Employee engagement is one of the most important and most prioritized aspects of a business. A recent Gallup poll found that 87% of employees are not engaged in their work, meaning they are not involved in, enthusiastic about or committed to their work or workplace. This lack of engagement costs U.S. companies $450 billion per year in productivity.
When you put in the work to create robust employee engagement strategies, you are enabling your employees’ commitment to their work and the company’s values, while helping your organization meet its goals.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is essentially a workplace approach that aims to ensure excellent working conditions and a purposeful experience for every member of an organization. Working under the right conditions, employees are much more likely to give their best every single day. Engaged workers are more committed to the values and goals of their organization, motivated to contribute to a companies success, can obtain a better sense of their well-being.
Why Your Organization Should Prioritize Employee Engagement
As an employer, employee engagement means encouraging positive behaviors and actions that lead to improved business outcomes. You want your employees to feel proud of the work that they do while staying loyal to the company. Having dedicated, driven workers on your team leads to positive business outcomes like:
- Increased Profits: In business, every decision comes back to the bottom line. A Gallup workplace study found organizations with highly engaged workforces outperform their competitors by 147% in earnings-per-share and enjoy 21% percent higher profitability.Understanding the impact of employee engagement on your business’s profitability is especially important during uncertain cultural or financial times. In fact, Gallup’s study found that employee engagement is an important predictor of company performance even during a recession.Jim Harter, Ph.D. and Gallup’s Chief Scientist of workplace management and well-being practices says, “When you ask people about their intentions during a recession, it’s pretty clear that disengaged workers are just waiting around to see what happens. Engaged workers, though, have bought into what the organization is about and are trying to make a difference. This is why they are the most productive workers.”
- Improved Customer Experience: The mentality of your employees can directly impact how they interact with customers. A study conducted by Washington State University determined employee satisfaction and engagement is directly related to customer satisfaction.When your employees are engaged with their work, they do more for your customers. They strive to ensure a positive customer experience because they believe in the goals and mission of your organization. Northwestern University found that organizations whose employees are engaged with their work have customers who use the company’s products and services more often and with higher satisfaction than customers of companies with disengaged employees.
- Increased Retention: Engaged employees feel appreciated, which is an important driver of employee retention. A PayScale study found employees who felt appreciated by their company were almost 11 times more likely to be engaged with their work. You can show your appreciation for your employees with strong programs for support and development.
During times of social unrest and financial uncertainty, employee engagement can help improve retention because your employees will believe in the future success of your business and want to do everything they can to contribute to that success. And, when you put in the work to help prevent unnecessary turnover, you can save your organization significantly when it comes to the costs of hiring, onboarding and training.
- Competitive Hiring: More workers than ever are actively looking for new work or watching job openings. In fact, 51% of workers are seeking new opportunities and, with growing financial uncertainty, that number could continue to increase. Building a reputation for having a culture of inclusion, development and overall support can help your organization set itself apart from others in your field.
Four Powerful Employee Engagement Strategies
When you are concerned about the level of engagement among your workers, there are a few things you can do to help foster an environment in which employees feel more invested in their work and your organization. If you can cultivate an environment where you prioritize the growth and development of your employees, you can help build a culture of trust and communication. Here are just a couple examples of strategies for improving employee engagement:
Career Path Planning
An employee’s career is no longer a ladder that only moves up, but instead encompasses a number of different path options, think more lattice than ladder. Communicating growth paths within a company helps employees see their future potential, improving overall engagement.
Showcasing how they can move up or laterally in your organization allows them to have some say in what they want to do in their career. It will also help them and their manager identify the skills and knowledge they’ll need to obtain to get there. This will create opportunities for employees and managers to collaborate, identifying milestones that will assist the employee in reaching that next level or promotion.
So much of employee engagement comes down to communication between you and your workers. Recognizing employees in front of others shows that you see people and their individual efforts within the organization. These programs can be in-person or digitally, through the company’s Intranet, social media channels or email communications. This type of recognition can also inspire others to work harder and engage in new ways throughout the company.
Recognize employees for their growth and show you notice and appreciate their work and contribution whenever possible. Building a culture of trust and mutual respect improves engagement. Whether it’s your management or leadership team, take the time to show gratitude for employees in the office not just because it is a nice thing to do but because it would make everyone happier and can also boost the company’s productivity.
