Tony Hsieh, former CEO of the clothing company Zappos once said, "We think it's important for employees to have fun…it drives employee engagement."
Employee engagement: it’s a tricky concept that captures a lot of the hard-to-measure aspects of workplace productivity. Engagement is about how fulfilled, energized, curious and resourceful employees are. And as a manager, you play a significant role in determining how engaged your team is.
But you have other priorities. Deadlines, meetings, targets—can’t employees self-regulate and just get the job done? Why do you have to make their work fun?
This view is part of what sparked The Great Resignation where, In early 2021, a staggering 4.53 million American workers walked out on their jobs.
Today's employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. They want to be engaged in their work: feeling like they’re making a difference, having their voices heard, collaborating with colleagues, and being mentored.
The results of managers that prioritize employee engagement speak for themselves. A Gallup report showed that corporations who invest in employee engagement are more likely to boost customer relationships and revenue by 20%.
So employee engagement is much more than just foosball tables and happy hours. In this article, we’ll cover all the different areas of employee engagement and proven strategies that improve employee engagement.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is the level of dedication and enthusiasm employees feel towards their jobs. When people are engaged in their work, they are more productive and creative. They take greater ownership of their tasks and are more likely to go the extra mile for their company.
Many factors contribute to employee engagement. The most important one is the work itself. Employees need to feel that their job is meaningful and challenging. They need to be given the opportunity to use their skills and talents, and they need to feel that they are contributing to the company.
Other factors that contribute to employee engagement include:
- A supportive and collaborative team environment: employees who feel like they are part of a supportive team are more engaged in their work.
- A positive relationship with managers and supervisors: employees who feel like their managers trust them and have faith in their abilities are more engaged.
- A positive organizational culture that values employee input and feedback: employees who feel like their voices are heard and valued by the organization are more likely to be engaged in their work.
Examples of employee engagement in the workplace
Corporations need to leverage the opportunities that abound in employee engagement. It lowers employee turnover, directly affects profit margins and fosters a healthy relationship between workers and customers.
Based on a Gallup finding, companies with highly engaged employees showed a decline in absenteeism by 41% and a productivity boost by 17%.
Below are the three main categories of employee engagement in the workplace:
The unengaged employee
This type of employee is disillusioned with the company's vision and often records low performance. Being natural skeptics, their attitude pollutes the workplace, resulting in the rot of employee dedication. The unengaged employee is unhappy with their position.
The damage caused by unengaged employees in the corporate world is massive. A Joblist survey shows that 73% of workers considered leaving their jobs in Q3 of 2021. Instead of churning out unhappy staffers, companies should offer incentives like training reliefs to curb the spread of discontent in the office.
The engaged but infrequent employee
For this category, the employees feel fairly included in the company's activities. Unfortunately, they only look forward to payday. Such employees desire further opportunities to advance their careers and attract better positions.
When those chances are unavailable, they're unlikely to work overtime or offer suggestions during boardroom meetings. These employees can become unengaged employees and spread their negativity across the departments. Three out of ten staffers view their job as" just a job to get by."
What CEOs and other C-level executives can do is properly integrate these employees into the company.
The fully engaged employee
Fully engaged employees are happy with their jobs and perform tasks diligently. They aren't afraid to put in extra hours when requested by their supervisor. Provided that the company's vision aligns with theirs, expect these employees to infect the rest of the team with positivity.
Workplace positivity is a valuable resource that helps companies scale beyond projections.
The importance of employee engagement
Employees must always be engaged in the workplace. When there's a disengaged employee, the chances are that the employee will commit less effort to tasks. Employees that feel respected and enjoy several career advancement opportunities will focus on their current job's obligations.
Dale Carnegie Training found that organizations with engaged employees outperform those without by a staggering 202%. Employee engagement has a ripple effect on the individual worker and the company.
Clients constantly interact with employees, so imagine an exchange between a client and a highly unmotivated worker. To avoid lowering the customer's confidence in your brand, invest in your employees.
As Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said:
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
The Aberdeen Group's employment engagement study highlights that companies that prioritize employee engagement benefit from a customer loyalty gain of 233%.
Mentorship programs: The best way to improve employee engagement?
When looking at ways to improve employee engagement, mentoring programs may not come to mind first. What about raises, public praise, more frequent feedback, surveys, and other tactics? The thing is, mentorship programs encompass most tactics designed to increase employee engagement.
Mentors offer a host of benefits to employees, according to Coqual's report. It holds that 57% of mentors can broaden their capabilities thanks to an active mentorship program.
For that reason, here are steps to implement mentoring to improve your employee engagement:
Redefine what employee engagement means to you and your employee
There isn't necessarily a universal definition that fits everyone regarding employee engagement. For some, engagement might mean feeling connected to their work and having a sense of purpose in what they do. Others might see engagement as being enthusiastically committed to their job and putting extra effort into their work.
What matters most is how you and your team define engagement. Every workplace is different, and what works for one company might not work for another. It's essential to find out what engages your employees and create a workplace culture that supports it.
Evaluate your current employee engagement levels
Identify which areas of your business have low employee engagement levels to evaluate your current engagement levels. This can be done through:
- Focus groups, or
- One-on-one interviews with employees.
Once you understand where your employees stand, you can start to look for patterns and trends. When you know what’s stunting engagement, you can move to solve those issues.
Conduct a study to determine the ideal mentorship program for your business
Mentorship programs can take many different forms, but the most important thing is that they are tailored to meet the needs of your specific business. You should consider the size of your company, the industry you're in, and the type of employees you have when designing a mentorship program.
