.g. ‘If you could change one thing about the company culture, it would be...?’), multiple choice questions (‘What tool would enable you to work more effectively in your role? A) Professional development; B) Mentorship; C) Flexible hours), and/or statements rated on a numerical scale (‘I can see myself growing and developing my career in this organisation’).
These questions should address the everyday experiences of your employees, how they interact with coworkers and management alike, how they align with the company mission and values, and if they feel valued by their organisation . Once you’ve compiled the results, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement and effectively create actionable steps to address these issues.
Quantifying the issues your employees have is the relatively easy part. Deciding what tactics you want to use to combat low engagement is where things start to get finicky. Applauz outlinesseveral tacticsthat are crucial to employee happiness and satisfaction and building a successful employee engagement strategy. When choosing what tactics to address and the initiatives necessary to achieve them, it’s important to remember some may be more time- and resource-dependent than others. Make sure whichever you choose to focus on is targeted to the engagement issues you are trying to conquer through your employee engagement strategy.
1. Goals & Alignments
A simple tactic to drive engagement is realigning employees with your business goals. Implementing consistent and open communication channels between employees and management is an easily introduced initiative. Using goal management and performance tracking through alearning management systemwill help employees see how their work contributes to targets, and keeps the workforce engaged and aware of large-scale organisational outcomes.
2. Career Growth
In a 2018 global study by Deloitte,almost one thirdof employees said the most important opportunity their organisation can provide is on-the-job learning, particularly in increasingly tech-based work environments. Subsidising the cost of external training and courses, hosting workshops with industry experts, or establishing a mentorship program are all enticing initiatives for new hires and current employees that have the added effect of making staff feel valued.
3. Mission & Purpose
What purpose or belief defines your organisational identity? This should be clearly communicated and related to the work your employees are undertaking if you want to inspire a strong work ethic. When the personal values your employees hold dear line up with your core mission, a shared sense of purpose is created and they experience a sense of ownership about their work, which in turn inspires them to be invested in the quality of that work. Monthly newsletters covering business updates and charitable initiatives and annual company-wide networking events are great ways to nurture that shared dedication.
4. Rewards & Recognition
Everyone likes a pat on the back, and whilst public recognition goes a long way, a tangible reward employees can use or redeem is undoubtedly a stronger motivator than a simple ‘thank you’. Rewards and recognition software can be easily created (and automated) through a learning management system like Acorn, so you can implement initiatives such as a Years of Service Program, free birthday lunches and bulletins to recognise high achievers.
Implementing an Employee Engagement Program
Once you have considered which areas need change to improve employee engagement, it’ll be tempting to rush implementation. But much like completely changing your diet from fast food to grilled chicken and veg, sudden changes to organisational practices are usually unsustainable, and likely to end with everyone simply slipping into old habits.
Creating a culture of engagement requires sound investments that consider the implications and unintended consequences of any changes to HR and organisational practices. Your employees come from different circumstances and life situations, so ask yourself the impact changing workplace policies will have on each and every one of them.
As with anything, the investment you put into an employee engagement program will determine what you get out of it. Not all drivers of employee engagement are created equal, hence the level of investment you put into each should be determined by how pivotal you consider each to improving engagement in your organisation. Any tactics adopted to drive employee engagement should lead to positive and measurable business outcomes you outlined when designing your program, such as higher profitability or lower absenteeism.
Top 5 Employee Engagement Strategies
Keeping employees engaged is no mean feat, and there are inevitably many ways to climb that mountain. The best tap into theholistic human resourcestrend, wherein HR gets back to its roots and engages with employees as people, rather than just workers.
Here are the five most effective employee engagement strategies to help employees feel empowered and motivated:
1. Think bottom up, act top down
Your people are the foundation of your company. Ergo, top down managerial thinking won’t necessarily benefit or empower the people working at the base. On the other hand, change won’t be affected from the bottom up in many companies. A key employee engagement tactic is ensuring your staff don’t feel like cogs in a machine.
Employee engagement surveys should be administered as frequently as you believe necessary to measure the relationship between employee engagement and key business outcomes. These surveys should establish employees’ points of view and frames of minds, how they align themselves with company values, levels of motivation, sense of purpose, and passion. Keep all questions neutral and focused on employee behaviours.
The buck doesn’t stop at surveys, however: use them as springboards to hold focus groups with select employees to further discuss any issues flagged. Make sure to ask for solutions or ideas from your employees and be transparent about utilising them. Knowing one’s opinions are not only listened to but actually contribute to change helps engage employees with company values.
