Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement: Definition

Employee engagement is defined as the degree to which employees feel responsible for their job at their workplaces, how committed they are to the organization, and how much efforts they put voluntarily to make sure the tasks in hand are well done.

Employee engagement is a very popular topic of discussion in any organization. According to a study, disengaged employees in the U.S. alone cost an organization a whopping $450 billion to $ 550 billion a year.  

To avoid such loses to the organization and to create a workforce that is not only actively engaged but also motivated enough to perform at the workplace employee engagement strategies, best practices and ideas are essential.

Learn more: Top 15 Employee Engagement Questions for your Employee Engagement Questionnaire

What are Employee Engagement Strategies?

Calling employee engagement a strategy doesn’t seem fair. Employee engagement strategy needs to be tailored to an organization’s engagement issues. Having a fuss ball 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?

A very popular quote by Franz reads, “Employee engagement cannot be a strategy because engagement comes from within the employee. It is an emotional connection or commitment that an employee has to the organization that then causes the employee to want to put forth the additional effort to ensure the organization and the brand succeed.”

In a perfect world, employee engagement strategies mean increasing the likelihood of an employee will establish a positive connection with the organization. When an employee feels that 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 strategies.

4 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 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 a survey to collect their responses to know their emotions. Most people find that clichéd, you will see that a survey is the only road to success. Collect data, analyze it and take necessary actions.

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. 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 the 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 the 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 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 its 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 the strategies. 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 is 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.

Stage 2- Choose your approach wisely: Surveys are easy to distribute and one can easily get the feedbacks and tabulate the conclusion, 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 qualitative approach can also generate responses, that might help t0 get a better insight. An organization should choose their options wisely.

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 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 plannings with their team members. 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 the 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 its is always good to understand the employee point of view, to generate better ideas that actually work. Ultimately it’s the employees whose hard work and determination determine the financial progress of an organization.

Employee Engagement Ideas

Employee engagement ideas – the buzzword that has taken the industry by storm, can be more niche for your workplace than you might expect. If you are an HR leader, you might have the pressure to do what others are doing – conduct engagement activities by borrowing employee engagement ideas from what is perceived to be trendy. However, as a leader, you might already be aware that what works in one workplace may not work in yours. Why? Because you do not have the same people!

Learn more: 50+ FREE Human Resource Survey Templates

Yes, just like any people-specific idea, employee engagement needs to be customized for the type of employees your office has employed. It is indeed tempting to merely borrow an idea from the company next door and run it just for the sake of it with a shimmering hope that it might work for your organization as well. However, sooner or later the realization dawns that it was just as unyielding in results as a wrong key for the right door.

But the good news is, the best way to crack open an employee engagement idea that works for your workplace is to simply ask your employees, the right way. In other words, you need to communicate with them in such a way that the critical pain points become clear to you. Employee engagement should be a healing hand to issues that rifle your workplace, it should be a response to it and it must improve your workplace.

QuestionPro Workforce is a package of features that center around providing you the clear and most actionable employee insights. Here are 3 features from Workforce that you can start using today to generate meaningful employee engagement ideas :

1.  Check your workplace’s, Weekly Pulse

Employee Engagement-Weekly Pulse

Weekly Pulse is one of the most heavily used Workforce features. It’s a quick, direct and easy question asked for employees to get a simple understanding of their mood and morale. In other words, it’s an employee sentiment analysis.

Workforce provides you with clear and crisp dashboards that combines deep analytics with powerful insights oriented towards enabling you to take actions in the form of employee engagement ideas and activities.

2. Conducted Cross-team Benchmarking Surveys

Employee Engagement-Cross team benchmarking survey

While every employee is unique, they do work in teams. And sometimes being part of a team can influence the way employees to feel and think. Therefore, while analyzing individual employees is important, it is equally insightful to analyze them in teams.

Workforce lets you conduct employee surveys that enable you to segregate employees based on teams and analyze the teams and conduct cross-team benchmarking. It enables you to understand which team is best aligned with your organization’s goals and which team requires special engagement to get there.

3. 360 Degree Employee Surveys

Employee Engagement-360 degree employee survey

While generating employee engagement ideas, it is important to not forget that even the management at the end of the day is employed, and hence its members are employees. In order to understand your organization, you need to understand your employees and their views from the grounds-up. Only then can you fully generate an employee engagement idea that is tailored to make a positive difference in employee motivation, productivity, and overall workplace happiness.

Workforce lets you create, deploy and analyze 360-degree employee engagement surveys throughout your company. The analysis is done in real-time and is therefore instantaneous!

Employee Engagement Best Practices

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, 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 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 practice 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 engagements organizations are heading towards implementing employee engagement best practices in order 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. Employee engagement strategies facilitate a harmonious work environment. A group of clockwatchers is fatal to the growth of an organization.

Employee Engagement

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 of the employee engagement strategies and best practices that any an 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.