Updated: January 2021
In order to be successful, an organization needs to have a productive and highly engaged workforce. Engaged employees outperform their peers, are more motivated to produce high quality work, and remain in their roles for a longer period of time. The need for an engaged workforce is clear, but how do organizations begin to create a culture of engagement in their business? It all starts with a commitment to providing your team with the tools, support, and work-life balance necessary to create a sustainable and satisfied workforce. Below, we break down what employee engagement looks like in your organization and methods for engaging and retaining your best employees.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement refers to the connection an employee feels to their work and their performance in their role. When it comes to engagement in the workplace, studies have shown that a more highly engaged workforce leads to increased productivity. Unfortunately, the vast majority of employees feel disengaged from their work.
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In today’s modern workplace, managers need to find creative and sustainable ways to keep their employees engaged. Organizations that have highly engaged employees outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. We’ve compiled all of the information a manager or HR team needs to supercharge employee engagement levels in their organization.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
The benefits of a highly engaged workforce can be seen across all aspects of an organization. There are 4 key areas in which increased employee engagement directly benefits all parties.
1. Better Employee Wellness
Employees who feel engaged and connected to their work have a greater sense of well-being. A workplace culture of engagement allows employees space and time to take care of their mental and physical health, leading to lower stress levels. Recent studies have found that 36% of all employees feel stressed or overwhelmed with their work. High levels of stress and pressure in work often leads to burnout. Finding ways to connect with your employees and keep them engaged and motivated to work will help combat potential burnout.
Checking on your team’s wellness, both mentally and physically, will create a more supportive and productive workplace culture.
2. Greater Employee Satisfaction
Employees who feel connected to their colleagues and their work are more likely to be satisfied with their personal and professional lives. Recent studies have shown that 37% of workers feel some sort of dissatisfaction in their work. This statistic is concerning, considering that dissatisfied employees are more likely to look for new jobs.
Engaging your employees provides them with clarity on their role and connects them to the organizational goals. Employees who feel a greater sense of purpose in their organization are 1.7 times more likely to be satisfied in their role and are 1.4 times more likely to be engaged overall. What are some ways you can increase the satisfaction rates of your employees? Here are a few ideas:
- Recognize employees frequently for good work
- Offer opportunities for professional development
- Focus on long term goals
- Offer frequent feedback
- Empower employees to create deeper work relationships
3. Higher Productivity and Profitability
Employees that are engaged and feel valued in their roles are 4.6 times more likely to perform higher quality work. A workforce that is focused on their goals and feels engaged and connected to their jobs has been shown to increase productivity by 17%. When it comes to business, investing in your employees pays off. Engaged employees are more present in their work and offer more in-depth insights into your organization’s processes and systems.
In addition to performing at a more efficient level, highly engaged employees lead to greater profitability levels. Studies have found that businesses with employees who rate themselves as highly engaged have seen up to 21% higher profitability when compared to organizations with lower rates of engagement. The bottom line — fostering a culture of engagement in your organization will help you reach higher levels of success.
4. Increased Retention Rates
Turnover is something that most organizations strive to reduce. Some experts have estimated that turnover in businesses can cost up to 1.5-2x as much as an employee’s annual salary. It is common knowledge that retaining your A Players saves time and money for your organization. One way to lower turnover is by increasing the engagement levels of your current staff. Employees who feel connected and motivated to their work are more likely to remain in their roles.
Recent research shows that having a highly engaged workforce can lead to a 25% reduction in turnover rates. By monitoring and driving their employees’ engagement levels, managers can save their organization on recruiting, onboarding, and training costs associated with hiring new team members.
How Can You Measure Employee Engagement?
Organizations looking to measure employee engagement levels can tackle their efforts in a few different methods. One way is through the use of frequent and timely surveys. ClearCompany’s Employee Engagement Suite offers all the tools managers need to gather data on employee sentiment. There are many kinds of surveys that can be conducted, and each provides its own specific insights.
