6 Ways To Increase Employee Engagement

March 1, 2021
Aisha Prince

As your company and teams grow and change, you’ll find that employee engagement changes too. Alongside the impact of external forces such as Covid-19, you’ll be looking for new ways to adapt to the new way of operating. It's important to continually develop your employee engagement strategies.

An engaged workforce means having employees that feel empowered, and are genuinely interested in putting extra effort into their work. Companies with a more engaged workforce outperform low engagement companies by 202%, and increase profitability by 21%. Low employee engagement increases staff turnover, which in turn decreases staff engagement as current employees overwork themselves covering for lost employees. Let’s look at 6 things for you to consider when working to increase employee engagement

1. Team Engagement vs Individual Engagement

When talking about engagement, it's tempting to only focus on the engagement levels of the team by using team based SMART goals and sending employees on team building exercises. While important, it's the individuals that make the team, and it's therefore important to understand the needs of each individual to increase engagement. As studies show, where there is high individual engagement, there is high team engagement. 

You then have to look at how these individuals fit together to make an effective team. Are everyone's voices being heard equally? This is crucial when thinking about inclusivity as well.

Employees who are part of a team are 2 times more likely to be engaged, as it gives them a deeper sense of purpose, social interaction with other employees, and a shared goal. Bear this in mind when thinking of team structures - are there places you can improve individual employee engagement which will then positively impact a wider team?

2. Mentoring

Mentoring is where a more experienced individual shares their knowledge with someone who has a desire to learn. This could be based around soft skills such as building confidence or communication skills, or hard skills such as learning a new technology or developing computer skills.

Compared to other forms of learning, mentoring connects employees with other employees, allowing them to build relationships across teams. This is especially important during lockdown as isolation increases, contributing to a decrease in mood and therefore engagement.

Mentoring is valuable for building engagement as it increases interactions across teams and departments, allowing each group to learn more about each other and building a tighter, more empathetic community. It helps them understand and align needs between teams, improving overall output.

Mentoring improves the engagement of both mentors and mentees, as 87% of both mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationship. The majority of those with mentors also go on to become mentors themselves, proving the high levels of engagement mentoring has compared with other employee development methods.

If you're looking to improve employee engagement, focus on mentoring programmes within your organisation.

3. Feedback for Management

Part of building workplace engagement is engaging with employees. Creating an open space for dialogue shows them that you value their opinion and contributions.

If you’re finding it hard to get feedback from employees, it might be because they feel unheard. Not only collecting feedback, but acting on it makes employees feel heard and thus more engaged in every part of the workplace, including workplace culture.

Create space for anonymous and non-anonymous feedback, and find ways to act on it. Similarly make sure you heed positive feedback, by continuing with the aspects of the workplace culture employees enjoy and embrace!

4. Continuous Feedback from Management

When it comes to feedback, many workplaces choose to offer a formal review every six months. These reviews can be nerve wracking for employees, as they await a big update on performance or salary. That is why it's important to find out whether your team would be interested in receiving continuous feedback.

By doing this, you normalise feedback so people become more comfortable with it. When feedback becomes a part of company culture rather than a 6 monthly meeting, it becomes far less daunting. It allows employees to know where they stand at any moment, so they don’t feel that they’re moving in the dark. It also makes management seem more accessible, letting them know that it's okay to ask questions if they need extra help. Continuous feedback is also more accurate, as people feel comfortable raising things as and when they happen, rather than waiting until a 1:1 or review meeting.

Remember that feedback isn’t just about searching for the negative, it's about reinforcing good practices!

5. Invest in Employee Wellbeing

One theme that links each of these topics to engagement is employee wellbeing. Creating an environment where employees are able to connect, communicate, be heard and feel part of a team is an important aspect of engagement as an employee. With 69% of UK adults worrying about the impact of Covid-19, it's become increasingly important to prioritise the wellbeing of employees. Here are a few examples of how some global companies have prioritised employee wellbeing:

  • Google -  Google has put in place a wellbeing plan that emphasises employees being able to spend time with their families, providing on site gyms and offering healthy, nutritious meals. Other companies who can’t offer onsite gyms tend to offer gym memberships and virtual fitness memberships instead. 
  • Expedia -  Described as “the best place to work” in 2016 by Glassdoor, offers a wellness allowance of up to £1,200, allowing employees to choose how to prioritise their wellbeing needs.
  • Publicis Group -  Through their ‘Publicis Plug-in’ programmes, The Publicis Group put together virtual employee sessions such as coffee mornings, meditation and language classes. Allowing employees to connect with each other and reducing isolation.

For a more detailed read on this topic, check out Employee Wellbeing Areas to Focus on in 2021.

6. Celebrate success

Finally, avoid employees feeling under appreciated at work, as this leads to an increase in employee turnover. 66% of employees would leave their job due to under appreciation, but this jumps to 76% for millennials and younger generations, as people value job satisfaction above all. Celebrating success can be done through: 

  • Positive Feedback - As we mentioned earlier, positive feedback not only helps to reinforce good habits ,but simply makes employees feel good.
  • Time Off -  Rewarding hard work with surprise breaks and days off can help employees feel appreciated. It contributes to their overall wellbeing allowing them to take a well earned rest.
  • Employee Rewards - From treats to lunches and vouchers to bonuses, one way to show and celebrate employee success is through rewards. They work as a reminder that your company invests in the success of the individual.

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