5 Employee Engagement Tips You Can't Do Without
Employee engagement is about creating the right conditions for employees to reach their potential.
We don’t necessarily mean employee happiness, or even employees liking their employer. Some people might be happy to be unproductive, spending their time idly, or enjoying perks over productivity.
We all read the turn-of-the-century articles about tech startups providing naptime and Friday afternoon parties. Engagement isn’t about that, as much fun as they sound. Employee happiness is obviously preferable to unhappiness, but it’s not interchangeable with engagement.
Forbes prefers a simpler definition:
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
Engaged employees are more productive. They put in extra work when needed without being asked. They take pride in their workspace, their positivity motivates other employees, and they are better for your organization. An engaged employee will consistently deliver higher quality of service and work and one who is disengaged. Customers will be more satisfied, which means you sell more, so you have more profit, and, way up the top of the chain, your shareholders enjoy higher returns. High levels of employee engagement make the entire company thrive.
Remote work has been a blessing for many companies during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and can provide a level of flexibility to employees who value autonomy and isolation. Remote work can boost employee engagement when it’s used properly, but can also make it difficult for employees to connect with one another and with their employer. Absence certainly does not make the heart grow fonder when it comes to the workplace. Remote work means you miss all those incidental interactions that make workplace connections thrive. Water cooler chat about the big game, swapping theories about your favourite shows, and even complaining about the awful coffee the place around the corner does are ways that employees feel connected to their workplace, and they’re woefully absent in the work from home environment.
Employee engagement has been declining worldwide since 2017. In fact, according to Gallup, only 15% of employees are engaged in the workplace! Low employee engagement means employees start taking less responsibility and ownership of their behaviour, appearance, and output. Disengaged employees think (and maybe even talk) about finding new jobs, and cost companies $450-550 billion each year.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that disengaged employees cause chaos in the workplace. High turnover, endless churn, reduced productivity, and the knock-on effect this has on other employees makes taking care of business almost impossible.
Increasing employee engagement above these abysmal stats is imperative to the success of any business.
5 Tips to Boost Employee Engagement
1. Development Opportunities Make it obvious that your employees have opportunities to learn and develop with your company. Employees who see their future brightening because of their workplace are far more engaged than those who see themselves in a dead-end job. Simply asking your employees what their career goals are, and how the company can help them achieve those, goes a long way to accomplishing this. You can also assign an employee a project slightly more senior, or more challenging, than their last one, and acknowledge their hard work and development in doing so.
2. Allow & Encourage Autonomous Work Unless you’re a Dickensian coal mine, you don’t hire children. Treat your employees like adults and encourage autonomous work. The temptation to micromanage is ever-present, but resisting this and encouraging employees to find their own solutions and direct their own work is empowering and lets them know that you trust them to do a good job. After all, you hired them for a reason. It’s not as if they were incapable of completing tasks when they started. Offering flexibility around the employee’s priorities is another way of doing this. Young parents in particular often appreciate the chance to work remotely far more than other employees, and will work harder not to lose the precious time they have with their children.
3. Frequent, Personal Checking In The line between over-managing, or over-scheduling meetings, and frequent check-ins is a thin one. You can’t just rely on biannual “how are you” conversations any more. Modern employees expect, and require, regular pulse checks. So, too, does the company. You need to let your staff work autonomously and accomplish things as they see fit, while regularly seeing them one-on-one and ensuring that they have the support they need to complete their work on time and to a satisfactory degree. Ensure that your meetings are one-on-one, and that they always start and finish on time. That way your employee knows that you value their time and energy. You’ve set aside time in your own day to speak with them, and that you’re enabling them to abide by a schedule and return to work when they need to.
4. Anonymous checking in The other side of the pulse check is a passive check-in. Some employees are more likely to be honest in a survey or alone than when faced with a manager. While that might seem counterintuitive, there are ways to make this more impersonal method of checking in feel more human. Voice capture technology like Softbrik allows you to do this without taking too much out of anybody’s schedule. When performing an employee pulse check, you can create a voice feedback form for your employee survey, which Softbrik then converts into text and groups by patterns so you can act faster.
5. Scheduled De-Stressing Company outings, field trips, workplace perks, and team building exercises aren’t just to make your employees happy. Working non-stop or for long hours can quickly burn your employees out. When you schedule fun team activities you allow them to recuperate and return to a higher level of productivity. Even better, if you can organize fun, team-based activities, you’ll see a side of your company dynamic that you’d never normally see in the workplace. Perhaps someone you thought was meek becomes a natural leader on the volleyball court, or you’ll notice the vital support role one employee takes in relation to another having a hard time.
Just because global employee engagement is falling does not mean it has to be the case for your company. The above tips will ensure that your employees are engaged, productive, and loyal to the company. Remember, focus on employee management and engagement will follow!