The data shows that companies that spend time on employee engagement perform better. Engaged employees have a stronger sense of purpose and are more motivated. Unfortunately, boosting engagement doesn’t happen overnight. Engagement rests on open communication, transparency, and acting on feedback. Here are some engagement strategies that will help you develop the foundation for lasting employee engagement.
A strong company culture binds employees together, gives them a sense of purpose, and pushes them to excel. But how can companies develop a strong company culture? They make it a priority and not an afterthought. Most companies already have some kind of culture or defining traits. In startups, founders set the culture. In larger companies, culture develops organically over time. Companies can use their existing culture as a foundation for the culture they want to build. The important thing to ask is how you define your ideal company culture. Do you prioritize “type-A” personalities or prize collaboration? Create a bullet list of the key traits you want to see in your workplace and start building that culture.
Some companies like Amazon make their company culture crystal clear. They publish their corporate values for both current and new employees. That helps build the foundation of company culture, but how do you reinforce those ideals? You need to recognize employees who live by them. Let’s suppose that your company culture emphasizes collaboration across multiple departments. Is anyone in your workforce particularly good at that kind of complicated collaboration? You could provide that person with an award or some other public recognition. Research shows that recognizing high performers is one of the most impactful engagement strategies. Be sure to demonstrate what that person does differently and how it exemplifies the behaviors you want to see in the workplace. Let your employees be the brand ambassador for the culture you’re trying to build.
It’s important that your company has made boosting employee engagement a priority. Now it’s time to make that priority a reality. Managers set the tone for their teams and, in turn, the broader workforce. Their participation is critical if you boost employee engagement. Most good managers will see the benefit of greater engagement and will dedicate themselves to the task. Others may not see the benefit or may be too busy to participate actively. Holding managers accountable for engaging their teams will help ensure more uniform engagement across your company.
There are several ways to hold managers accountable. One option is to make implementation of employee engagement strategies a key goal during performance reviews. Engagement could be measured as time spent meeting with employees or whatever metrics are most important. Time spent on employee engagement can also be linked to future promotions. Manager buy-in is critical, and there are many levers to encourage participation.
Engagement initiatives often involve soliciting employee feedback. There might be employee surveys, informal discussions with managers, or even town halls. Companies are great at asking for feedback, but they often fail to follow through. Employees need to see a tangible outcome when they provide feedback. Even if companies act on the information they collect, the next steps need to be visible to the workforce. As with most employee engagement strategies, communication is key. Companies need to make it clear why they are asking for feedback and what they plan to do with that information. If responding to feedback may take a while, offer progress reports. If the outcome is subtle, explicitly tout it as a response to feedback. Show employees that you’re willing to listen.
Companies that want to boost employee engagement need to be willing to make the investment. It can take months, even years of concerted effort to have a lasting impact. You can rely on internal HR leaders to spearhead this engagement effort, but outside experts can devise leadership training that maximizes ROI. Training managers in person takes time. Most large companies use a mix of web seminars and custom videos to quickly train larger numbers of employees. Maximizing your investment and creating true engagement requires taking advantage of outside expertise. Going it alone puts added strain on HR and ensures engagement will be only one of many priorities.
Spending time on employee engagement initiatives is important, but you need a plan. Companies have to make a concerted effort to define their culture, listen to feedback, and get managerial buy-in. They need to be comfortable with an open dialogue between leadership and employees and follow through. Engagement ultimately is about trust: employees must know that their leaders want them to excel and listen to what they have to say. Once you have that trust, you can use this framework to build an engaged, committed workforce that’s ready to compete.
Projections, Inc. focuses specifically on video, web, and eLearning solutions to improve workplace culture and employee engagement. We’d love to create a custom solution to help you become an employer of choice.
In over 25 years of helping companies connect with their employees, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.