Emphasis HR’s Comprehensive Guide to Employee Engagement
You often hear the term “employee engagement” in the office place, but do you really know what it means? Do you know its importance and what it entails? If not, read on.
It may best to first understand what employee engagement is not. It is not black and white and cannot be boiled down simply to employee happiness or employee satisfaction, though it may include some of those components. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment employees have to an organization and its goals.
Employee engagement means employees genuinely care about their work and their company. When your employees care about their work and their company, great things can happen. Your account manager doesn’t mind staying late, your IT programmer is more than happy to train a new employee, retail employees actually pick up garbage in the aisles of the store and take that extra inch to care about their workspace.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is a long-term commitment between your employees and your organization. These two components support one another and are critical in the management and retention of talented employees in your organization. Employee engagement leads to better business outcomes and better bottom lines for your business. Tower Perrings research company researched and discovered engaged workers have 6% higher net profit margins. That’s significant.
How can employee engagement lead to higher margins? In a simple sense, employee engagement leads to higher service, productivity, and quality which then leads to higher customer satisfaction which again leads to an increase in sales, which of course leads to higher profits. Whew. That is a pretty great recipe for success.
You want your employees to feel passionate about their job, and to look forward to coming to work each day, right? Well here are some strategies to keep your employees in this positive state of mind:
Employee Engagement Strategy #1: Recognize good work
Showing support for your employees by cheering them on reminds them they are valued by you. Rooting on their successes and accomplishments may seem minor, but it goes a very long way. Show your employees their work does indeed matter. Two out of three employees feel that their efforts go unrecognized.
Employees who feel less than appreciated are more likely to let their performance slide or engage in poor behavior. Recognizing good work is a low-cost strategy that can be implemented every day. Encourage and celebrate your employees, but also encourage your employees to celebrate each other’s victories, as well. Colleagues exchanging praise builds a sense of camaraderie throughout the whole workplace and elevates the positive feeling throughout your organization.
Employee Engagement Strategy #2: Provide a Sense of Purpose
For many employees, showing up to the office, working on a defined task, and collecting a paycheck is not enough. This is especially true with generation millennials. Employees want to feel the work they do daily really matters to their employers, customers, and stakeholders. It is bigger than just turning a profit for them.
Employees want to be able to see that the work they do truly has an effect on their company and its overall purpose. If they cannot see this link, they will very quickly become disengaged which in turn makes them less accountable for their work output. It is important for businesses and their leadership to communicate their mission clearly to their employees. It doesn’t stop there, though.
Organizations need to show their employees how their personal contributions are making a difference. When employees can genuinely make this connection to their work, there is a larger level of personal success, which in turn drives greater company’s success.
Employee Strategy #3 – Carve Out Opportunities for Growth
Here’s an eyebrow-raising statistic for you: 94% of employees state they would stay at their job longer if they felt the company genuinely invested in their career. Affording your employees an opportunity to grow their skillset keeps them more engaged. Providing developmental initiatives for your team shows your concern and care for your employees.
Providing employees access to training, educational seminars, even classes lets your employees know you are in it for the long haul with them. Employees are your greatest asset – you are choosing to continually invest in your people, rather than replace them with candidates that have these new skills. This sense of empowerment for your team is a win-win.
Employee Strategy #4 – Understand Individual Learning Styles & Preferences
Every employee is different. No two share the same approach to a day’s work. Some employees prefer to work independently, whiles others thrive in group settings. For some – it is a perfect mix. Employee learning styles are different, as well. Observing and understanding how your employees perform best is key to keeping them engaged.
Many organizations are dealing with multi-generational workforces. As a result, companies need to holistically evaluate and understand each group (rather, each individual) has a unique “best approach” to their workload.
Whether it is collaborative or singular, It pays to observe and understand how each individual performs best, instead of taking a whole group approach. Your employees, in turn, will be grateful.
The four strategies outlined above can be implemented for your company to see a greater return on investment over time, but what about some quick, inexpensive and fun strategies that immediately encourage your employees to be more engaged?
Below are a few quick and easy ideas that won’t break your budget.
Provide unique experiences for your employees that will, in turn, strengthen your commitment to one another:
- Host monthly celebrations: Isn’t there always a reason to celebrate in the office? From birthdays to work anniversaries, to employee of the month initiatives, all are wonderful opportunities for employers to show just how much they care. A simple card, cupcakes, or something as basic as a mention on social media or throughout the office shows they matter. Some ideas for hosting a mini celebration could be a potluck luncheon, game night, group hikes or karaoke. Get creative and get to better know your employees during these celebratory times.
- Give Away a Day Off: One of the best sources of motivation is knowing there is an opportunity for some extra time off – especially if it comes in the form of a contest. Did a salesperson shatter their monthly number? Did an account manager receive a glowing review from a happy customer? Maybe they deserve that extra time off. Put a plan in place once a month with guidelines on the how to’s of winning some free paid time off. You will be surprised by how many contributors you will have.
- Give new hires a very warm welcome: Negative onboarding experiences are more common that we think. Do not fall into that category. Straight out of the gate create an onboarding plan that is not only thorough and informative, but also fun and laid back. Create an internal onboarding committee that consists of a team of employees who will provide guidance and make navigating those first few months a bit easier – even fun. Ask legacy employees to engage in lunches with new employees or sit with them a few minutes of each day to help address concerns and questions. Make it informal and comfortable. Giving the best first impression you can for new employees ensures they will be more dedicated to their new role.
- Invest in some in-house games: Do you have a sizeable breakroom? What about adding in a used pinball machine or a ping pong table? Don’t have much room? Go to your local thrift store and purchase a few board games. Encourage employees a lunch time experience that is unique and fun. Encourage them to break up the monotony of the workday. Better yet – challenge your employees to a game and get to know them a bit better. They will really appreciate the extra effort.
Employee engagement is no longer just a buzz word – it is the future of any reputable organization. The importance of employee engagement has been under-rated in the past, but times are changing. Employees spend more time at work than they do with their families. So, make work a pleasant experience for them every single day. Implementing an employee engagement strategy at your organization can make a big difference to your team.
Developing an engagement strategy reduces staff turnover, improves productivity and efficiencies, retains customers and actually improves profits. Employees who feel engaged through their employers are happier in general. Don’t you want to be surrounded by happy employees? I do.