How to implement effective employee engagement strategies
— May 26th, 2021
How do managers foster effective employees? Clue: they find engaging strategies that make staff feel valued and valuable to the success of the business.
Go on the internet and type in any combination of terms, such as ‘career development’ or ‘increase employee engagement and you’ll get an avalanche of responses. The term ‘improve employee engagement’ brings back 69,700,000 results… rather a lot of work for even the most committed human resources director.
So, rather than give you a serious case of RSI, let’s distill some of the best recent advice about how a company can not only build trust with its workforce but also improve employee engagement.
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1. Make an emotional connection – Remuneration is only a part of the picture. An employee who believes the company acknowledges their contribution will feel a greater level of loyalty to the business.
Writing in Harvard Business Review, Andrew Chamberlain argues that recent research carried out by his company suggests that, whilst pay helps, it’s unlikely to keep them if there are gaps in workplace culture, values, and career opportunities for staff to rise through the organization.
2. Trust goes two ways – engagement through delegation and empowerment. Writing in Industry Week, Shawn Casemore makes the case for empowerment and engagement running hand-in-hand, “For over a decade now, I’ve been teaching and coaching leaders on the power of asking questions.
When you ask your people about their ideas, you engage them in identifying what to do. This is at the heart of empowerment.” Casemore found that as a manager, asking staff questions was a powerful method for not only achieving better engagement but also allowing a much greater sense of buy-in to the company's strategic plan.
3. Developing an employee engagement strategy that creates a clear path for career development will reap the greater reward – It may not surprise too many that employees who feel their company has a career path for them feel a greater level of engagement with the business. At its most basic, effective employee engagement will reduce the chances of staff quitting.
A Linkedin Global Job Seeker Trend Report which interviewed over 10,000 members revealed the top trend was the desire for career growth. “To attract the best candidates, offer them career opportunities, not jobs.”
4. Are you hearing me? The art of effectively listening to employees is key to engaging a workforce – Giving employees a meaningful voice within the organization is about treating them as valid stakeholders and ensuring they feel valued. Listening provides a channel for staff to have influence over what happens to them at work. This might be in direct one-to-one discussion by utilizing tools such as online email surveys from software vendors specializing in internal business communications such as Poppulo.
Effective employee voice helps to build an open and trusting dynamic between the company and its workforce. Critically, effective listening can also contribute to organizational success. People are more likely to show commitment to the organization if they have a voice. Sharing views can lead to greater innovation, problem-solving, and productivity.
5. Share… Share...Share – Rather than top-down staff training, aim to foster greater peer to peer, or bottom-up learning and development. This will strengthen group cohesiveness as well as rewarding good work by recognizing an individual or team’s contribution to best practice through knowledge-sharing. It’s also argued that bottom-up learning is far more effective in the much more dynamic workplace where constant change is the name of the game.
In the article ‘Four Questions To Ask For Better Employee Engagement. Chris Cebollero argues that good leadership is effectively giving staff the power to grow and develop. He lists key questions to ask staff in the course of a day which allows managers to get a measure of their current level of engagement.
There are also questions intended to draw out and share the best from staff whilst valuing their knowledge of the company. E.g. ‘If you were leading this department/organization, what is the one thing you would change, and why?’
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Employee engagement best practices
Offer a helping hand
There is no such thing as the perfect employee, and every worker will require help at one point or another. Organizations should make the effort to reach out regularly to staff members to see how they are getting on.
This will allow employers to determine if workers are effectively reaching goals and targets, or if they require extra guidance, support, or direction.
Every business should understand that hiding company affairs or issues from their employees is never a good idea. When workers are not informed on matters that directly affect them or their careers, it will lead to a breakdown in trust that will negatively impact employer-employee relations.
In contrast, consistently updating employees of the goings-ons within the organization will lead them to feel they are respected, appreciated, and trusted with important information.
Employees love to feel like a valuable asset to their employers. Simply knowing that their hard work is appreciated and acknowledged will have a significant impact on their productivity levels and sense of job satisfaction.
Instead of waiting to show their gratitude to employees during a later date, or at a team meeting, employers should learn to offer on-the-spot recognition. Many workers enjoy instant gratification, so most of the time there is no use waiting around to praise employees on a job well done.
Prioritize engagement from day one
Employee engagement is something that should be promoted and encouraged from the get-go. When it comes to orientation and onboarding, organizations should focus on employee engagement activities that allow workers to familiarize themselves with engagement best practices.
Emphasize employee health and wellness
Focusing on the health and wellness of their staff members is one of the most effective steps employers can take to create a workforce of engaged and motivated workers. After all, healthy employees will be able to carry out their work much more efficiently than those who have fallen prey to an illness caused by sitting in one spot all day, or those who have become anxious and overwhelmed by their workload.
The best approach is to implement an employee health and wellness program that encourages workers to adopt a healthier lifestyle and alter some of their existing work habits.
Define company goals and acknowledge achievements
Another way employers can keep their workers engaged is to encourage them to focus on the value and significance of their work, and how their contributions play a vital role in the company's overall success.
Knowing that the work they do matters increases an employee’s sense of identity and enjoyment within their roles. Organizations should also make sure they post updates on company achievements so that employees can see first-hand the positive impact their input has had.
Support career growth and personal development
Failing to see avenues for growth and development within their current roles can impact workers' levels of engagement. Many employees like having the chance to learn new skills that provide them with the opportunity to move up the career ladder. It is vital organizations take this into consideration and find ways to offer their workers opportunities for growth, whether it is through training initiatives or providing access to professional career counselors.
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Other engagement practices:
· Strengthen the workforce with team building activities
· Thrive for a healthy work environment
· Diversify your rewards scheme
· Amplify engagement efforts through social media
· Conduct timely surveys
The role of HR in employee engagement
Hiring for cultural fit – When hiring new employees, the HR department must select candidates whose personal beliefs and values align with those of the company. Working for an organization that shares the same values as they do, makes these workers a good “cultural fit” for the business.
It is also the responsibility of the HR team to ensure that after taking up their position at the organization, new employees continue to act in accordance with this culture. This is achieved by regularly communicating the organization's values to employees at all levels.
Helping people understand the value of their individual contributions - By showing employees how their individual contributions are beneficial to the organization, HR professionals encourage increased employee engagement. The HR department achieves this by demonstrating to employees how their individual goals and targets contribute to helping the organization reach its overall business objectives. This instills a sense of confidence and purpose in workers that inspires them to continue to work hard.
Improving communications- With the increase in remote working, HR professionals are responsible for finding ways to keep up strong internal communications despite the physical divide between employees. To prevent workers from becoming disconnected, HR professionals must utilize the most appropriate means available to update employees regularly and keep everyone on the same page.
Recognizing good work – The HR department aids employers in making sure every member of staff is in receipt of the recognition they deserve. When each employee understands their value it increases overall staff morale and leads to a more positive workplace environment. The HR team may help implement an awards program, or an employee of the month scheme to further encourage employees to work hard to reach targets and goals.
In this article, we’ve addressed just a few of the many dynamics that work together to affect how employees can feel more engaged in the organization. Yet, in the engagement strategies and practices mentioned in this piece, we embody some of the bedrock issues facing any company trying to invoke an effective strategy. Any manager able to foster a staff who feel an emotional connection, feel empowered, have a sense of long-term opportunity, are listened to by management, and are able to offer best practice insights up to the hierarchy, will ultimately enjoy a far greater level of employee engagement.