Disengaged employees are distracted employees. When employees are engaged and focused on their work, the team and business as a whole benefit. Company culture and job satisfaction boosts will lower turnover rates, increased efficiency and productivity, created a great employee experience, and eventually lead to profitability and better employee retention.
But the only way to experience these benefits is to implement an employee engagement plan that actually works. According to a Gallup survey, only 36% of the U.S. employees are actively engaged in their work. While that’s higher than it has been in recent years, it still leaves plenty of room for improvement! Here are eight of the top employee engagement strategies to optimize your workplace.
What is an employee engagement strategy?
Employee engagement is how emotionally connected your team members are to their work, your organization, and its goals. Yes, the pay is important, but employee engagement goes beyond the paycheck and it’s not a typical business metric. But your employees actually want to contribute toward the business’s goals, which makes the company that much more productive. It’s also directly related to employee satisfaction, which helps decrease expensive employee turnover rates and counter-acts any burnout that employees are facing.
Employee engagement strategies are the initiatives management takes to create an environment in which employees can become more engaged and establish a positive connection with the business to produce better business outcomes. Employee engagement doesn’t just happen; it needs to be stimulated. And these strategies will determine whether your employees are actually engaged with your organization and its goals or if they’re just there for the paycheck.
Employee engagement plans that actually work
According to surveys, 94% of companies have some sort of employee engagement strategy. However, of those companies, less than 42% have a formal employee engagement program with an action plan, check-ins, and actual development opportunities. It’s easy to think that you can get buy-in from your employees as long as you’re friendly and fair, but it takes more than that to create an engaged team.
If you’re ready to implement a formal employee engagement plan that actually works, here are eight employee strategies you can use to create a more effective and engaged team:
1. Ask your team for feedback
The first employee engagement strategy is the simplest: employee feedback. Employee engagement surveys are a great way to determine how your team members feel about your organization at a certain point in time and identify areas of improvement.
It’s not always easy for management to see where they need to improve to increase employee engagement. Things look a bit different from the alternate perspective, and your employees might feel less engaged because of a process you hadn’t even thought about.
Once you understand where your team is struggling to engage, you can take action to correct those issues and increase employee engagement. Pulse surveys, employee development, employee connection, employee recognition, and going the extra mile are all common actions that can be learned through employee feedback.
As an added bonus, the simple act of asking for your team members’ opinions shows that you care about their perspective and wellbeing. Simply handing out a survey is one simple way to boost employee engagement — although you should still follow up with other strategies!
2. Create an engagement team
If your team members are the best ones to identify areas of improvement, then they’re probably also the best people to implement the changes, too! Forming a team of employees that are drivers of employee engagement is a great way to efficiently implement improvements on the day-to-day and increase buy-in from the rest of your company.
An employee engagement team is a group of team members — ideally someone from each level of your organization — dedicated to improving engagement and employee satisfaction throughout the company.
The best employee engagement teams are small, typically between eight and ten members. They should also be filled with some of your top-performers. Members should be passionate about what they do, to ensure they’ll take the role seriously and that they understand the ins and outs of working at the company.
When you’re ready to start making your engagement team, ask for volunteers first. People who volunteer to be on an employee engagement team are typically the most passionate and engaged — exactly the type of people you want heading up such an important assignment as implementing your employee engagement strategies. Fill out the team (if necessary) with your most hardworking, well-liked, and enthusiastic employees.
The goal of the team is to come up with solutions designed to boost employee engagement and resolve any issues identified in the engagement surveys. Since you chose team members from each level of your company, they will also be able to discuss with other employees to find the absolute best decisions that work for everyone.
3. Maintain communication with remote and distributed teams
Absenteeism has become a big issue as of late. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of remote workers in the U.S. tripled! This change in scenery also brought some new difficulties to the workforce. One of which being engagement rates. It’s not always easy to stay engaged with your work when you’re not even in the office, but it’s essential if you want to maintain your employee engagement strategies and continue to lift company culture!
According to a recent study, people who worked primarily remotely expressed 182% less engagement compared to those who work in-office.
Because of this difference in engagement levels, it’s important to remember that your remote team members are still a part of your team. Remember to maintain constant lines of communication with both remote and off-site workers, so they feel a part of the organization.
Technology is also a helpful way to maintain your employee engagement strategies with remote employee. For example, videoconferencing instead of phone calls helps connect a face to the voice. When remote employees can actually see everyone, it makes them feel like a part of the team rather than being left out.
It’s also important to make sure that all of your employees, including remote and distributed teams, have access to all the same amenities. Giving perks or equipment to one team and not the others will cause those without to feel left out and, therefore, less engaged.
