11 Expert Employee Engagement Ideas: Get Your Team Deeply Involved
When done right, employee engagement results in each member of a company giving their best. When engaged at work, employees are committed to the company mission and values and naturally driven to contribute toward company-wide success.
An employee’s personal goals and interests will ideally align with the company vision and mission. With this alignment, they are more likely to collaborate effectively with the rest of their team—both on a personal level and when completing their day-to-day activities.
If engagement at your company is lacking, bettering your company from the inside out is one of the keys to success. Within this article, we highlight why having an engaged workforce is essential to company success. There are many reasons an engaged work culture, or lack thereof, can be felt across a company and create a dramatic ripple effect.
Let’s get familiar with what employee engagement is and why this is not an area that should be overlooked. Our employee engagement ideas have been tested at organizations of all sizes and in a variety of industries. It’s time your HR team and staff realize the full power of what they can do.
What Employee Engagement Is and Why It’s Essential
Engagement is, at its core, about culture. The workplace should be a place that employees are generally happy, as they will be spending a lot of their time there. When thinking about this, consider all stages of an employee's time with your company.
When a candidate is first researching to see whether they might want to apply, they will often look at websites that show current and former employees’ ratings of employers. When the majority of employees are pleased with their experience at the office, your company is more likely to expect positive reviews. Positive reviews show prospective hires what a great place your company is. An engaged culture is helpful for your hiring needs.
Employees tend to be more productive when their overall experience is positive rather than when they are unhappy with their jobs. More productive team members are, of course, great for your bottom line. The stock prices of businesses that have made it to Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for" have risen 14%, while those not on the list are reporting a mere 6% increase. When it comes to salespeople, for instance, happier professionals are reported to be able to raise sales by an astounding 37%, on average.
Aside from getting more work done, happier employees generally provide better customer experience to clients. They genuinely believe in what they are selling and want to go the extra mile for customers’ success.
Lack of engagement can lead to turnover. Don't lose your best employees because they are not happy enough while at work. When a valuable employee leaves, your HR department will have even more work to do trying to fill a role when they have an unexpected opening.
Voluntary employee turnover has many costs to it. Filling an empty role has a negative effect on employee morale and takes time and money. When employees see others exiting the company, they might think something is wrong and consider other opportunities.
At the end of the day, an engaged workforce is a better workforce. So, without further ado, take a look at our favorite employee engagement ideas.
Our Favorite Employee Engagement Ideas
By now, it should be apparent why you want your employees to not only show up to work, but to care about producing the best quality of work too. Research shows that only 13% of employees working for organizations worldwide are engaged. This number is far too low. We strive to help enterprises fix this issue. The following tips explain 11 expert employee engagement ideas you can try at your organization to help create an ideal work environment.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #1: Establish a Rewards Program and Give Positive Feedback
People like to feel acknowledged. They will be motivated to work harder if they are praised for a job well done. Do not let their efforts and dedication to the company go unnoticed. Burnout sets in more quickly if the staff starts to feel like they are doing the work and getting absolutely nothing out of it but a paycheck.
Although their salary is important, it’s not all they want, and other companies know this. Odds are, a competitor is already thinking of ways to offer a great incentive package, so you will need to be competitive. Don’t just think about direct monetary gain.
Be sure you’re staying on top in areas such as health care offerings, retirement plans, generous PTO—and always maintaining honest, constructive feedback loops. Your employees will appreciate the lines of communication being so open at their place of work and are bound to see the value of having a clear window into how they’re progressing.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #2: Offer Training and Advancement Opportunities to Make Career Paths Clear
In addition to being valued, employees want to feel challenged at their company. They don’t want to stay in one position forever; they want to grow. That doesn’t mean that you need to prepare them to leave the company for greener pastures—instead, aim to make your company the greenest pasture out there.
Employees don't want to remain stagnant. They're looking for a path forward. Show that they have a real opportunity if they stay at your company and choose to grow their tenure there instead of someplace else.
We are creatures that like to move around, not stay still. We like to feel that we are getting better at something all the time. We want to advance. People don’t look to join an enterprise to be static for too long. Make sure they understand that if they do well, they can advance within the organization. They will move up the ranks of your corporate ladder, internally.
