Why are engaged employees so important?
Investing in employee engagement is really investing in the success of your business. Employees are not just the heart of your organisation, they’re the hands and face too. If they’re engaged, great things can happen. And everyone will notice: the culture improves, customers get better service and productivity will sky-rocket. Here’s why.
1. They’re the ones talking to your customers
Happier employees make for happier customers. We’ve all been on the phone with a sales rep or customer service agent who's heart was clearly not into it and was just trying to make it to lunchtime. Customers can feel sorry for them or in the worst case: annoyed. Disengaged employees can seriously harm your business.
If you want your customers to be taken care of with a smile, take care of your employees. Making sure that engagement is high—with any of the tips we’re about to give you—will simultaneously reflect in your customer satisfaction surveys and reviews.
2. Engaged employees show up, and keep showing up
Hiring new people costs more time and money than keeping talent on board and helping them develop within the business.
Teams who score in the top 20% of employee engagement have 41% less absenteeism and 59% less turnover. Moreover, those highly engaged employees who show up really make the most out of their day and go above and beyond.
3. Engaged employees have great ideas
If you’re not engaged with your work, you probably won’t bother to take the initiative to come up with improvements. This is a shame as some of the best ideas often come from the people on the work floor. If you want to make the most of all that hands-on knowledge, invest in employee engagement. Engaged employees are 5.3 times more likely to recommend an improvement for your company.
4. Engaged employees bring in more revenue
Finally, if you want to know the ROI of investing in employee engagement, get this: highly engaged teams are 21% more effective, and generate 22% higher profits than teams where engagement is low. Now with that knowledge, let’s dive into ways you can boost employee engagement.
25 employee engagement ideas
First things first: none of these ideas are quick-fixes or should be used once off.. Employee engagement is something that should be included in your long term strategy for building and improving company culture. There are several strategies and techniques to help you work on employee engagement, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach.
If you’re looking for practical ideas on how to integrate employee engagement into your working days, start by thinking about what your employees need and looking at how the tips below might help.
If you want to reap the benefits, try these simple, yet effective ideas to boost employee engagement and see how your team reacts.
1. Create personal growth plans—for everyone
Growth and development are the basis of every career. When employees think they’ve gotten everything they can out of their role, they switch off and start to look for new challenges elsewhere. This means that one of the most important aspects of employee engagement is ensuring that your employees feel that they are constantly growing, learning and being challenged.
This should not be an exclusive perk for employees who work higher up in your organisation. It’s always best to assume that even that new intern has great ambitions. To get started, you can create personal plans for everyone, giving them a roadmap with instructions to reach their goals.
You can either offer a learning budget, encourage teams to attend conferences, offer coaching and courses, or allow time for personal development during the work week. One thing remains the same, when you prioritise growth and encourage learning, employees will be more invested in finding different ways to apply newly learned theories and test more skills.
2. Give practical ways to work according to your company values
In life, if we have the same goals and values as something else, we feel more connected to it. The same is true in work. Place clear and strong values at the base of your company and hire people who match and embody these.
Not only should you hire for your company values, these values should also be incorporated throughout all the different areas of your organisation.
But when we get to work, it’s often hard to translate them into practical behaviour. What does transparency look like in your day-to-day? How far should boldness go? How is accountability practised in the workplace?
Sit down with your teams and go over real-life, practical examples of how you interpret those values. Practice it. Making people understand your company values rather than simply being aware of them is an incredible way to boost employee engagement.
3. Set short-term and long-term goals
Oftentimes, a company will have a big mission or goal. But as an employee, it’s hard to know how much you are expected to contribute to that.
Confusion over what individual roles actually entail is another big factor in falling engagement levels. It’s vital to clarify the individual goals for each team member because if an employee doesn’t feel that they own the task—they won’t be fully engaged in it.
If you start a new project or assign someone to a new task, explain to them what this task is, how it helps the company achieve its goal and why you think that they are the best person for the job. In the long run, more explanation, in the beginning, will lead to better engagement and more ownership of tasks in the future.
4. Make engagement part of the onboarding process
Employee engagement shines through in how people answer the question: ‘‘what do you do for a living?’’
Some refer to their job title, and that’s it. Others will explain how they help people, how they do it, and why.
