10 ways to enhance your employee engagement strategy this year
The start of a new year brings a sense of rejuvenation. It’s a time to set goals, make plans and take steps to begin the year on a positive note. For those in the HR world, now is great time to make commitments for 2020 that’ll ensure your employees are happy, motivated and engaged for the year ahead.
Some businesses will be embarking on an employee engagement strategy for the first time while others will be looking for some inspiration to take their engagement to the next level, so here’s some helpful tips to give your strategy a boost.
1. Start with an emotional anchor
There’s no point embarking on an employee engagement journey if you don’t genuinely care about your employees. All of your employee engagement endeavours whether it’s a benefits programme, rewards scheme or wellbeing strategy, need to be tied to some sort of emotional anchor rather than solely being driven by a quest to be more profitable as a business. There’s no doubting that an engaged workforce has financial benefits, but to have a successful engagement strategy that will have a genuine impact on your employees you need to put your people first, rather than profit.
Basically, don’t do anything just for the sake of doing it. Employee benefits, for example, shouldn’t be treated as a tick-box exercise. While implementing an employee benefits programme is a positive step, it won’t drive engagement across your business if it’s not aligned to the interests of your employees. A genuine drive to save your employees money on their everyday shopping through your benefits platform, however, will make your employees feel valued, appreciated and supported by your business.
Think about how you want to have a positive impact on your employees’ lives whether that’s creating job satisfaction, supporting their wellbeing, rewarding their hard work or driving them to develop. You’ll then be able to devise an employee engagement strategy that will make a difference and can use your emotional anchor to guide the development of it too.
2. Regularly capture employee feedback
Productivity isn’t always a reliable indication that your employees are engaged. The best way to accurately measure employee engagement is to interact with your employees on a regular basis. Surveys, focus groups and polls are all handy ways of capturing your employees’ feedback and gaining a true understanding of how your employees feel about your business. Doing this on an ongoing basis will give you a consistent insight into how engaged your employees are and whether your activities are hitting the mark or not.
On top of that, regularly capturing your employees’ feedback demonstrates that their thoughts and opinions are taken seriously and that they, as individuals, are valued. Giving your employees the ability to drive change within the business by using their voice is a very powerful thing and will certainly boost engagement too.
Did you know? Employee Voice is one of the four enablers of employee engagement, according to Engage for Success.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
From your company values, strategic goals and overall culture, to ad-hoc news, business updates and information about your benefits, communication is key to employee engagement. By delivering a regular flow of key messages and information, you will ensure your employees are informed and onboard with your engagement activities.
How do your employees find out about your values? When do they learn about your strategic narrative? It’s all about communication. You can’t expect your employees to be fully invested in your business and motivated to deliver if they aren’t aware of your strategic goal. Equally, you can’t expect your benefits platform to be successful across your business if you don’t deliver regular updates and encourage your employees to log in.
From weekly emails, posters, department meetings and events, there’s a plethora of ways you can communicate with your employees. What is absolutely crucial is that you utilise a variety of methods to target all areas of your business effectively. Our ‘Pixel, Paper, Person’ approach means that our clients can effectively reach employees regardless of their role, location or preference.
4. Look at the bigger picture – the employee experience
Employee engagement is dependent on the employee experience. From the very first interaction with your business at the recruitment stage, right through to the exit process, all of your employees embark on a journey with you as an employer, made up of countless experiences that can either make or break their engagement with you.
As a result, focusing solely on the engagement of your well-established employees will inhibit your success. Instead, think about the bigger picture – the entire employee journey. You’ll have new starters, leavers, people that have been with you 6 months, people that have been with you for 6 years. How can you ensure all of these employees are committed to your business? What can you do to keep them all motivated? While there isn’t one magic solution to employee engagement, you’ll put yourself in a much better position by making sure all of your actions contribute to a positive employee experience.
5. Support your employees’ wellbeing
As a general rule of thumb, happy and healthy employees are more motivated, productive and engaged. The relationship between employee wellbeing and employee engagement is mutually exclusive. If an employee is dealing with a physical, emotional or financial challenge, for example, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to work at their best and, in some cases, they might not even be fit to work at all. This can lead to absenteeism and presenteeism, which causes further problems for any business wanting to drive engagement. At the same time, the work environment can create wellbeing challenges too, which puts further pressure on employees. Wellbeing support is therefore a necessary aid that gives your employees the ability to thrive both at work and in life.
Employee wellbeing support shouldn’t be delivered on an ad-hoc basis, it should be delivered as a holistic programme that’s tailored to the needs of your workforce. Remember, wellbeing is about far more than just the emotional and physical sides of health. Your wellbeing programme should give your employees the tools to manage their day-to-day lives better, both in work and at home. That’s why, through our wellbeing solution the zone, we focus on the three main areas of wellbeing: emotional, physical and financial.
