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How Companies Can Improve Employee Engagement

If you’re an HR professional who senses that employee engagement is down across your organization, you’re not alone. Surveys show that just 33% of U.S. employees are engaged in their daily work. Unfortunately, this disengagement has cost organizations a collective $1.9 trillion in lost productivity.

Still, all hope isn’t lost. Company leaders can employ several strategies to get engagement back on track, including modeling it, improving onboarding, prioritizing well-being, and engaging in team-building, recognition, and feedback cycles. If you need help raising your employee engagement levels, try these ideas.

What Is Employee Engagement, and Why Is It Important?

Global analytics and advisory firm Gallup defines employee engagement as “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.” While no employee is obligated to be excited about coming to work, it’s hard to overlook the advantages they bring when they are. 

Their enthusiasm benefits not only their team but also the organization as a whole. For instance, companies with high employee engagement report the following advantages:

  • 18% increase in sales productivity
  • 18 to 43% decrease in employee turnover
  • 81% decrease in absenteeism
  • 41% increase in product quality
  • 64% decrease in safety incidents

Employee engagement matters both in the professional and personal lives of the employee and in critical business outcomes. The research makes it clear that improving employee engagement is an important investment in your organization that will help you achieve your strategic goals and mission.

Ideas for Improving Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Although employee engagement is clearly important, that doesn’t mean improving it will be easy. Organizations need to do more than simply encourage employees to love their jobs. It’s essential that you create a workplace that fosters engagement. Here are some ways you can begin doing that today.

Bring Values into Alignment

One survey shows that 65% of Gen Z jobseekers won’t even apply to work for an organization if its values don’t align with their own. Part of keeping employees engaged in their work is to help them see how it is specifically connected with the company’s mission, culture, and values. 

Employees who feel connected to and aligned with their organization’s culture are 3.7 times as likely to be engaged in their work. If your organization has a set of core values but you find employees aren’t connecting, consider a revamp. If your organization does not have identified values, complete an exercise with leadership and employees alike to agree on a set of core values that are compelling and drive the business forward.

Create Effective Onboarding Programs

First impressions are important — 44% of new hires say that they regret their decision within a week of their start date. This is often because they lack direction, training, and support. If employees aren’t clear on what to do or where to go for help, it’s natural for them to disengage. Consider surveying your new hires to gain insight and feedback into their onboarding experience and make adjustments on a continual basis. A better onboarding program can help prevent this problem.

Use Team-Building Activities

Having a best friend at work significantly increases employee satisfaction, innovation, and productivity. Team-building activities require employees to lean on and learn from one another as they work together toward a common goal. These activities foster camaraderie and can help employees build meaningful relationships at work.

Create Employee Recognition Programs

Employees who believe that they will be recognized for their contribution to organizational success are 2.7 times as likely to be highly engaged at work. When you call out what employees are doing right, it makes them feel valued — especially when that recognition is authentic and personal. If you have a recognition program in place and still aren’t seeing results, you may want to consider conducting focus groups with employees to learn more about what motivates them. You’d be surprised that it isn’t always monetary; sometimes, employees are motivated by more time off, learning opportunities, the ability to support a philanthropic effort, etc.

Consider Employee Resource Groups

Employee resource groups are communities of individuals who share a similar background or interest. These groups can bring a sense of belonging in the workplace and also contribute to employees’ professional development, helping them find mentors who were once in their position. Both of these benefits can motivate employees and increase their enthusiasm. Leaning on employee resource groups also allows you to gain valuable insight from employees and provides an opportunity to employees to have their voices heard about company initiatives.

Prioritize Employee Well-Being 

Disengaged employees are much less likely to feel that their work benefits their physical or psychological health. If your employees aren’t feeling well, it will be challenging for them to stay engaged and enthusiastic about work. 

To improve engagement, encourage employees to take care of themselves by taking breaks when they need them. Help them create work-life balance by drawing strong boundaries during non-work hours. A strong benefit that includes well-being programs is crucial to supporting your employees. This can range from mental health benefits, to a match on their HSA, to assistance with childcare.

Employee Feedback Mechanisms

Nissan, a company known for its open-door policy, employs unique employee listening strategies. Their senior management team hosts “Ask Us Anything” sessions, regular town hall meetings, and “skip-level” one-on-ones with employees above and below their leadership level. This feedback loop has resulted in 77% of employees saying Nissan is a great place to work and 83% wanting to stay long-term. 

Employee Engagement Is a Worthy Investment of Your Time

As an HR professional, you likely have a lot on your plate. Though employee engagement may not always feel as pressing as other issues, it’s essential to the health and growth of your organization. Seeing results from these strategies will take time, but your investment in the process can have lasting, positive results for both employees and the organization.