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How to Create Employee Engagement Strategies that Actually Work for Your Team

Employee engagement strategies help you outline methods to boost engagement in your company, which increases productivity and satisfaction. Read more.

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How to Create Employee Engagement Strategies that Actually Work for Your Team

Employees are one of the cornerstones of your organization. Productive employees help all the processes run smoothly and contribute to the business’s success. Employee engagement strategies are simple, yet effective ways to ensure the people in your company feel connected and motivated.

If you haven’t given engagement much thought until now, it’s time to change that. Research shows that engaged employees perform better and have lower attrition rates. So let’s take a look at what employee engagement is and how to create a strategy that actually works.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement refers to how committed your employees are to the organization. It includes any positive connections they have with their job, their colleagues, and the values and goals of the company. Highly engaged employees will commit more of their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral energy toward reaching personal and organizational goals.

Engagement is a subjective concept. Different companies might look at different metrics to gauge how engaged their employees are. Many also like to use surveys or regular pulse checks to get a handle on employee sentiment.  

Make sure to not confuse engagement and satisfaction. Employee satisfaction is often connected to things like compensation, work schedule, or time off. Engagement is not. For instance, an employee who is paid better will be satisfied but won’t necessarily be more engaged.

What is an employee engagement strategy?

An employee engagement strategy is a set of tactics, policies, and processes that are intended to increase the likelihood that employees will have a positive cognitive, emotional, and behavioral connection with your organization.

So, how can you make sure your employees are engaged? By creating a plan that details the various methods through which you intend to help people become more engaged.

This helps you become more aware of the importance of employee engagement, making it a priority amongst your people strategies. You’ll not only be intentional about engagement in your company, but you’ll also be documenting the process.

The strategy will vary from company to company, but most will include:

  • Your goals. What is it you’re trying to achieve through this employee engagement strategy? Think about both long-term and short-term goals.

  • Metrics. How do you want to measure engagement? Perhaps you want to rely solely on surveys. You could also choose to watch HR metrics such as absenteeism, voluntary turnover, and productivity.

  • The budget. How much of your budget are you willing to allocate for your employee engagement strategy?

  • The strategies you want to use to improve engagement.

How to develop an employee engagement strategy that works for your organization

There are several ways to get started. The most important thing is to establish a benchmark. A quick employee survey can help you see how engaged and satisfied your employees currently are. Make sure you’re asking the right employee engagement survey questions when you do so.

You can also look at various HR metrics. For instance, high absenteeism can be a signal that there’s a problem in your company. The same is true for high voluntary turnover rates. 

Of course, you need to analyze the context as well. Engagement might be the root cause of various issues, but it might also be dissatisfaction with another area of the job.

Next, you’ll need to be realistic. If you’ve never given engagement much thought until now, you’re not going to implement all the strategies in a few days. Select one to two goals and work on those.

It is also important to be flexible. It might take some trial and error before you find the right strategy for your company. Keep an open mind and be willing to try out new things.

Lastly, you’ll need to make employee engagement measurement an ongoing initiative. Regularly send out pulse checks to your employees to keep tabs on overall employee sentiment. Follow that up with full engagement surveys once or twice per year to gather qualitative data and feedback that can help steer your strategies in the right direction.

8 employee engagement strategies that work

Now that you know what an employee engagement strategy is and why it’s important, it’s time to look at the best strategies that actually work. These include:

  • Trust and transparency;

  • Getting to know your employees;

  • Rewarding top performers;

  • Offering promotions;

  • Ensuring a diverse and inclusive environment;

  • Offering learning and development opportunities;

  • Providing employees with regular feedback;

  • Adding team-building fun activities.

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

1. Prioritize trust and transparency

Trust and transparency are keys to building a workplace where people feel valued and safe. Without trust, there’s a tendency to micromanage people. 

Nobody enjoys feeling like their every single step is monitored. This behavior can also make employees less productive and less creative. Sooner or later, you’ll notice attrition increasing.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, someone who feels trusted and valued is likely to be more productive and could remain in the company longer.

Transparency is equally important, and it often goes hand in hand with trust. Be open about things like your compensation strategy, the company goals, its values, and more.

2. Get to know your employees

In start-ups and small companies, this is an easy step. Everyone knows everyone and they all spend a lot of time together. Everyone takes part in meetings and has plenty of time to talk to management. It’s no wonder that people working for these types of companies feel very engaged. 

But as the company grows, this becomes more and more difficult. If you have thousands of people in your organization, you won’t be able to talk to all of them. But you can still read their surveys, for instance. You can do your best to hear what they have to say so that they know their opinions matter.

3. Reward top performers

Merit increase programs are a great way to reward excellence in the workplace. They help improve both satisfaction and engagement. They also contribute to lowering attrition levels and can help you attract top talent. 

Make sure your merit raise program is transparent and that the goals are not impossible to attain. Don’t forget your employees are humans who have hobbies and families outside of work. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice any of those in order to get a merit increase.

4. Promote within the company

When a new position opens up, many instantly think about hiring someone new. What if you looked instead at the people that are already working for you? Do you see someone who’s been with you for a while and whose skills match the new job description? Even if you need to invest to help them learn one to two new skills, hiring internally is great for the business.

You’re showing people there’s a real chance of promotion if they work hard. They’ll know their efforts don’t go unseen, and that they’re appreciated.

5. Focus on diversity and inclusion

study conducted by Gartner found that diverse teams are 12% more efficient than others. Plus, more diversity means a wider variety of backgrounds, experiences, and talent.

A company that values diversity and inclusion is seen as one that promotes equality and fair opportunities for all. When people feel accepted, they’re more likely to feel good about the workplace. They’ll be more productive, perform better, and they’ll contribute to the company’s overall success.

6. Include learning and development opportunities for all

People enjoy learning new things. And they love companies that give them the opportunity to develop new skills all the time.

Many companies have thorough learning programs for the onboarding phase, but completely ignore that for all the others. That can lead to a reduction in engagement. Eventually, people may feel tempted to leave.

Create a plan for learning and development for all your employees, regardless of seniority. Keep in mind that people have different learning styles. Some might prefer reading books. Others would rather have hands-on workshops where they can learn and test new skills. Try to accommodate the various learning styles if you want to have the best results.

7. Provide regular feedback

If you’re creating a merit increase program, you’re already providing some feedback. But you should try to go beyond who’s a top performer and who isn’t. People want to know how they’re doing. If you keep them guessing, they might start feeling unappreciated.

You might have to provide negative feedback from time to time. Remember to be constructive instead of criticizing for the sake of criticizing. We all make mistakes and your employees are no different. Help them learn from these mistakes so that they can improve.

8. Add some fun engagement activities

Help people communicate and have fun with one another. You can set up a weekly happy hour where they play games, or have lunch all together. Talk to people and see what would interest them. There’s no point in setting up a basketball game if no one enjoys playing it. 

Don’t forget about inclusion. For instance, if you choose a team-building activity that includes playing sports, make sure everyone can do those activities. Sometimes mobility issues could be invisible in the office, but they make certain physical activities impossible. Preferably, try to schedule multiple activities so that everyone can take part‌.

The bottom line

Employee engagement strategies help you plan and document various methods to boost engagement within the company. They include things like transparency, trust, inclusion, merit increases, and more.

To create a strategy that works you need to keep an open mind, be flexible, and be realistic. Work towards a few goals at a time and be prepared to change your strategy if you feel something isn’t working.

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