Employee Engagement Surveys. Employee engagement surveys are surveys conducted to measure the engagement levels and motivation of employees. Managers can gather insight into what components of their employee experience need adjusting and collaborate with their employees to create a more supportive and effective process.
Pulse Surveys. Pulse surveys are quick surveys done to measure employee sentiment at any given time. These surveys are quick, often are anonymous, and are done in real-time. Employers should use these surveys to measure their employees’ satisfaction and engagement at any point in time and act on the feedback they gather in a quick and timely manner.
Employee Wellbeing Surveys. Wellbeing surveys offer insight into the mental and emotional health of your employees. As discussed earlier, a healthy and happy workforce is a workforce that is more highly engaged and profitable. These surveys offer an anonymous and easy way for employees to discuss their challenges and provide insight into your employees’ perceived work/life balance.
Onboarding Surveys. When hiring and training new employees, managers can utilize onboarding surveys to measure new hires’ engagement and satisfaction levels. When it comes to turnover, 80% of all turnover is a result of poor hiring practices. Measuring your onboarding and training programs’ effectiveness will provide insight into whether your new hires feel connected, included, and prepared for their role. By gathering feedback on your onboarding process, organizations can better the employee experience and increase the overall engagement of new hires.
In addition to engagement and various other employee sentiment surveys, managers can track their employee engagement rates by tracking the turnover rate and absenteeism of their employees. When organizations face higher levels of turnover, managers need to focus on increasing employee engagement. Highly motivated employees are less likely to leave their current roles. Additionally, a highly engaged workforce has been known to lower absenteeism, increase productivity, and heighten commitment to the organization. Knowing which statistics to look for can help managers determine what parts of their current processes need improvement when it comes to employee engagement.
What Are Ways To Improve Employee Engagement?
Increase Communication Levels
When it comes to feeling connected to your work, employees say that communication is a major influencing factor. With many organizations now participating in a remote work format, ensuring that communication remains effective is necessary for any team’s success. Some ways to increase communication among your employees include:
- Use technology to your advantage. Modern technology makes it easier than ever to communicate from remote distances. Employees need to feel a sense of belonging within their organization to remain committed and motivated at work. In situations with remote employees, bear in mind that loneliness can be a factor from virtual work. Make sure that you keep them engaged with their teams through video conferencing and chat tools.
- Video conferencing — face-to-face (even if it is over a screen) is a far more effective form of communication for employees. When meetings occur only using audio, it is easy to become distracted or be talked over by others. Making sure your teams have video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype, at their disposal will help keep one another on track and involved.
- Chat tools — all companies need to be using robust internal communication tools. Being able to communicate frequently and efficiently helps to increase the sense of connection employees feel to their organization. Utilize chat tools, like Slack, to have shorter conversations so that your employees feel less overwhelmed by adding to their inbox.
- Host frequent check-ins. Spend a short amount of time each day checking in with your team to see the progress of tasks. These check-ins will provide insight into your employees’ wellbeing and serve as a way to measure the engagement and productivity of your staff. Are you finding that a particular employee is rolling over more tasks than usual? Ask them how they manage their workload, and see if there are ways you can help shoulder some of their burdens. Did your team recently accomplish a task? Celebrate the win during your check-in and congratulate them on the success. These check-ins are a fantastic way to reduce the loneliness your remote teams face, leading to a more engaged workforce. ClearCompany can assist with their Performance Management Suite. Our software enables leaders to gather real-time data and track performance over time.
