Article Written by Jock Purtle
Employee engagement for many businesses is alarmingly low, and a poor level of employee engagement can stifle productivity and reduce retention rates, among other problems, preventing your business from reaching its true potential. Yet this doesn’t have to be the case. An active management staff and a company that places employee engagement as a priority can see their efforts returned manifold and create a much happier working environment in the process. Keep reading below for some of our top ideas for improving engagement in your workplace.
General Health and Wellness:
1) Create a More Active Workplace: This can take the form of a gym at the office, membership offerings, or simply getting an office baseball team together. However you would like to do it, more active employees are less likely to get sick, more likely to think more clearly, and will likely be more receptive to other employee engagement initiatives.
2) Bring in Healthy Office Snacks: A good snack can be a great break for some employees, and even provide that energy boost needed to get through a slump. Consider keeping a bowl or two of good snacks around the office for people to enjoy. It isn’t an expensive effort and it’ll show employees that your business is willing to provide something extra.
Instead of the chips and candy some people will think of first, we would instead recommend an assortment of healthy snacks such as dried fruit, small packets of nuts, different types of trail mix, and health bars. You can even solicit preferences from your staff. A company like Snack Nation is a great delivery service for healthy office snacks.
3) Stress the Importance of Work-Life Balance: As much as you might want to keep your top talent at the office all day, employees need regular breaks and a life outside of the office. If they don’t, burnout is a likely scenario (if not sooner then later). Make sure that people are taking a proper amount of time off and try to organize work so that it doesn’t overwhelm individual employees.
4) Be Flexible with Hours: On a related note, some employees simply won’t be engaged and won’t do their best at eight in the morning, so make sure your policies, if at all possible, don’t try to fight your employee’s natural sleep rhythms. An employee is certainly unlikely to be engaged if they aren’t well-rested, so see if you can manage schedules to fit and allow flexibility with hours.
Conversely, perhaps allow earlier hours for parents and those with other responsibilities, so people won’t feel like they’re missing important moments and quality time with their family while at work.
Adjusting the Work Environment:
5) Enhance Your Lounge a Bit: Try making your break room or lounge a place where employees will want to spend a few minutes instead of a place where they get coffee and get out. Consider getting some nicer furniture and a few items for entertainment or healthy distraction. This way employees might see the workplace beyond their own workspace.
6) Relax the Dress Code Once in a While: This will depend on your industry and company culture, but some dress codes can be a bit stifling for employees, and consider relaxing the code on days where you know no one special is coming into the office. Employees will appreciate the fact that you thought of them, employees will be able to express themselves a little more, and it will cost your business very little in the long run.
7) Allow More Freedom When It Comes to Workspaces: Similarly, we recommend businesses take a look into how employees can customize their workspaces more. Each person is different and will have a different ideal workspace. While there should be some standards and limits, making people more comfortable with the place they are spending half their day is a great way to increase rates of engagement.
8) Bring in New Technology, but Do It Right: Unnecessary upgrades and changes can mean employee disengagement, but selecting the right programs and upgrades can show employees that you value their time and effort, and want to save it. We absolutely encourage keeping your workplace current, but a bit of research when doing so can save a lot of trouble in the long run. Try to solve problems that employees are having first before fixing what isn’t broken.
9) Consider a Day Retreat: While some managers and owners might want to take all of their employees on a weekend-long or even a weeklong retreat to build relationships and develop skills, some employees might be heavily inconvenienced by this and taken away from people they want to spend time with, likely having the opposite effect of the intention.
Instead, we recommend day retreats scheduled on days the office is sure to be slow and during time employees would mostly be at work anyway. It’ll shake up the routine, new opportunities will present themselves, and you can do them more often than longer ventures.
10) A New Employee Mentor or Buddy System: New employees might feel out of place, especially if there haven’t been any other new hires recently. Alleviate this problem a bit by assigning them a buddy or contact who will help introduce them to everyone and help them get settled in with the workplace culture. Whether you want them to act as a mentor or not as well will depend on the position and a few other factors.