Asking for Feedback
Showing employees that your organization is open to candid and constructive feedback is a great way to initiate a dialogue with your workforce. From performance reviews to weekly one-on-one’s, companies are always giving employees feedback. It’s important to make sure feedback is a two-way street. Setting up forums or regular surveys to solicit feedback is a great way to open that conversation.
But asking for feedback is just the first step. You also need to acknowledge the feedback you’ve received, and illustrate what you’ll be doing with that feedback. Be transparent about the feedback you’re acting on, why you might not be acting on other aspects of feedback. Asking for feedback allows your employees to feel they have a say in the direction and culture of the company.
There are many ways to improve employee engagement, from compensation increases to improved benefits. But, one of the most significant ways to improve employee engagement is to invest in education and development. Establishing a mentoring program is a cost-effective way to improve employee engagement. In fact, more than 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer a corporate mentoring program.
Mentoring can help improve employee engagement by solving challenges related to inclusion, development and support:
- Inclusion: Promotes open communication, improves collaboration and increases interaction across all demographics within your organization.
- Development: Invests in the success of employees. Businesses on the Fortune 100 “Best Companies” list provide almost double the number of training hours for full-time employees and saw 65% lower turnover than other businesses in the same sectors.
- Support: Encourages camaraderie among employees, leading to support networks. Gallup found a concrete link between having friendships at work and employee engagement.
Here at Chronus, we look to the Employee Experience Circle to help determine the most effective mentoring program to offer.
No matter where an employee falls in this circle, there are many options when it comes to how to improve employee engagement. No matter what tactics you choose, be sure they include goal-setting and peer feedback on an ongoing basis.
Here are just some of the employee engagement tactics we recommend:
- Career Mentoring: Helps prevent employee stagnation overall
- Reverse Mentoring: Bridges generations and encourages knowledge sharing to prevent stagnation
- Flash Mentoring: Allows employees to learn from experts in numerous subject areas
- Mentoring Circles: Peer-to-peer mentoring enables employees to learn and develop together as a group
Additionally, you would be wise to consider virtual mentoring as an option, especially during these uncertain times. Virtual mentoring could be an ideal strategy for improving employee engagement even when you aren’t in the office together. It can help you connect your employees when they are most at risk of feeling isolated.
Qualities For Successful Employee Engagement
What else can you do to help your employee engagement strategies succeed? Here are a few things that can help you to reach your goals:
By having transparency within your company, you are essentially breaking down barriers between you and the employees. This helps create clarity and understanding between a company and its employee regarding decisions and overall direction of the organization. This helps to build trust by showing honesty. Employees will feel good about working for you, while doing their best work.
Allowing employees to make decisions and take autonomous actions in your company helps to sustain and grow your business while keeping morale up. Small things like letting an employee take the lead on a new project or allowing employees to give input on new culture initiatives, can curate new strategies and ideas, and give the employees the feeling of trust and importance in their role in the workplace.
Most employees don’t just want to provide a service or sell a product; they want to know that they are making a difference. Give them a purpose in their work. Show your employees how the company helps people and contributes to a bigger picture. This will help them understand the importance of the work and make them feel good while doing it.
Your employees need to know that you care about them and their opinions. Listen to them when they have feedback, praises, or complaints. They want to be seen, heard, and valued. Not only can this lead to new improvements for the company, but your employees will feel needed and more motivated to contribute to the success of your business.
What This Engagement Means to Your Employees
For employees, having a good engagement experience means that they will wake up excited for work. They will bring new ideas and experiments with them. Your employees will have a clear understanding of their role in the organization, and understand how their role plays a part in making a difference. They will feel like an essential member of the team, which can build loyalty and ties to a company.
When your workers have a high level of trust and dedication to you, they are not only happier themselves, but they will be more productive in the work that they do.
How to Humanize the Employee Experience
As you can see, mentoring can directly impact and influence employee engagement within your organization. As we’ve seen recently, the workplace is constantly evolving and employees need your support to stay engaged with their work. By implementing the tactics in this article, your employees can feel confident in your organization’s dedication to their growth and development. Prioritizing your employees in this way boosts morale and leads to better employee engagement across the board.
To learn more, check out our eBook, “Mentoring: Humanizing the Employee Experience” today.