Have you ever walked around your workplace and gotten that sinking feeling that something is just not right? It’s that sense that, even though your employees are at their desks and work is getting done, there’s no excitement in the air. There’s less chat in the lunch room, less after work activities organized between colleagues, and less impromptu lunches. These are all glaring signs that employee engagement is waning. The good news is that you’re not alone - only about 32% of U.S. workers, and 13% worldwide, report that they are engaged at work, according to Gallup data. The even better news is that there are many different strategies to help you fix it.
Employee Engagement and Your Bottom Line
Low employee engagement is not just about smiles and friendly banter. Employee engagement is directly related to productivity, customer service, and profitability. In fact, a study by the Hay Group confirmed that fully engaged employees are 2.5 times more likely to exceed performance expectations than their disengaged colleagues, and these engaged employees can improve business performance by up to 30%.
So, what about increasing wages and benefits? Companies that try to buy their employees’ enthusiasm and commitment are likely to be disappointed. While higher pay and better benefits generally improve a worker’s satisfaction, this is more of a Band-Aid solution that doesn’t truly drive engagement, and wears off with time. Employee engagement is not about money or perks, it’s about making employees feel as if they are valued and emotionally connected to their work and the organization. This means that, as an employer, you can make a huge impact on your employees’ engagement without spending a lot of money.
The Right Tools for the Right Job
Something that sounds simple, but is so fundamental to employee engagement, is making sure your employees have the tools and equipment that they need to do their job. Your employees want to do a good job! Employees who are ‘making due’ with outdated software, poor lighting, or poorly fitted safety gear, are not going to be highly engaged. They perceive these workplace conditions as barriers that don’t allow them to do their best work. If employees do not feel like they are being enabled to do their best work, they won’t - and they will quickly become disengaged.
Don’t Hold Back on Training
When an employee joins your team, they are in it for the long haul. Having training programs, and creating a culture that values skill development, communicates to your employees that you’re also committed to them and to helping them succeed. If a large training budget is out of reach, that’s okay! Meaningful training can be delivered at little or no cost through activities like cross-training. Get your employees involved in the process and encourage them to share their skills through lunch and learns or product demos.
Recognize a Job Well Done
Engaged employees will pull out all the stops when it comes to meeting that tight deadline or satisfying that unhappy customer. Great work is meaningful and companies should be explicit about how it will be rewarded. It doesn’t need to take the shape of a complex, formal employee rewards program, it can be very simple – as long as it gets done! A thank you note with a small gift card is a very affordable gesture that will pay dividends in employee engagement. It can be difficult to remember to thank employees for a job well done, but enabling your employees to recognize each other can be a great way to include them in the process and make sure that appreciation is expressed frequently throughout the organization.
There are many different ways to increase employee engagement, but the theme is that any tool or method to increase engagement should make employees feel valued and connected – to the company, to their work, and to each other.