Provide Clear and Distinct Goals
It is no surprise that employees who struggle to understand the goals and mission of their organization feel less engaged with their work. Employees who have a clear and strong sense of belonging are 6 times as likely to show up to work engaged and motivated to accomplish their goals. When leaders fail to provide clarity in expectations, the productivity of their employees suffer. Every organization needs to have a clear mission and distinct goals for their teams to strive to achieve. As you work with your team to set goals, tackle your goals from 3 different perspectives:
- Organizational goals. Goals set at the organizational level are ones that drive the strategies and work of the entire company. These goals are ones that define the mission and values of your organization. Ensure that each employee is well-versed in your company’s purposes and find ways to weave this vision into the smaller goals of each department and individual. Workers perform best and have higher levels of engagement in organizations that dictate the impact of each employee in the overall mission. Make sure:
- Your organizational goals are direct and well understood by all employees
- There are clear expectations of all employees
- Each employee understands how their work and their team helps to achieve the overall goal
- Department goals.Department goals are more highly tailored to each individual function of an organization. These goals are excellent opportunities to collaborate with teams to create a unified goal and provide a framework for how each department will contribute to the overall mission. Leaders need to ensure that departmental goals:
- Showcase how the department is assisting in the overall success of the organization
- Challenges each department to perform their best work
- Allow for transparency in communication
- Individual goals. When it comes to setting individual goals, managers should allow their employees to define their own objectives. Employees that feel invested in the development of their own goals often set higher expectations and perform better. Taking a coaching stance when it comes to individual goal setting gives employees a greater sense of purpose, leading to higher overall engagement rates. Individual goals should:
- Inspire employees to perform their best work
- Challenge employees to learn new skills
- Demonstrate the individual impact on the overall organization
Clarity in their work helps lower the stress of your employees and provides them with a great sense of purpose. Remember to check back and reflect on your goals frequently to keep one another accountable. ClearCompany equips managers with the tools they need to accurately track their goals and align their strategy through all aspects of their organization. Our mobile-friendly tools allow for easy access and real-time assessments.
Provide Opportunities to Connect Outside of Work
All companies need to foster a healthy work/life balance. Employees who struggle to decompress and remove themselves from work often struggle with increased levels of burnout and lower engagement rates. When it comes to taking a break from the stresses of work, there are many things managers can do to promote a culture of balance.
- Use coffee breaks. Whether your team is back in the office or are working remotely, schedule in time for breaks with your team. This can be done through coffee breaks (both in-person or virtual), sharing lunch, or taking a 20-minute break to talk about things outside of work. These short breaks will rejuvenate your motivation and have been shown to increase the productivity and quality of work from employees.
- End of week decompression. When Friday rolls around, your team is likely ready for the weekend break from work. Take some time at the end of the week or month to relax with your colleagues and decompress from work. This relaxed atmosphere can foster deeper workplace relationships, allow for creative and fun team-building activities, and allow a glimpse into your employees’ personal lives. For some added fun, add themes or activities to your weekly meetings. Have employees take charge of a meeting and decide what you will be doing. This is a great way to involve employees in the process and make them feel a more profound sense of purpose within your organization.
- Leave room for celebrations. One method of improving employee engagement and morale is to recognize them frequently. Celebrate small wins during the week, congratulate employees on milestones at work, and find ways to acknowledge your staff for their contributions. With a majority of employees saying they prefer frequent feedback and recognition, managers should focus on staying on top of their recognition efforts. Using recognition software can help leaders track important dates and gather real-time feedback they can use in their employee appreciation efforts. A strong and effective recognition program is sustainable, timely, and frequent.
Providing outlets for employees to break from work and balance their personal and professional lives will lead to more highly engaged and productive employees. Find creative ways to engage your team outside of the realm of work to motivate your employees and lower your retention rates.
How Can I Build Employee Engagement In My Workplace?
Let Employees Take Charge of Their Work
Employees want to work for an organization that allows for career development and advancement opportunities. Recent research suggests that only 34% of employees feel their workplace properly invests in their professional development. Investing in coaching and development methods will help to improve productivity, increase engagement levels, and improve the performance of your employees.
- Coach employees to set their own goals. Employees like to feel involved in developing their own objectives. Employees that take charge of their goal setting and work responsibilities are more likely to achieve their goals and are more likely to be highly engaged in their work. When you coach your employees rather than manage them, you empower your staff to take ownership of their careers and demonstrate their importance to the organization. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, employees who feel a sense of purpose are more successful in their work and more likely to remain in their role.
