How do you define employee engagement? Is it by remembering birthdays, providing lunch to your team or recognizing accomplishments like anniversaries? Employee engagement certainly encompasses those things and hopefully makes for more cheerful employees; however, I define an “engaged employee” as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work, and takes positive actions to further the organization’s reputation and interests.
Consulting giant Deloitte looked back on 2019 and made note of the human capital trends driving today’s workforce. One of them was the need to improve the “employee experience,” citing that it often fails to capture the need for meaning in work that people are looking for. “We see an opportunity for employers to refresh and expand the concept of “employee experience” to address the “human experience” at work—building on an understanding of worker aspirations to connect work back to the impact it has on not only the organization, but society as a whole,” the report says.
As a starting point, compensation and benefits are two of the fundamentals that form the foundation of employee engagement. If compensation is not right, then many of the other issues don’t matter. You don’t necessarily need to be “top of the market” but you should be competitive. Benefits, especially health insurance, are also important to get right. Assessing the local market can help you make sure that your company’s salary and benefits packages are on target.
Beyond the financial aspects of a job, what are some other considerations that can help employees feel more connected to their place of work? I found this paper written by Kent Blumberg to be a helpful resource. In it, he identifies key elements that engaged workplaces follow:
Setting employees up to do their jobs successfully. Highly engaged employees know what is expected of them and how their role in the company fits into its mission statement. They also:
- Know how their work aligns with others’ roles.
- Feel that their opinions matter.
- Have all the materials and equipment they need to do their job well.
- Have coworkers who are also committed to doing high quality work.
Recognition and genuine care. According to Blumberg, the importance of recognition and praise cannot be overstated. In one survey, employees who had received positive feedback or praise over the previous seven days were associated with at least 10% higher productivity and revenue and 50% lower employee turnover. In addition, highly engaged employees are more likely to:
- Believe that someone at work genuinely cares about them as a person.
- Have someone who encourages their development.
- Have a work ‘best friend’ who gives them confidence and extends support when things go wrong.
Mentoring. While there’s still room for a formal review and appraisal process in your HR practices, the most effective and encouraging way to engage employees is through regular, consistent and positive feedback. The most engaged employees are:
- Able to build on their strengths rather than focusing only on weaknesses.
- Offered opportunities to learn and grow.
- Recognized for their unique talents and the special attributes that make them ‘tick.’
- Given a path for self improvement and the encouragement to meet challenging goals.
These ideas are just a starting point. If you would like additional insights on your employee engagement strategy, please call us.