Once you have a plan in place, you need to match mentors and mentees correctly. Together pairing algorithms help you do this effortlessly. Not all employees will be a good fit for mentorship, and not all mentors will be interested in taking on a mentee. It's important to consider the pairing process and ensure that both mentor and mentee feel comfortable with the arrangement.
Evaluate the success of the pilot program and make changes as needed
Running a mentorship pilot program is a great way to test the waters. You’ll see what works and doesn’t and make changes as needed. This will ensure that your program is effective and meets the needs of both mentors and mentees. Check in with mentees and mentors regularly to see how they are doing and if they have any suggestions for improvement.
Keep track of the number of matches made and how long they last. This will give you a good indication of how successful the program is.
13 Tips to improve employee engagement
There are several ways to keep the average employee happy and engaged at work. Here are effective strategies to skyrocket your employee engagement.
1. Provide workers with the appropriate tools
Provide your employees with the appropriate tools to help them do their jobs effectively and efficiently. The right tools can help improve engagement, productivity and job satisfaction.
Providing staff with modern-day tools enables them to lessen their workload. 59% of C-level executives are invested in mobile apps, which helps employees work better, a Deloitte study says.
2. Define employee roles
To improve employee engagement is to define the roles and expectations of mentors and mentees. When employees know what is expected of them, they are more engaged in their work.
Defining employee roles helps improve communication within an organization. When everyone understands their role and how it contributes to the company's overall goal, they work more effectively together. This leads to a more cohesive team and improved productivity.
3. Let employees control their workstation
Giving employees control over their workstations improves employee engagement. By allowing workers to make decisions about their work environment, they feel a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for their space.
This leads to increased productivity and pride in their work. Additionally, employees who feel empowered are satisfied with their jobs and prefer to stay with the company.
4. Reiterate the company's vision
Doing so will help ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal and that they feel invested in the company's success.
There are a few different ways to go about this:
- Hold regular meetings to keep everyone up-to-date on the company's progress.
- Ensure that the company's vision is included in all employee communications, such as the company newsletter or website.
- Post signs or posters around the office to remind everyone of the company's goals.
5. Allow a mistake or two
As humans, employees are bound to commit errors at work. Bosses should handle employees' mistakes with intuition. This keeps them motivated, so they can avoid similar mistakes in the future.
6. Advocate regular feedback
Feedback lets employees know what they're doing well and where they can improve. Giving regular feedback is one of the most important things a manager can do to improve employee engagement.
According to Zippa.com, 85% of workers increase their workplace initiative when they get feedback. And 89% of HR says regular feedback and check-ins are essential to job success. It shows that you pay attention to their work and care about their development. When giving feedback, always aim to be specific, objective, and actionable.
7. Reward employees when necessary
Recognizing and rewarding your employees for their hard work is the key to creating engaged staff members. When they feel valued, employees develop a sense of purpose in which they will be more productive. If you think employees' recognition and reward will be too costly, consider these:
- An effective recognition program increases employee performance by 11.1% according to Gartner.
- 72% of businesses agreed that recognition improves engagement as found by Harvard Business Review.
- 58% of employees claimed leaders should entice them with recognition and reward to improve the engagement according to a study by Psychometric.
8. Invest in learning and development
Knowledge benefits all, especially in the workplace. Employers should support their workers' pursuit of career advancement by giving them learning and development opportunities.
94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if offered opportunities to learn and grow. A study by Udemy shows that 80% of employees claimed learning and development improves engagement.
9. Trust your employees
Trust is an invaluable resource for employee engagement. When workers feel trusted by their supervisor, they will approach a task with sobriety.
They are more likely to take on challenging jobs and feel confident in their abilities. Management ought to allow freedom over what needs doing as opposed to micromanagement or constant oversight from above.
10. Redesign the employee hiring and onboarding process
Poor onboarding experience has been some organizations' great undoing. 88% of organizations have poor onboarding. It has been said to be one of the leading causes of employee disengagement and disloyalty. Onboarding programs should be run carefully to avoid a negative experience and turnover.
To avoid paying the hefty price of a terrible hire, you should invest in all aspects of the onboarding process. 69% of workers are more likely to stay more than three years with a company that offers a great onboarding experience.
Aso, a Brandon Hall Group research reveals that companies without a strong interview structure are five times more likely to hire an unqualified worker.
11. Adopt the regular check-in strategy
There are many benefits to using a regular check-in strategy. First, it helps you stay on top of any problems. By checking in regularly, you can identify and solve problems quickly before they have a chance to snowball into bigger issues.
Second, regular check-ins allow you to track progress and ensure everyone is on track. This visibility is essential for keeping projects on schedule and ensuring that everyone contributes their fair share.
Deloitte notes that 64% of organizations still rely on yearly engagement studies.
12. Engagement must occur on three levels
Many organizations had the misconception that addressing employee engagement only has to do with HR and the employee.
Addressing the issue of employee engagement must happen on three levels—employee, team, and organization. This way, the organization can build synergy between the units and foster a lasting connection.
13. Promote a culture of engagement
Companies that prioritize employee development can see a significant jump in engagement; it's the second significant factor in determining engagement. Organizations need to keep the discussion ongoing.
Improve your employee engagement program with Together
Mentorship has been stressed throughout this article as an effective way to increase employee engagement. Numerous studies point to psycho-social support and practical guidance as a recipe for happier and more productive employees.
But starting a mentorship program can take a lot of time. That’s why Together exists. We’ve built mentorship software that makes every step of the mentoring process a breeze. Our pairing algorithm considers the goals and experiences of each employee to find them the most relevant mentor. This cuts down administrative time from weeks to a matter of minutes.
If you’re ready to skyrocket your employee engagement Together is the best way to find every employee a mentor, peer, or expert to learn from.