Employee Comms

How to engage employees - 7 things you need to know


 — April 9th, 2019

How to engage employees - 7 things you need to know

Employee engagement has emerged as one of the top priorities for organizations. In a 2019 Deloitte report, 84% of companies rated the issue as important with 28% saying it was one of the top three most urgent issues facing their company this year. The benefits of an engaged workforce are clear; organizations with high employee engagement outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%. So how do organizations build an engaged workforce?

Hire the right people for the right role

Almost 60% of engaged employees say their job brings out their most creative ideas; a mere 3% of disengaged employees say the same. Sometimes certain employees simply aren't suited for the role they've been employed to do, and this can have a huge impact on their engagement level. This all boils down to the recruitment process. The goal during this phase is to find the right person for the job. There are a number of ways to fine-tune employee selection, but here are a few pointers:

  • make sure the job description is clear and detailed
  • prepare a list of interview questions designed to discover how a prospective hire will suit the role
  • during the interview determines how the prospective employee will fit into the company culture

The goal is to not only hire the most qualified person for the job but the best fit for the role. Details such as career goals, values and passions should all be considered when making that final decision.

Focus on onboarding and training

Employee engagement is part of a wider organizational culture. And that culture should be ingrained all the way back to the recruitment phase. A new hire who understands their role and responsibilities, and is given all the tools they need to do their job is more likely to be engaged than a confused employee. And organizations don't have much time to engage employees, 86% of HR professionals said a new hire's decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months. One-third of respondents to a BambooHR survey said they had quit a job within six months of starting it. No clear guidelines on their responsibilities and ineffective training were the top two reasons they cited for leaving their job.

Onboarding and training are where new hires gain the insights and skills necessary to do their jobs effectively. It's during this process that they learn what their role entails and what is expected of them. They also find out more about the company itself, its vision and values, business goals and culture.

Onboarding and training also provide a setting where employees can meet and bond with co-workers, an important factor in how a new hire fits into their new workplace. Aberdeen Group reported that two-thirds of companies with onboarding programs claimed a higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into the company culture, 62% had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54 percent reported higher employee engagement.

Focus on employee development

While salary and benefits are the top-line reasons why people accept positions, career development, particularly among Millennials and Gen Xers is also an important factor. Twenty-eight percent of workers surveyed by Randstad said "investing in employees’ careers through training, professional development or continuing education” was one of the most effective engagement tools."

Today's workers want to feel challenged in their day to day role and feel like they are developing their skills. Companies need to invest in employee development either through internal training schemes or further education.

If a manager is keeping in touch with their team they may see opportunities to add new duties to a certain employee's daily role, or they might identify the potential for an employee to move sideways in the company to a position they may be better suited to. The goal is to show employees that you see them and that you're open to helping them progress their career.

Introduce workplace gamification

Not to be confused with gaming in the workplace, gamification is all about using gaming elements – challenges, leader boards, badges, different levels - to make work more enjoyable for employees. These instant rewards can help to motivate workers and boost their productivity: 90% of employees say they are more productive when they use gamification and engagement jumps by 48% when game-based motivation tools are used.

But one size doesn't fit all when it comes to gamification. It's important to identify the business outcomes you want to achieve and design your gamification application to meet those objectives. SAP's gaming app Roadwarrior, which was created to motivate sales reps, is regularly hailed as a great example of gamification in the workplace.

The app boosted productivity by allowing sales reps to earn badges, compete against each other and unlock levels by answering pertinent job-related questions, while at the same time creating a 'cheat sheet' for reps to find real-world solutions and answers.

Recognize employees' efforts

While gamification can satisfy employees needs to instant gratification and feed into a competitive nature, it's also worth personally recognizing employees' efforts. Employees want to feel like they're making a difference, performing well in their role and contributing to business success. A simple acknowledgment of a job well done can go a long way to making employees feel valued.

Don't wait until annual or quarterly performance reviews to recognize employees' efforts. Immediate praise or recognition can contribute to that feel-good factor for employees who will get a boost from the acknowledgment. There are plenty of ways to reward employees, from a simple job-well-done affirmation to a mention in a company-wide newsletter. The important point is that workers' efforts are not taken for granted.

Find out why people are disengaged

If you're checking in regularly with your team you should be able to identify changes in your employees or evidence that they are no longer engaged in their work. An interesting Gallup poll suggests that when it comes to employee engagement there are three different classifications: engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged.

So what are the key signs that workers are no longer engaged?

  • Poor work performance
  • No initiative shown
  • Absenteeism

If these early signs go unchecked they could grow into a larger issue. Employees who are simply not engaged could become actively disengaged and have a disruptive effect on the rest of the workforce. Seek out these workers for a one-on-one and try to identify the problem. It could be a simple issue where their effort was overlooked or that they no longer feel challenged by their role, or it might be a more complicated scenario that will require effort on the company's part to rectify. Either way, the goal is to discover the reason and make efforts to resolve the situation.

Avoid micromanagement

There's a difference between checking in regularly with employees and micromanaging them. Micromanaging can have a huge impact on staff morale, in fact, 85% of micromanaged workers said their morale was impacted by this behavior. Trusting employees and giving them the autonomy to do their jobs is important to establishing a mutually beneficial working environment.

Staff who are micromanaged may feel like their manager doesn't trust them to do their job. If every decision they make is questioned this can stifle creativity and worse, their interest in the job itself. Nearly 60% of workers surveyed by Accounttemps said they had worked for a micromanager at some point in their career. Of that group, over half said it decreased their productivity and 68% said it dampened their morale.

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