What is employee engagement and why is it important?
Here are our 8 top tips you should include in your employee engagement strategy.
There are new expectations from employers and employees; the world is changing. Recently we’ve learnt a lot about working patterns. What may have engaged your team before doesn’t do so anymore. But you’re in luck; here are our 8 top tips for how to improve employee engagement.
The employment market has taken a hit in recent times. A rise in early retirement and a surge of EU citizens returning to their home countries have strained workforces. The Covid pandemic caused a new way of working, forcing businesses to adapt. Many organisations transitioned to remote working, and there became an industry-wide talent shortage. And, even more recently, we are facing a cost-of-living crisis. People are considering finding better pay so retaining your staff is crucial.
However, it’s not all about the highest salary. Work culture has begun to shift in dynamics. There is more focus on work-life balance, wellness, and mental health. As well as fair pay, employees want more from their work environment. This is a significant factor when choosing new employment. If a candidate has a choice of two roles, they will compare the benefits because, after all, life is for living.
When considering your remuneration package, an employee engagement strategy is essential. Organisations are more likely to keep their team and attract the best people if they have a strategy. But before developing a plan it’s best to understand what engagement is and the impact it can have.
So, what employee engagement is, and why is it important?
The first thing to understand is the difference between engagement, happiness and satisfaction. A happy or satisfied employee will turn up on time and finish their tasks with minimal complaint. An engaged employee will go the extra mile. They might stay later to hit a deadline or ensure a customer has an exceptional experience. Fundamentally, employee engagement is an emotional commitment leading to discretionary effort. Engaged employees care about their work and do more than the bare minimum.
Don’t confuse employee engagement with entertainment. An afternoon of team fun can be a great way to bring people together and form connections. The difference is that employee engagement inspires your team and recognises their success.
When developing your strategy, it’s essential to consider these questions. Does the employee…
- Have a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities?
- Receive regular feedback and encouragement?
- Know the future direction for themselves and the business?
- Understand and aligns with the organisation’s values and purpose?
- Feel involved in business decisions?
- Have access to tools, training, and resource?
- Have an opportunity for growth?
- Feel recognised and valued for their efforts?
If a person feels undervalued their engagement level will decrease no matter how good their work ethic. By implementing a strategy you can ensure your team is in sync with the business and each other.
According to a 2021 survey by Gallup, only 11% of UK employees feel engaged in their work. This could be a knock-on effect of the pandemic, but leaders need to focus on their employees’ needs to avoid losing them.
By investing in employee engagement, your business will experience the following benefits:
- Creating a better work culture
- Improved employee happiness and satisfaction
- Employees become your best advocates
- Reduced staff turnover, so a reduction in recruitment cost
- Sets you above competitors in attracting new talent
- Increases productivity
- Engages your team to achieve better results
- Team members feel connected to the business and want the best
- Better customer and colleague relationships
Now we've covered the what and the why. How do you engage your employees?
An employee engagement strategy could be year-round or campaign-related. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, and it can take different layers of initiatives. At Red Blaze, we work with you to develop solutions that answer the questions above. Below are 8 of our top tips to improve employee engagement.
TIP 1: Peer-to-peer recognition is about colleagues celebrating people doing well. This could be a combination of kudos on the company intranet, thank you cards, or an award nomination.
TIP 2: Manger-to-peer recognition allows managers to celebrate excellent performance with ‘spot prizes’. This could be a small prize, voucher, or microsite to earn points or select rewards.
TIP 3: ‘Town Hall’ style meetings for the entire team allow employees of all levels to connect. The leadership team can communicate updates, answer questions, or combat potential issues. These meetings encourage open discussion and transparency, which cause employees to feel integral.
TIP 4: Another version of the ‘Town Hall’ approach is the ‘Employee Voice’. A representative group can be the middle ground between management and team members. This group can act as the ‘guinea pigs’ for new ideas before rolling them out across the company.
TIP 5: Growing in popularity are ‘a day in a life’ experiences. Senior management spends a day working in other departments to gain a deeper insight. For example, taking calls in a contact centre or on the shop floor serving customers. This provides a glimpse behind the scenes and results in invaluable learnings. This should be regularly completed, without fan-fayre, to encourage an authentic experience.
TIP 6 An ‘Ideas Panel’ isn’t far removed from a suggestion box. This concept allows groups of employees to develop ideas and put them forward to a team panel. This panel will then escalate ideas to the leadership team for review. This short-term activity can have a huge impact on energising teams and help them to feel listened to.
TIP 7: Team engagement sessions, aka ‘team building’, can come in various formats. Team building can reconnect team members and align employees’ values with the organisation’s. We can tailor team sessions to the organisation’s size, budget and goals. We use ‘controlled autonomy’, where managers have flexibility in what they do and when. However, some control comes from the centre on what they do and how much they spend
TIP 8: Incentives can be low to high value and involve many achievement levels. There are lots of different formats for incentive programmes. Each type of incentive scheme is better suited to different businesses and outcomes. You can use them to drive short-term tactical revenue-based goals or as a tool to cement long-term behavioural changes.
Tactical incentives are simple, focused, hard-hitting programmes designed to achieve short-term specific goals. When done correctly, they inject energy and ambition into their audience. Strategic Incentives can reinforce processes, change behaviour, and identify and celebrate exemplary performance. Rewards can vary. A few examples are sharing boxes, UK and Overseas travel, experiences, or VIP concierge services. You don’t need huge budgets, but desirable rewards create healthy competition.
We recommend you think about your desired outcome before investing in a strategy. Using the SMART principles can ensure your objectives are attainable. For example, “We need 100 more connections to reach our month-end target to win a prize”. By aligning an employee’s personal objectives to those of the business, you will create a team of advocates who are less likely to seek new work. Which will effectively increase sales and customer satisfaction and reduce recruitment fees. (You can learn more about SMART and Performance Management on our blog.)
The recruitment market has never been so competitive. Because of what’s happened over the last few years, there has been a shift in employment dynamics. Workforces that feel appreciated are more likely to embrace change and work harder. However, you choose to engage your teams, it is now more important than ever to have a plan.