Employee engagement has to be one of the biggest challenges for HR and leadership teams alike - no matter the size of their organisation. Not only does it significantly impact the performance of your employees, but it also helps to ensure the company’s longevity.
It’s all about how happy your employees are, how much they like working for you, and how strongly they get behind your company's values. It’s what keeps people motivated and driven to perform.
In other words... employee engagement is really important. It's what makes businesses work.
Businesses that have high levels of employee engagement will very often have exceptional rates of staff retention and productivity – after all, why would you want to leave a job and company you love working for?
So with 85% of global employees either not engaged or actively disengaged at work (Gallup), how can HR managers rise to the challenge of turning this figure around in their organisation?
Although this is no easy feat, making the commitment to improve your employee engagement rate will positively impact on performance, retention, and recruitment. Let's get started shall we...
It’s what keeps people motivated and driven to perform. And it’s also what keeps people satisfied and comfortable too - encouraging them to stick around for the long term.
When the term “employee engagement” first came into use, it was defined as “the harnessing of organisational members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances”.
For engagement to exist, three psychological conditions need to be met:
When these were met, fully engaged employees would take ownership of their work and be loyal to the business. However, engagement isn’t constant. There are many elements that can cause an employee’s engagement to change at any time.
Over time, this definition has evolved, as employee engagement has developed. Instead of only focusing on a person bringing their full self to work, it’s more about the employee’s willingness to go above and beyond for the good of the business.
A study by Schaufeli and Baker established engagement as a positive dimension of wellbeing, and burnout as being negative.
Low energy, a psychological symptom that leads a person to feel more cynical, detached, and exhausted, is a clear indicator of disengagement.
One way to think about disengaged employees is like they are old friends who used to like spending time with you, understood your values and goals as well as what they could do to help and were inspired to actively be involved.
This gives you as the HR manager a much better opportunity to re-engage them.
However, unengaged employees are more like a stranger; they have not made any emotional commitment to the organisation and are not invested in the success, doing the bare minimum to help achieve your goals.
Unengaged employees tend to come about when they do not understand their role in the organisation’s bigger picture.
By talking, learning, and communicating (TLC), you’ll be able to turn around any cultural changes that have led to the unengagement you may be experiencing.
For a successful company culture, HR and management need to make sure it is applied to all areas of the organisation. From hiring candidates that share your company’s values to the recognition and rewards schemes - there should be no stone left unturned.
When the leadership team embodies the values of the business and provides effective policies, frequent feedback and reacts to its staff's needs and ideas, a positive workplace culture can flourish.
When there is a positive culture, employees will feel more motivated to not only perform high-quality work, but also to take part within the company and its vision.
Engaged employees have a positive perception of their work and give more effort to tasks. A further benefit is reduced staff turnover, fewer accidents and increased productivity – all of which help improve profitability.
By making sure both your company and employees are on the same page in terms of the vision and values of your business, you’ll likely find that your staff experience greater job satisfaction. However, when only 20% of employees understand their employers' bigger business goals, a clear inconsistency is revealed between what a company hopes to achieve and what it’s actually communicating to employees.
Your first thought may be to offer bonuses and cash incentives. However, in a knowledge economy, incentivising with cash alone isn’t quite enough to encourage fulfilment from their roles.
Depending on your business and industry, there will be different ways that can work for both your business and employees to improve engagement.
To get started, take note of your employees’ current feelings and ask for suggestions on what they think could improve their engagement. This can be done via an employee satisfaction survey, click here to access our template.
Depending on the results of your survey, here are some great strategies that you can implement to improve your employee engagement:
Trying to achieve the perfect work-life balance will be at the top of the priority list for many employees; if your business can offer flexible working hours, there is a number of studies that have found that employees who have the freedom to set their own schedules are much happier and more productive, as well as making them more engaged. Who can argue with that?
Outdated or inefficient tools can be a huge source of frustration for employees. Their ability to complete tasks may be hindered by software or processes that unnecessarily complicate and prolong activities.
By empowering employees with the right tools, you can remove bottlenecks or inefficiencies in your workflows. To encourage take-up of any tools that are rolled out, make sure you factor in the feedback and opinions of the intended users.
There’s a difference between making a special effort when it’s required and feeling pressured to continuously work outside of regular hours. By encouraging a healthy work-life balance, one that is validated by the actions of senior leaders, you’re creating a healthy workplace culture and showing that your organisation recognises and respects people’s individual needs and boundaries.
To ensure you always bring the right people into the business, organisational decisions have to be founded on your company’s culture. All levels and areas of your business should align with the values you promote through positive behaviours, trust-building and transparency.
Do your employees have access to additional support if they're feeling anxious, overwhelmed or stressed? Just like physical health, no one is immune to poor mental health.
A recent study by MIND found that 60% of employees would feel more motivated if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.
Having a clear process in place that encourages employees to reach out when they need help with mental health issues – personal or workplace-related – reinforces the message that they are valued and that the business prioritises their wellbeing.
Create a company culture that sheds the stigma around mental health. Let your employees know that taking a mental health day when it's necessary is perfectly acceptable – just as it would be if they needed to attend to physical ailments.
If possible, look to provide an Employee Assistance Programme within your business, giving individuals access to professional help on issues relating to work, finance, family matters, and grief counselling.
When times are hard, employees can tap into a wealth of information and support to help them cope and bounce back stronger.
As the concept of engagement is so closely aligned to the more elusive and ambiguous realm of human emotion, measuring employee engagement isn’t always simple.
But, as with anything we would like to work to improve upon, it's important to have a value that can be measured to see the ROI of your hard work.
There are a number of component metrics that can help you build a picture of how engaged your workforce is. These are:
The most effective way to measure these areas is through employee satisfaction surveys. By carrying out short and frequent pulse surveys, you’ll be able to gain insights into what really matters to your team and create an action plan to implement changes to the business.
Retention is another key area that can demonstrate the impact of improving your employees’ engagement. If you are struggling to hold on to talent within your organisation, take the opportunity to learn from your soon to be ex-employees via an exit interview.
This is a great tool for HR to gain insight into areas of the business
that may be causing friction for employees. Feedback gained from exit interviews is often more transparent as outgoing employees may have previously feared the repercussions of speaking candidly.
We’re here to help businesses build happy workplace cultures by understanding what makes your company unique and create a bespoke strategy to help you achieve your engagement goals and create productive, creative and collaborative teams.
Our award-winning Benefits and Rewards platform allows management and colleagues to reward each other for a job well done. Employees can take advantage of exclusive discounts and vouchers to their favourite retailers, helping to reduce household spending and get more value for their money.
Get started today with the help of our free employee satisfaction survey guide and template, or get in touch for a no-obligation chat and take your first steps to shaping a more satisfied and motivated workforce.
Whether you're considering something short term and simple, or something more strategic and long term, our range of employee engagement solutions will do just the trick.
By addressing any issues that are hampering your teams spirits, you can not only boost productivity and performance, but it will also show that you care as an employer! Win, win.
Part of Sodexo Group, our solutions inspire a successful workplace culture by incentivising performance and recognising success. We change behaviours and drive outstanding engagement – all focused around your specific business objectives.
Never out of a box, we’re all about the experience, always purposeful and always powerful.
At Sodexo, we have over 50 years’ heritage in creating award-winning experiences that make people’s lives better. From growing employee culture and inspiring success in your workplace, to driving consumer engagement with your brand, we transform the way in which employees and consumers behave or perform, meaning they’ll engage more deeply with you.