Keeping the Focus on Employee Needs:
11) Support Hobbies and Passions: To feel engaged at work, many employees need to have an outlet outside of it. Supporting or even just acknowledging hobbies and passions can show people you’re your business is aware of them outside of their job responsibilities. Occasionally ask employees how passion projects are coming along or simply ask questions about what they happen to be interested in currently.
12) Remember Family Members: If you’re in a closer-knit office environment that has employees with children, consider keeping invitations open to family members for certain company events. When planning, try to work around important events such as graduations, recitals, anniversaries, and illnesses. Employees aren’t mentally going to be at work as much if they’re worried about missing something else.
13) Provide Training Options: Many employees want to feel a sense of progression and improvement in their careers, and keeping training programs available or dedicating resources to furthering employee development can go a long ways towards an employee feeling more engaged. You will want to research the best way to do this, but the principle remains the same for every workplace.
14) Bring in Coaches and Consultants that Are There for the Employees: Many companies will bring in consultants or coaches that work to improve the company in general, productivity levels, or simply cut out redundancy, but we instead recommend bringing in a consultant or coach to work with the employees specifically to improve their engagement. Don’t consider the company the client so much as the employees are the clients. They’ll be able to bring in a new perspective and perhaps bring direction to otherwise directionless employees.
15) Reconsider Communication Strategies: Take a moment to consider the language used and the methods of communication used in your workplace. Do your words seem to bounce off employees? Are basic ideas dressed up with too much flowery language? Are employees half rolling their eyes at explanations for things they already know in-depth?
These examples might seem a bit extreme, but they’re there to ask you whether you’re paying attention to how your employees communicate and whether you’re cognizant of ways to improve your communication. Staying in-touch with employees is an important way to maintain engagement.
Policies and Principles:
16) Solicit Employee Feedback More Often: While we can provide recommendations and managers can keep tabs on the state of their employees, the easiest way to know what will make employees feel more engaged is to simply ask them. Whether it comes in the form of a suggestion box, regular meetings with individual employees, or casual discussions where you can fit them in, make sure you listen to what employees have to say and keep the door open to feedback.
17) Always Praise Employees When It Is Deserved: Employees always like to feel that their efforts are recognized and valued, and publicly and regularly praising employees who work hard is a sure way to improve engagement in the workplace. If an employee impresses you with their work, let everyone know.
This doesn’t just mean employees that succeed on large projects or close big deals as well. There are certainly employees that work steadily each day to enable the big successes, and their efforts are worthy of just as much praise.
18) Ask for Input on Goals: Goals are important and can provide an employee direction, but only if an employee understands the importance of meeting those goals. While owners and managers should know what needs to be done and base employee metrics based on that, but you should talk about these goals with employees and ask what they are most excited to work towards. This collaboration will go a long way towards having employees that are committed and engaged with their work.
19) Show Employees How Their Work Fits In: Just like you, most people want to know that their work has meaning or at least has a greater purpose within the company. Employees who don’t feel their work contributes to the greater whole will likely not be performing their best. Make an effort to let employees know exactly how their work either contributes to the company or keeps the team running smoothly.
20) Regularly Keep Employees Informed: Just as you want as much information as possible about your business, employees want to know more about how their workplace operates, how it is doing, and where it is going. Consider checking in with employees regularly or setting up a regular email or newsletter to the effect of informing employees about company direction.
21) Minimize Repetitive Tasks and Emphasize Important Work: Automation is revolutionizing the modern workplace, yet many businesses aren’t considering how it can keep employees working on interesting and engaging projects. You will want to make sure that there is still enough work for everyone to do (so employees don’t fear for their jobs), but removing monotonous and repetitive tasks from the workday can be the best thing you can do for some employees.
This not only works from an engagement standpoint but a productivity standpoint as well and can keep your business competitive.
We hope that the above suggestions and ideas allow your workplace to be home to a much happier and more engaged workforce. Remember that while we generally recommend all the above, some ideas might not be workable or ideal for some offices, and that’s ok. Additionally, there might be other ideas not mentioned that would be the perfect solution for your employees. The most important thing is to consider your environment and your employee’s needs.
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