8 Employee Engagement Strategies That Work

1 November 2021
12 minute
8 Employee Engagement Strategies That Work

The way we work and how we work has completely changed and one of the biggest cultural shifts that has happened is that more and more people are aware that there is no job for life. It’s very rare if not impossible to conclude that the job you start after education is going to be at the same business by the time you retire. 

It’s become an employee's market rather than an employers. There is more time spent by employers trying to think of strategies of not only how to attract the best talent but also retain them as well.

Retention is done through better engagement. Finding ways to motivate, encourage, remain productive and importantly, be happy at their job. There are lots of different engagement strategies that organisations can use and in this guide we are going to take a closer look at 8 of them. 

Furthermore, in this guide we are going to explain in more detail just what employee engagement is, what helps to drive it, why it is important and give you the 8 best strategies that you can use as part of your own employee engagement practices in your organisation. 

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is how much an employee is motivated by, passionate about and invested in their work. The major difference with job satisfaction is that engagement has much more to do with an individual’s own investment and emotional connection to the organisation they work for rather than job satisfaction which is focused on performing the job to the best of their ability without necessarily investing everything into the role.

It can be said that one of the biggest distinguishing factors between the two is that there is a much greater mental and emotional commitment to the employee's job/role when engaged over job satisfaction.

What drives employee engagement?

There are a variety of reasons as to what really drives employee engagement which can can be broken down into a variety of factors including:

  • Positive relationships with supervisors and managers

This is arguably the most important one as it is here where motivation can be increased or even lost and can motivate an employee to stay or go. How and what you communicate with your employees is central to the relationship that forms between managers/supervisors and the staff. There needs to be a balance of duty and friendship in order to get the best out of the employee.

  • Leaders who are committed to making a workplace a great place to work

How do you conduct yourself, your relationships with people in the business and those externally? Do you create a role model behaviour that inspires and drives others to be better? Do you make it easier for those around you to work and perform not only exceedingly well but also engage people to go above and beyond?

  • Performance management

This is how we align the organisation's objectives with that of the employee and what actions and behaviours are required to get the employee to achieve them. Performance management comprises resource allocation, workplace flexibility, and work-life balance, as well as measures of an employee's progress in achieving the desired results.

  • Belief in the organisation and its future success

Many employees today are concerned about how their organisation is interpreted from onlookers as well as being concerned with how it will respond to changes in the future. Therefore, those who are most aligned with the organisation and its success moving forwards under social initiatives as well as performance is a huge engagement driver.

Why employee engagement is important

Employee engagement is a powerful tool that can be used to massively aid an organisation, and organisations with engaged employees consistently outperform their competitors.

Benefits of employee engagement include:

  • Reduced staff turnover / churn

A satisfied member of staff can still leave your business for more money if they wanted, but an engaged member of staff wants to continue to see the organisation grow and develop resulting in lower staff turnover.

  • Higher productivity

Engaged employees want to see their work benefit the organisation and so will produce quality work at a quicker pace; the opposite can be said of someone who is not engaged at all.

  • Higher levels of customer satisfaction

Going above and beyond for customers is something that engaged members of staff will always aim to do resulting in a more positive experience for the customer and hopefully, greater satisfaction too.

  • Lower rates of absenteeism

As with reducing staff turnover, lowering the rate of absenteeism with engaged staff is much easier to do. Engaged members of staff want to turn up to work as they believe in what they are doing rather than just going through the motions and collecting a paycheck.

  • Fewer safety incidents

Engaged employees are more attentive as they care about what they are doing and ensure that they are doing it right. That includes all safety procedures.

  • Better outcomes

Companies with a reported high engagement level have been shown to be 21% more profitable and 17% more productive. Engaged employees work harder, do a better job and look out for their customer base who in return will select them for repeat business.

Effective employee engagement strategies

There are many different strategies that businesses can use to engage their employees which have been tried and tested across organisations of all shapes and sizes around the world. From being able to clearly define your values to recognising good staff and their work, there are strategies that can be used by employers around the world to develop their staff and get them engaged in their work.

Here are 8 employee engagement strategies that you can use in your organisation today:

1. Clearly define values and goals

A good place to start the engagement process is to ensure that all of your employees are aware of the core values that your organisation has or has developed over the years. These are things that should explain what truly matters to your team and the ideals that you want your organisation and its people to uphold.

To achieve engagement, employees need to feel these same values and having them explained regularly and as part of the wider organisational culture is important. The same can be said about the goals of the organisation which should reflect the value as the output. 

These values also need to be reflected in the behaviour and actions of senior management and other employees in order for it to be thoroughly developed across the organisation.

There are many cases where the CEOs of organisations will sit down with new staff to communicate the core values as well as providing training of these values so as to strengthen the bond between values and the employees.

2. Communicate clearly and often

An important aspect of employee engagement is that you communicate clearly and often but to do this you need to be able to reach out to your employees in the best way possible and use the tools that they value most.

Some will prefer face to face meetings whilst others may want to sit and absorb a lot of the information through emails and written communications. Having frank, forthright and honest communications with your employees is essential.

Regularly updating your employees with business news and achievements helps to foster a sense of what the business is trying to achieve and how it is doing so - and who is helping the organisation get there even quicker. Another benefit of regularly communicating business news is that you are showing trust to your employees - you are giving them information rather than hearing it from third parties which can lead to mistrust and a disengagement from the organisation.

