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On the strategic plan you’re developing to improve organizational performance and customer service, you should place “increasing employee engagement” at the top. Recruiting, hiring and training new employees are expensive and time-consuming tasks. If you create a culture of satisfaction and commitment to the organization, you’ll instantly improve employee retention. Begin by embedding employee engagement strategies into the mission and goals of your organization.
What Is Employee Engagement?
You can characterize employee engagement as a personal investment by employees in the products and services provided by the organization. When an employee feels valued, a sense of pride oozes into their work ethic. There’s no question that a workforce that is enveloped with a positive attitude and love for their work creates an optimal work environment. The important variable is that a plan must be in place to make it happen.
Benefits of Employee Engagement
The benefits of employee engagement may surprise you. Here are just a few statistics from a 2017 Gallop Poll:
- Better Attendance
Engaged employees want to come to work. Companies with an engaged workforce see a 41 percent decrease in missed workdays.
- Decreased Turnover
Employee engagement is tied to positive longevity. Companies with a high level of employee engagement experience 59 percent less turnover.
- Customer Satisfaction
Customers notice when employees enjoy their work. Top-performing organizations in the engaged employee category report a 10 percent bump in customer contentment.
- Increased Profits
- It makes sense that if customers are happy that they are more likely to return. It turns out that companies with engaged employees realize a 21 percent increase in profit.
Consider the Role of Leadership in Employee Engagement
Top management plays a key role in employee engagement strategies. Role modeling a love for the organization doesn’t go unnoticed by the workforce. Organizational leadership must espouse transparent communication and demonstrate that employee engagement is a priority. Investing in hiring the right people, extensive onboarding practices, and providing rewards and incentives are just a few of the pillars of success.
Review the Steps for Creating an Employee Engagement Program
Employee engagement doesn’t usually happen on its own. Expect that you’ll need to create a plan that communicates employee engagement strategies. Include the following in the plan:
Identify the employee engagement strategy.
- Tie the strategy to an organizational performance data point or employee survey result.
- Determine how the new initiative will be communicated to the organization.
- Provide a description of the initiative and the tangible action steps.
- Demonstrate the measurable outcomes.
- Include the responsible parties for the employee engagement initiative.
- Show how the employee engagement strategy will continue over time.
Look at the Strategies for Building a Positive Workplace
The benefits of employee engagement are clear. Now, what are some employee engagement strategies? Review some best practices for building an engaged workforce:
Put Organizational Values in Writing
It’s powerful to see an organization’s commitment to employee engagement in writing. Incorporate this value in the mission, vision and goals. You can even post this commitment for all to see.
Recruit the Best Employees
The importance of talent management is the first step in building an employee base that’s engaged. Take the time to recruit and screen applicants. If you start with enthusiastic, talented candidates, you’ll be on your way to a high level of employee engagement.
Be Clear About Roles & Expectations
Set your employees up for success with a clear job description that communicates what needs to be done to meet the job expectations. When employees know what to do, they’re more likely to be successful and feel satisfied with the work experience.
Provide Training and Development
The best employees can only be better if they are provided with the right training and education. In addition to a thorough onboarding process, provide on-going training to ensure that employees are meeting and exceeding industry standards.
In addition to training, mentoring is one of the most important employee engagement strategies that you can implement. A mentoring program signals to employees that professional development and organizational advancement matters. Mentors and mentees alike feel valued and are eager to remain engaged.
Align Employee Jobs With Organizational Goals
Employees will feel engaged if they see that their work is contributing to the goals of the organization. Personal investment in a company comes from knowing that each job makes a meaningful difference.
Performance Evaluation Is Critical
Assessing performance plays an important role of talent engagement. Employees need regular feedback so they know if they’re meeting expectations. Performance evaluation also offers an opportunity to provide empowering words of encouragement.
Assess the Workplace Climate
You may think that you have an engaged workforce, but you won’t know until you conduct a climate assessment. Consider a survey or focus groups to learn more about how your employees feel about working for the company. You can also provide an anonymous reporting mechanism to encourage real-time thoughts and feelings.
Hold Listening Sessions
In addition to disseminating a formal assessment tool, have regular listening sessions to hear from employees. Offer coffee and a time for idea sharing, so employees know their ideas matter to top management.
Take Corrective Action if Necessary
If you hear about a problem, it’s critical to respond immediately. Responsive management is perceived as caring about employee needs. You’ll find that swift problem-solving is one of the most impactful employee engagement strategies that you can implement.
Maintain Your Efforts
Creating an employee engagement program is challenging, but it can be even more difficult to maintain one. You’ll find that true commitment to your employees is noticed in an on-going effort to help them feel valued. Don’t back off of an established program once you’ve reached your performance goals.
Reward Great Work
Employees will feel even more motivated to go further if they are rewarded for their work. Create a culture of informal and formal recognition that occurs on a regular basis. An engaged workforce will reward one another for a job well done and be eager to hear words of thanks from the management.
Evaluate Your Efforts
It’s important to look at the data to determine the effectiveness of your employee engagement strategies. In addition to gathering qualitative information from your employees, look at your sales, customer satisfaction information and employee retention numbers. Know that the way that your employees feel about their work is directly tied to the overall performance of your organization.
Employee Engagement Strategies Will Combat Burnout
In addition to improving the retention of employees, employee engagement strategies can also help employees remain fresh and invested for the long term. A strong employee engagement program will allow managers to know when employees need a change of direction. Employees who feel comfortable communicating their feelings are more likely to remain engaged. A nimble approach to employee roles and responsibilities is an added component of an invested workforce.
Don’t Do Too Much
It may seem counterintuitive, but you don’t want to try to do too much at one time. Pick one or two employee engagement strategies that you know are likely to be successful. If you create a lofty plan that’s too difficult to manage, your efforts may backfire. Tackle employee engagement strategies in an incremental manner that ensures organizational success.
Dr. Kelly Meier has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and has 30+ years of experience in higher education. She is the author and co-author of 15 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education with Kinect Education Group. She is the co-owner of a small business and a regular contributor for The Equity Network. She has numerous publications published by Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and <a href="http://www.kinecteducationgroup.com">Kinect Education Group</a>.