What is employee engagement? There are a few definitions out there, and it’s certainly a broad term used to cover a wide range of employee behaviours and emotions. However, at its core, engagement is really the extent to which workers feel passionate about their jobs, their commitment to the organisation and willingness to contribute towards the success of that organisation.
And the research linking the beneficial outcomes from highly engaged workforces is wide-ranging and impossible to ignore for business leaders and people managers. Businesses with engaged workforces are found to be 21% more profitable, have more satisfied customers and lower employee turnover.
But with Gallup suggesting only 15% of workers are engaged in the workplace worldwide, organisations have a long way to go to realising their engaged workforce goals. With that in mind, here are five ways in which businesses can look to increase engagement levels amongst their employees.
Recognise your employees
There are many cogs that make the engagement wheel, but recognition is potentially the biggest contributor. A study by OC Tanner found that 37% of employees, when asked, said that recognition is the most important thing a company or manager can do to help them be successful. Further studies have cited recognition and rewards as the biggest contributing factor towards creating an engaged workforce.
However, only 11% of managers say they have the right tools in place, such as employee recognition programs, to be able to adequately and effectively recognise their staff in a timely manner.
Chase a purpose as well as profit
The view of employees when it comes to work has changed drastically over the last few decades. Being happy just to have a job during times of economic downturn has shifted to wanting to be satisfied at work, then wanting to really contribute, to where we stand today where, in particular with the millennial workforce, wanting to work for a great purpose has become all-important.
Organisations which set a clear purpose, as well as working to and promoting strong values, have been found to have more engaged workforces, and they deliver bigger profits as a result.
Ensure growth opportunities
SHRM’s Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report found that only 29% of employees ranked themselves as ‘very satisfied’ with their current career advancement opportunities available to them. That’s despite just under half saying this was a key component towards job satisfaction.
There’s a clear link between engagement and professional development, especially within the millennial age group, where driving personal knowledge, skills and understanding (as well as achieving the odd promotion) really help to increase passion, drive and motivation.
Ask employees what matters to them
Key to any initiative or program put in place to really boost engagement levels within a workforce is to understand what employees value, what motivates them and what matters to them. Through pulse surveys or simply asking, organisations can find out what kind of rewards, perks and in-work benefits can deliver a real impact.
For example, the majority of businesses in the US offer some kind of recognition program, yet many focus on years of service rewards as the crux of the initiative. For some employees, a simple thank you every week for a good job well done is more desirable. This is also true of any perks offered by a company. For some employees, being able to trade in kudos for great performance for extra days off is valuable. For others, being thanked by way of gift cards or Amazon vouchers could mean more.
Giving employees more freedom to work how and when they want is a really good way for an organisation to show they trust their colleagues but also afford staff members the opportunity to seek a greater work-life balance.
Research has shown that employees who have some freedom over working hours and where they work are more productive, happier, less stressed and more engaged. That doesn’t mean all businesses need to immediately adopt a distributed work model, but affording earlier starts and finishes for staff who want to beat the commuter rush and allowing occasional work from home days are great, low-impact places to start.
Don’t leave engagement to chance
Engaging employees isn’t easy. If it was, Gallup’s surveys wouldn’t be reporting that so many workers worldwide are disengaged – and little improvement has been made to those numbers over the last 40 years.
One of the key headaches for people leaders is that the demands of different generations keep shifting and what truly inspires, motivates and engages employees no longer sits at the salary and contractual benefits level. Providing purpose, supporting professional development and showing meaningful, frequent appreciation have become key.
It takes a strategic, long-term approach, real buy-in from leaders and investment in the right platforms and initiatives to make inroads into what is an international problem. Get it right though like some of the world’s most famous companies and the benefits will be felt throughout the organisation (including the all-important bottom-line).
5 ways to increase employee engagement
Source: HR.com Articles