- Offer professional development opportunities. Developing your employees is crucial for the continued success of your organization. Recent studies show that 22% of employees have left organizations for lack of professional development activities. Take time to talk with your employees about their professional goals and career advancement plans. Offering opportunities to learn new skills, gain certifications, or further their current skill set will show your employees you are invested in their growth. Some methods for professional development include:
- Virtual learning and training opportunities — have employees sign up for webinars or conferences that interest them and apply to a function of their jobs. These are great opportunities to learn new skills, gain knowledge on industry trends, and expand your professional network.
- Mentoring or job shadowing programs — have employees shadow people from other departments for a day to learn more about the role they play in the organization. Employees will learn new skills that can assist them in taking on new roles and will gain a deeper understanding of how their job plays into the overall organization. Mentoring programs are a great way to pair employees with coaches for their professional careers. When employees have a mentor at work, it increases communication levels, improves working relationships, and adds accountability to your workers, leading to a more highly engaged office.
- Succession planning — succession planning not only prepares your organization for future change but also showcases your commitment and involvement in your employees’ careers. By creating a leadership succession plan and incorporating your employees into the process, you can allow them to take ownership of their professional development and engage your staff with your organization’s long-term goals.
Investing in the development of your current staff will lead to more qualified employees and higher rates of retention. As you develop your employees, you can equip them with the knowledge and skills to advance within your company, improving the resiliency of your organization.
Frequently Ask For Feedback
Gathering feedback from your employees will help you to create a more engaged and connected workforce. Employees are much more likely to perform better in their roles when they feel their voice is heard. When approaching asking for feedback, make sure that you are offering both a direct and anonymous method. Often, employees feel more comfortable speaking freely in an anonymous environment.
- Use surveys. We mentioned earlier the importance of using surveys to gather information on employee sentiment. In addition to providing insight into your employees’ engagement and well-being, surveys can also be used to gather feedback on the effectiveness of your current processes. Use surveys strategically to reflect on certain aspects of your organization, such as the impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on your company, whether remote workers feel supported in their role, and why employees who have left their role chose to move on from the company. By gathering data on these topics, you can make informed decisions on how to improve the experience for current and future employees.
- Continuous feedback. Organizations utilizing a continuous feedback system are 50% more satisfied with their process. Employees have stated that they would like to receive feedback more frequently so that they can take actionable efforts to improve. Continuous feedback is more meaningful and valuable for all included parties.
Customize Your Strategies
When it comes to engaging your employees, it is important to recognize that not everyone is motivated in the same manner. What works for inspiring one employee is not sure to be successful for another. As you approach your engagement strategies, remember to avoid a one-size-fits-all mentality. Instead:
Ask employees what works for them. Your employees are your best source of information. Talk with your teams to see what strategies work best for motivating them to perform their roles. Customizing your approach to engagement for each employee will show your team that you care. Approach these conversations as a two-way street. Work together to come up with creative solutions and discuss how best to keep one another accountable. Employees who feel inspired to do their job show up to work more highly engaged.
What Are Methods For Increasing Employee Engagement In the Office?
There are plenty of ways that managers can increase employee engagement in the office. Building a culture of teamwork will help to engage your staff and strengthen work relationships. The following three strategies will help you tackle your organization’s engagement and find new methods of motivating your employees.
