Businesses are fighting against a rising tide of employee resignations. With job seekers constantly on the hunt for the next best thing, employers are struggling to retain their employees for any longer than 4 years.
These rapid employee turnover rates are causing big problems. Recruitment costs are through the roof, company cultures are damaged and productivity is down.
Thankfully, employee loyalty isn’t completely out of your control. By boosting employee engagement, you can lock in your best employees for the long haul.
And that's simpler than it sounds.
In this article, we help you ascend the levels of employee engagement. This means turning unmotivated employees into passionate and dedicated high performers.
How to improve employee engagement with team bonding
Without strong interpersonal bonds, your employees lack an emotional connection to their work. They’ll come to work and work through their tasks before returning home to resume their lives. They’ll get the job done, but there’s little incentive for them to go that extra mile.
Team bonding builds stronger relationships between employees, managers and executives. This makes the workplace a nicer place to be because employees look forward to coming to work. They also feel supported in their role and offer each other help or advice.
This translates into:
- Better engagement
- Increased job satisfaction
- Reduced absenteeism
- Better company culture
- More efficient communication
- and more…
Here are eight simple ways to develop stronger relationships between your employees:
1. Organise a team-building retreat
Team-building retreats are paid-for trips that take place outside the day-to-day office environment. Examples include a one-week trip to Rome or a long weekend in a Portuguese fishing village. While times and locations vary, the goal is often the same: to improve workplace relationships. These relationships lead to better collaboration, happier employees and improved productivity.
Team-building retreats are good for employees but they're also a perk in the eyes of employees. Yes, it's a free holiday, but it's also a chance to make new friends. In a study conducted by Wildgoose, nearly 57% of those surveyed said that having a good friend at work makes their job more enjoyable. These workplace friendships translate into increased productivity and prolonged retention. Confidence and morale go up too, as well-bonded employees are more likely to lend each other help and support.
It takes a lot of time and experience to organise a team-building retreat, which is why so many businesses allow team-building to fall by the wayside. The simplest solution is to enlist the help of a third-party retreat organiser like Surf Office. We do all the heavy lifting for you, so you can continue growing your business and smashing objectives.
2. Play team-building activities
Team-building activities are a popular way of strengthening a team. They nurture employee connections, boost morale, develop soft skills and improve collaboration. They vary from quick five-minute icebreakers to once-in-a-lifetime outdoor activities.
Making time for purposeful social interaction is the key to building a strong team. When employees leave work-related stresses behind, they’re able to focus 100% on getting to know their colleagues. And when your employees are better connected, they become more engaged with their roles. 63% of the women involved in this study, for example, were twice as engaged because they had a best friend in the workplace.
When you organise a team-building session, set your team-building goals before selecting activities. Most activities target specific skills so it's easier to make the right choices when you know your goals.
3. Plan a team lunch
A team lunch is an informal social gathering that aims to improve workplace relationships. When your employees get together outside the office, they can talk about things they wouldn't usually discuss in the office. This helps them to build stronger, more authentic connections.
Workplace friendships boost engagement for a variety of reasons. For one, colleagues who are friends are less likely to argue which leads to a more enjoyable office atmosphere. They also support each other more, which improves productivity and reduces stress. It seems, however, few companies are making time for workplace relationships. According to Gallup’s state of the American Workplace report, only 2 in 10 U.S. employees have a best friend at work.
And there's no excuse for this. Team lunches, for example, are low risk and low cost, yet provide a great chance for employees to socialise. After-work drinks are popular too but aren't inclusive to those who don't drink or have busy home lives.
4. Go on a team outing
A team outing is an out-of-office social experience where employees can enjoy a group activity while getting to know each other. Activities like paintballing, ten-pin bowling, escape rooms and surfing lessons are popular experiences.
Because these gatherings are informal, they're more enjoyable compared to traditional team-building events. This laid-back atmosphere is more conducive to strengthening relationships.
Check out our location pages if you’re wondering what the best team-building activities are in your area. Here, you’ll find lists of the best team-bonding activities for cities all over the world.
5. Spend time together outside of office hours
When your employees are in the office, they’re usually busy working on their daily tasks. They might find a few minutes for small talk around the water cooler, but there’s rarely time for your employees to get to know one another on a deeper level.
It's easier for employees to build relationships outside the office. Running clubs and fitness classes allow employees to socialise without thinking about work.
These types of activities are low cost and low risk for employers. A running club, let's say, costs nothing but goes a long way towards supporting employee improving relationships.
6. Create a social space in the office
While the office is designed primarily for work, it can also function as a thriving social hub. The employee breakroom, for example, could become an integral part of your team-bonding strategy. If you're willing to convert it into a functional space.
When you give your employee breakroom a makeover, you turn a cold and uninviting space into a fun place where people want to spend their free time. This encourages employees to spend their breaks together instead of fleeing to a lunchtime café.
Your employee breakroom could include anything from a fully-stocked kitchen to a quiet zone or nap area. But before you go investing money in pool tables and photobooths, ask your team what they would like to have in their breakroom first.
7. Resolve employee conflict
Resolving employee conflict before it has a chance to escalate is an important part of managing a team. Allowing arguments or disputes to bubble into full-scale confrontations harms your business. It's also distressing to the employees involved and those around them.