It also shows whether people will recommend a job and employer to their friends, and why. And you can start working on these things from the moment you sit down with a candidate.
During the hiring process, you’ve most likely been looking for someone with the skills to do the job at hand. But if, some time down the line, it seems that your new hires have lost their energy and are no longer engaged—your onboarding process can often provide the answers.
From the minute they are hired, companies need to work to engage employees. A strong onboarding process should include a thorough introduction to the company, and its values. But moreover, you need to make sure there’s a match when it comes to the level of engagement you’re looking for.
Ask employees not only about what they can do, but what they expect from you, and themselves. What dreams could you help each other achieve? Indifference, even this early on, could be an indicator that this employee's engagement will drop sooner than later.
5. Make feedback rounds a frequently practiced art
Give, and take. Creating a two-way street for feedback in your organisation is crucial for improving employee engagement. In an environment where you feel like you’re not being heard or where your opinion doesn’t matter, you’ll never feel engaged.
Implement frequent and in-the-moment feedback sessions where employees can come forward with ideas and suggestions. It’s crucial to also communicate how you will be processing this feedback: when can they expect to see changes, who will be handling it. Simply put: take them seriously.
The same goes for giving feedback. Waiting an entire year for feedback can also promote disengagement and employees may have left before the communication has even been opened.
6. Coach the leaders in your organisation
Whoever is managing you has a huge impact on how engaged you are at the workplace. Everyone can imagine the big role management plays in company culture and with that, employee engagement.
First of all: make sure your managers are engaged. If the one leading the team isn’t there just yet, you can’t expect them to get their employees to that point. Employee engagement is really a team effort.
Then, give your leaders the time and resources they need to improve employee engagement. Have open and frequent conversations about the culture in the workplace and the developments regarding employee engagement.
7. Free up time to work on pet projects
Everyone has different things they’re passionate about and would love to spend more time on. Allow employees time to work on internal projects they might be passionate about. This will get them engaged in the project and be excited about how they could be helping the wider company. These projects should contribute to the overall goal of your organisation but be independently managed by one or a small group of your employees.
Your team will feel super engaged in their pet project as they will be passionate about the work, whilst the results may also provide a valuable solution or idea that could transform your business.
8. Actively ask employees for advice—even if it’s outside their current field of work
If you know that Sarah from HR has years of experience in the event industry, don’t hesitate to ask her to sit in on a meeting about your upcoming fundraiser night. She will most likely not feel like she’s doing something outside her job description, but rather feel appreciated for her knowledge and skills.
Every single member of your team has unique strengths—so use them. As a manager, by asking an employee for help, it shows that you acknowledge their strengths and appreciate them. You will make them feel more engaged, valued and included in the business by showing them that you feel they have something to offer that no one else can.
9. Start that employee wellbeing programme, stat
We spend so much of our time at work, we can’t deny it seriously impacts our health and happiness. Companies that want to take employee wellbeing seriously will go beyond a ping-pong table and healthy snacks. It’s access to a gym, a GP, counseling and valuable resources that really make a difference.
Only 25% of UK companies have an employee wellbeing programme in place. It can be hard to bring all those parts of wellbeing to work.
Our Perks platform takes away the hassle of having to create your own wellbeing programme. It’s based on what people really need and what really works when it comes to mental and physical wellbeing.
10. Ask employees how they prefer to be recognised
Employees need to know that leaders see and recognise a job well done. We are all busy and every so often it can feel that you don’t get the recognition you deserve for the hard work you put in.
For managers, it can be hard to find an adequate response to a job well done. You need to reward everyone equally, but not everyone appreciates the same rewards. Now what?
Just ask. Your employees will be pleasantly surprised to find out you want to find a fitting reward for their hard work, rather than just making it about “the gesture’’.
Based on what we know employees appreciate when it comes to practical recognition, we created Celebration hub, an engaging way for people to be recognised.
This isn’t just for managers—the platform allows everyone in the company - wherever in the world they are - to recognise each other's hard work and communicate their accomplishments, no matter the size or significance. This ensures that employees are engaged as a team and are recognising the efforts of their colleagues too, as well as working hard to achieve their own goals. The tool also allows users to create polls which promote a sense of friendly competition between colleagues.
