Employee engagement lays down the foundation for the success or the downfall of any organization and is something that most managements tend to struggle with. This is very well demonstrated by the results of a study carried out by Gallup on employees across 142 countries. Here’s how to boost employee engagement in the era of digitization.
According to Gallup’s report, only 13% of the employees were engaged in their jobs, which explains why only a few organizations succeed while most struggle to survive the competition.
In order to thrive in today’s highly competitive market, it is critical for businesses to improve employee engagement. This can only happen when one has absolute clarity on what employee engagement is all about, so let’s begin with that.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement refers to the qualitative and quantitative relationship between the employee, the employer or leadership, and the organization that they work for. The engagement is determined by evaluating the employees’ commitment, loyalty, trust, and contribution to the organization and its success.
Sadly though, most managers confuse employee engagement with employee workplace satisfaction.
Confusing engagement and satisfaction cannot be farther from the truth. In fact, employee engagement is something like the feeling of patriotism that a person has towards one’s country or the fraternity that one feels towards one’s countrymen. Unless employees feel that way towards the organization they work for and their colleagues, they may not put in their whole and soul into their work.
You are probably wondering how you can gauge employee engagement, which is indeed a complex study but also the starting point to boost employee engagement. That’s because you need to know where you stand in order to set higher standards.
According to experts, some of the most effective ways of measuring are through pulse surveys, one-on-one sessions, and employee retention or exit interviews. The purpose of studying this is to ensure that employees feel excited about going to work, take pride in it, and give their hundred percent while at work. This is only possible when employees feel one with the company, and that requires creating an employee-friendly workplace. Also, it is based on the belief that an organization can thrive only when employees are happy about what they are doing.
How to Boost Employee Engagement?
Now that you know what employee engagement is and how it can impact an organization, you are probably worried about where to start and how much it would cost. The good news is that you don’t need to have a very high budget to make some organizational changes, which we will soon discuss. Nevertheless, if an organization can afford it, then it must dedicate some of its funds towards employee welfare, but we’ll discuss that in a while.
When it comes to boosting employee engagement, the only way to start on the right foot is by knowing where you stand. You can do that by measuring employee engagement and employee productivity at your workplace. Once you know that, then you need to plan and implement strategies accordingly.
Also, it is essential that you measure both employee engagement and productivity before and after employing each of the below-listed techniques. As we have already discussed, employee engagement can be measured through pulse surveys, employee retention, and exit interviews, etc…
Coming to employee productivity, you can easily measure it using tools like EmpMonitor, a simple and easy-to-use employee productivity tracking software. This repeated relational study between employee engagement and productivity will tell you exactly what’s working for you and what isn’t.
With that said, let us now explore some cost-effective methods to boost employee engagement. Before we begin, it is worth mentioning that the ground-rules remain the same for both full-time and remote employees. So, if the COVID-19 has led to a decline in employee engagement because your team is working remotely, then you can still use these methods to improve employee engagement. Likewise, if your organization hires contract-based or remote employees, even then you should be able to benefit from the below-listed strategies.
Communication with the Management
Do your employees know your company’s mission and vision? Or are those mere statements listed on your company’s website? If you have the right communication strategy in place, then the answer is likely to be in affirmative. Else, the chances of employees being aware of and identifying with the company’s vision and mission are quite slim.
If employees are unaware of an organization’s corporate philosophy, then expecting them to contribute towards its growth is absurd. So, ask yourself if there is adequate communication between the top management and the employees. If not, then make it a point to conduct monthly town hall sessions instead of quarterly or yearly sessions.
Also, create a corporate culture that encourages an open-door policy so that every subordinate has access to his or her immediate manager. Larger organizations have higher bureaucracy but can still ensure that by laying down HR escalation procedures, just in case a manager refuses to address the subordinate’s needs and concerns.
Another way of doing this is by making it mandatory for mid-level managers to conduct weekly team meetings and record minutes of the meetings. Something that is accessible to all the team members, the HRs, and the concerned VPs. This can be done by recording the minutes on a shared folder and by providing the necessary access to the concerned persons. Since everyone involved has access to it — there is absolute clarity and transparency.