For employees to feel safe and supported in the workplace, conflicts need to be ironed out in a controlled manner. This starts with teaching your staff basic communication skills and encouraging cognitive diversity. At some point, employees will disagree. But what’s important is their ability to understand the other’s perspective and find a solution that aligns with the best interests of the company.
To prevent conflicts from escalating into viscous disputes, teach your team the skills they need. You can do this can by organising soft skill seminars and workshops. When your employees know their opinions won’t lead to arguments, they’re more likely to share their ideas. And the last thing you want is to miss out on a groundbreaking idea because an employee was scared to speak up.
8. Take Fridays off
The four-day work week has gained momentum in recent years. Not least since the success of Iceland’s shorter working hours experiment between 2015 and 2019. They discovered that fewer hours made employees happier and didn't harm productivity. As a result, shorter work weeks became the default arrangement for public sector companies in Iceland.
The benefits of working fewer hours remain in dispute, but more and more companies are taking the plunge. Take technology solutions company Eyequant, for example. They trialled shorter work weeks and discovered employees became more productive and trusting. Employees also had a better work-life balance.
The company eventually returned to the traditional five-day work week. But now, they give employees “the choice as to whether they work on Fridays” provided they’ve completed all their work. This allows the employees at Eyequant to manage their workload in a way that’s best for them.
How to improve employee engagement with company culture
Your company culture determines how you do things at your company. It’s reflected in the clothes you wear, the way you speak, how you approach problems and the ultimate goals and ambitions of your company.
Companies with a strong company culture operate with a moral and ethical code that manifests itself in every area of the business. When somebody joins a team with a strong culture, they become emotionally connected to the company’s long-term ambitions. They also feel more appreciated and supported in their role.
Establishing a unique company culture is one of the first things you should do if you want to improve your employee engagement.
Here are a few ideas on how to do it:
9. Create a strong employer brand
Your employer brand determines how your business is perceived by prospective, current and ex-employees as a place to work. It’s made up of a holistic set of factors, often intangible, ranging from performance management to internal communication.
A strong employer brand gives your employees direction. It provides an emotional connection that motivates them to exert additional effort in pursuit of company goals. It also saves you money, as engaged employees are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. One study by OfficeVibe found that companies actively investing in their employer brand can reduce turnover by as much as 28%.
Online job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor provide eye-opening data about your employee offering. The reviews people leave on these sites will tell you what it's like to work at your company. With this information, you can start making corrections.
10. Have a mission that goes beyond profits
Your company mission should motivate and inspire your team to complete their best work are rally toward a cause. If your goal is simply to make money, however, you'll struggle to engage your team.
A philanthropic mission increases company visibility and creates social impact. But it’s also an effective employee retention strategy. A study conducted by BuiltIn reinforces this idea. They found that companies with a mission that extends beyond profits are more likely to retain employees for longer.
TOMS shoes is an ethical shoe brand that invests ⅓ of its profits in cash grants, partnerships and community organisations. This charitable approach makes TOMS employees proud of their work which improves morale and retention.
11. Hire for cultural fit
Your company culture is a reflection of your business practices and long-term goals. But more importantly, it's a reflection of the attitudes of your employees. When you hire for cultural fit, you select candidates based on how they fit into your company culture, not so much their experience or skills.
One wrong hire could undo the hard work you’ve put into building a strong culture. That's why 60% of recruiters now rate culture fit as a key decision-making factor when hiring new people.
To ensure you’re hiring the right person for your business, establish your company culture early. Then, analyse how the candidate aligns with it based on their resume, personality and performance during the interview.
12. Reiterate the company mission
As employees become entangled with their daily workload, it can be easy for them to lose sight of the company’s long-term goals. Therefore, employees need to be continually reminded of why they’re doing what they’re doing.
Keeping your company mission front and centre helps your employees apply meaning to their roles. Deloitte, for example, found companies with strong cultures typically had more engaged employees.
To prevent your employees from losing sight of the company’s mission, use any opportunity to realign your team with your long-term goals. One way would be to show your team examples of real-world impacts their work is having.
13. Celebrate milestones
If your team appears overworked and uninspired, perhaps a little celebration is in order—big or small. When you celebrate milestones, you boost morale, stimulate forward momentum and reinstate values.
Failing to acknowledge hard work and celebrate small wins will damage team morale and could harm productivity. One study discovered that 78% of employees would work harder if only they were given more recognition.
There are many causes for celebration in the workplace. They range from well-handled situations to employee actions that align with company values. When recognising a milestone, use the AIR acronym. This stands for Action, Impact and Reward—describe the action that occurred, explain the impact this had, and then end with a reward.
14. Prioritise diversity and inclusion
Diverse teams are comprised of people from mixed backgrounds with a variety of skills and life experiences. Diversity is important because it mitigates confirmation biases and drives creativity. But diversity is nothing without inclusion.
To engage a diverse team, you must provide them with equal opportunities. Employees should feel included regardless of experience, skills, status or cultural background. One study found that diversity and inclusion and closely correlated to employee engagement.
But creating an inclusive working environment is easier said than done. In a room of people, stronger personalities will naturally overwhelm the quieter ones. That means introverted employees can easily go unheard. To ensure everybody contributes, experiment with different brainstorming techniques like Lightning Decision Jam.
15. Distribute limited-edition SWAG
SWAG, like branded mugs and limited-edition sweaters, aren’t enough to resolve all your employee engagement issues. They can, however, enhance your employer brand and promote company values. Both of which drive employee engagement.