4. Offer perks and incentives
When you make work all about, well… work, it creates a less engaging atmosphere. It tells your employees that they’re just there to do a job and that the company doesn’t really care about them beyond that capacity. If the company doesn’t care about the employees, why should the employees care about the company?
By offering incentives and perks as one of your employee engagement strategies, you can show them that the company does, in fact, care about more than just the work they produce. You care about their well being.
Think about introducing amenities to the office that makes employees happy, like snacks, actually decent coffee, and maybe even allowing pets in the office. These are little things that go a long way to boost employee engagement and make them feel more at home when they’re at work.
Outside of the office, you can also offer additional perks, like gym discounts or continuing education programs. This shows the company is investing in its employees, so it encourages them to invest more in the company as well.
5. Build a better work-life balance
Although it might feel like it sometimes, employees aren’t machines designed to do a specific work-related activity. They’re real people with real lives outside of work. The more a business can do to promote a balance between these two worlds, the more engaged employees will be.
The key to the infamous work-life balance is flexibility. Giving your team the ability to handle their life as they need (both in and outside of work) will go a long way to keep them engaged with your company. For example, offering generous PTO policies or the opportunity to work from home certain days allows employees to choose the path that works for them and handle both the demands from work and life more fluidly.
Yes, implementing these employee engagement strategies will come at a cost to your company, but it won’t be nearly as much as replacing unengaged and unhappy employees!
6. Provide opportunities for growth
Stagnation is the engine that drives disengagement. Doing the same thing day in and day out with no end (or change) in sight is not healthy for engagement or productivity. Your employees want to know they’re able to grow or work toward something, so show them!
Providing opportunities for growth and advancement is a great employee engagement strategy to introduce to your workplace. Don’t just assume every employee is satisfied with their current position. Make different career paths available, obvious, and attainable. When people have something to work toward, they’re more engaged in their current tasks. Also, if they know advancement opportunities are available, employees are less likely to leave.
If you want to kick your employee engagement strategies into high gear, don’t just provide growth opportunities; promote them! Encourage employees to pursue the opportunities that interest them most, even if it’s a lateral move to a different department. You want your team members to be satisfied with the work they’re doing. That’s the key to engagement!
7. Redesign your workspace
Most full-time employees spend upwards of 35 hours every week in the office. That’s a lot of time to be staring at dingy walls and boring decorations. By redesigning your workspace, you can create more engagement with your team.
Think about introducing more colors and artwork into your workspace as one of your employee engagement strategies. Create a fun atmosphere that will make your employees feel more creative and engaged with their work. You’ve heard the expression “you are what you eat.” Well, your office performs how it’s decorated. If your office décor says, “all business,” that’s what your employees will likely feel, which doesn’t help engagement rates.
It’s also a good idea to redesign the space to suit different kinds of work. For example, create spaces for different types of work. Bright and open spaces are great for creative collaboration, while smaller offices and conference rooms are best for closed-door meetings.
Just like with the work-life balance, allowing your team to choose the type of environment that best suits the project they’re working on increases flexibility and freedom, helping employees feel more engaged.
8. Always continue looking for ways to improve
Just because you implemented a few changes doesn’t mean your job is finished. Employee engagement is an ongoing project that never ends. Even if you think your employee engagement plan is absolutely perfect, keep looking for new ways to engage with your team. Even if you don’t find anywhere to improve right away, your employees will see your tireless efforts to create a better work environment, and that alone will increase engagement.
Enjoy the benefits of employee engagement strategies
An engaged workforce is a productive workforce. It makes sense: If someone is actively engaged in what they’re doing, they’ll be more efficient and productive with their work. And when your entire team is engaged, they’ll be more invested in the goals of the company as a whole.
Not only will engagement help your organization be more productive, but you’ll also help increase employee satisfaction. And happy employees are employees who stay with your business for a long time. Turnovers are expensive, so the happier and more engaged you can make your employees, the better it’ll be for your bottom line.
The best way to increase employee engagement and reap the benefits is to implement employee engagement strategies. Communicate with your employees to identify opportunities to improve engagement and provide plenty of flexibility, benefits, and amenities to encourage a better work environment. And never stop looking for ways to improve!
With a solid employee engagement strategy, your business can benefit from the buy-in of your entire team to work toward your shared goals and achieve ongoing success.
If you’re looking for more tips about how to create a better team, check out the other resources from Workstream. From blogs and webinars to guides and podcasts, we have everything you need to transform your team into a well-oiled machine!