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How to Get Employee Engagement Right

13 min read

A staggering 87 percent of employees worldwide are still not engaged. Businesses spend thousands of dollars on employee engagement initiatives.

Yet, these numbers scream out the slow progress towards attaining an engaged workforce.

The companies that have managed to have the highest levels of employee engagement experience 41% less absenteeism, 24% less turnover, 21% greater profitability and 17% greater productivity.

Since there is no one size fits all approach, organizations need to invest their time in understanding the unique needs of their biggest resource –their employees. Instead of spending time and energy implementing various schemes without a clear vision, the goal should be to do everything with people at the center.

Below are a few steps that can help your organization start your journey into achieving high levels of employee engagement by adopting a people-centric approach:

Hire Right

According to Gallup, when people are a natural fit for their role and assigned to do what they do best, an opportunity for achieving excellent performance gets created. While hiring, managers need to ask the question over and over again – Is this the right person for this job? When employees are a natural fit, their dedication to their work will be higher than when they are left to do something they have no interest in, or worst, something they despise.

For this, recruitment efforts need a revolution in companies. Cultural fit should be given the highest priority while choosing a candidate. Aspirations need to be discussed and understood before offering a job. This is beneficial for both the employer and the employee. By spending time finding the right candidate, companies won’t face high attrition rates. And employees will also join a job where they believe they can make a difference. A win-win for all.

Appreciate Your Employees

Employees have a deep desire for recognition, with 93% hoping to be recognized at least once a quarter.

There have been several studies that have explored the link between appreciation and productivity. If a person is working hard, they want someone they look up to or admire to witness their journey. If people toil hard to achieve something, they would want to be noticed and applauded for their efforts. Without any notice or appreciation, motivation to work hard, more or less, will fade with time. People need to feel like they matter.

“When we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that weshould probably add all kinds of things to it: meaning, creation, challenges,ownership, identity, pride, etc.,”

Dan Ariely

Pay Heed To Workplace Culture

Even though improving culture requires focused and long-term thought, it is also the everyday things that matter. The behavior and interactions of employees within a company on a daily basis can change a company’s culture. Even a small issue like an email or the phrases used while conducting a meeting can drive or hamper employee engagement levels.

Politics or gossip are bound to make businesses fail, and cannot go ignored. Employee behavior and reactions to daily activities need to be tracked to understand what is going on. A good way to do this could be to use new tools for employee engagement and feedback in order to track and measure daily interactions.

A good idea could be to look at what others are doing and take inspiration from companies that have cracked the culture code.

Compensate Well

In a CBPR survey in 2017, only 44% of organizations said that their employees feel that they are paid in a fair manner. However, only 20% of employees actually agreed to this statistic. If you want your employees to be giving their best to you, ensure that they are paid competitively and honored with monetary rewards every now and then. For fast-paced organizations where much more is expected from employees, pay needs to be examined and revised frequently. The worst is when someone gives their blood and sweat to a cause only to remain underpaid for many months.

If your culture demands a lot of creation and hard work from employees, just a yearly bonus will not be consistent with employee expectations. Frequent payouts are necessary to march along with the speed of the business.

Communicate Without Barriers

This is probably is one of the biggest reasons why people leave organizations. When they feel like they don’t matter enough to be informed about what is going on or how they are doing. Professional development is something every employee desires. When managers do not communicate about future strategies or offer mentoring when needed, employees run out of reasons to stick with the company.

Regular one-on-ones are important and they need to be treated like a responsibility, rather than a weekly task that needs to be ticked off a list. Everyone is hard pressed for time, but through such initiatives, employee engagement indices can actually take a positive spin.

There should be avenues for facilitating open conversations between managers and employees. Both parties need to know the agenda of the meeting, and the manager in particular needs to be well prepared with the set of questions. It is critical that managers make the most of these interactions, as they will play a crucial role in understanding what the employee is experiencing in the company.