Handing out SWAG items as rewards also inspires employees to go the extra mile. Because branded items are often in short supply, 99% of employees will go out of their way to acquire them, according to this study.
As with any other marketing cost, establish a clear budget before investing in branded merchandise. Be wary of cheap and tacky items, as these could reflect negatively on your brand image.
16. Celebrate failures
Avoiding failure works—until it doesn’t. Most organisations are wrong more than they’re right, so running away from failure or pretending it isn’t there doesn’t prepare your team for reality. This makes one wonder why most reward and recognition schemes are driven by successful outcomes (e.g. sales targets, revenue, etc.). If innovation is your goal, celebrating only victories doesn't make any sense.
If your employees are averse to failure, they’re going to lose motivation pretty darn quickly. That’s why celebrating failure is the best way to keep employees engaged with ongoing projects. Failure is synonymous with progress, so celebrating it encourages employees to keep experimenting.
As Albert Einstein once said, “You never fail until you stop trying” and he was right. Change the way your employees interpret failures and you’ll be on your way toward a more engaged workforce.
17. Make employee roles clear
Detailed job descriptions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to clarifying employee roles. Laying out an employee’s daily tasks and responsibilities is useful, but this has little impact on engagement.
For an employee to feel engaged in their role, they need to understand exactly how their contributions benefit the company as a whole. This leads to increased effectiveness, job loyalty, productivity and satisfaction.
To clarify employee roles, make their exact tasks and responsibilities clear, and don’t forget to outline what isn’t included in their role. Then, align each role to an existing project and schedule regular feedback sessions to add clarity.
18. Involve employees in important decisions
Many managers feel confident they’re making the right decisions on behalf of their team. But according to research, only 10-15% of managers who think they know their blind spots actually do. That’s why you must involve your team in the decision-making process.
When you involve your employees in decisions, you reduce your margin for error while sending a message that you trust them and value their input. This improves engagement and job satisfaction while enhancing your chances of making the right call.
Before you allow employees to lead discussions, provide them with all the resources and information they need. This helps them to build an informed opinion instead of second-guessing what the problems are.
19. Be consistent with your company culture
Great company cultures are crafted and nurtured over time. If you fail to reinforce your values and lead by example, your workforce will seize control of your company culture themselves.
That's why you should showcase the company culture at every opportunity, from how you reward employees to the posts you share on social media. Company culture boosts engagement because employees form an emotional connection to their job.
To maintain your company culture, make sure you treat your team equally across all levels of the organisational hierarchy. Also, ensure all departments adhere to cultural best practices. A “culture committee” is a helpful tool for managing and maintaining your company culture long-term.
How to improve employee engagement with communication
Communication in the workplace refers to the way important information is passed between managers, customers, employees and stakeholders. It’s often cited as a driving force behind successful businesses, but how does it impact employee engagement?
Well, the team at People Matters discovered why after analysing a series of studies by Watson Wyatt Worldwide. These studies showed that "effective communication [was] a key driver for employee engagement and an indicator of financial performance."
So, what could you change about your communication practices to better engage your employees?
Here are a few suggestions:
20. Maintain open channels of communication
For your company to perform well, information must move seamlessly between all levels of your organisation.
Frictionless, open communication starts with your business leaders. If your top-level employees are hoarding essential information, they're hindering down-chain employees. This disrupts productivity, turnaround times and ultimately engagement.
To improve communication, educate your leaders on the importance of transparency with workshops. Consider, too, investing in collaboration tools such as Trello, Asana or Slack. These tools help employees to communicate more effectively across departments and organisational levels.
21. Start a company newsletter
A company newsletter is a digital or printed internal publication designed to highlight business outcomes, client testimonials, ongoing projects and employee achievements. Publication schedules vary from weekly to annually.
By distributing an internal newsletter, you keep your employees in the loop with what’s going on behind the scenes. This boosts inclusivity and corporate transparency, helping your employees to feel engaged at work.
To start a company newsletter, establish its purpose and assign a dedicated team. Remember, an internal newsletter is an investment in your company culture, so don’t let it become an extracurricular activity. Set time in employee schedules to work on it properly.
22. Bring departments together
In pursuit of efficiency, many business owners subdivide their teams and assign rigid employee roles. While this strategy often leads to machine-like efficiency, excessive subdivision can harm engagement. When you separate too much, employees lose touch with the company mission and departments start to work independently. This is a phenomenon known as internal silos.
When departments work independently, they tend to create their own internal culture separate from the rest of the company. This makes it difficult for employees to associate themselves with the employer brand, damaging morale.
To start breaking down internal silos, give departments more opportunities to get to know each other. You can achieve this by planning cross-departmental team-building events. When employees develop stronger connections, they're more likely to collaborate and lend support.
23. Maximise chance encounters
Companies such as Facebook, Google and Pixar have improved employee engagement by re-designing their offices to maximise chance encounters. Pixar, for example, has centred its offices around a large atrium that encourages teams to cross paths with other departments.
This helps break down internal silos by encouraging employees to network with people they wouldn't usually meet.
While your budget might not match that of Pixar, there are simple things you can do to maximise chance encounters in your office. Consider, for example, removing the partitions in your office to create a more open-plan space.
