‘Employee engagement’ is a term that gets thrown around a lot. And it’s also a concept that plenty of companies struggle with. Motivating disengaged people is easier said than done - but it’s crucial that you create an environment that encourages engagement if you want your business to be a success.
There are a number of factors standing in the way of great employee engagement; pay can be one of them, as can a company culture that doesn’t feel motivational, or an environment that isn’t inclusive or welcoming. Having people who work remotely can also lead to a lack of engagement on their part as they can feel like they're not really part of the team.
But the fact is, business success isn’t achieved by just the CEO, the Managing Director or an awesome sales manager. It’s achieved by a team of people who are all rowing in the same direction towards the same goal.
And for that to happen, employees need to be passionate, committed and genuinely invested in your company or product.
After all, you could be offering the most amazing products or services but if your people are unengaged and unenthusiastic, it’s unlikely that your inbox will be full of orders or that your phone will be ringing off the hook with inquiries.
So if you want to increase employee engagement, surely the answer is to increase wages? Well that could help, sure, but in the long term it’s not going to combat the root cause of why your people are disengaged and disenchanted.
Not to mention that most companies, regardless of size, don’t have the means to simply throw money at the problem.
But the good news is, there are ways to increase employee engagement - even if you can’t afford to do that through a salary increase. And as someone working in Human Resources, you might want to check out the following list and see if you can apply any of these to your organisation.
13 surefire ways to boost employee engagement
- Examine your company culture
Before you start trying to whip up engagement in your employees, you need to honestly appraise your company culture. Your values need to come from the top and filter down, so that means ensuring that your teams have an example to follow. Make sure everyone from your C-suite to your managers to your team leaders are also invested in creating a culture of engagement.
2. Make sure your people know they’re expected to be engaged
This is especially true of new hires. Don’t forget that they may have come to you from a very different company culture and they may not even realise that being engaged and present in your business is expected of them. Therefore make sure that your expectations are clearly communicated during the hiring and onboarding processes.
3. Ask employees for feedback
There are a number of reasons for collecting feedback from employees: depending on the questions you ask it will help you find out why they’re not invested, it can help you fix issues in the workplace to create better engagement and greater retention, and it also helps your people feel more ‘seen’ and appreciated - which in itself helps to increase engagement.
4. Make sure new hires are a good fit
Whilst you may need to work on increasing engagement with existing employees, moving forward you should do you best to make sure that any new recruits are a great fit for your company and its culture in the first place.
5. Show your people you value them
And we don’t mean through pay rises or even rewards (although small gifts for a job well done such as a gift card for the local coffee shop are usually appreciated.) Instead, give shout outs at meetings and acknowledge when a team or individual has done a great job, met a tricky deadline, or gone above and beyond the call of duty. If you have an internal company newsletter, giving credit where credit’s due is also a nice idea.
6. Use gamification to incentivize teams
There’s nothing quite as effective for fast engagement than a spot of friendly competition. Set targets or deadlines and then provide an incentive for the first person or team to reach the set goal.
7. Organise a company (or team) outing
Ah yes, the good old company outing. While some may turn their nose up at ‘having to’ socialise with their colleagues, when done correctly, a trip or other event can provide a relaxed setting for employees to bond, forge personal connections, and just kick back and have some fun. And when people see each other as more than just colleagues, you should see your engagement and productivity levels increase.
8. Introduce a snack break
Who doesn’t love a snack, right? And who doesn’t love taking a quick break from their busy day? An organised daily (healthy) snack break in the middle of the afternoon gives employees a chance to stretch their legs and beat the post-lunch slump, as well as mingle with their team and other colleagues that they might not necessarily interact with much at work.
9. Implement new hire onboarding programmes
Making sure your new recruits are engaged and feel welcome from the moment they are hired is crucial for moving forward and encouraging them to be the type of employee that fully embraces your company culture. Create checklists for different types of employees and make sure that Human Resources and managers adhere to them to provide the best start possible for newbies in your company.
Here are some guides to new hire checklists that you might find useful:
- Your Onboarding New Hire Checklist for Remote Workers
- Your Onboarding New Hire Checklist for Technical Staff
- Your Onboarding New Hire Checklist for Interns
10. Align your company with a charity
Younger employees such as Generation Z and later Millennials are much more likely to consider a company’s morals, ethics and impact on the planet than older employees. Therefore whether you’re looking to recruit highly engaged employees, or want to create engagement with existing staff, you could do worse than adopting a good cause or charity. Sponsor events, hold fundraisers, and encourage your people to work as a team and be actively passionate about a good cause.
(And dare we say it - it’s great PR for your company too!)
11. Embrace employee training
It stands to reason that employees will be far more motivated in the workplace - and therefore more engaged - if you’re showing them that you’re just as invested in their career and progression as they are. You could turn to outside trainers, create your own programme, or encourage people to spend time working in different departments.
For example, if Kirsty in accounts has always wanted to learn how to code, map out an internal programme that allows her to spend time with your backend developers.
Not only does this create engagement but it can also help retain employees who may have felt that their time at your company was drawing to a close by reigniting their interest in you as an employer or in a new potential role should you be in a position to offer them a transfer to a different department.
12. Hold annual award ceremonies
Holding your own mini industry awards ceremonies not only creates a fun, social way for your people to engage with one another on a social level but also lets them know that you recognise their hard work and achievements. And as an added bonus, it shows your other employees what they should be contributing if they also want the spotlight to be shined on them.
13. Let your employees know you respect their lives outside work
Of course you want your staff to be committed, motivated and engaged. But you’ll have a far greater shot at making that happen if you make it clear that you care about their work-life balance. Burnout and stress are creativity and productivity killers and as HR it’s up to you to ensure that employees at all levels aren’t being negatively affected by issues in the workplace or an imbalance of home and work time.
How to boost employee engagement: conclusion
If your organisation is suffering from a deep rooted lack of employee engagement across the board, it would be wishful thinking to believe you can change that overnight.
But by following the pointers above and adopting a genuinely more engaging company culture, you should find that, little by little, you turn a blasé and disengaged workforce into advocates for your business, and a company with a high staff turnover into a place where people want to work - and stay.