How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Workplace
An engaged employee is one that's truly committed to both their job and employer. That means they aren't thinking of leaving and they're definitely not likely to entertain outside offers. Rather, they're interested in continuing to advance as much as possible within the company while uplifting their coworkers and doing their very best work to help the organization as a whole succeed. Such an engaged employee is every employer's dream -- but how do you reach this high level of engagement?
What Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is something every company should be working to promote. It plays an integral part in your employee retention strategy and it also factors into overall workplace morale. Multiple aspects of internal company management come together to either promote or hinder employee engagement, which is why a company with high employee engagement is likely also enjoying a positive work environment, strong teams, and good leadership across the board. A company aiming to increase employee engagement will be consistently listening to employees; giving employees ample opportunities for growth and advancement; and demonstrating corporate values and initiatives that support a positive workplace overall.
When an employee is actively engaged, they don't just love the position they're working in or the pay they are getting -- they truly hold a positive attitude about the organization's overall work and values, and they want to stay around and help the organization succeed in its mission. Therefore, employee engagement must be an ongoing internal campaign that collects feedback from industry leaders, managers, and employees themselves to spot issues and make changes to promote a positive work environment. Employee engagement is about supporting employees to grow within the company, so that they feel satisfied with the work they do, are happy to clock-in every day, and look forward to continuously supporting their team and the organization as a whole. Employee engagement is just as much about supporting the individual worker as it is about developing a "team player" atmosphere.
Spotting a Disengaged Employee
Unfortunately, there are instances of disengaged employees in most work environments today. In fact, unless your company has already spent some months working on employee engagement initiatives, most of your workers probably could stand to be more engaged. A disengaged employee isn't one you should look to terminate or replace immediately. Instead, you should first strive to gain feedback from them so that you can see what the company might possibly do to not only engage them, but perhaps also engage other employees who could share their views.
An employee who is just barely clocking in on time each morning and/or lining up at the door to leave each night is probably not engaged in their work. During the day, they are likely doing the bare minimum of what you ask of them because they have little to no dedication to the workplace beyond getting a paycheck. This is a classic case of a disengaged employee: one who comes to work only to earn. While your company should certainly be able to understand that most people work a job to earn a living, a job does not have to be a dreaded necessity. Rather, a job can actually be a very rewarding part of life, and that's the outlook you should attempt to instill in your employees. Some patterns you might notice as you begin looking more closely at employee behavior will include the following.
- A disengaged employee is more likely to come in late and leave early, regardless of certain work duties.
- An engaged employee will seek to help others after they have finished their own duties for the day, supporting the team and organization's success overall.
- A disengaged employee will be last to volunteer for work beyond their typical job duties and unlikely to attend work functions.
- An engaged employee will look to build lasting relationships with coworkers and managers as part of their team player attitude.
Understanding Why Employees Aren't Engaged
While you should not expect even the most engaged employees to come in substantially early or be willing to stay late (after all, work/life balance is key), you can often spot your most disengaged employees by looking at how they spend their time.If you're noticing some of the above patterns in certain workers, it can help you pinpoint the employees who may lack a team player view. You should reach out to them directly for feedback and in-depth discussion about what the company could do to support a rewarding career. Depending on the size of the workplace and what you feel employees will be most comfortable with, you should consider holding an open meeting, engaging in one-on-one meetings, or sending out an anonymous survey so that employees are willing to give feedback about what they feel could see improvement about the workplace. You should expect to hear some feedback regarding everything from specific managers and coworkers to general notes on communication, advancement, and pay. Every opinion is valid and, in time, you should read every single response to look for themes and patterns that need to get recognized.
- Let employees know that feedback is voluntary and honesty will be valuable.
- Ask open-ended, non-leading questions.
- Consider sending a follow-up survey to dig deeper into common themes.
When collecting feedback, you are likely going to receive a wide range of complaints and recommendations in return, and it can be overwhelming. Start broad and work down to more specific issues as time goes on. Implementing employee engagement efforts could take some months. One common theme that workplaces are able to identify is an unfortunate one. Your employees may express to you that they feel over-worked and/or undervalued. Pay raises and bonuses aren't always the only (or best) answer to this issue either. Rather, your front desk staff may need additional help or your sales team could use a new system that helps them do their job more efficiently.
Encouraging Engagement in the Workplace
When sorting through employee feedback, the first step is to identify the common themes and patterns. For instance, if employees in the sales department seem to feel the environment is "too competitive" or "not supportive" enough, you might consider moving away from the classic "Top Seller" leaderboard approach that can pit workers against one another. In fact, such an approach can cause issues of jealousy. Instead, you might consider investing in additional sales training, ongoing support, and team-based sales goals. One of the best ways to support employee engagement in the workplace is to invest in employee recognition programs (including sales incentive programs) that can help your employees gain a new sense of accomplishment for being actively engaged at work. These programs work well because they give your employees milestones to work towards that not only keep them on task, but also help them excel beyond what they would typically strive for.
There are many of different types of employee incentives that can get implemented. If you're interested in learning more, CoreCentive offers multiple programs that you can utilize to boost employee engagement and help build hard-working teams that support your organization's overall growth and success. Reach out to learn more.