24. Invest in collaboration tools
Online collaboration tools such as Slack, Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 and Meta Workplace help people work together on shared projects asynchronously or in real-time.
As the remote work movement gains traction, so has the popularity of online collaboration tools. And now, office-based businesses are also leveraging these tools to improve their processes. Collaboration tools help you to centralise information and encourage company-wide participation.
Before choosing which collaboration tools to use for your business, consider the following:
- Who will use them?
- Why do they need them?
- What kinds of tools do they need?
- How does each software handle security?
- How does each software handle permissions?
25. Provide regular feedback
Feedback in the workplace comes in a variety of forms. It can occur between all levels of the organisational hierarchy and at any time during the working day. It doesn’t always have to take place in a formal setting once per year.
Frequent feedback between colleagues leads to happier and more supportive company culture. One study found a correlation between feedback and engagement with 48% of employees saying they care more about their jobs when they receive regular feedback.
To make feedback a staple of your company culture, start integrating it within all aspects of the working day. Combine formal and informal feedback, and use employee milestones and achievements to draw attention to desirable qualities.
26. Tailor communication styles
Many businesses default to using the same communication tools for all employees. But it’s always important to remember you’re dealing with individuals. Each of your employees is unique, with preferences regarding communication. A younger employee, who’s more au fait with technology, might be more comfortable communicating via Slack than by telephone. Tailoring communication styles is all about understanding your employees and the situation.
Changing the way you communicate with each employee demonstrates empathy and social flexibility. It also shows that you understand your employees on a personal level. Being able to gauge a situation and adjust your communication style is an essential skill for any leader.
Asking your staff to record “personal user manuals” is a great way to learn how your employees prefer to communicate. In these short videos, your employees can talk about all kinds of things such as:
- How they display emotions
- When they’re most productive
- Body language indications
- Personal idiosyncrasies
27. Be open and honest
Open and honest communication is essential for creating trust in the workplace. Often, employees are too ashamed to admit weaknesses to their peers. That's because they're afraid of embarrassment or they're scared to expose their lack of expertise. This inauthenticity leads to job dissatisfaction, miscommunication, overlooked opportunities and more.
As a leader, it’s up to you to set the right example. That means being honest about things you don’t understand and raising concerns even if you don’t yet possess all the facts. When upper-level employees set an example, it trickles through the company and becomes a pillar of your company culture.
Trust is a vital component of any business because it leads to increased creativity. When your employees have the full support of their peers, they’re more likely to make radical suggestions. Without fear of embarrassment, they can throw caution to the wind without fear of reprimand. This helps your business to make breakthrough innovations that put you ahead of the competition.
28. Share customer feedback
Customer feedback can be a useful tool for driving employee engagement. By sharing online reviews, social media posts and responses to customer surveys, you demonstrate the real-world impact of your employees’ hard work.
Sharing this information with your employees reminds them that their hard work influences the final product or service. In turn, this boosts engagement and motivates your employees to work harder because they care about the customer experience.
When sharing customer feedback, show your employees the results of their hard work, don’t tell. Informing your employees that you’ve made ‘X’ more sales than the previous quarter isn’t very motivating. Instead, take a real-life customer review or case study and show your team how the product positively influenced their life.
29. Deliver on promises
It should go without saying: When you make promises to your employees, make sure you follow through. Always. Because every broken promise causes employees to feel disrespected, unimportant and defeated.
In a Forbes article published in 2018, author Stacey Hanke wrote, “Consequences for failed follow-through run deep throughout organizations and can affect morale, employee engagement and respect.” And it seems this is a widespread problem, as one global survey found that over a quarter of employees don’t trust their company leadership.
To maintain employee engagement, don’t make promises you can’t keep. That includes little things like turning up to scheduled appointments, acting on feedback and arranging advanced payments.
30. Send out pulse surveys
Pulse surveys are used to measure employee engagement and gather feedback on new initiatives. If you’re unsure what the current levels of engagement are in your office, start by sending out a pulse survey.
With regular pulse surveys, you gain insight into what’s helping or hindering your current employee engagement levels. Once you’ve gathered the necessary data, you can use it to help orientate future decisions.
When you send out pulse surveys, make the responses anonymous. Maintaining anonymity enables employees to be honest with their feedback without fear of being singled out.
How to improve employee engagement with learning and development
Human beings have a natural propensity to learn and grow. We’re always in search of greener pastures, whether that means more money, more responsibility or simply more time.
Naturally, there’s a flip side to this too. Spending too long in the same job or feeling that there’s no room for growth can lead to bad moods, disengagement and feelings of insecurity.
As a manager, it’s your job to keep employees engaged at work by providing them plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and meet new people.
Here are a few ways you can improve employee engagement with L&D:
31. Start a company intranet or knowledge base
A company intranet or knowledge base is an internal resource that supports employee development and streamlines internal operations. They’re useful for centralising resources such as login credentials, common processes, FAQs and more.
By consolidating information, you encourage employees to resolve issues themselves instead of relying on guidance from management. This inspires a level of autonomy that contributes to job satisfaction and employee engagement. An internal knowledge base is also an opportunity for your employees to help each other by exchanging tips, best practices and workarounds. As employees share their knowledge, they’ll feel more supported in their roles.
A company intranet might seem an intimidating thing to start, but you don’t need to start from scratch. Comb through existing resources such as blog posts, interviews, sales material, etc. and use these to get yourself started.
