What are the Steps for Implementing Employee Engagement Initiatives?

The best advice for staying union-free is to develop high employee engagement, which means starting focused employee engagement initiatives. Employee engagement is a core requirement for building positive employee relationships, which won’t happen haphazardly. It takes an organization-wide well-planned effort to achieve lasting results. The designing and implementing of employee engagement initiatives support a business strategy that goes deeper than offering employees perks or following management trends.

Effective employee engagement initiatives may address the organization’s culture, core values, employee opportunities for career growth, employee recognition and rewards, leadership transparency, participatory leadership decision-making, and more. Following are basic steps for starting and implementing an employee engagement initiative to help your organization stay union-free. 

Approaching Employee Engagement Strategically for Long-Term Impact  

Approaching employee engagement strategically means the initiative is designed to achieve a long-term solution to a challenge. You can address any Human Resources challenge with an initiative, like low employee productivity or leadership skills gaps. In this discussion, the challenge is to stay union-free, and the solution is developing high employee engagement. The initiative comprises an organizational assessment, goals, and actions you take to achieve the goal, all made possible for long-term success through leadership training

Step 1: Identify the factors that have the most influence on employee engagement in your organization 

Each business has a unique organizational structure, leadership hierarchy and style, culture, compensation, and benefits plan, transparency level, and decision-making process, to name some of the critical areas. Achievers names four key employee engagement success factors: company culture, employee participation, good management, and frequent employee recognition. Gallup names the key drivers of employee engagement as purpose, development, a caring manager, ongoing conversations, and focusing on strengths. By identifying the key drivers for your organization, resources are more likely placed where they will bring the best results. 

Employee engagement is not dependent on giving people more money, even though unions often promote higher wages. You may already pay excellent competitive wages and still struggle to maintain employee engagement or find it difficult to keep labor unions away. So, the first step is identifying the factors in your particular organization that influence employee engagement, which may or may not have anything to do with compensation and benefits.     

#Employee #engagement is not dependent on giving people more money - step one in your engagement initiative should be identifying what influences it in your organization.

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Step 2: Conduct an engagement audit 

The next step is identifying the current status of employee engagement to establish a starting point for developing an employee engagement initiative. A survey can give you the information you need to develop engagement initiative goals. It also gives employees a voice at the same time. You can conduct one or more employee surveys and ask questions about satisfaction with work, motivation, or understanding of career path. You can ask about work-life balance, workplace culture, feeling valued, recognition by management, feedback, management transparency, and anything else that provides critical insights. Employee-management meetings are another option. 

employee engagement

TinyPulse provided a guide to employee engagement survey questions. Every employee engagement factor is important to staying union-free. Let your employees know why you’re conducting employee engagement surveys and employee-management information and feedback sessions. By informing employees, you let them know your leadership cares about the workforce.   

In addition to the employee survey, it’s also important to take into consideration departmental metrics like employee turnover, employee sick leave rates, employee injury rates, and employee productivity. You can also develop the metric called the “Employee Net Promoter Score.” The eNPS measures how employees feel about the business.  

The eNPS survey asks how likely an employee is to recommend a company’s products and services to others. The survey and metrics are used together to form an understanding of the various aspects of the employee experience. The goal is to strengthen a UnionProof employee experience through the employee engagement initiative designed to close gaps in employee connectedness to the organization.  

Step 3: Define the goals of the employee engagement initiative 

With the information and metrics collected, you can define the goals of the employee engagement initiative. For example, if you found that employees don’t believe they have a voice, then a goal could be to develop new ways to listen. Josh Bersin says, “the new world of engagement is one of ‘listening on many channels,’ and letting employees speak up, give suggestions, and contribute to every decision you make.” Also noted is that “Every leader from the CEO to the first line supervisor should be encouraged to slow down and listen, create a place of psychological safety (where people can speak up), and take notes on what employees want.”  

After establishing the goals, the engagement action plan will add channels, like digital communication, and new opportunities for employees to share their perspectives and participate in decision-making. Goals will vary by organization, of course. Examples of some common goals include increasing employee happiness, improving the organizational culture, improving employee safety, reducing employee turnover, increasing employee motivation, developing a more respectful workplace, and aligning employees and management values and goals. All of these goals support staying union-free and becoming an employer of choice.


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Step 4: Develop the action plan for the employee engagement initiative 

The action plan consists of the steps you will take to achieve goals. These are specific, assigned a budget and timetable, and measured, so your leaders are held accountable. Following are some examples of actions your leaders may take:  

  • Design and implement a digital communication plan 
  • Establish scheduled meetings between employees and senior management for question-and-answer sessions to talk about topics like unions and employee voice 
  • Establish routine meeting requirements between each employee and the direct leader 
  • Implement an employee recognition and rewards program 
  • Revise the promotion process, so it’s more inclusive 
  • Develop a work from home policy 
  • Enhance employee career development opportunities 
  • Develop an employee-facing union-free website that explains the positives of working for your organization, answers common questions, and allows employees to ask questions and get feedback 
  • Implement a process in which employees can share perspectives or pitch innovative ideas 
  • Offer needed employees training and development opportunities 
  • Conduct a compensation audit to ensure wages are competitive 
  • Implement a flexible schedule policy 
  • Address the differing needs of a multigenerational workforce 
engaged employees

Step 5: Implement the employee engagement initiative 

Implementation depends on the assignment of specific tasks to your leaders. Leadership training is crucial to success, along with the organizational commitment of resources as needed for success. The best route is to take each action and define the specific implementation steps. For example, if you want to implement a work from home policy, who will develop the policy and communicate it to employees? If you want to build a website to engage employees in positive employee relations to stay union-free, determine if you will develop it in-house or utilize experts like the Projections team.  

Step 6: Train Your Leaders and Hold Them Accountable 

Leadership training at all organizational levels will determine the success of the employee engagement initiative. It’s important to close gaps in leadership skills and ensure they’re fully on board with the action plan. The reality is that frontline supervisors have the most direct influence on employee engagement because they interact with employees every day. Yet, they are often not included in leadership training. There are specific plans for advancement into a higher-level position. If the goal is to stay union-free, you want LaborWise leaders from the CEO to the frontline supervisors who are good communicators, know how to engage and motivate employees, and have the skills to meet employee needs. Your managers and supervisors should be held accountable for their roles in implementing the initiative. Many employee engagement initiatives are ineffective due to a lack of leadership accountability.  

#Leadershiptraining at all organizational levels will determine the success of your #employeeengagement initiative. Training your leaders should be of utmost priority.

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Employee Engagement is a Process 

The employee engagement initiative is a process and not a one-and-done. Chances are you’ll learn a lot more about your workforce as you assess their needs and develop an action plan. If your leaders are skilled communicators and have well-developed soft skills like empathy, your leaders may discover the employee engagement initiative needs revisions. If it does, you know it’s working because your employees are communicating their perspectives and needs to management. It’s the process of building positive employee-employer relationships – a journey to staying union-free


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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.