If you want to go one step further, you can set polls in line with company goals and values, and endorse specifically valued contributions to the company ethos. For when work is really outstanding and deserving of a material reward, you can choose from a range of rewards, within a budget that suits you. Nevertheless, whether this is a verbal or physical reward, by giving and receiving recognition, it keeps employees engaged as they know that their hard work is appreciated around the company.
11. Shift focus from being present in the workplace to output
Time spent at a desk doesn’t necessarily equal time spent doing work. Move away from measuring success based on how long has been spent on the task and focus on measuring what's produced instead.
This shows that you really value the work being done, rather than simply the impression of work. Employees will be more engaged if they know that their work is measured based on quality and the results that this brings, rather than time spent doing it.
12. Ask your employees what tools they need to get the job done
Ensure that your employees have all they need at work. This includes all the tools and resources they need to do their job but also more simple things, such as a comfortable workspace. This is especially important as more and more employees work from home.
You can find out if your employees are satisfied by using a pulse survey tool, as confidential questions will allow your employees to be completely honest in their feedback and let you know if they feel that they are lacking anything. If people are satisfied and don’t believe that other options would be able to offer them more, they will be more committed to their role.
13. Experiment often
If you don’t try, you don’t fail. But if you don’t experiment (which will inevitably include some elements of failure), then it’s unlikely that new ideas or innovation will occur.
Make it accepted in the workplace that not every experiment will be a complete success. Openly share failures; discuss why it was good to try this, talk about what went wrong and how everyone can learn from this. By putting failures out there, it shows that it's okay to try—allowing employees to fully engage and experiment in their tasks without fear.
14. Focus on building relationships between teams
We spend more time with the people we work with, than we do with our friends and families—so it’s important that everyone gets on, from Sally in IT to Paul in Sales.
Encourage collaboration between teams and set a goal so that everyone can contribute; this will help to build friendships at work. Building strong connections means that people will work more easily and fluidly together.
We are more honest with people that we have a close relationship with and individuals will be more engaged and enthusiastic about tasks to reach joint goals as they won’t want to let team members down.
15. Make sure work isn’t ‘all work and no play’
Of course, work needs to get done—but there should always be room for some fun at work too. Designate areas in the workplace for fun, not work, and this will help to bring out the creativity and build communication in your team.
If you can’t change the break room, organise team building activities or plan an event to get everyone together outside of work—you will notice the impact of a little light release when employees are back to their work.
16. Ask your employees how they work most effectively
If you’re really looking to boost employee engagement, let go of the thought that you can fit everyone in the same template. The beauty of organisations is that they bring together all kinds of people with all kinds of skills and experiences.
Expecting them to all work in the same way, according to what you’ve once established as office rules or guidelines, can cover up a lot of those skills you once hired people for.
If you’re ready to go above and beyond for employee engagement, investigate how each individual employee would perform best. For some people that might mean working remotely every few days. Or to start an hour later than they do now.
Everyone is different and has different styles of working, so whether you give flexibility in the form of allowing employees to work from home or work at the hours that work best for them, it can make a big difference to employee performance and engagement. As long as the work is getting done, then when it’s getting done shouldn’t be the main concern.
17. Set achievable, short-term targets
When faced with a task that seems too big, too far away, too complicated or simply unachievable—it’s easy to become overwhelmed and disengaged. Why bother when you feel like you won’t be able to achieve it anyway?
Apart from that one big goal you’re working towards as a team, set realistic and achievable targets for individuals and teams for the short-term. These mini-goals work as check-points on the road to your bigger goal. They also give your team a reason to celebrate more frequently.
When employees reach these, one by one, they will feel a sense of accomplishment and look forward to reaching the next target. Make sure that you update targets regularly to keep employees feeling challenged.
18. Make learning a part of working
There are probably a dozen interesting things happening in your market or in the field of sales, HR, marketing and so on. But if you’re all focussed on the day-to-day, it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends, meaning that you and your team might miss a lot of exciting stuff.
Get everyone together regularly to stay updated on their skills and what’s happening around them. Knowing your team is up to speed and they have the knowledge to do their job as efficiently as the current state of the market allows it is a great engagement booster—and doing it together is even better.
19. Invest in team building
Employee engagement is something that is closely related to intrinsic motivation and therefore highly personal. But don't just focus on the individual. The people around your employees also play a huge role in how engaged they are in their job.