32. Build an office library
A company library is a physical space or a virtual resource that houses fiction and non-fiction books, technical manuals, editorial reference guides, user guides and more.
It provides employees with open-access learning and development resources which they can use to answer questions, learn new skills or unwind during a break. Offering a company library sends a message to your team that you’re willing to invest in their growth, which makes them feel valued and supported.
When you start a company library, maintain an open dialogue with your employees. They know what information they need most, so use this as an opportunity to better understand them and the challenges they face.
33. Hold employees accountable
Employees become accountable once they’ve been granted ownership of a task. This forces them to make important decisions and act in the best interests of the company because they’re now responsible for the outcome.
When you grant your employees autonomy, engagement increases because you’re trusting them to do a good job. This idea is echoed in a study by Effectory. They found that “79% of autonomous employees are engaged, and thus are more accountable and perform better.”
Handing over responsibility is all about timing. Applying pressure too early could overwhelm your employees, but leaving it too late could disengage them. Before you hold an employee accountable for a business outcome, consider whether they have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to carry out the task.
As Linda Hill, author of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, wrote, “A manager’s job is to provide ‘supportive autonomy’ that’s appropriate to the person’s level of capability.”
34. Offer professional development opportunities
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) defines professional development as “the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience to enhance an individual’s current work practice and future career.”
Investing in your employees’ long-term growth can seem like a big investment, but it could save you money in the long run. According to research, an organisation with 5,000 employees can save $12 million in lost productivity by making sure information is shared within an organisation and that overall team performance is prioritised.
And the benefits don’t stop there. When you offer employees learning opportunities, you show that you’re willing to invest in their future. Enabling employees to further their careers boosts job satisfaction and drives engagement.
35. Offer personal development opportunities
Personal development opportunities refer to the strengthening of soft skills and individual competencies such as time management, communication, leadership and more. Professional development aims to level up hard skills whereas personal development tackles an employee’s characteristics and tendencies.
Personal development opportunities help employees to flourish in their roles and personal lives. This improves both their at-home relationships and experiences within the office, boosting engagement.
Personal development is more targeted than professional development. Two employees might share the same technical ability, but perhaps only one has the necessary people skills to excel in their role. Therefore, it’s up to you to determine shortcomings on a per-employee basis and offer training accordingly.
36. Assign a mentor to new hires
Mentors are assigned to existing employees and new hires to help them learn new skills, understand the company’s cultural and social norms and integrate with the rest of the team. Mentorship helps employees become more competent in their roles and accelerates career development.
According to industry experts, mentorship programmes boost retention and aid professional development. They also help to propel and nurture the company culture.
The most common time to assign a mentor is during the early stages of recruitment. Why? Because when you help new hires through the early stages of employment, you stand a better chance of retaining them for longer. It also reduces the time it takes for a new employee to start performing at a satisfactory level, which increases productivity.
37. Establish clear career paths
Career paths help your employees envisage a future with your company by identifying growth opportunities based on their current skills, experiences, personality, hobbies and preferences.
Why does mapping career paths boost employee engagement? It helps them understand their current role within the company and future opportunities. This eliminates the feeling of “treading water” which can increase turnover rates.
The career paths you design will be unique to each employee as everybody is different. If you haven’t created an employee career path before, here’s the standard procedure from start to finish:
- Create an organisational chart
- Define job positions
- Create a job-to-job roadmap
- Identify training requirements for each role
- Create development programmes
- Map employee career paths
38. Match employee interests to tasks
According to Holland’s RIASEC model, a person’s interests can be dividing six areas. They are: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. Interestingly, the roles and responsibilities at your company can be divided similarly. This makes it easy to link employee interests with tasks.
When an employee’s job is aligned with their interests, it’s easier for them to feel connected to and passionate about their role. This motivates them to do their best work and boosts job satisfaction. It also reduces the likelihood of them searching for employment elsewhere.
Employees who feel intrinsically connected to their role are likely to be more engaged at work. Not only does this lead to happier employees, but it also generates better results from an employer’s perspective. That’s because engaged employees are more productive. They work harder and deliver better quality results than their disengaged counterparts.
39. Inspire employees to start networking
Networking opportunities such as seminars, conferences, team lunches and hackathons allow employees to engage with others. These moments allow employees to share knowledge with people both outside and inside their company.
Expanding employee connections with the outside world boosts creativity and encourages diversity. It also reinforces the idea that you care about their professional development. Employee networking also serves as an effective passive marketing technique. As your employees mix with other business owners and entrepreneurs, they serve as advocates for your brand.
Networking is a skill in its own right, so teaching your employees to do it properly demands time and investment. If you’re serious about networking, consider bringing in a networking professional. They can teach your employees how to make new connections that benefit both them and your business.
40. Understand and support employee goals
Understanding and supporting career ambitions is critical for engaging and retaining employees. If your employees aren't receiving adequate support, they might become discouraged and disengaged.
Supporting employee goals is all about building rapport and facilitating regular feedback. When you sit down with an employee, set attainable milestones that align with the employee’s interests, existing organisational challenges and the company’s long-term objectives. SMART goals are the most effective when it comes to employee goal setting.
Once you’ve set personalised and attainable goals for your employees, provide ongoing support in the form of one-to-one feedback sessions and group meetings. Don’t forget to reward employees, and always use completed milestones to boost morale and exemplify desirable behaviour.
