Calling employee engagement a strategy doesn’t seem fair. Employee engagement strategy needs to be tailored to an organization’s engagement issues, for each organization is unique. Having a foosball culture, free snacks, bringing in cakes and all is good, but does it really address the root cause of why your employees are not engaged and why you need to strategize in the first place? Good employee engagement strategies are not and cannot be driven solely by HR, all departments need to partake for it to bear fruits. Employee engagement ideas and activities may be more successful if they come directly from the employees. Open and frequent communication can do wonders for your employee engagement initiatives.
In a perfect world, employee engagement strategies mean increasing the likelihood of an employee establishing a positive connection with the organization. When an employee feels that they are emotionally attached to an organization they tend to stay longer. That is the real engagement I am talking about. But, can you force them to do it?
The answer is, No! Well, you can’t force them to do anything without their will, but you can certainly create an environment for them to stay.
In the following section, I will discuss 4 most effective employee engagement strategies.
1. Focus on the foundation – People
Many organizations fail to understand, an organization is built by its people. Workforce is an integral part of the organization, period. After all, the people are the bedrock on which the organization is founded upon, and if you don’t understand what makes them unhappy or uncomfortable, you will soon run into trouble. It is important for you to know how to help your workforce if they are disengaged.
The easiest way is to deploy an employee engagement survey, gather data to know what’s really happening. Most people find that clichéd, but you will see that a survey ensures success, it’s fast, easy, anonymous, and can be taken anywhere, anytime. Collect data, analyze it and take necessary actions. You can start off today, here are a few employee engagement survey templates for you that are deploy-ready.
2. Act on the information obtained
Don’t just sit with all that data, remember it is a goldmine, use it wisely. If you have identified what leads to disengagement amongst the employees, act upon it. You may use this data to create your own employee engagement best practices, rather than relying on others’ models. If, as an organization, you fail to acknowledge your employees, then there is fundamentally something wrong with you. Knowing that one’s opinion is not given any importance, they stop responding. Use a platform to make sure their questions are answered, and explain why those actions you took were needed.
3. Give your employees voice
Running a survey once a year is not the most amazing thing that you can do. You also need to have parallel channels where employees can raise their concerns, knowing it won’t have an adverse effect. For this, consider using internal chat channels or a similar platform where employees can communicate on a one-to-one basis with their managers or peers.
4. Practice open door policy – It works!
Many top-level executives have changed their modus operandi and have introduced a free culture within the organization. An open-door policy not only helps you collect feedback first-hand but also encourages employees to put forth their opinions freely.
Over the last decade, a lot has changed in terms of employee engagement strategies and best practices. Employers’ focus has slightly moved from people who are satisfied with their work, to people who are actively engaged in their work.
Employee engagement can be directly related to employee performance. In an organization, if the employee performs, this is directly related to financial gains. So, it’s a circle of performance. If an individual is engaged and is performing better than expected, then it makes sense to the team, department, division, and the organization to perform better together.
However, improving employee engagement requires a more strategic approach, therefore, we need to first put in place employee engagement strategies and best practices and then work on efficiently implementing them. These strategies can be implemented in stages, as mentioned:
Stage 1- Know your people first: It is important to first understand what your employees think about employee engagement. To know this, you can send a questionnaire to your employees and ask for their feedback. Employee engagement surveys are a quantitative method that helps an organization understand where they stand in current times and how they want to look like in terms of employee engagement in the future. This should be the very first step of your employee engagement best practice. Information is key, this will help shape your employee engagement campaign better.
Stage 2- Choose your approach wisely: Surveys are easy to distribute and one can easily get feedback and tabulate the conclusions, however, there will be certain employees in an organization who would not tell the complete truth and would just fill the survey for the heck of it. Using a quantitative approach can also generate responses, that might help to get a better insight. An organization should choose their options wisely. Using an existing survey template is a good way to start.
Stage 3- Develop a plan of action: A central plan of action needs to be developed at the organizational level, as well as a local plan of action that should be sorted at the team level. One needs to remember, everything cannot be fixed overnight. The changes need to be communicated to the employees in an effective manner that increases their awareness of them.
Encourage managers to engage in local meetings to plan tasks effectively. Remember it’s not just one person’s task, equip your managers, and support them to come up with employee engagement strategies and best practices. Your managers are the people who spend maximum time with the staff and the best source of feedback for any plan of action.
Stage 4- Implement the plan: Implementation of any plan is the most difficult and tricky stage. This stage determines whether or not all the hard work that you as an organization have put in will work or not. This is mostly because employees have adapted themselves to certain workplace culture, behaviors and competencies. Accepting changes is not an easy process for everyone.
Implementing the strategies and best practices may need facilitation from external sources. It is a best practice to keep your staff in the loop of all changes that are planned, the least they want are “unwanted surprises”.
Stage 5- Evaluate: Finally, it is important to understand whether employee engagement strategies and best practices have been successful or not. To evaluate and to understand, revisit your employee data. What is the percentage of turnover, absence, reports of stress from the time the changes have been implemented?
Have these improved or become worse? Have the changes led to financial improvement in the organization? Are the targets being achieved? Talk to your managers, ask them if the employees are happy about these changes?
Evaluation of an ongoing process not only helps in understanding if that plan has worked or not but also to understand future references.
Lastly, employee engagement strategies and best practices directly influence the employees. To implement these practices it’s always good to understand the employee’s point of view, to generate better ideas that work. Ultimately, it’s the employees whose hard work and determination determine the financial progress of an organization.