Increase Collaboration Among Employees
Whether your staff is working out of the office or out of their homes, collaboration is a much-needed concept in a modern workplace. Why should you focus on increasing collaboration in your workplace? Companies with heightened levels of collaboration hire more knowledgeable and skilled employees. Employees feel a deeper sense of connection to the organization, leading to greater engagement and satisfaction levels. Here are two methods that will help to increase collaboration among your employees:
- Offer cross-department opportunities. Organizations with a strong culture of collaboration often see heightened levels of innovation and engagement. When employees work together on projects, they feel a deeper connection and can strengthen their workplace relationships. Teamwork drives employees to take a more active role in their work, leaving you with a more engaged workforce. Modern technology has made it easier than ever for employees to work together, even across vast distances. Some ideas for collaboration opportunities include:
- Team Building Exercises — take advantage of the ease of connection using video chat tools. Schedule a time for your employees to compete in games like trivia, scavenger hunts, and costume contests. If you can meet in person, try scheduling an event together outside of work, like escape rooms or networking happy hours. These activities are highly effective at increasing the level of trust among employees, developing stronger communication skills, and increasing your staff’s overall engagement.
- Lunch and Learn — schedule a time where employees can share lunch while learning about a new tool or idea from their coworkers. Spend this time training each other to complete new tasks or provide insight on best practices for certain jobs. Employees will have a chance to refresh from work while learning alongside their colleagues.
- All-Hands Meetings — every now and then, host an all-hands meeting involving all members of your organization. These meetings can be utilized both in a professional and a personal setting. For professional all-staff meetings, talk through the objectives and performance of each department. This increases transparency in your organization, which provides clarity in the goals and progress of your company. In a personal setting, use these meetings to update your coworkers on major events, accomplishments, and milestones of employees. Publicly recognizing your employees for their success helps to show them you are invested in their career development.
- Reskilling. Reskilling involves teaching new skills to employees to equip them with the tools they need to perform a task outside their current role. We’ve shown how turnover within an organization can become very costly, so ensuring your staff is prepared to take on new responsibilities in times of need can help save you from needing to fill an open position. As you tackle reskilling, have employees shadow and learn from one another. This provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with other individuals and allows for great-cross training.
When it comes to fostering an environment of collaboration, ClearCompany can help. With a fully customizable and robust Performance Management Suite, managers can take charge of the strategy and processes of their organization.
Provide the Necessary Tools for the Job
For employees to be engaged, they need to have access to the support and tools they need to accomplish their goals. When analyzing your current software offerings, make sure that your employees have access to a tool such as:
- Video conferencing. Make sure that all your employees are set up with a computer that functions satisfactorily and is equipped with video capabilities. Video meetings will help keep people focused on the task at hand, as they offer less room for distraction. Using video for conversations will also help reduce the number of interruptions that occur in all-audio meetings.
- Goal tracking software. Goal tracking and performance tracking software are great tools for staying updated on the progress of tasks. Ensuring that all employees have access to tools that align their work with the overall organizational goals will give them a sense of purpose and will provide a verifiable record of the performance of your employees.
- Everyday tools. Check-in with your employees to make sure they are equipped with the tools they need to succeed. These tools include chat apps to allow for increased communication, chargers for computers and other electronic devices, and necessary tools for specific tasks. Your employees are the best sources of information on whether they feel adequately supported in their roles. If you find that employees feel overwhelmed or unprepared, work together to find tools that will help them reach their goals.
Keep One Another Accountable
Accountability in the workplace is a necessary but challenging topic to approach, especially when working remotely. In a traditional office environment, managers can easily monitor their employees’ work, but with many employees working from home, there is a lack of visibility into everyday tasks. These strategies will help to break down those walls and bring some much-needed transparency to your work processes:
- Frequently update each other on projects. Remember those frequent check-ins that are effective at increasing communication and engagement levels? They’re also wildly helpful with increasing accountability. On daily check-ins, let your team know what tasks you are tackling for the day. This list will help to keep you focused on your goals. These check-ins will also help identify potential issues before they arise. If you find that employees are not accomplishing their tasks or are falling behind on work, you can quickly address the issue and find a solution. This heightened transparency will help combat work silos, leading to higher overall engagement and collaboration among your team.