41. Continually challenge your employees
Setting targets helps employees understand how their roles contribute to the company's objectives.
Goal setting isn't easy. It's difficult to provide employees with enough challenges without overwhelming them. The key is to set new targets in collaboration with your employees rather than dictating them. Sit down with your employees and ask them to devise a list of possible goals that serve the larger company objectives. Then, discuss which of these goals is both realistic and challenging enough.
Finding the right balance is vital for maintaining employee engagement. Setting goals that are too difficult will become frustrating and demotivating. But setting goals that are too easy won’t inspire them either.
42. Provide employees with up-to-date tools
The tools you provide for your employees at work have a direct impact on productivity and quality of work. But what about the effect tools have on job satisfaction and employee retention? This side of the coin is often overlooked.
Providing outdated or insufficient tools can make an employee’s day at the office unproductive and frustrating. Over time, this battle against inadequate technology creates disengagement and leads to resignation. New hires, too, are unlikely to stick around long if they walk into an office full of equipment from the 1990s.
Take a look at your office equipment and consider its effect on employee productivity and brand perception. What message do you want to send about your company? If your business makes ergonomic furniture, for example, what does it say about your brand if your own office is poorly furnished?
43. Bring in guest speakers
Industry experts and motivational speakers bring your team together and provide exclusive learning and development opportunities. Arranging for somebody to give a presentation is easy and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Not all businesses can afford the extortionate prices of custom-designed corporate training programmes. So, hiring a guest speaker to deliver a workshop or presentation is a great alternative. Because most guest speakers work for themselves, you can book them directly without going via a third-party organiser. This avoids expensive consultancy and curriculum design fees.
Unfortunately, self-appointed “experts” are rife, which makes it harder to find a qualified guest speaker. When choosing somebody to provide a talk, dig into their experience and background. Have they published any journals or white papers? Do they have a relevant university degree? Are they accredited by a national speaking body? Etc. Asking these questions will help you to find the right person for the job.
44. Onboard new hires properly
Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new hires with the rest of the team. It includes things like showing them around the office and getting them up to speed with daily operations. The goal of onboarding is to set up new hires for success by helping them understand their position in the company and how their role contributes to company objectives.
Onboarding is a crucial part of the six-stage employee lifecycle. The way you approach the onboarding process determines whether an employee becomes engaged with their role and decides to stick around or feels neglected and starts searching for employment elsewhere. Research conducted by the Brandon Hall Group, for example, found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%.
To ensure you’re onboarding new hires effectively, ensure you’re covering all parts of the onboarding process. These include:
- Establishing contact before their first day
- Getting them acquainted with the company’s culture, long-term mission and processes
- Setting goals and expectations
- Preparing them for success with training and personal development
- Providing the necessary tools, resources and contacts
45. Let employees run the meetings
When it comes to running meetings, it’s easy to assume that leadership should fall to the highest ranking person in the room. But have you ever considered whether some meetings would be better led by your employees? After all, these are the people at your company with the most boots-on-the-ground experience.
When you allow employees to design meeting agendas and lead conversations, it boosts engagement and improves communication skills. This new-found responsibility forces employees to analyse existing challenges more critically and steer the conversation toward a resolution. Employee-led meetings also allow managers and executives to contribute more effectively.
Handing over ownership of a meeting to somebody else isn’t just an excuse for a break. In fact, there’s a lot of work that goes into selecting the right employee to lead a meeting. As a manager, you’re still responsible for the meeting going well.
How to improve employee engagement with wellness
Companies that look after their employees will see increased levels of employee engagement. And it all makes sense when you think about it.
Your employees want—if nothing else—to feel respected and appreciated at work. And the way you care for their mental and physical health goes a long way toward this. Things like ergonomic furniture and WFH opportunities show that you respect and care for your employees' health. And when your employees are healthy, they take less time off and become more engaged with their work.
So, let’s take a look at some tried-and-tested ways of improving well-being in the workplace:
46. Provide workplace counselling
Workplace counselling is an effective way to nurture employee mental health. By offering in-person or on-the-phone support, your employees always have somebody to go to if they’re struggling.
Workplace counselling plays a key role in providing a supportive working environment. If your employees are given a safe space to resolve their problems, they’ll be in a healthier state of mind to focus on their work. This results in reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and better workplace relationships.
Many employees keep their issues to themselves because they don’t think their problems will be taken seriously. In this study, for example, 69% of surveyed employees agreed it was safer not to share workplace stress concerns with their employer. A counselling programme gives employees the services they need to resolve their problems and live happier lives.
47. Swap out the biscuit jar
Something as simple as swapping biscuits and sweets for healthier alternatives like fruit and nuts can significantly improve employee well-being, productivity and engagement.
It’s no secret that a desk job wreaks havoc on employee health. Hours spent sitting behind a computer is detrimental to physiological health and can lead to severe cardiovascular problems, especially when there’s a vending machine full of Mars Bars and Skittles lurking just around the corner.
Healthy snack companies like Office Pantry and NatureBox offer healthy snacks delivered straight to your door. By switching to healthy snacks, you demonstrate an awareness and concern for employee health, thus strengthening your employees’ perception of the employer brand.
