Author: Barclay Ballard
21 Mar 2018
Numerous studies have shown the beneficial impact of stronger employee engagement: productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and company profits increase. And yet, fostering high levels of engagement is proving a challenge for businesses all over the world.
Shockingly, Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace report found just 15 percent of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs.
To an extent, this is understandable. Engagement is an intangible concept, difficult to define and particularly fleeting in today’s world of work. Technology is creating a widening disconnect between the employee and their job role, while the rise of the gig economy has eroded workplace security.
Despite these hurdles, many businesses are more than willing to invest time and money in order to attain higher levels of employee engagement. European CEO takes a look at five of the most effective methods being implemented today:
When done badly, employee surveys feel like a waste of everyone’s time. Vague questions like “how satisfied are you at work?” have caused disinterested groans in offices around the world.
If managers focus on their colleagues’ strengths, they can create an environment that is conducive to hard work and personal development
When they have a clear purpose, however, surveys have shown themselves to be a valuable tool in boosting employee engagement. They allow members of staff to have their voice heard and give businesses the opportunity to collect valuable data that can subsequently be turned into actionable insights.
A modern extension of the workplace survey has emerged recently in the form of employee engagement software. As well as automating parts of the survey process, these digital programs include detailed analytics tools that enable businesses to quickly identify areas of workplace culture that can be improved upon.
Of course, surveys by themselves will not make employees more engaged, but they do supply businesses with the information they need to make their staff feel valued.
The right manager
The importance of good management to employee engagement cannot be overstated. In 2015, research looking at US businesses found managers were responsible for 70 percent of the variance in employment engagement scores.
Managers who are approachable, in possession of good communication skills and provide regular feedback on individual performances play a key role in keeping motivation levels high in the workplace.
Managers are also hugely important for generating a positive atmosphere. If they focus on their colleagues’ strengths, they can create an environment that is conducive to hard work and personal development. If they create a culture focused on mistakes and weaknesses, then fellow members of staff are sure to feel demotivated and will probably start looking for a job elsewhere.
Have a focus
One of the main reasons for employee disengagement is the feeling that work lacks direction. More often than not, this occurs when the company, as a whole, is without focus.
Having clear company goals, and aligning these with employee targets, is a good way of avoiding this situation. This will ensure members of staff aren’t simply drifting along and, instead, will give them something to work towards.
Constructive criticism is a good way of demonstrating to employees that the quality of work really does matter
For this method to truly boost engagement, employee targets have to be both personal and strategic. They should also be manageable, as setting an unrealistic or overly difficult objective could end up discouraging your workforce.
Goals that relate to quantifiable metrics, such as sales figures or customer satisfaction ratings, are often the most effective, as they can be measured easily.
Recognition and reward
In order for employees to feel truly engaged at work, they must also feel appreciated. Remember to always reward good work, even if it is simply via a complimentary email or a short face-to-face conversation. Equally, constructive criticism is a good way of demonstrating to employees that the quality of work really does matter and gives them something to strive for in their next task.
An employee incentive programme can be a great way of boosting engagement at work and needn’t focus solely on cash rewards. Increasingly, businesses are looking to deliver experiential and personalised incentives in order to improve motivation and productivity.
In fact, according to a 2017 Incentive Research Foundation study, the number of US businesses offering non-cash rewards increased from 26 percent to 84 percent between 1996 and 2016. Whether they are spontaneous or part of a formal company programme, incentives can be a great way of improving the emotional connection between the employee and their employer.
Opportunities for growth
If a business wants to progress, it needs to ensure that its members of staff are also progressing. Encouraging employees to take part in continuing professional development is a great way of enabling this and can be achieved by offering to fund training programmes or pay for professional qualifications.
Promoting from within is another way of demonstrating that your organisation is keen to help with career advancement, which strengthens engagement at all levels.
According to a Workforce 2020 survey, 34 percent of employees named career development opportunities as a key factor to increasing workplace loyalty and engagement, while 31 percent cited training opportunities.
Clearly, many members of staff are keen to improve their professional skill sets, which, of course, bring associated benefits to their place of work. It’s just one of many examples where boosting engagement is a win-win situation for employees and employers alike.