Does your human resources team measure employee engagement? It’s just one metric, but it tells a story about your company — and its future — more accurately than any other. High engagement is proven to produce better outcomes for businesses:
- 23% higher profitability
- 43% less turnover (at low-turnover organizations)
- 18% higher sales productivity
- 64% fewer safety incidents
- 10% higher customer engagement
Research shows that it also leads to better employee attendance, an increase in production quality, and less shrinkage. But unfortunately, engagement in the U.S. is declining for the first time in a decade, from 36% in 2020 to 32% in 2022. That’s a clear sign that at most companies, time spent revamping employee engagement strategies would be time well spent.#EmployeeEngagement is falling — are you doing something about it? Boost engagement and boost retention, customer loyalty, and profitability:
Let’s take a look at the importance of employee engagement, the factors that influence it, and some tools and strategies for maintaining it.
Employee Engagement Fosters Innovation
We shared just a few of the benefits of higher employee engagement above — but why does it produce such great results? Engagement is more than just meeting goals and showing up to work, and it’s motivated by something deeper than salaries and PTO. Gallup found that there are five key drivers of employee engagement:
- A sense of purpose
- Opportunities for development
- A caring manager
- Ongoing conversations
- Focusing on strengths
Simply put, engaged employees care about their work and feel like what they do matters. They get to do work they’re good at and have access to the resources they need to grow. Engaged employees feel supported by their managers and discuss performance with them regularly. As a result, they’re more creative problem solvers and businesses benefit from their innovative thinking.
8 Tips for Unlocking Engagement
Engagement doesn’t happen by accident, and it isn’t dependent on employees’ personalities, either. At highly engaged organizations, engagement is part of the fabric of company culture. It’s not a separate endeavor but an integral component of talent management. It’s up to you to create that culture and build engagement into your overall people strategy.
You can do that by implementing employee engagement strategies at every stage of the employee lifecycle. Use these eight tips to build engagement by weaving it into company culture and through the entire employee experience.
1. Cultivate Trust in Leadership
Listen to Employees to Build Trust
“When employees strongly agree that they have had opportunities to provide honest feedback about organizational changes, they are 7.4 times as likely to have confidence in their leaders to successfully manage emerging challenges.” - via Gallup
Employees need to trust that leadership is headed in the right direction and has a solid plan for the future. If they don’t, you’ll likely see employee retention decline and maybe even an increase in active disengagement. Both of those trends cost your business money.
Leaders cultivate trust and loyalty through their actions. They can build employees’ confidence in their abilities by:
- Being honest and transparent
- Modeling company values
- Demonstrating the same level of commitment and work ethic they expect from employees
- Acting on employee feedback
2. Provide Ongoing Training and Upskilling
Investing in employee training and reskilling or upskilling opportunities shows employees that you’re serious about retaining them and committed to their development. Giving employees access to relevant training programs, workshops, and resources motivates them to improve their skills and keep up with industry trends.
Training, reskilling, and upskilling not only increase engagement but also equip employees with the knowledge and capabilities they need for innovative thinking and problem-solving. When your employees grow, so does your company.
3. Foster Effective Communication
If you only follow one of these tips, make it this one. Every week, managers should have a meaningful 15-30 minute conversation with each of their direct reports. Why is this tip so important?
Evidence shows that managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in employee engagement rates. That means they need to be involved in engagement efforts, and these weekly discussions are the single best way to make employees feel connected to your company. Regular conversations also help employees stay on track to meet performance goals.Weekly one-on-ones are the best way to build a connection with your employees. Find more ways to foster #EmployeeEngagement:
4. Set Clear Expectations
This tip sounds simple, but almost half of employees say they don’t know what’s expected of them at work. That leads to confusion and frustration for employees and impacts their ability to reach their goals. Setting clear expectations eliminates these issues.
5. Recognize and Reward Employees Regularly
Recognition is an employee engagement tool that’s stronger than you might expect. Recognition is a top motivator of discretionary effort for 37% of employees and for 53%, increases the likelihood they’ll stay at the company.
Recognizing and rewarding hard work doesn’t have to be an expensive initiative. You can start with digital Shout Outs that are shared via Slack or email and tied to employees’ performance reviews.
6. Enable Work-Life Balance
In recent years, Workers report feeling more stressed, and hybrid and remote work have blurred the lines between work and home. As a result, we’ve seen a rise in employee burnout and quiet quitting. Employers need to enable employees’ work-life balance to prevent these trends from impacting their workforce.
Companies can support work-life balance in many ways:
- Offering an adequate number of PTO and sick days
- Flexible work schedules
- Limiting communication to work hours
- Providing mental health employer assistance programs (EAPs)
7. Use Employee Engagement Software
Employee engagement software expands your HR team’s capabilities with tools to support your strategies:
- Pulse surveys for a quick recurring read on engagement
- Goal-setting and alignment tools for regular updates and tracking progress
- Shout Outs and Celebrations make it simple to offer recognition or congratulations
8. Put People First
All of these strategies to boost engagement have something in common: they’re about putting your people first. Your people are your most valuable asset and when you make them a priority, you empower them to do their best. Focus on your people and you’ll naturally encourage employee satisfaction and engagement.
Sustaining Employee Engagement
Because it’s so closely tied to business outcomes, engagement is a priority for any growth-minded company. But engaging employees isn’t a one-time project — it’s an ongoing effort for HR teams. Here are a few tips for maintaining productive engagement programs.
1. Create a Positive Work Environment
It’s difficult to get work done, let alone become invested in your work, in a negative work environment. A positive environment is one where employees:
- Understand their roles and responsibilities
- Are supported by managers and colleagues
- Can ask questions and get answers
- Have access to the materials they need to do their jobs
- Have adequate time to rest and take care of life outside work
2. Encourage Teamwork
You’ve heard the saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Collaborating with colleagues increases creative solutions thanks to the diversity of perspectives each person brings to the table.
Foster strong relationships among your employees by creating many opportunities for collaboration:
- Starting a mentorship program
- Organizing special interest groups
- Arranging coffee chats
- Hosting workshops and events
3. Emphasize Work-Life Balance
Don’t just talk about work-life balance; ensure that leaders model the use of your company’s benefits. That means scheduling Slacks and emails for work hours instead of firing off late-night messages; unplugging from work during PTO; and staying home — or offline — when sick.
4. Support Professional Growth and Development
To grow your business, you need employees that are growing, too. Enable their growth by looking for opportunities to develop your workers instead of immediately turning to outside hiring.
Whether employees will benefit from training, upskilling, or reskilling depends on their current role, career aspirations, and the needs of the business. For example, a promising retail employee aspiring to an open store manager position could be supported by management training courses. If your business wants to develop a mobile app, but your software engineers lack the skills, you could offer to send eligible employees to formal classes or a workshop.
5. Implement Feedback Tools
One of the benefits of using employee engagement software is that it comes with all the tools you need for an employee feedback strategy. These are just a few of the tools you’ll get access to:
- Customizable surveys and out-of-the-box templates to gather feedback from employees on a variety of topics
- Performance review templates built by experts for fast review cycle kickoff
- Private 1:1 Workspaces where employees and managers can discuss performance, share notes, and collaborate on goals
When you build employee engagement into every part of people management, it naturally becomes part of your company culture. Not sure where to get started?
We’ve got the key to unlocking employee engagement and keeping engagement high for years to come. Download ClearCompany’s Employee Engagement Bundle for access to all the resources you to learn:
- How to get executive buy-in
- Methods for showing appreciation now
- The tech stack you need to make engagement happen every day
- What to know to make engagement thrive