For starters, you could also implement team goals and tie rewards to this. Hosting regular team-building activities and making sure that new talent feels welcomed and is introduced correctly also helps.
20. Let employees take the lead
Delegating tasks is hard, yes. But it’s also vital for employee empowerment. It shows you're trusting your employees and believe in them. Give employees the authority to make decisions and make them responsible for everyday tasks. This also speeds up processes: no need for those “let me ask my boss’’. It shows your customers and colleagues you have highly skilled employees that you trust will make the right call.
21. Let your employees really focus on the customer
A job description can be vague and let’s be honest: unfulfilling. So, talk less about what you need to do inside systems and tools, and more about what this means for the customers (real, fellow human beings!) that your company deals with.
This is a real game-changer for employee engagement. When employees are empowered to make decisions that help the customer, they are contributing to the goals of the organisation, and to their own pay cheque. Make them aware of that, and allow them to make an impact.
You could do this by giving employees the tools and authority to handle angry or disappointed customers on their own—or to make satisfied customers even happier. End result: they’ll feel they are more in control.
22. Forgive mistakes
Following up on the past two points: your employees won’t make the right call every time. News flash: they’re also still “just’’ human. But in the times when someone ‘“fails’’, that is where you can really boost engagement.
Forgive openly, and give feedback. Now, there are some situations in which mistakes are obviously not to be forgiven, but we’re talking about simply missing the mark once, and being able to learn from it the next time.
Coach them how to do better next time and leave your door open in case they have any questions about that. Only punishing mistakes will create an environment in which people only play it safe. They’re not engaged, they feel trapped.
And employees who never make mistakes are most likely never experimenting, probably because they don't feel they are free to do so. Talk to them and show everyone in the company that mistakes are not necessarily something you will be punished for.
23. Give your employees access to valuable metrics
In the day-to-day it can be hard to know what the actual status of customer satisfaction is, or how it’s going with that big sales goal that was set for the end of the year. Want your employees to be engaged? Make sure they know what is going on and how their work is contributing to this.
Share the results of those customer satisfaction surveys and A/B tests for campaigns: after all, everyone is responsible for the outcome, right? Make every project a team effort and allow them to see the results. Who knows, they might come up with some great ideas looking at that data.
24. Find the right place for everyone to thrive
Employee engagement can’t happen in a job you don’t feel is right for you. Spend extra time in the hiring process to figure out if someone is the right fit—not just based on their resume, but also based on their personality. A personality test can show you how they fit in with others, what their communication style is and how you can make sure they can thrive in this office.
And if you haven’t done these tests with your current staff, it’s not too late. Doing personality tests together and comparing results helps people understand themselves and the people around them better, which can be a great piece of the puzzle when it comes to employee engagement.
25. Measure your employee engagement
Employee engagement is more than an abstract concept or a “feeling’’: if you start implementing these tips, you want to know if it’s actually working. You can talk to your employees and check in regularly to see if there have been any improvement, or launch quick surveys. Based on the metrics you choose, such as turnover, absenteeism, Employee Net Promoter Score (NPS), you can set goals to work towards.
Get your employees on board the engagement train
This is about your employees, after all. So inform them on what you will be doing when it comes to employee engagement and why. Moreover, ask them for input. If they know the context of these new activities it will be easier to get everyone on the same page. They will also feel way more involved in what’s happening in the workplace—a vital part of employee engagement.
Frequently asked questions about employee engagement
Why is employee engagement important?
How engaged your employees are, will directly impact how energised they are when helping customers, or how motivated they are to do the job as efficiently as possible. It radiates to all aspects from your business: absenteeism, turnover, productivity and customer satisfaction.
How do you improve employee engagement?
Employee engagement is a big part of company culture, but it also focuses on the individual and if they’re at the right place, with the right tools. Give your employees the authority to make decisions, the room for mistakes and provide them with the tools they need.
What are the three elements of employee engagement?
Building employee engagement comes down to working on these three areas:
- Recognition: recognise and reward hard work will keep employees focused on their duties and encourages them to go above and beyond.
- Feedback: make it a two-way street. Give honest feedback and be open to suggestions.
- Empowerment: give your employees the authority to take decisions and feel in control over their own job.