- Team up. Assigning partners at work can help to combat potential burnout and disengagement among employees. These partners can check in with one another throughout the day to ensure you are staying on task and engaged with your work. Some tips for creating a positive accountability partnership include:
- Remain supportive — Remember that your job as an accountability partner is not to micromanage your coworker. Rather, you are there to support them in their efforts and provide an outlet for them when necessary. Work with your partner to outline their work goals. Find ways to encourage them on their journey towards accomplishing their goals.
- Practice active listening — When listening to your partner, listen to understand them. Allow them to speak freely and fully before responding. By practicing empathy and showcasing your listening skills, you can gain more in-depth insight into their wellbeing.
- Communicate frequently — Any good accountability partnership is founded on the principle of frequent check-ins. To keep one another on track and engaged, you need to meet often. Try to check-in at least once a day to see how your partner is doing. These check-ins don’t need to be formal; you can send a quick message or hop on a 5-minute video call to decompress from your workload.
- Offer advice — When necessary, offer thoughtful advice to your accountability partner. Remember that both of you are invested in the accomplishment of your goals. Helping each other stay motivated with your work and challenge yourself is the overall objective of this relationship.
Without accountability, engagement levels in your organization will suffer. When leaders fail to hold themselves accountable, it creates a culture of leniency. Holding yourself and others accountable will help keep your team focused and motivated to perform your best work each day.
How Can You Promote A Culture of Engaged Employees?
Promoting a culture of engaged employees starts at the top. Managers need to practice what they preach and reinforce the values of their organization throughout each department. Here are three surefire ways to create a workplace culture of highly engaged and motivated employees:
Set Ambitious, But Realistic Goals
We’ve made a case for setting clear goals for your organization and employees. As you approach setting your goals, make sure that they are ambitious enough to challenge your employees but still are realistically attainable. One method for setting goals is using the SMART method:
- Specific — Goals should be specific in what you want to achieve. Specific goals allow for less ambiguity and offer more clarity on workplace expectations.
- Measurable — For any goal to be successful, you need to have a way to measure progress. Breaking down your efforts into measurable elements allows for concrete takeaways.
- Attainable — Remember that strong goals are ones that are ambitious but are ultimately achievable. Goals that are achievable foster employee commitment and provide a sense of accomplishment for those involved.
- Realistic — Creating realistic goals gives employees and teams something they are inspired to achieve. Remember that goals are ultimately created with the intention of driving employee engagement levels.
You’ve got a great team of employees who are committed and engaged in their roles. Keeping them engaged is another job entirely. One way to create a culture of engagement is by promoting flexibility within the workforce. Over the last year, we have seen how quickly and drastically business can change, and remaining flexible and adaptable is crucial for creating a resilient workforce. Here are some quick tips for remaining flexible:
- Be understanding. Obstacles occur in life that sometimes affects our ability to accomplish our work goals. Effective managers should practice empathy in their interactions with their employees and remain understanding of these outside factors. Empathetic managers are even seen as more successful in their roles by their employees.
- Switch up routines. When people become entrenched in their routines, they can often find themselves disengaged from work. Offer employees the chance to take on projects of their own creation or change up the pace when they start showing signs of becoming disengaged.
Foster A Culture of Diversity and Inclusion
Employees have spoken clearly over the last few years: they want to work for companies that place a high value on the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplace. 57% of employees feel their organizations should expand on their diversity efforts. When companies create a culture of diversity, they allow space for innovation and collaboration to reach new levels of success. Not only are diverse and inclusive organizations more highly engaged, but they have also seen up to 20% increases in profitability. Diverse workforces help to foster an employee culture of engagement, loyalty, and trust.
ClearCompany has a history of enabling clients to take charge of their employee engagement. Through our fully customizable Employee Engagement Suite, managers can quickly gather data from their employees on the sentiment and wellbeing of their staff. With the seamless integration of our engagement tools and our Performance Management System, workers and managers alike can take ownership over their workload and goals. For more information on how ClearCompany can help you supercharge your employee engagement, reach out to one of our product experts, and sign up for your free demo today.