Every company wants a high-performing and motivated workforce, but this goal often proves elusive. In this post, we are sharing a few employee engagement ideas that might otherwise be overlooked. First, it’s important to understand that employee engagement is both employer-driven (incentives, environment, meaningful work, leadership, etc.) and employee-driven (driving corporate energy, forming meaningful connections, and informing personal priorities, etc.). Historically, however, companies have struggled to measure the success of employer-driven efforts. Ironically, while employee engagement is a major consideration at most companies, most employees are not fully engaged in their workplace.
Disengagement is Costly
Beyond issues with low morale, the economic cost of this disengagement is staggering. According to Gallup’s recent State of The American Workplace Report, it leads to more than $450 billion in lost profits in the U.S. annually. Similarly, Kenexa, an employee solutions provider company, discovered that organizations that ranked in the top 25% of the employee engagement rankings had almost double the income of organizations that ranked in the bottom 25%.
6 Employee Engagement Ideas
In terms of practical first steps for using employee engagement data, there is no single method for improving engagement, but there are several suggestions that industry experts recognize that typically push organizations in the right direction.
1. Start Engagement at the Top.
Unless executive leadership buys into engagement strategies, it will be just another “HR idea”, or a “corporate fad.” Actually acting on engagement data by changing the organization is a critical success factor. In order to be engaged, employees need a culture to be engaged in. Managers should thereby focus on building a work ethos around what makes the company successful and how the team can continue that success.
2. Hire the Right People.
This includes both hiring the correct employees and selecting the right managers. Ensuring you have engaged employees begins even before they walk in the door. Hiring practices should focus on hiring employees who are commitment minded and able to inspire others. Likewise, selecting the right mangers is essential for improving employee engagement. Too often, organizations will promote individuals who have enormous talent, but poor management skills. Managers need to display genuine care about people as well as performance. Additionally, managers must be able to invest in developing the team and individual talents.
3. Develop Employee Strengths.
If employees are actively engaged, they will more actively engage the organization. Organizations should focus on identifying employee strengths and cultivating those talents. Encouraging employees to develop their natural talents instead of micromanaging employees helps boost individual commitments. This includes providing necessary training and proper resources. Managers should emphasize their employee strengths by engaging them in dialogue about how they can improve, which has been cited as one of the best ways to improve the employee-manager relationship. One of the important elements of developing employee strength is providing strong feedback systems to ensure employees and mangers have robust dialogue.
4. Enhance Employee Wellbeing.
Gallup noted that employees who are thriving in their lives are twice as likely to be engaged in their work than employees who are struggling. While the wellbeing of an employee is a matter of personal lifestyle choices, company interactions with employees do influence the overall condition of employees. Some companies choose to actively regulate workplace stress, others emphasize health and fitness plans. Different strategies work for different companies, but every strategy should work toward actively encouraging employees to take responsibility for their own wellbeing by developing an environment in which they can thrive. This can be as simple as focusing on employee strengths and establishing meaningful connections between tasks and the purpose of the organization.
5. Change the Size of your teams.
Studies have consistently identified that larger organizations struggle with employee engagement, with the highest employee engagement in companies employing less than ten people. The same relative increase in engagement holds true for the size of teams. Smaller teams have higher engagement, whereas extremely large teams see a marked decrease in engagement. John Gibbons, in his study of employee attitudes, also notes that companies with less than 5,000 people tend to experience more company pride, have greater productivity, less anxiety about career paths, and more managers willing to lead by example. While we are not suggesting that you artificially restricting the size of your company, consider assessing the size of the teams within the company. Are the teams so large that employees feel less connected and disengaged?
6. Collect, Communicate, and Act on Feedback.
Engagement is a two-way street. In order for employees to engage the organization, the organization must first engage the employee. Gathering employee feedback is common practice but the opportunity to engage employees with this process is often overlooked. If the results of the employee feedback are quickly communicated, and appropriate organizational improvements are made, then employees will feel more engaged. If this is done consistently, is provides employees with a reliable means of communicating their needs, perspectives, and thoughts on critical issues.