Houston, we have a problem. Employee engagement is crashing.
According to a survey by OfficeVibe, only 13% of workers worldwide report feeling engaged at work. And in their 2017 “State of the American Workforce” report, Gallup went as far as to declare an employee engagement crisis.
Why the panic?
Because low levels of engagement can impact a business negatively. We’re talking low employee retention rates, low productivity, and ultimately low profits. In the same OfficeVibe survey, they found that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%! And that businesses with highly engaged employees have 21% more profits than those with low engagement.
Imagine the benefits countless of businesses are missing out on by not executing employee engagement ideas.
The problem isn’t that they (and most likely, you) don’t know that employee engagement can make you even more competitive. The problem isn’t even that you don’t know your employees aren’t as engaged as they could be.
The problem is that most of us don’t really know how to improve employee engagement. In this post, we’ll share 8 employee engagement ideas that can make a difference.
Now, installing an ice-cream cart in the break-room isn’t the kind of instant gratification employee engagement initiatives we’ll be discussing here.
Instead, we’ll be offering ideas for long-lasting engagement that starts at the pre-interview stage and continues well into the employee lifecycle.
1. Put employees in the right role
Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised by how many employees are in roles they’re not suited for. Your first to-do on the how to improve employee engagement quest must start at the beginning.
Ensure you’re hiring the right people for the right position. When an employee is in the right role they are using knowledge, talent, experience and motivation they already have. This naturally boosts engagement. Why?
Because people like being good at their jobs.
2. Give Them The Right Tools
Nothing will hijack your best employee engagement ideas faster than giving your people poor tools. Think about it: Your workforce needs specific tools to do their jobs effectively. This includes the basics like desks and computers to super specific software or other tech.
If they don’t have these tools or if the tools you give them are old and don’t work efficiently, it’ll make daily work frustrating. It goes without saying that frustration is not conducive to employee engagement. (Have you ever tried typing on a keyboard without a functioning space bar? Frustration-city!)
As part of your employee engagement initiative, it’s worth investing in tools that are functional, easy-to-use and simplify workflows.
Remove the small daily irritants and your people will feel so much better about coming into work.
3. Ensure they understand their responsibilities and goals
One of the reasons employee engagement may be in crisis is because only half of the workforce is going into work each morning with a clear idea of their responsibilities and goals.
The other 50% of us seem to be living in workers’ purgatory.
Instead of racking your brain for creative ways to engage employees, make sure your poor employees know what they’re supposed to be doing everyday -and why.
That’s the reason another employee engagement idea that works is ensuring your employees get to work in the morning with a crystal clear picture of their responsibilities, your expectations and their goals.
This helps them understand how their role fits into the bigger picture and they’ll feel like part of something bigger than just themselves. Holy excitement!
Extra note: If you’ve been struggling to come up with employee engagement ideas for remote workers, clarifying their responsibilities and instilling a few goals that align with overall business goals, is a great place to start.
4. Invest in Employee Training
Offering employee training is a good employee engagement idea. Fostering a culture of continuous learning? Even better. That’s because top talent (the kind of employees you want in your business) want to know you care about their overall career development and education.
When you give your employees a chance to learn new skills, stay current with industry standards and even cross-train in different departments, you are showing them that you see them as people. And that you care about them.
A cared for employee is an engaged employee.
5. Ask and give feedback regularly
Gone are the days of employees being satisfied with annual performance reviews. Today’s workforce wants continuous feedback. And this type of regular feedback has got its benefits.
Not only do regular check-ins provide your employees with a sense of how they’re doing overall (and raising employee engagement) but it also leads to faster course correction.
It’s one of those employee engagement ideas that hits two birds with one stone. Your employee gets the feedback they crave and you can avoid costly mistakes.
So, start delivering both formal and informal feedback every week and engagement will get better.
Now if we still haven’t convinced you that a regular feedback system is actually an effective employee engagement idea, check this out.
In a 2014 study for Harvard Business Review, researchers found that 57% of respondents prefer corrective feedback, while only 43% prefer praise. More employees want to know in what ways they can improve their performance than they want a pat on the back.
In fact, 73% indicated that their job performance would improve with corrective feedback from managers. Problem is? Managers hate giving feedback.
That’s probably because feedback comes attached with negative connotations. And giving feedback is a skill that we’re not all super fluent in.
As a result, an employee engagement initiative has to include teaching managers communication skills and ensuring your entire organization believes in the value of asking and giving feedback. And that starts from the top.
6. Encourage Close Connections (& Fun!)
It’s not all about work, work, work.
Actually, one of the most basic employee engagement ideas that work is to treat your employees the way you would treat someone you respect.
Using this barometer, you’ll begin to see your employees as people with emotional lives. If you can get your employees emotionally invested in their job (and the company), employee engagement will be strong.
To get your employees to care about the workplace you have to help them form closer connections with colleagues. And to build a workplace that values connection you need to build a workplace that values fun too.
There are many different types of employee engagement activities you can use to get colleagues chatting about their lives beyond work while building a strong and fun community.
Some ideas for you to consider: train for a 3K race together, go on a field trip to a museum, create an online magazine to share news -and fiiiine, bring in an ice-cream cart for the break room.
7. Give your employees credit
Is there anything more demotivating than putting in the hard work and not being recognized for it? Oh yeah, there is. Putting in the hard work and watching someone else take credit for it.
Don’t be that kind of manager. And don’t be that kind of workplace. Recognizing the contributions of your employees can have a massive impact on engagement levels.
The purpose of this employee engagement idea is to make your employees feel that they are seen, heard and that they ultimately, matter.
Think this is some new-age nonsense? Think again. Studies and surveys over the last few years have repeatedly shown that employees value how they feel at work over what they earn. In effect, your employees would prefer recognition for the work they do over a pay rise.
Whether you give an employee credit in a company newsletter, in a press release or at a company meeting, a few words of acknowledgment can go a long way to boosting employee engagement.
8. Talk About Engagement
Finally, when in doubt, just ask.
You could google different types of employee engagement activities, creative ways to engage employees, staff engagement ideas, ideas to improve employee engagement until you’re blue in the face, or you could use your words.
Ask your employees about engagement. Don’t mince words. Be clear. “What can I do to improve your motivation and engagement at work?”
Then, listen to their answers and follow through.
There are many different types of employee engagement activities you could potentially use to boost motivation at work. But if you really want them to work, they have to be part of an overall employee engagement strategy.
Remember, the ice-cream cart is a fun idea and on a hot day, your employees will be thrilled. They may even perform better on ice-cream day and smile more. But without consistent strategies in place, like the ones described in this list, engagement will melt away as quickly as it takes them to scoff down those two balls of mint chocolate chip.