Clear communication is particularly important in circumstances involving remote workers and disparate teams. They need to build a sense of belonging to the organisation which helps develop engagement and all of the benefits that come with that.

3. Improve employee wellbeing

Investing in employee wellbeing is a great way to develop engagement in the workplace but it needs to be done in practical ways. High engagement with low wellbeing results in other issues such as burnout. This can be damaging for organisations as staff who aren’t well, who can’t do their job because of these issues will have impacts across the whole business.

Some of the practical ways to improve employee wellbeing include:

  • Developing a healthy workplace
  • Recognising the need for mental health awareness
  • Developing a caring business culture
  • Offer discounts for gym memberships
  • Bring in consultant dieticians and exercise therapists
  • Introduce regular office health sessions like Yoga, Tai Chi or even group walks
  • Introduce “duvet days” to help with managing stress

4. Listen to staff

Inviting feedback from employees is an incredible way to develop engagement - only if you however show that you are listening and act on ways to make it happen. Firstly, there needs to be a platform for staff to provide feedback and this can also be created to be done in an anonymous way, the second step is to then sit down with employees to go over the feedback and to build solutions and discuss the issues.

Technology for the first part can be a great tool to open up communications channels. Some employees may feel uncomfortable discussing issues directly with managers or with other employees present, this would promote a sense of wider participation and thus engagement in the process at the beginning.

The second part is essential to curating better engagement with your employees. Nothing will frustrate and disengage your employees faster than if they feel they’re wasting their time sharing matters that are truly important to them.

Organisations like Screwfix are known to have bi-weekly feedback sessions with staff to discuss their opinions on pretty much everything. These discussions have promoted employee-driven initiatives that streamline customer experience by keeping conversations about the company active and ongoing. According to Gallup, “those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability.”

5. Recognise good work

Don’t you feel better when your work is recognised? Well, wouldn’t that be the same case for your staff who will be searching for that recognition? The reality is, recognition of work achievements is massively rewarding but boosts engagement incredibly well. Being and feeling valued is a great incentive to engage with the business and the projects your staff are working on.

One of the easiest ways to recognise good work is to simply say ‘thank you’ in relation to the work carried out. Of course, you can and should do more such as making others aware of the work that they are doing and also doing it publicly where possible. This may be and may feel a little embarrassing for them but you are showing how much they are valued.

Giving their peers a platform to openly say how much they are valued is another great strategy to adopt. This could be with “employee of the month” awards for example.

6. Provide staff development opportunities

One of the best retention strategies also happens to be one of the most supported engagement strategies and that is, provide staff development opportunities such as career path guidance, support, mentorship and much more.

You want your employees to feel connected to the long term future of the business and that is achieved through enabling them to grow, be supported and eventually to support others within the business. By investing in their future, there is a greater respect and development of their attitudes towards the organisation and increased engagement as a by-product. 

You can create training and mentoring programmes that will develop your employees and get them to work on both their weaknesses and strengths. Something like the Thomas Employee Development platform can structure this development path and produce results for your employees as well as develop engagement towards the organisation.

7. Establish an outstanding working environment

The way your office is established and set-up plays an enormous  part in your employee’s engagement. Long gone are the days of the cubicle, and that is due to an isolating nature that they create. Simply siloing employees doesn’t quite allow for communication or collaboration, two important factors of business success.

Think about your floor plan so as to encourage more cross-communication between employees. By going the extra mile to create an environment which fosters strong relationships with their peers, there is a lot to be said about the sense of camaraderie and belonging that’s vital to fostering an engaged workforce.

You also need to discover what it is your employees want from their place of employment in regards to an office setup. Some will prefer a more quiet environment whilst others prefer a slightly more engaged office environment.

You want to look at different setups to maximise work environments in providing a welcoming, energising space such as including; relaxation spaces, meeting rooms, breakout areas and game spaces where possible. You want to get advice from interior designers and office space consultants to maximise your surroundings to develop an environment which is more engaging.

8. Hold yourself accountable

You need to make sure that you are holding yourself accountable as well. Managers, HR heads and executives should lead by example. If employees feel like the office rules only apply to a select few — or only apply when it’s convenient for leadership — they’ll begin to distrust management.

This is important because, if you are fairly holding your employees accountable then you need to do the same for yourself and other senior people in the organisation. Any inkling of distrust between team members is a slippery slope that can lead to a negative work culture. 

Toxic office environments and culture can disengage employees and send them looking for a new job. It’s important to maintain a cooperative, transparent culture and use this as a backbone to help foster greater engagement amongst employees to the organisation. 

Improve employee engagement with Thomas

Finding ways to motivate, encourage, remain productive and importantly, be happy at their job, engagement strategies are an essential tool in today’s labour market. It has become all too apparent that whilst job satisfaction can be easily achieved through a few different strategies, keeping employees engaged is a lot harder but more essential and effective at curtailing absenteeism, reducing turnover and improving business results and productivity.

With Thomas Engage you can establish levels of engagement within your organisation and identify strategies and initiatives to enhance employee wellbeing, motivation and productivity. Alternatively, check the wealth of resources we have on topics including employee engagement and wellbeing.

To find out more about how our solutions can help you to improve employee engagement in these uncertain times, please speak to one of our team.

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