Ensure Manager Involvement

Without clear goals, employees will be left confused and directionless. And just laying down goals is not the answer. Managers also need to be available for their employees as and when the need arises. Be it providing learning tools for employees, coaching them on real issues, recognizing and rewarding employee performance in formal and informal ways or offering genuine feedback on activities. Only when managers define all these strategies clearly can they help contribute to achieving organizational goals.

This need not be very hard. Even if managers can spend 15 minutes from time to time with their employees and focus on specific goals that need to be achieved by each one of them, it can go a long way. The mission and vision of larger organizational goals need to be clearly communicated to the employees. Along with this, employees need the regular dose of how their contribution can make a massive impact on achieving those higher goals. Conversations hence need to be team and company-centric, rather than individual centric.

Treat Employees Like Customers

Every organization strives to achieve excellent customer service as it is a competitive differentiator. Plans are laid out, customer journeys are made and it is ensured that the goal behind every new idea is to be able to provide a fabulous experience to the customer. The same philosophy needs to be applied to employees as well.

From the time an employee joins an organization to the time he quits, the journey should be mapped digitally. Digital onboarding of the employee to the company, providing all necessary documents and keeping them safe in the cloud, real-time feedback through performance management software, regular goal tracking, mentoring and coaching should be made digitally accessible as well.

Employees should also feel connected to their team members no matter which part of the world they are at. Collaboration tools should be set in place for meetings, schedule updates and keeping everyone in the same loop. Employees should feel valued and important, no matter whether they are physically present at the office or not.

In short, the entire experience of employees, from start to end should be carefully mapped out by leaders, just like they would do for customers. A workforce that is cared for will stick around for longer, and also feel accountable to contribute positively towards the achievement of organizational goals.

Help Employees Learn And Innovate

Employees want to grow continuously in their professional career and they want to be involved in organizations which understand this aspiration of theirs. 87% of millennials say development is important in a job. Career growth is the biggest contributor to higher retention levels for employees in today’s day and age. Employees should be given all the tools and resources that they might need to accomplish their tasks to the best of their ability.

With the massive rise in the manufacture and use of mobile devices and the internet, knowledge can be accessed at the click of a button. Employees want to be actively learning and on-demand training and access to a pool of rich content are what can keep them satisfied. Training delivered across mediums and devices, along with flexible learning opportunities can give them the assurance that their organizations deeply care about for their professional development and contribute to employee engagement.

Make Well-Being A Strategic Priority

This new demand has led to a new digital well-being market, where more than $2 billion in venture capital has been invested in the last two years. All of this goes into creating a suite of online videos, applications, and tools that help people through stress and improve their mental and emotional health. Global corporate wellness market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% CAGR to reach revenue of $63.26billion by 2022, as per a recent study from IndustryARC.

Wellness is more important than ever for organizations, as innovative programs for financial, emotional and mental health are aimed at increasing worker productivity. The line between work and life is increasingly getting blurred, which needs to be filled with well-being programs that need to be treated as corporate responsibility. Well being programs focused on physical, mental, financial and spiritual health are now being used as a strategy to drive employee productivity, retention, engagement, and performance.

Organizations have started understanding the importance of such holistic wellness programs. According to Deloitte’s survey, Global Human Capital Trends Report 2018, two-thirds of organizations now state that well-being programs are a critical part of their employment brand and culture. However, it also states that there is a huge gap between what organizations are offering and what employees actually expect or value.

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    Meet the author

    Keka Editorial Team

    A bunch of inspired, creative and ambitious youngsters- that’s Keka’s editorial team for you. We have a thirst to learn new subjects and curate diverse pieces for our readers. Our deep understanding and knowledge of Human Resources has enabled us to answer almost every question pertaining to this department. If not seen finding ways to simplify the HR world, they can be found striking conversations with anyone and everyone , petting dogs, obsessing over gadgets, or baking cakes.


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