Provide an Enabling Infrastructure
Your employees have different job roles that require them to work differently, which explains why they might need access to different tools and resources. For instance, your public relations team may require access to a social media scheduler while your finance team may require approval to attend a corporate taxation summit.
Likewise, your marketing team may require approvals to participate in events or exhibitions, which could help them generate more revenues for your business. Getting these approvals is seldom quick and easy unless an employee has direct access to the top management.
As a result, getting access to process-specific tools and resources can be a nightmare, especially in larger organizations due to internal bureaucracy. That can have a direct impact on employee engagement and productivity because if an organization does not enable an employee to perform better, then the employee is left with very little motivation to perform.
So, organizations must find ways to overcome this impediment, and one way of doing that is by simplifying the approval process for tools and resources that are essential for an employee to fulfill an organization’s expectations.
Create the right environment
Once you provide your employees with the right tools and resources, your next big challenge is to create the right work environment in which your employees can thrive, and the organization can flourish. This requires you to design a management style that ensures absolute transparency and trust between an employee and the employee’s immediate manager.
Every employee in the organization must know what is expected from them and with absolute clarity. There must be no room for ambiguity or confusion in this regard. Also, the employee must be made aware of his shortcomings in a subtle and cultured manner. That is only possible when there is data-based constructive criticism — something that can only happen when you use a robust employee tracking and monitoring system.
Make your employees feel valued
Now that you have the data and are aware of who is the most productive and who is whiling away time on social media and YouTube, then it’s time to make some decisions. No! it’s not about firing people but rather realizing the need to reward the top performers. You do not have to spend a fortune rewarding them with huge bonuses if that’s what you were thinking.
Even small gestures like a gift coupon and a mention in the top-performers list (in the company’s newsletter or portal) can go a long way in boosting employee engagement. The goal here is to make your top-performers feel more valued and also to create a competitive atmosphere for the rest. Doing the same on special occasions like an employee’s birthday or wedding can make your employees feel special and help boost employee engagement.
Invest in your employees
Are you investing in your biggest asset — your employees? Companies that do not invest in expanding the skill set of their employees fail to earn their trust and loyalty. Depending on the nature of your industry and an employee’s job description, there is a sheer need to learn and master new tools and skills.
In the case of software, it could be a new programming language or a software tool that’s recently released. Likewise, for those involved in legal or finance professions, ongoing learning is essential. So, you need to invest in your employees on a regular basis.
Companies that neglect spending on improving the skill set of their employees tend to risk incurring higher overheads by forcing employees to spend several hours on redundant tasks. Also, they gradually lose the trust of their employees, and that lowers employee engagement.
On the other hand, companies that encourage employees to expand and enhance their skills tend to perform better. That’s because their employees are in a position to use their newly acquired skills to do things differently, and often in a more cost-effective manner. Moreover, such companies eliminate the need to hire new talent with a specific skill set, which helps to lower overheads.
You don’t have to be hell-bent on having employees working in-house and on specific hours unless the nature of their job requires it. There are going to be times when your employees may want to work from home and allowing them that sort of flexibility not only boosts employee engagement but also helps lower the attrition rate.
Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to make the transition into the remote work culture, and organizations that have remained flexible in this regard have found it easier to adapt.
Team outings are a must as they help employees unwind and bond in an informal environment. That is essential to increase the team’s comfort level and also to boost employee engagement.
So, make it a point to organize frequent after-work dinners or get-togethers. Companies can sponsor a weekly or monthly outing from the team’s budget, depending on their internal policies. Sponsoring such outings is very important because it instills a sense of gratitude and helps boost employee engagement.
Any management can boost employee engagement with some minor organizational changes and stay ahead of its competition. However, these changes must be made after meticulous planning and through staged implementation.
The above-mentioned strategies are some of the most effective ways to improve employee engagement in a cost-effective manner.
However, the only way to know which ones work for your organization is by implementing them one at a time and monitoring its impact on employee productivity.