A shocking 70% of Americans who work full-time say they are not engaged and the number of engaged employees worldwide is even lower (13% of employees worldwide are engaged). Clearly, effective employee engagement is something employers need to keep working on if they want productive, happy employees who will be motivated to contribute their best.
5 Employee Engagement Tips to Help Your Company Thrive
Nowadays it’s more important than ever for companies to up their employee engagement game with Millennials set to take over the workforce in the coming years (37% of the US workforce in 2014). While money is still important to them, areas like meaningful work, in-the-moment feedback and recognition, and flexible schedules are high on their lists of needs when it comes to choosing a company to work for.
Bottom line is, companies should always be striving to keep their employees engaged and, despite the natural stresses of work, satisfied with their progress at work and its impact. Periodic pulse checks help companies understand if what they are doing to engage employees is actually working but unless action is taken, surveys will only increase frustration.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, we hope our tips on employee engagement help! Some of these actions can seem small, but they communicate important elements of company culture and leadership style that are important.
1. It Starts with Onboarding
What sounds better to you? Walking in on your first day and being handed a bunch of paperwork to read over by yourself in a corner –or- a warm welcome from HR and your new manager that includes coffee and breakfast and a chance to break the ice? I’d choose conversations with an Aromatic Arabic from Philz Coffee and a vegan donut in hand over filling out copious amounts of boring paperwork alone any day. :)
Meghan M. Biro, TalentCulture CEO and HR expert, suggests that companies think about onboarding as more of a team-building exercise rather than a time to simply get paperwork filled out. In her Forbes article, The Onboarding Experience Matters To Your Future Employees, she explains that when new employees are treated as people from the get-go, they’re more likely to be engaged immediately and carry those positive feelings with them.
2. Evaluate Leadership
Are you doing your best as a leader to set your employees up for success? It’s always difficult to look at a situation and think that you could be the problem, but there are times that it’s true. Luckily, you have the power to shake things up and turn it around if, in fact, your current leadership strategy isn’t engaging.
Communicate Clearly: Ineffective communication is the root of many employee issues. As a leader, you must step up your communication skills. Be clear, concise, and consistent with your employees and how you communication throughout your organization. And don’t be afraid to use tools to your advantage! Technology can automate manual processes, personalize content to individuals, remind employees and teams of work that needs to be done, and so much more. Mostly importantly, with the right communication tools, you can find success with your team. Retail giants like Old Navy, Athleta, Gap and more have improved employee engagement and productivity through retail communication tools like Zipline.
Share Your Story It requires effort, but it is possible to get the results you want by engaging with your employees on an emotional level. One way to do so, suggested by Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard, is to create your own leadership story. This story will allow people to get to know you better and you’re more likely to be viewed in a positive light because of your vulnerability.
“People admire you for your strengths, but they love you for your vulnerabilities.”
Humanize Your Approach Another way to engage employees from a leadership standpoint is to treat your employees as human beings/adults and not results-producing machines. It might sound simple, but many companies struggle to do this.
“People wake up as human beings, not as employees of [enter company name here] and when you see your employees as whole people, they feel appreciated and supported.” — Wendy Lea, Executive Chairman of Get Satisfaction
Learn to Empathize It’s important to meet people where they are. In order to do that, you have to lean into empathy and learn to understand, and respect, the points of view and opinions of others. In the words of Jayson Boyer:
“Though the concept of empathy might contradict the modern concept of a traditional workplace—competitive, cutthroat, and with employees climbing over each other to reach the top— the reality is that for business leaders to experience success, they need to not just see or hear the activity around them, but also relate to the people they serve.”
Empathy through open communication helps us understand the needs and priorities of others. Look at empathy as a building block in maintaining successful relationships with your employees.
3. Practice In The Moment or Regular Feedback
Annual performance reviews are too infrequent and old-fashioned for today’s modern workplaces looking to maintain favorable levels of engagement.
If you want to see improvements in employee performance, you’re going to have to adopt a continuous feedback mindset and deliver. Performance can only improve where authentic and corrective feedback is given.
Instead of waiting for a scheduled date to provide feedback, do it in the moment — after a presentation was given, when an employee closes a sale, after a successful Twitter chat or webinar.
There are plenty of opportunities every day for instant feedback. If you take advantage of them, you’ll find your employees more engaged and productive.
4. Provide Ongoing Recognition
One of the top reasons people leave their jobs is a lack of recognition, 48.3% of surveyed employees agreeing.
Many sources are reporting that Millennials crave instant and ongoing feedback and recognition. And it’s for good reason. “Ongoing recognition allows Millennials understand on-the-spot what behaviors they should continue to help them progress their careers,” writes Tatiana Beale of Achievers. This should be the case for all employees!
When employees were asked what would increase their confidence in their skills and build trust with their leader, the majority said recognition in the form of a “thank you”. A simple, but authentic “thank you” is proven to be more powerful than a 5% bonus. (OC Tanner)
A simple, but authentic “thank you” is proven to be more powerful than a 5% bonus. CLICK TO TWEET
Acknowledging the regular work of your employees and letting them know you are aware of their contributions on a more frequent basis is great for business. The more appreciated employees feel, the less likely they’ll be looking to leave for a better opportunity.
And if you feel that you’re not receiving enough recognition for your work, all you have to do is ask.
5. Make Their Experience Meaningful
Plenty of workers want to feel their efforts are affecting change in a positive way. Though changemakers have existed for a long time now, this trend has been on the rise lately thanks to Millennial demands.
With job satisfaction at its lowest rate, 45% in the US since recordkeeping began over two decades ago, it’s in your best interest to offer solutions for employees who want a more meaningful experience at work.
U.S. job satisfaction at it’s lowest rate — only 45% of employees satisfied with their work. CLICK TO TWEET
This can be done in a number of ways:
Connect employees with end users Some roles have people working behind the scenes day after day. This makes it unbelievably hard to feel they’re making any difference at all after a while. Find ways to connect these employees to the individuals who benefit from the products and services. A couple of examples include how John Deere invites employees who build tractors to meet the farmers who buy their tractors and how Wells Fargo films videos of customers describing how low-interest loans have rescued them from debt. (Source)
Handle relationships with care Employee relationships between manager and their peers have an effect on their day-to-day engagement and productivity. When relations are strained, it can be hard to focus on tasks. Do your best to handle any conflicts head on and to create opportunities for people to develop friendships (great for highly engaged employees)
Donate percentage of profits to charity A lot of companies include charitable contributions in their business model and it’s something to consider if your company doesn’t already. Not only does it help the non-profits, your staff will likely feel an increased sense of connection to their work because they know there’s a meaningful outcome. You can take it a step further and include employees in deciding which non-profit(s) will receive the help. It’s a great way to learn what your employees are passion about outside of the office.
Employees who feel they have an impact on a higher purpose through their work tend to be much more satisfied. Dig deep to find ways to make work meaningful for your employees and show them you care about more than making money.
Employee engagement plays a key role in successful company outcomes. Employers should always be looking for ways to engage employees and make them feel valued, because valued employees are more productive and driven to give back to their colleagues and employer.
What steps are you taking to improve employee engagement today?
Are there any employee engagement methods that have helped your company thrive? Please share your thoughts with us below in the comments or through social media.
–Lolly Fitzpatrick, Content and Social Media Manager at Talentcove
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