Employees need to know promotions are not only possible, but realistic. They should understand that you are going to help them get there because you care about their career—not just the position they currently hold. Thus, you will find that training will be much appreciated. You can send them to conferences and workshops, assign them recommended readings, or provide them with company-branded how-to demo videos if they are working remotely.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #3: Encourage Autonomy, Not Micromanagement
No one likes to feel that they are being micromanaged. Yes, employees should be held accountable, but they want to know that you hired them because you trust in their abilities to do their job. Micromanaging can be frustrating and demeaning to your employees who consider themselves trusted, responsible members of the team. Do not hinder their self-confidence by letting managers regularly stand over them, peeking over their shoulders at their progress.
Give them direction, set some deadlines, and generally set them free to get the job done effectively. You can of course, as a leader, guide them along the way if you notice that something they’re doing could be done more efficiently, but make sure you are not checking up on them at all hours of the day. Use your check-ins sparingly and they’ll be more likely to see them as help than feel a hint of dread.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #4: Encourage Personal Projects
Just because you expect your employees’ full attention during work hours doesn’t mean their whole life should revolve around your business. Encourage them to have a life outside of work. One of the top things employees look for in a workplace is one that fosters a healthy work-life balance.
If they have interests that do not conflict with what they do at work every day, they should be encouraged to pursue those passions. Do they want to hone a skill that is not directly related to their day job? Great, feel free to help them out if you know of resources you can suggest. Cheer them on. Show up for them however you can.
You do not have to only speak with them about work-related matters just because you work together. Managers and their subordinates should be able to talk about personal endeavors. The same things go for other work relationships—if coworkers can share more and help each other out when it comes to their hobbies, they will be happier all around and learn to build each other up.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #5: Build Relationships Through Communication
Similarly to the previous tip, you’ll want your workforce to get along. Teams that like and appreciate each other work together best. Think about a time earlier in your career when you may have had a poor relationship with a coworker or superior. Did it make work unpleasant? Did it make communication difficult and ultimately make it harder to do your job?
How do things get done when people cannot stand to work together? Despite being made up of all sorts of different departments and specialties, an engaged team feels like one cohesive unit. Push for your employees to get to know each other and treat one another as respected individuals. You should be giving your employees accolades when they deserve them, but engagement tools can aid employees in encouraging each other.
With the help of good engagement software, they can have a platform to give shout-outs and praise to their fellow staff—think of it as a virtual high-five. It shows each member of the workforce that the other members of the team truly believe in them and are taking note of their accomplishments. If an employee is an asset to the company, they should be made to feel that way. If they feel that they have to fight for recognition at your company, they may try to find another organization that will appreciate them more.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #6: Make Onboarding a Breeze for All
No one likes coming into a new job and filling out a ton of paperwork. HR professionals don’t like having to administer it, check it over, manually enter it into a system, and figure out how to get new team members trained without taking too much time away from current members’ schedules. Nor do you need it to be the first thing a new employee thinks about upon walking through the door on their first day—you want them to be excited about and focused on the job they were hired to do.
The right software will enable smooth transitions for new hires rather than present a bit of a turnoff, as it may have in the past. Getting the correct forms filled out and catching them up to speed does not have to be a dreaded task when everything is available virtually in one easily accessible place. Today, it is more than possible to find an onboarding system that is a great experience for already busy HR staff and anxious new employees alike. With the latest technology, you can be sure they’ll feel welcomed rather than overwhelmed.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #7: Welcome Employee Feedback and Implement Necessary Changes
You want your organization to have integrity and transparency. This is not to say that you should toss your corporate hierarchy framework. While most decisions should continue to come from the top, your employees need to feel that their voice is valued. This includes those who are not in charge, per se.
Be prepared to invite feedback from all team members—yes, even from interns if you want them to boast about a fantastic experience when they. We do mean everyone. Everyone should understand they deserve to have their opinions heard. They are more likely to be engaged and enthusiastically interact with their team if they feel they have a voice—and that you’re listening.
You do not have to accept every suggestion, but if an employee brings a concern to your attention or an idea of how to improve an area of your business, hear them out. Thank them for their contribution and see to it that it is at least considered. Meetings can be held to gauge whether multiple people feel the same way about the topic. And if it makes sense for the majority, it can even be voted into adoption.
Your employees should be empowered to bring change to the company, as long as it’s for the better. Let your employees know they can truly make a difference, or they may look to make a difference elsewhere.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #8: Hold Contests and Have Themed Office Days
Whoever said work cannot be fun? Keep things interesting by, when appropriate, holding little games or themed days at the office. Themed days do not have to happen frequently to help employees start loving company culture. They can be aligned with major holidays such as a cook-off for Thanksgiving, costumes for Halloween, or a secret Santa gift exchange for Christmas.