Effective Employee Engagement Strategies
Now that we know how to implement the employee engagement strategies, let’s look at some that have proven successful for many organizations:
- Clarity of roles and responsibilities
Employees care about their current responsibilities and are also interested in knowing what the future holds for them. Will their contributions be valued? Will they be promoted? Will there be a different, more responsible role for them? Such clarity helps contain attrition, especially with newer generations who are not shy of periodically switching companies.
- Rewards and recognition
Organizations hold annual awards ceremonies to recognize top and distinguished performers. This is great and absolutely necessary, however, even small victories/achievements should be celebrated. It can be on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and can be non-financial. You may reward employees with items that are useful to them. For example, gardening set for someone who likes gardening. This builds trust, ensures employees that even their slightest efforts and wins are being recognized.
- Fair and transparent processes
Be open and transparent about your processes, be it for appraisals, business management, etc. Employees that trust organizations tend to stay for longer durations and are highly engaged.
- Be receptive
Communication cannot and should not be one-way, it is imperative that employees feel their opinions and concerns will be heard. They need to feel they can contribute new ideas that will help the organization’s business, improve processes, and boost productivity.
According to research conducted in the U.S. by The Engagement Institute in 2016, disengaged employees cost $450 to $550 billion every year to lost productivity.
Very often we hear organizations and businesses emphasize employee engagement and workplace happiness. Time and again studies say an engaged employee is more productive and happier than the ones disengaged in their roles.
Creating a robust plan for employee engagement should be on the cards for any business if it already doesn’t exist. While as a business you might get discouraged by poor employee performances, it’s never too late to implement employee engagement best practices
As per Gallup’s 2013 State of the Global Workplace study, about 30% of employees in the US are engaged at their workplace, while 52% are disengaged and 18% are “actively disengaged”.
Worse, this “actively- disengaged” population overshadows the engaged population and is considered to be hostile and speak out their unhappiness out loud, which in turn increases the number of disengaged employees through sheer employee-to-employee thought induction.
Although employee engagement varies widely by region, culture and economic conditions, at a macro (large-scale) level, an organization tends to face losses that are irreparable and irreversible, therefore to avoid such a situation at any time during the business life cycle, the management needs to ensure that they have employee engagement best practices put in place.
In today’s competitive business world the benefits of positive employee engagement can not only be neglected but need to be actively promoted.
According to a study, nearly 1.4 million employees in about 50,000 businesses across the U.S. have been said to positively connect with their work culture. As a result of this, these businesses have been able to rank much higher in business performance metrics such as higher profitability, better productivity, efficient ROI per employee, low attrition rate and improved ability to attract new talent.
These compelling studies also indicate that high employee engagement organizations
- Outperform their competitors by 20%.
- Have an increase in share prices by 16% versus the 6% industrial norms.
- Have better creativity and innovation at work.
- Have a whopping 368% return to their shareholders in comparison to their industrial competitors.
Given these positive outcomes of higher employee engagement organizations are heading towards implementing employee engagement best practices to effectively increase their employee skill, talent, and productivity.
Low employee engagement is certainly a global problem. Right now seven out of ten employees are disengaged. This attitude severely affects the organization’s growth and success and also the morale of the other members who work there.
Employee engagement strategies and best practices are a must for any organization today as they facilitate a harmonious work environment. A group of clockwatchers is fatal to the growth of an organization.
On the contrary, the organizations or businesses that excel in their employee engagement strategies and best practices outperform their competitors in terms of profitability and productivity and that is all that matters in this competitive atmosphere.
So, what’s the secret recipe to beat the odds? How does one come up with employee engagement strategies and best practices? It’s not rocket science, here are some that any organization must promote:
Best Practice #1: Hire the right people
In an organization, there is a lot of discussion about shaping workplace culture. But the truth is you’ll have to do less work in this regards if you have your recruitment strategies in place. Before the face-to-face interview with the candidate, it is important that thorough screening should be done. This will result in bringing onboard such employees who from the very beginning have similar vision and passion for the organization, thus proving your employee engagement strategy right!
Best Practice #2: Recognize the efforts
It might sound obvious, but companies need to show appreciation for the good work done by the employees. Recognition is one of the top three motivators, according to a study. Organizations that recognize the employees’ efforts are most likely to have less attrition.
Saying “thank you” doesn’t really require any investment. A simple humane gesture can engage the employees in the organization to perform better.
Best Practice #3: Invest in your people
Working in a fast-paced environment can exhaust the employees. An organization that prioritizes its employees is most likely to perform better. Invest in your people, organize training (internal and external) like better communication skills, how to work better in a group etc.to facilitate enthusiasm and better understanding amongst the employees.
Best Practice #4: Add some fun
Generating interest in what your employees do is one of the best employee engagement strategies. If your employees don’t show interest in the work they do and are just performing the mundane activity, there are lesser chances that they will be engaged in the work they do.
It’s easy to say that one should enhance interest in the tasks assigned to them, but adding a little fun to the daily tasks never killed anyone. It’s a good practice to make your employees’ job a little more enjoyable.
Best Practice #5: “Engaged or Happy”?
These two words might sound very similar, however, as an employer, you need to know the difference. Your employees might be happy, but they might not necessarily be engaged in the work they do. Engagement can be seen in productivity and happiness improves efficiency, which is an added advantage.
Best Practice #6: Communicate better
Communication is the key! One of the biggest hindrances in employee engagement is communication. In an organization if an employee feels, they can’t communicate freely or ask questions directly there is a likelihood of decreased engagement levels, which in turn hampers the growth of an organization.