2. Care for their health and wellbeing
Engaged employees feel the strongest emotional connection with their employers, hence why52% of employeeswould choose a company that cares about their wellbeing over one that pays 10% more. Showing that your company cares for employees’ health—and not just their work—may be a costly investment at face value, but it’s one that reaps consistent rewards.
Contemplate adding wellness programs to your company’s employee benefits. Weekly in-office workout classes, ergonomic desks, corporate gym discounts, green spaces, flexible work hours, and healthy food options are attractive benefits that convey you care for the individual as much as their output. The upside for you? Employers can save$6 for every dollar they invest in healthcare.
Considering we spend most of our waking hours in the office, it is crucial to also foster a thriving social ecosystem. Nurturing relationships in the workplace provides an added incentive for employees to be engaged during the work day. Gallup found women who believe they have a best friend at work are34% more likely to be engagedthan those who say otherwise. Last year,The Harvard Business Reviewreported the likelihood of two people interacting (physically or digitally) is directly related to the distance between their desks. Further, HBR found that since 90% of face-to-face interactions in the office take place at desk, arranging your floor plan by teams (design, sales, support, etc.) channels communication between the right people at the right times.
3. Visibly recognise achievements
Regularly recognising employee efforts is one of the simplest and most effective employee engagement strategies, yet a rather important one to invoke when66% of employees would quit if they felt undervalued.(For millennials, the number is as high as 76%.)59% of employeeswould rather an organisation prioritise recognition over a higher salary without recognition. Showing appreciation shines a spotlight on the most impactful individuals and teams and makes it clear to new hires what success (and the fruits of labour) looks like in your organisation.
Recognising a job well done at regular intervals throughout the year is an easy way to boost motivation, empower those who are already engaged, and increase retention. Organisational rewards can be monetary, in the form of bonuses or gift vouchers, or perks, such as a day off. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition and implementing a reward program based on that principle will further foster an engaged and motivated work culture. Through an LMS, employees could give each other points as recognition of a job well done, which your organisation could in turn stockpile towards a reward once a certain number of points has been accrued.
4. Have an employee voice
There’s no one-voice-fits-all approach to organisational practices. Treat your employees like internal customers. Actively keep in touch by creating spaces where they can raise issues and receive feedback, such as weekly team meetings where staff can discuss their workflow/load, workshop ideas, and review concerns directly with managers. Another important iteration is one-on-one meetings between managers and high achievers, employees chosen for performance improvement and those selected randomly to provide a snapshot of the workplace culture.
Whether your workforce is remote or onsite, investing in digital spaces for communication is important for keeping connected. Installing an LMS that enables video and teleconferencing, instant messaging, discussion boards, and email announcements and newsletters written by employees relates to your team their voices are being heard and listened to. A bonus of encouraging free flowing internal discussion is employees will be more likely to speak positively about your company externally.
5. Provide personal development opportunities
A whopping94% of employeessay they would stay in a role longer if they felt the organisation was invested in their career. Ongoing personal development opportunities give employees goals to work towards and dramatically improves retention by training talent already within your organisation.
Sponsoring seminars, certifications or higher education programmes is a great way to encourage a learning culture amongst employees. If your organisation cannot bear the costs of external training, investing in a learning management system will train your employees while they work. The flow on effects of encouraging your employees to educate themselves are staggering.48% of heavy learners(i.e. those who spend more than 5 hours a week upskilling) are more likely to find purpose in their work, 39% more likely to feel productive and successful, and 47% less likely to be stressed at work.
It’s crucial to understand how your employees learn best, too. Some need constant interaction and collaboration, while others prefer solitude when studying. Some like to learn on the job where others need to walk into a role already prepared. An LMS like Acorn can offer a multitude of eLearning resources for all stages of an employee’s career and to complement every learning style.
Boost employee engagement with Acorn
Increasing employee engagement and empowering your team means becoming more people-centric—which is exactly how Acorn is designed. Our user-friendly system is packed with engaging content and interfaces that can be tailored to any learning preferences.
Acorn intuitively automates HR administrative tasks and processes, so you have more time to focus on what really matters in your organisation: your people. Your workforce is provided ongoing learning and development opportunities at every stage of the employee journey through our multi-award winning learning management system, so you can better discover and harness the potential of your people.
We want to help you turn your employees from disengaged workers into engaged, empowered and motivated stakeholders in your company.
Contact usto book a free demo to see how Acorn can improve employee engagement in your organisation.