48. Supply fitness equipment
An office gym, otherwise known as a corporate wellness centre, is a place for employees to exercise before or after work or during their break.
We all know the importance of physical exercise for our mental and physical well-being. The problem is that most of us simply can’t find the time to get to the gym. According to this survey, 77% of employees said they would work out more if they were provided with an office gym during working hours. So why not offer the solution?
By providing employees with a place to train, you demonstrate that you’re willing to invest in their health. With a fitness centre on-site, your employees will become fitter and healthier. This results in reduced absenteeism and stress and increased job satisfaction.
49. Organise a wellness programme
Employers offer wellness programmes to improve employee health and promote healthy lifestyles. The components of wellness programmes vary from support for health challenges such as smoking, weight loss and diabetes to information on cancer prevention, sexual health and exercise habits.
Wellness programmes help employees to improve their baseline health and avoid illness. This translates into reduced absenteeism, improved focus and better productivity. But perhaps most importantly, it leads to happier and healthier employees.
Designing an employee wellness programme is a big undertaking. But it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re serious about improving employee health and reducing your bottom line. Before launching your programme, you’ll need to:
- Conduct health-related assessments
- Get support from stakeholders
- Set goals and objectives
- Establish a budget
- And much more...
50. Offer mental health days
Mental health days are a form of designated leave offered to employees to alleviate stress and mental fatigue. When an employee is overworked, a mental health day helps them to rest, refocus and distance themselves from everyday stresses.
Before mental health days, employees would need to contrive an excuse to avoid coming to work. Now, your employees can be more transparent about their mental health. They feel encouraged to put themselves first if they’re feeling overwhelmed. This builds trust between employees and management and leads to a healthier relationship.
How you offer mental health days is up to you. Some employers are extremely lenient, opting to give employees full freedom over when they take time off. Others prefer to set more stringent parameters, limiting employees to a designated number of mental health days per year.
51. Encourage regular breaks
Employees need regular breaks to give their minds a rest and to continue operating to their fullest potential. Unfortunately, many employees fail to take frequent breaks. This is because there’s often too much work to do, they feel guilty towards their colleagues, or they’re simply unaware of the benefits.
Regular breaks allow employees to:
- Incubate ideas
- Socialise with other employees
- Spend time outside
- Attend to non-work-related tasks
- And more...
The sum of these actions leads to a better work-life balance and improved engagement.
Typically, employees are given one short break early in the day and a longer one at lunchtime. But as the benefits of employee well-being become more widely appreciated, this rigid system is starting to look outdated. Now, employers are granting their staff more flexibility regarding taking breaks. Experts believe this increases the efficiency of the break and improves employee performance.
52. Provide ergonomic office furniture
Ergonomic furniture is designed to reduce the adverse effects of prolonged body positions. Sitting or standing for long periods without proper support results in musculoskeletal disorders such as tendonitis, lower back pain and carpal tunnel as well as other issues like indigestion and poor circulation.
Low-quality furniture doesn’t only equal discomfort. It also causes health issues that translate into bad moods, low productivity and time spent off work. When you invest in ergonomic furniture, your employees’ time in the office becomes more comfortable. This makes work more enjoyable and productive and sends them the message that you care for their well-being.
As the ergonomic furniture industry grows, an overwhelming choice of products is emerging. Before you start looking, learn the core principles of ergonomics, this will make it easier to narrow down your options.
53. Allow employees to work from home
There was a time when remote work was reserved for a select group of freelancers and privileged employees. But as the benefits of remote work become more apparent, more companies are allowing employees to either work from home or in the office.
Combining time in the office with days spent at home seems to answer the prayers of both employees and employers. Now, employees can spend less time and money commuting while employers can downsize their offices and expand their talent pools.
More time spent at home is also beneficial for employee work-life balance. Parents with young children, for example, can now share parenting responsibilities and reduce childcare costs. When an employee’s job bears a lighter burden on their personal life, they’re more likely to be engaged with their role. This means they'll remain with your company for longer.
54. Prioritise output over input
As previous generations make way for Millennials, the time employees spend at work is decreasing. Is that because younger people are lazier, or do they value their time outside work more?
According to a recent survey of male executives in Fortune 500 firms, it's the latter. 84% said they prefer jobs that let them both realise their professional aspirations and allow more time for things outside work. Furthermore, 55% said they’re willing to sacrifice income for free time.
So what can employers do to meet this rising desire for shorter work weeks while continuing to hit corporate targets? The answer is value-based performance measurement. That means measuring employee output rather than input. Prioritising the completion of tasks over time spent at the desk places more value on results and drives efficiency. This frees up more time for your employees and boosts engagement but ensures you can still smash your business objectives.
55. Embrace flexible working hours
When you offer flexible working hours, you allow your employees to choose when, where and how they do their job. The flextime model, for example, enables employees to design their schedules themselves, providing they meet their weekly hourly quota.
This system is best for roles that aren’t time-zone dependent. A content writer, for example, doesn’t need to answer incoming customer calls, so they’re free to work at whatever time of day suits them. All that matters is that they deliver the work on time.
This allows employees to fit their workload around their home lives which improves work-life balance. In turn, your employees become more effective at work. According to this Gartner Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexible working hours led to greater productivity.
56. Emphasise work-life balance
A good work-life balance helps employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay engaged with their roles. Spending too much time in the office and not enough time with friends and loved ones leads to low morale, low self-esteem and eventually burnout.
