Conceptual image of customer relationship and engagement

How to increase employee engagement

Companies with high employee engagement rates perform better across the board. They enjoy increased innovation and productivity, decreased turnover rates and better top talent retention rates.

But, engagement is a difficult metric to measure. Definitions of what it actually is vary across corporations. Even reports that measure it paint a wildly different picture. A recent Gallup poll put US employee engagement rates at a paltry 32% whereas the AON Hewitt 2016 report places them at a solid 65%.

These divergent figures perfectly illustrate the challenge we face. Companies are struggling to increase engagement because we aren’t sure what influences it.

Your team performs better when they feel valued and when they do rewarding work that yields results. To increase employee engagement rates you need to provide the opportunity to do just that.

Foster trust

Practices like micromanagement corrode trust between you and your team. You’ve hired them to do a job — now it’s time to trust that they’ve got what it takes to actually do it.

Developing trust is good business. A study by an international team of psychologists published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that teams that trusted each other, consistently performed better. This was especially true for teams that worked together for extended periods of time.

Competition across departments can be healthy and spur innovation but it’s important to foster a shared team identity as well. It’s all about striking the balance between striving to produce great, winning work and recognizing the importance of coming together.

Successful teams need to trust company leadership, as well as each other. Trust has to be earned. Demonstrate that you care by freely sharing non-sensitive information across departments and creating an environment where every employee feels valued.

This encourages your team to freely contribute ideas that will help improve processes and products.

Move away from busy work

In his book “Deep Work”, Cal Newton defines shallow work as “Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted.”

Throughout the day, your employees will check emails multiple times, spend time searching for relevant resources and complete a lot of tasks that are necessary but don’t really advance their career or the company’s goals.

Is sending countless emails and IMs the best use of your team’s time?

Automation tools are becoming more sophisticated and can seamlessly handle an increased number of tasks. This will free up time to focus on enriching tasks like providing exceptional customer service, working on improving an existing process that will increase revenue or spending more time in research and development.

These are the tasks that create a sense of fulfillment and produce tangible results. They will help your team play an active role in growing and developing the company, improve their skills and create value. and will help improve their own skillset.

At a time when industry is changing and we are making advances in machine learning it’s becoming increasingly important to foster curiosity and engagement and nurture a hunger for creative innovation.

Offer perks that have an active benefit

There’s a recent trend among companies to attract new talent with a huge array of shiny perks. While this tendency comes from a desire to entice and keep top talent, you can use relevant perks to increase engagement instead.

Find out what your employees need to make their work environment better. While massage bars and beer machines can work wonders in one type of environment, they can be a complete disaster in different circumstances.

There isn’t a one size fits all solution here. What you do will depend on your company, your team, your culture, your brand and your location.

“What do you need to make your job easier?” is a tough question to answer. Many team members may struggle to give a clear answer.

Use anonymous surveys to start the conversation for what kind of materials and tools your employees need. Assist the conversation by providing a checklist or ask people to chose from a list of concrete suggestions. Your admin team may really love Zapier but may never think to ask for it!

Spend money and allocate resources in the places where they would do the most good and help your team achieve their goals, not where it’s trendy. Because while free beer is pretty great, custom tools are even better.

Leadership commitment

If company leaders aren’t all in, you are never going to get great engagement results.

To get even the most skeptical members of your executive team on board, show them real, practical reasons why engagement isn’t just another vague, buzzword.

The best way to overcome objections is by showing results. Show them that engagement has real bearing on production numbers, revenue and productivity.

Every corporate leader wants to see an increase in revenue. By demonstrating the strong relationship between engagement numbers and overall company health, we can win over enough people to make a real difference.

Don’t make engagement just another stat to chase

The second engagement becomes just another metric, the process you put in place would begin to unravel.

Tracking metrics is important. It shows us what works and what doesn’t.

But, putting too much faith in attractive analytics graphs is ill advised. It can lead to an unhealthy obsession with numbers that can make us forget why we are doing this in the first place.

Ultimately, creating an environment where personal responsibility, innovation and creation are encouraged will have a real impact on your bottom line. Let’s make this the year we do this!

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