And don’t forget about birthdays, as they’re easy to celebrate but just as easy to miss if you’re not keeping track and paying attention. It may seem minor, but taking the time to celebrate birthdays can mean a great deal to someone.
Encouraging a little healthy, friendly competition among your employees can be an additional motivation tactic. If the energy around the office is feeling lackluster, this can really shock some life back into the system. You may be surprised what people, even with seemingly high salaries, will do for something as small as a Starbucks gift card prize or getting their name hung up on the wall. The concept and feel of it changes as soon as it becomes an award.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #9: Give Time to Volunteer, and Do It Together
Many enterprises make giving back to the community a priority. Don’t just give money though, as things can easily be made more personal than that. The UnitedHealth Group found in a survey that a whopping 78% of people who volunteered reported lower stress levels. Additionally, another poll found that a staggering 68% of employees would take a job with a company that values volunteer work over one that does not make time for it.
We’re also seeing that corporate social responsibility (CSR) ranks highest among millennials. Cone Communications reports that up to two-thirds of young professionals said they wouldn’t even consider working for a company that does not prioritize this. Not to mention, it’s great for team building.
Encourage your staff to volunteer together instead of simply giving them time off to do their own individual community service. And don’t be afraid to change it up—if you don’t have a set organization to which you prefer to donate, you can even have employees vote on which charity or nonprofit they’d like to help each year.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #10: Review Regularly to Gauge Happiness
Employees who regularly get to use their strengths, skills, and abilities were found to be as much as six times more likely to be engaged at work—and 8% more productive. You hold your usual performance reviews with the aim of gauging their performance, but also checking in on their overall well-being. If their performance is a bit lower and they’re not showing the growth their managers were expecting, there could be an underlying reason for that.
Make sure these assessments are a two-way street—don’t just talk at them, rather, always give them a chance to explain their side. Often what you learn during a regular assessment can be the first hint that the employee is not taking their job seriously because their mind is somewhere else. Don’t assume the culprit is laziness, as there’s a chance they might be thinking of leaving instead. There’s always a “why,” so if you’re not in tune with how they’re feeling and their actions are coming as a surprise to you, you may not have been listening as closely as you could have been.
Remember, if employees are unhappy or feeling unfulfilled, they are less likely to be productive. So ask them what their goals are, what you or their supervisors could be doing better as leaders, and what would improve their outlook on the job. Don’t just make it about what you want on behalf of the company or what you think they should want. Ultimately, it’s better for the organization that this person does not leave if they were once a top performer.
Get them to understand that you take change seriously and that if something can be identified that will help them do better, you will do your best to make that a reality for them. In the end, this should end up proving to be a solution, both for them and for the company as a whole.
Top Employee Engagement Idea #11: Meet Regularly, In and Outside of the Office
According to a poll conducted by Monster, 25% of employees said that the most stressful part of their job is navigating coworker relationships. That should not be the case. There are endless possibilities to help your employees connect. With all the tools we have in this digital era, it doesn’t matter if your team is distributed across the globe or sitting across a section of cubicles from one another. There is a way for them not only to get along, but genuinely like each other.
Make sure to hold meetings regularly so that everyone is on the same page. Employees should see this as an opportunity to collaborate and ask for help. When people come together to share ideas, fewer potentially great ideas will escape the organization. Some of the greatest innovations started from joint efforts.
If people are remote, have them call or video into a conference. And if the team is all situated at a physical office location, still do not skip this step. Emails cannot always replace the nuances and camaraderie of face-to-face interaction.
And it’s not just about work meetings. Organize ways for your people to meet up outside of work as well. Hold private company holiday parties at rented venues, invite staff to join together at a bar if everyone is local—or, if you have the funds and some of the team is remote, try gathering everyone together for annual, or biannual, retreats. You want your team to feel like a cohesive group. And those who have fun together often stay together, creating memories that can then be taken back to work with them and shared among work friends.
The Tools You Need to Help Implement These Employee Engagement Ideas at Your Organization
If any of these employee engagement ideas got the gears turning and sparked excitement for you while picturing all the new, interesting things you can have your team do together, get in touch. We can walk you through HR Cloud’s proprietary software, such as the ever-popular Workmates, to show you how tools that are easy, fun, cost-cutting, and time-saving can get you where you want to be.
A tight-knit, more communicative, and all-around more productive work environment is possible with our expert advice and acclaimed technology. To see happiness levels at your company rise quicker than you ever thought possible, reach out and we’ll help you reap the benefits of a more engaged workforce.
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