Employee engagement matters more than you think. Between running the day-to-day business and all other busy work, many businesses forget to actively keep their employees engaged. It might seem like this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but it does directly impact the success of your business.
Don’t get it wrong: investing in employee engagement isn’t a way to fix a broken business. It is however a way to build a stronger business, one that’s ready for the future and works according to its values.
If you’re ready to invest in employee engagement—and with that, in a lot of other things—here are some ways to do that.
How Employee Engagement Makes A Difference
You might have been looking at ways to boost productivity. That probably leads you to motivation tips. Or you want to improve company culture, lower turnover, or become a more attractive employer.
Basically, you’re looking for ways to engage your employees. Having an engaged workforce will help you reach all those goals mentioned above, and then some.
It’s Better For Business
The most engaged teams generate 22% higher profits and are 21% more effective in their work. Engaged employees also are 5.3 times more likely to make recommendations on how to improve something at work or even simply do it—without being asked.
Then there’s also word-of-mouth marketing. Engaged employees are 4.8 times more likely to 18% recommend your company’s products and services to someone who might need them.
It Makes Your Customers Happier
79% of companies with engaged employees report significantly better customer experiences than companies where engagement is low. Because employees who are engaged are willing to go above and beyond, and do so with a smile. So, if you want to improve customer satisfaction, look at employee satisfaction—they are the ones communicating with them.
Save On Hiring And Absenteeism
Highly engaged employees take fewer days off sick and will stay at your company for longer. Highly engaged teams, 41% less absenteeism, and 59% less turnover. Moreover, those highly engaged employees who show up really make the most out of their day and go above and beyond.
They could also help your hiring process by being 8.9 times more likely to recommend your business as a place to work to their connections.
How To Spot Engaged Employees
Job satisfaction and employee engagement are related, but not necessarily the same. Being engaged with your work is not about being happy and having fun in the workplace. It’s about feeling a true, strong connection to what you do and being aligned with the company values.
They are involved: they don’t just clock in and do what’s on their to-do list and then leave. If they see room for improvement or have an idea, they will speak up.
They have an emotional connection to their work. This is important to realize in the hiring process: are you hiring someone who would like to work for your company, or who would love to do the job you’re hiring for—regardless of who they’d work for? Aim for the latter, trust me.
Here’s How You Work On Employee Engagement
Even though employee engagement starts with hiring the right people, it doesn’t stop there. If you want your place of work to be one where people thrive and are highly engaged, take a look at the tips below.
Don’t make it all about work
It’s hard to be engaged with one single job, all of the time. That’s why it is important that you also allow employees to shift their minds to something else.
You could look into employee volunteer programme that will not only give the team spirit a boost, but also give more meaning to working for your company.
Finding meaning in what you do is one of the main drivers of employee engagement, and it’s simply not possible for every job to be truly meaningful. That doesn’t mean that you could look beyond that and also reserve time for your employees to volunteer, for instance—and do that together.
Turn Your Managers Into Coaches And Mentors
Employee engagement should be tackled in your entire organization—not just the sales or customer service team. A great place to start, however, is with your management. They are the ones who lead a big part of the employees, who set an example and also determine the mood in the company.
Communicate to them that you are going to actively work on employee engagement and how you will do that—and ask for suggestions.
Explain that their jobs are less about micromanaging people, and more about coaching them.
Another idea is to turn some managers into mentors. Employees who have the ambition to go higher up in the company, could be their mentees, which will certainly boost engagement for both parties.
Have Faith In Your Employees
Having ownership of one’s job and being trusted are two major factors that influence employee engagement. It’s hard to be engaged in a job that is dictated for you and doesn’t feel ‘’yours’’ completely, if you don’t feel trusted and confident to do it your way.
Ask your employees how they would like to do their jobs and figure out workflows together. By giving them the opportunity to shape their own way of work, you make sure they are more engaged in it.
Empower them to make their own decisions and to experiment. Find out what tools they would like to do their jobs better and make sure they get them.
You should also ask your employees for advice and input. You could even do this by crossing department lines. Maybe someone in sales can weigh in on a customer service challenge. After all, you’re all working on the same customer journey.
This will also give your employees new perspectives and make the entire business more transparent. They get to know what others are working on, so the big picture suddenly becomes a whole lot clearer.
Take Care Of Wellness And Work-Life Balance
Engaged employees might love their job enough to stay late, but this shouldn’t be the goal of all this.
We spend a lot of time at our jobs, and it can be draining. Make sure your employees get enough time to recharge, spend time with their family and hobbies. In return, they will come to work with laser-focus because they’re not constantly thinking about what they’re missing out on.
You could do this by focussing more on output and less on input. Hours spent at a desk don’t measure success, but results do.
Another important factor is mental health. This has always been an important factor in the workplace, but is only recently getting the attention it deserves. Make sure you have enough support and resources for your employees available, and communicate about this openly.
Give Recognition And Rewards
If someone loves what they do and is highly engaged with their work, that doesn’t mean they don’t like to get recognition for their work. 37% of employees consider recognition most important for feeling engaged at work.
Openly praise success, and do this for everyone. Entire teams or just individuals: don’t shy away from celebrations—the days can be dull without them.
Choose your rewards carefully, though. Make sure people know what they can expect. Don’t give one employee a bottle of expensive wine and another one an honorable mention in a Slack channel if their achievement was the same.
Ask your employees what rewards they would appreciate and build a structured reward program around that.
Plan For Growth, Together
You have big plans for your business, but do you also have big plans for your employees? Do you want to turn them into experts in their field, sought-after thought leaders, great examples for new hires?
It’s a different way of thinking and working, but one that would really boost employee engagement. A business can’t grow if its employees stay at the same level. At the same time, employees won’t be engaged or motivated to do better if it’s not asked from them.
Start in your hiring process, but also sit down with your current workforce. Find out what everyone would like to accomplish, and create tailored growth plans. It can help to set short-term and long-term goals, so successes can be celebrated quicker and more often.
How To Know If Your Employee Engagement Plan Is Working
Before you start implementing any of the strategies we mentioned, take a moment to take stock. Employee engagement is not a metric itself and can’t be expressed in one number or percentage. Instead, it’s a combination of different metrics. Here’s what you should look at before you start—and once you start implementing the changes:
Absenteeism: are people taking an awful lot of sick days? Could this have something to do with people being afraid to address mental health struggles, and instead opting for calling in sick?
Turnover rate: do people leave often? While there could be plenty of issues that cause this, employee engagement is rather common.
Employee Net Promoter Score: would your current employees recommend other people to come work at your business?
Remember that working on employee engagement is a life-long commitment for your business. It’s not a quick fix or cover-up for underlying issues. If you steadily work towards a better company culture and employee engagement, you’ll get real noticeable results—and make a lot of people happy.
Author: Vicky Frissen is a freelance copywriter based in Barcelona.
Photo credit: Pexels