5 ways to improve employee engagement

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5 ways to improve employee engagement

As Erin Davis said in her 2010 presentation at the annual American Library Association conference in Washington, DC: “a happy employee is a productive employee”. In other words, if your employees are not enjoying their job, feeling valued and mentally engaged, there is a high chance that they won’t be productive.

A study by the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom tested the idea that happy employees work harder. The results? More engaged, or happier, employees were around 12% more productive.

In this blog, we will take you through what employee engagement is, why it’s important and 5 ways you can enhance your overall employee engagement score.

Employee engagement: what is it and why is it important?

The Society for Human Resource Management defines employee engagement as: “the level of an employee's commitment and connection to an organization.” Why is it important? Well, a higher level of employee engagement, which means happier employees, promotes staff retention, can foster customer loyalty and overall, improve organizational performance.

There is a high likelihood that as you are reading this article, you yourself are currently an employee of an organization. Let’s take a step back and consider how you feel, say, waking up in the morning to go to work. Do you feel motivated? Do you feel excited? Do you feel that the projects and themes set to be discussed or worked on today give you anxiety or do you feel supported by your team to address any issues that may come up? These are all questions that tie into your level of engagement with your organization.

Ideally, you should have some positive-geared answers to these questions. This would indicate a good start to the overall employee engagement score your department might have. However, you are just one person in the general scheme of things; while you may have a positive reflection of your experience with your organization, what of that of your peers? Your supervisors? The interns? Anyone employed by the organization? All of this ties into employee engagement and if a large majority are not happy, chances, your organization’s bottom line won’t be either.

Let’s take a look at why improving employee engagement is a worthwhile investment:

Deloitte found a ‘sense of belonging’ to be at the top of their Global Human Capital Trends survey with 93% of their respondents believing that to be a key driver for positive organizational performance.

Improving employee engagement is like creating a seamless domino effect. Happier employees translate to happier customers which translates to happier customer experiences which translate to happier and healthier bottom line figures. Without engaged employees, organizations will suffer; it’s that simple.

What are employee engagement programs?

An employee engagement program and activity is a tool that organizations develop to define, prioritize and action their initiatives for improving employee engagement. It starts by identifying the key factors within the area of concern that influences employee engagement, recognizing the pain points and creating a customized plan to address them. They are often created by a human resource department.

What are 5 things that can be done to enhance employee engagement?

When looking for ideas to improve employee engagement in an organization, it can be quite subjective. For example, you may run an organization that has a lot of shift workers or fly-in-fly-out positions, so it may be hard to coordinate a workplace party once a month for everyone to get together and socialize. While at an organization that has their employees working in-office, 9-5, Monday to Friday, it’s as simple as sending a calendar invite.

Here is a list of our top five ideas that can be universally implemented in most organizations to improve employee engagement.

  1. Implement a regular employee engagement survey system

    Invest in an employee engagement tool that measures how engaged your teams are. This can be easily done through a Net Promoter Score (NPS) tool. You may be familiar with using NPS for your customers where it often asks them a simple question: “How likely are you to recommend (insert your organization’s name) to a friend or colleague?”. Now, imagine this being sent to employees instead. The question is the same but the outcome can be interpreted as “how likely as you to recommend our organization as a preferred place of work to a friend or past colleague?”. Consider implementing an eNPS into your organization’s engagement index.
  2. Sit down and have a coffee

    Get each of your leaders to sit down with their direct reports, maybe enjoy a coffee outside of the usual work environment and have them discuss with their staff members how they can help improve their employee experience. Is there anything that is preventing them from feeling engaged at work? Maybe give them some time ahead of this conversation to write down questions and key points. Or, for some employees this to can be an approach that is too headstrong, create an ‘anonymous tip line’. Could be a box or an email account that employees can send concerns or ideas to without their identity being compromised and address these in weekly meetings. The important part here is to actually show that their concerns are being heard. Take them through what action plans are in place in response to fostering a more engaged employee workplace.
  3. Re-assess internal communication processes

    How do you currently communicate important company changes to your employees? Do they feel up-to-date and involved in organizational changes and news? Consider implementing an employee newsletter or post in social media groups, like Facebook or Instagram, that is sent out weekly, fortnightly or even monthly depending on the amount of important news that stems from your stakeholders and partners. Is there a new service or product being launched? Let them know via the newsletter. Are there openings within the company that employees could look into for professional development opportunities or a promotion? Let them know via the newsletter. It’ll help them feel more engaged with the comings-and-goings of your organization.
  4. Create a learning hub

    You should always want to keep further developing your employees' knowledge and skillset to keep up with the demands of your industry. With Industry 4.0 breathing down our necks, there is no time to have employees that are one, unengaged and unhappy, and two, not upskilling to stay competitive.

    Does your organization have a learning hub platform packed with courses that could improve their skills or foster the development of a skill set that could lead to promotional opportunities? How about investing in further education that is in line with their career goals?
  5. Embrace flexibility in the workplace

    From hybrid workplaces to remote work models, according to a Deloitte survey, more than 50% of employees didn’t want to return to the office post-pandemic and preferred working from home. That is supported by studies showing that only 9% of the global workforce is expected to ever fully return to the office and 53% of large organizations are now planning to reduce their office footprints.

    Consider the work requirements of your teams. Do they really need to be in office? Do they even want to work in the office or would their work-life balance be better off working a hybrid or even full remote work model?

How to engage a team at work

Apart from the major points above, here are a few smaller and easier-to-implement concepts for improving employee engagement:

  • Have an ‘employee of the month’ initiative
  • Host TGIF meetings and potlucks 
  • Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and personal milestones
  • Get your teams to volunteer for a great cause together
  • Implement ‘nap time’ or ‘meditation time’
  • Entertain office excursions 
  • If logistically possible and allergies permit, ‘bring your pets to work’ day
  • Review onboarding processes for new hires.

The impact of poor employee engagement

It should come as no surprise that an employee may consider work elsewhere if they feel undervalued and unengaged in their current work setting. The impact of poor employee experiences over time can lead to workplace phenomena like ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘The Great Re-evaluation’.

To avoid the fallout of these events, consider reading our two blogs on maintaining a great workplace culture in a remote model or implementing a healthy hybrid workplace.