Your employees can make or break your business, so you want to make sure that you’re attracting and keeping the best talent. Employee engagement strategies can help with this.
What is employee engagement? This can refer to an employee’s passion and commitment to their jobs and the company. It relates to their workforce’s motivation, loyalty, and morale.
Studies link employee engagement to work performance, productivity, and employee retention. So here are some employee engagement ideas you can implement in your workplace.
Employee Engagement Ideas: 11 Ways to Keep Your Employees Productive and Happy
1. Define the Company’s Vision, Culture, and Values
Employee engagement will look different from one company to another. That’s because each company has a unique mission statement. Your company’s vision, culture, and values will shape your employee engagement strategies.
So before you get into the hows of employee engagement, you need to understand your whys. Once you know what you want your company to look like and stand for, you can start working towards it.
This is especially useful in the hiring process. When there’s clarity in your company’s culture and vision, you can include them in your hiring criteria.
It’s also very helpful for new hires to understand how their jobs contribute to the company’s short-term and long-term goals. Employees are more motivated when they understand how valuable their roles are.
This isn’t just important for new employees though. Every employee can benefit from a vision refresher. This is especially true for employees whose roles have evolved through the years.
2. Develop a Long-Term Employee Engagement Program
Before outlining a program, it helps if you define what employee engagement means for your organization.
You can’t achieve lasting employee engagement with a single team-building activity. If you want to improve employee engagement, you need a sustainable, long-term program that will help keep your employees focused and motivated.
As your employees’ needs evolve, your program should evolve as well. So try to find out what your employees are passionate about. That way, you can tailor-fit the employee engagement ideas to your company.
Tip: Your employee engagement plan should start during the onboarding phase. You can assign a mentor or a peer buddy to help newcomers acclimate to their new workplace and colleagues.
3. Redefine Meetings
Traditional, agenda-filled meetings can be draining if they happen too often. Here are some things you can do to redefine office meetings:
- Experiment with meeting size. It’s easier to exercise flexibility when you’re meeting with smaller groups of people. When working with small groups, you can structure the meeting based on their strengths or working styles.
- Try problem-solving meetings. These types of meetings are less structured and more free-flowing. It helps encourage employee engagement and collaboration.
- Let someone else take the lead. Let someone else run the weekly meeting to shake things up. It’s also a great way to help train potential leaders in your team.
Meetings don’t have to be boring routines. They are a great avenue to exercise creativity and engage your employees.
4. Promote Empathy
Empathy allows you to imagine yourself in someone else’s situation. It’s especially valuable in the workplace because it helps minimize conflict and promotes compassion.
If empathy permeates the workplace, it’ll be easier for your employees to build a community. They’ll know that in each interaction, regardless of rank, they’ll be treated with respect.
If you sense that there’s an empathy problem in your office, try the “day in the life” activity. In this activity, you get employees to switch roles for a day.
Tip: Don’t forget to process their experiences with them after the switcheroo. Do it in a group setting so team members can learn from each other.
"Empathy allows you to imagine yourself in someone else’s situation."
5. Foster Open Communication
Communication issues can pop up in any working environment. These problems can block employee engagement, so empower your employees by promoting open communication.
Here are some ways to improve communication:
- Post office hours. High-ranking officers, like the founder or CEO, should hold regular office hours. That way, employees will know when they can reach them.
- Define internal communication channels. Make sure your employees know the best way to communicate with one another.
- Keep them in the loop. Give them inside information when you can. This shows that you trust them. You also never know what insights your employees may be able to provide in a certain situation.
- Encourage employee feedback. Give your employees different opportunities to provide their feedback. It’s also equally important to respond to the feedback. Even if you don’t act on it the way they want to, your employees need to see that you’ve considered their input.
- Offer clear, actionable feedback. When giving feedback, make sure it’s specific and timely. For feedback to be actionable, it has to be about something within your employee’s control.
Tip: If you’re dealing with a diverse group of people, it might be helpful to come up with a communications policy.
6. Shake Things Up
Routines make it easy to disengage and go into auto-pilot. So shake things up now and then!
Here are few fun, short-term employee engagement activities you can try:
- No emails and instant messaging for one day. Choose a non-critical day to ban emails for an entire workday. If your employees need to communicate with one another, they have to talk to each other.
- Play some music. Do you notice regular morale dips? Is it first thing on Monday? Maybe hump day? Whenever it is, play a song or two as a quick pick-me-up. Take requests once a month and choose the song lottery-style!
- Bond with food. Every week, assign one employee to bring their favorite snacks to work for sharing. Have them explain why it’s their favorite. This is a great way for employees to get to know one another.
- Dress code theme days. Once a month, your team can choose a theme that everyone has to come in.
- Volunteer together. Find a cause that your team is passionate about and take a day off to volunteer together. This can help build camaraderie between team members.
Tip: Make sure to consider the kind of people who make up your team. What may be engaging for some people can be off-putting for others.
"Make sure your employees know the best way to communicate with one another."
7. Reward and Recognize Good Performance
Motivate and inspire your employees by rewarding and recognizing good performance. Your appreciation and rewards can reinforce behavior you want other employees to emulate.
It’s important to have a values-based recognition and reward system that everyone can participate in. You can also congratulate your employees on personal or family achievements.
Remember, employees can get burned out when they don’t receive positive feedback, praise, or recognition.
When employees burn out, they’re less engaged and don’t perform as well.
8. Prioritize Employee Development
It’s easy to lose motivation and feel unengaged when you think that you’re in a dead-end job. If you have the resources, invest in your employee’s development.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Provide regular employee training.
- Provide opportunities for lateral movement.
- Encourage coaching.
- Make room for personal projects.
Your business can also benefit from more skilled employees. Employee development can increase your business’ human capital which, in turn, makes your business more valuable.
9. Avoid Micromanaging
Constantly checking on your employees communicates that you don’t trust them. It is difficult to feel engaged in a workplace where you don’t have any control.
A little employee autonomy goes a long way. It gives them the space to try out different strategies. In the long run, they’ll have more ownership of their work.
So instead of giving them a list of tasks to accomplish, assign them key responsibilities. This gives them a sense of purpose and heightens engagement.
10. Free Up their Time
Everyone gets bogged down by repetitive administrative tasks. These are hours that your employees could spend engaged in work that they enjoy and excel in for your company.
So try to figure out if there are unnecessary tasks you can take off their plate. That way, you give them more time to focus on the work that could truly help you grow your business.
Tip: Consider outsourcing administrative tasks to virtual assistants. Virtual assistants help free up time by taking over routine administrative tasks.
11. Offer Meaningful Perks
Perks are great external motivators. An enticing perk may help your employees improve their performance or hit their targets quicker. Many businesses offer regular perks like company swag, but you can maximize this strategy by figuring out what matters to your employees.
For example, if some employees value work-life balance, then you may want to offer perks that promote this like extra vacation days or more flexible schedule options. If wellness is a common goal among your employees, try bringing in a masseuse to give free massages once a month.
Tip: If you're handling a large group of people, HR might be able to help out. They can conduct an initial survey to see which perks excite your employees the most.
Employee engagement may seem elusive at first, but it makes a difference in the long run. A positive work environment not only increases employee satisfaction, but can ultimately contribute to your bottom line.
So if you’re looking for new ways to grow your business, try out these employee engagement ideas!