Your workforce is your business’s most valuable asset. If employees aren’t invested in the work that they’re doing, it can lead to negative ripple effects that impact the entire organization.
While the concept of employee engagement is not a new one, changes in technology, workplace culture and the global labor market make it necessary to continuously revisit your approach and take a fresh look at which methods are the most impactful.
Let’s take a look at some actionable ideas for boosting employee engagement that you can integrate into your existing strategy today.
Understanding employee engagement
Engaged employees are those who feel personally and emotionally invested in your organization and its service, product or solution. They have a deeper connection to the company that goes beyond just a job or a paycheck — they want to see the business succeed and they understand the part they play in making that happen.
While disengaged employees take a $450-550 billion toll on the annual GDP, companies with highly engaged workforces experience up to 24% higher profits. Other benefits of an engaged workforce include:
- Better quality of work
- Higher retention rate
- Increased productivity
- Fewer instances of absenteeism
- Stronger connection and company culture
In a perfect world, employee engagement is something that happens naturally when people feel valued and supported. However, the reality is that engagement often requires more targeted efforts. The tactics you land on are going to vary widely depending on what your goals are, how large your employee base is and what specific employee segment you’re looking to impact. More on this next.
How do you measure employee engagement?
Employee engagement touches nearly all parts of an organization. As a result, tracking it effectively requires a multi-directional approach that includes both qualitative and quantitative metrics across a variety of areas within the business.
Generic human resources metrics such as retention and employee growth rate can offer some insight into employee engagement. But you also have to extend beyond that and look at diversity, equity and inclusion as this can also play a huge role in how your employees feel and act at work.
Your company likely already has a standard set of metrics you rely on to track engagement, but it’s important to remember that these may change over time to evolve with changes in your workforce and greater business.
Read more: Take a look at this short list of valuable employee engagement metrics to see if there are any additional factors that you should be taking into account.
5 impactful ideas for boosting employee engagement
Let’s dive into some time-tested techniques you can use to boost employee engagement for your business.
Strive for greater transparency
Trust is at the heart of an engaged workforce. With the looming threat of an economic downtown following the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like one disruption after another. Employees want to trust that their employers will make the right decisions in the face of uncertainty, give them the support and resources to be successful, and most of all, keep them in the loop about these decisions.
If transparency isn’t central to your company values, it’s going to take some time to get buy-in from leadership and begin to integrate it into existing processes. However, there are small steps you can take that may make a big difference. For example, have company leadership provide a 10-minute update at each all-hands meeting that provides a detailed look at company performance. Think strategically about how you can leverage people managers to keep their teams better informed and pass information from the top-down.
Invest in continuous learning and education
In a recent study, 80% of people surveyed reported that learning and development opportunities would help them feel more engaged on the job. Employees want to know that their employer is invested in their professional growth and development — but there’s only so much that goal setting and career pathing can do. It’s important to have tangible, accessible learning and workforce education opportunities for employees to take advantage of. This is especially true today when many industries are facing unprecedented labor shortages and employees feel pressure to keep their skill sets up-to-date.
Although you may already have some form of training or tuition reimbursement program in place, it may be time to take a critical look at your existing initiatives to determine whether or not they are actually driving value for your employees and business.
Gamification is making waves as a fun, fresh way to introduce game-like elements such as rewards, scoring and leaderboards into company processes as a way to motivate employees and encourage engagement. This can be done through dedicated gamification software or simply by strategizing ways to incorporate gamification into existing operations.
For example, you could incorporate badges for different levels of achievement that employees can earn for completing required tasks, such as training courses.
Open up opportunities for lateral and vertical mobility
There are countless reasons why people leave their employers, but lack of growth opportunities is consistently cited as a top factor. Traditionally, career paths were viewed as straightforward. You start in an entry-level role and then work your way up either by getting promoted or moving to another organization.
But as the modern workplace has evolved, many businesses are realizing the benefits of less traditional career mobility. This means encouraging lateral moves into new areas of the business, as well as strategizing how to prepare and develop employees for upward movement through learning and upskilling. This type of approach shows that there isn’t just one clear path to career advancement, and your organization is willing to work with individuals to find the path that’s most beneficial to them.
Collect and act on feedback
Give your employees ample opportunities to tell you what they need to feel engaged — and make sure you act on this feedback. Employees want to feel heard, and they want to know that their feedback is being taken seriously. It’s not enough to merely solicit feedback if there are no definitive next steps being taken to improve or maintain the results.
The path toward improved employee engagement
Engagement is a critical concept that touches nearly all aspects of your people strategy — and it doesn’t just happen overnight. Be sure to continuously improve and prioritize foundational initiatives, such as creating a diverse and equitable work environment, while you integrate new ideas into the mix. A fun, new engagement initiative won’t be effective in the long term if there are factors driving disengagement that are at the core of your business. Find a balance and continuously track and measure your efforts to identify areas that require adjustments.
Ready for more employee engagement resources? True employee engagement can’t exist without diversity, equity and inclusion. Download this resource to access the top guiding principles leading companies practice to advance workplace DEI.