Of course, you cannot control what your employees do in their free time. But you can provide opportunities for employees to disconnect from work and pursue personal interests. Whether they wish to binge-watch Netflix all day or attend a best friend's wedding—that’s entirely up to them.
What you can do, however, is educate your employees on the importance of work-life balance. This includes providing them with tools and strategies to keep their home and office lives separate. Encouraging employees to create separate user accounts on their devices, for example, prevents employees from getting sucked into work every time they open their browsers.
How to improve employee engagement with rewards, benefits and perks
There are many ways to incentivise and engage your team, from simple cash bonuses to luxury travel programmes. Rewards and benefits make examples of desirable behaviour and incentivise employees to achieve personal or organisational objectives.
Setting goals and celebrating them is a major part of driving employee engagement. After all, your employees are more likely to become engrossed in their work when they know there’s an exciting reward waiting for them. But employee benefits are growing in importance too. As younger generations enter the workplace, they’re looking for more than a handsome paycheck. They want unique perks that set their job apart from the competition.
In this section, we take a quick look at how you can drive employee engagement with rewards, benefits and perks.
57. Evaluate your employee benefits package
Your employee benefits package sets your organisation apart from others. It’s an opportunity to cement your values, mission and brand through various perks. These include things like:
- Offsite retreats
- Paid time off
- Fitness memberships
- Employer discounts
- Stock options
- And more...
It’s also a great way to incentivise and engage employees as well as lure in and retain top talent.
Many businesses disregard the advantages of a well-crafted benefits package. Instead, they opt to shell out cash bonuses in an attempt to motivate and reward employees. This squanders a chance to engage employees. It's also a missed opportunity to bolster your company culture and lure in top talent.
When evaluating and building your employee benefits package, communicate with your employees first. You need to determine what’s important to them before making any decisions. For example, if you employ many parents with young children, help them with childcare costs or offer newborn subsidies.
58. Offer incentive travel rewards
Incentive travel incentivises employees by rewarding top performers with an all-expenses-paid trip. It’s a popular strategy used by companies because it:
- Boost quarterly sales figures
- Improves the quality of employee interactions
- Nurtures client relationships
- And more…
Incentive travel rewards boost engagement because employees value experiences more than things. The prospect of a “free holiday” motivates your employees to work hard and achieve objectives. They don't want to miss out on the fun, so they're willing to put in extra effort to meet the criteria.
When offering paid-for trips as an incentive reward, it’s critical to set clear, measurable and attainable objectives. Ambiguity will only result in disgruntled employees and a drop in morale.
59. Give back to the community
There was a time when bonuses, company cars and tax-advantaged retirement schemes were enough to engage employees. But younger generations are driven by something more profound than money and fancy cars. They’re driven by purpose. With Millenials predicted to represent 75% of the American workforce by 2030, it pays to give them what they want!
A popular method for injecting purpose into your employees’ roles is to offer paid time off for volunteering. American tech giant Salesforce, for example, has invested a lot of money and effort into doing this. They have “created a culture where employees know they aren’t just contributing to the bottom line — they’re also giving back to the community.” At Salesforce, employees are given seven paid days off per year and the top 100 volunteers are granted $10,000 to donate to charities of their choice.
Allowing your employees to give back to the community motivates and engages them in ways that money never could. When employees contribute towards more than company profits, they become proud of where they work. This makes them more likely to stay with their employer for longer.
60. Exemplify high-performing employees
A high-performing employee is somebody who consistently goes above and beyond what’s been asked of them. They do this because they’re invested in the company's mission. They understand how their role contributes to the long-term objectives and they feel supported.
When an employee repeatedly puts in extra work, however, it’s easy to register their performance as “normal”. But high-performing employees shouldn't be taken for granted. Rewarding and exemplifying them is essential for nurturing their high performance and inspiring the rest of the team.
When you reward a high-performing employee, you openly recognise their hard work. This motivates them to continue working hard and shows others that you value the extra effort.
The bottom line: What’s employee engagement really all about?
When all is said and done, employee engagement is about fulfilling basic human desires. There are no complex formulas or counterintuitive ideas. You only need to put yourself in your employees’ shoes for a moment.
If you ask yourself, “what would make me happy at work?” You’ll probably come up with a bunch of ideas. But chances are, you could put each of them into one of these four categories:
- Order: Humans function best and are happiest when they’re guided by rules, laws, customs and rituals. Without these, we become aimless and life loses structure. The same goes for creating an engaging working environment. Your employees need to understand their position in the company, what they’re supposed to do and not do, the goals of the company etc.
- Physical health: Basic needs such as eating well and getting enough sleep hugely impact our overall happiness. Ensuring your employees live healthy lifestyles is critical for employee engagement.
- Affiliation: In life and at work, we want to feel connected to something. This is why communication, team-bonding activities and company culture are so important. Without these things, employees feel alienated and alone.
- Meaning: Meaning is our reason for being here. It’s the why. And the why is as important at work as it is in our personal lives. Increasingly, employees are concerned with making a positive impact on the world. This is why providing your employees with an ethical mission goes a long way toward boosting engagement.
When we look at engagement in this way, it becomes easier to understand what your employees are really looking for.
So, to get started, consider whether your business is lacking in any of these areas. Then, choose some ideas and activities from this list to start making improvements.