Whether you support wellbeing through advice and resources from external providers, your benefits, your reward programme or simply by creating an environment with employee wellbeing at its heart, it’s all about improving the quality of your employees’ lives so they can feel and function their best at work and beyond.
6. Invest in learning and development
One of the most important things you can do to motivate and retain employees is to invest in their personal development. To unlock your employees’ true potential and help them be more efficient, productive and, in general, better at what they do, L&D is the key. But it’s not just positive for your business, it’s beneficial for your employees on a more personal level too. Investing in learning and development means that your employees have the scope to pursue their own career goals, build confidence and develop as a professional in their field.
A good L&D programme will inspire and motivate your employees to do their job to the best of their ability. This kind of long-term investment in your employees will encourage them to invest in your business too through their loyalty, commitment and performance.
7. Get Managers on board with your strategy
Whatever strategy you take to drive employee engagement, the advocacy of your Managers is essential for it to be a success. Why? Because Managers are the ones that have direct communication with your employees on a regular basis. They are the ones that will be able to deliver key messages, provide relevant support and be the champions of your strategy to drive positive results. Face-to-face endorsement of your benefits offering, reward programme or any employee engagement activities you do is truly powerful and can make all the difference.
On top of that, your strategy will be influenced by the relationship your Managers have with employees. As Engage for Success explain, engaging managers are a key enabler of employee engagement because they can directly inspire, motivate and reward employees. Engaging managers make employees feel part of a team and help them understand how their work contributes to the business’ wider objectives. They therefore have a pivotal role in driving your strategy forward and should be involved early on to ensure it’s a success.
8. Define your values
Your business’ values form the foundation from which you build your employee engagement strategy, which is why they need to be clearly defined from the get-go. Values outline your business’ ethos, reinforce your strategic vision and provide your employees with a clear understanding of your culture. They outline the attitudes, behaviours and principles that will guide your employees’ day-to-day lives at work and how they contribute to your business’ goals.
To successfully drive employee engagement, it’s fundamental that your business genuinely lives and breathes these values. They need to be authentic, rather than just a set of words or phrases that make your business look good. Organisational integrity enables employee engagement, which is why we always encourage businesses to involve their employees in the process of defining values. Your people are more likely to be engaged with you as an employer if they’ve actively shaped the ethos of your business, they genuinely believe in your core values and they see them in action every day.
Choosing values that resonate with your employees will fuel productivity, positive behaviour and engagement because your employees will be inspired to live up to the values and be part of your business’ culture. So, to enhance engagement in your business it’s important to get your values right.
9. Humanise your culture
Aside from strategic activities like benefits programmes and rewards schemes, your culture is also an essential ingredient in the employee engagement recipe, and it needs to be centred around your people. An environment where your employees feel comfortable being themselves, valued as individuals and that their work/life balance is respected is one that will promote engagement. You can’t nurture happy and healthy employees in a clinical, emotionless environment that chooses profit over people. Employees will feel unappreciated, disillusioned, over-worked and disengaged. Taking a humanistic approach to your business’ everyday operations makes all the difference to your culture because rather than feeling like another cog in the machine, your employees will feel like valued member of a strong community.
Flexible working is an example of a benefit that supports a human-focused culture because it gives employees the freedom to fit work around their lives. Simply changing your ethos to be more people-centric is a good start though. For instance, respecting your employees’ personal time by not expecting them to work late and communicate with work on their days off demonstrates that they’re valued as a person.
Humanising your culture will help to build trust, create connections between employees and allow your employees to thrive within your business. HR has become far more automated and technology driven but it’s still important to hold onto the human element because, ultimately, it’s all about the people.
10. Measure, improve and develop
As mentioned in our previous blog, you can’t expect the same mix of actions to indefinitely reap good results. Businesses that effectively drive employee engagement are the ones that consistently monitor how their programmes are performing and react to the results to maximise success.
Even if your results are great now, your strategy needs to evolve over time to remain effective. With technology becoming smarter by the day, workforces becoming increasingly inter-generational and new trends consistently emerging, you’ll need to develop your strategy to meet the ever-changing needs of employees. Going back to point 2, employee feedback is crucial too. Ask your employees what they think of your benefits programme, for example. Is it valuable? How can it be improved? The best way to understand how to develop your strategy is to capture the thoughts of the end users – your employees.
These are by no means quick and easy steps to implement and achieve, it’ll take time and a lot of consideration in order to get it right, but we hope you found them useful.
Another way you can enhance your strategy is by using an employee engagement hub. This consolidates all of your schemes and activities into one easy to use platform. At work, at home or on the go, your employees can log in and access their benefits, rewards and wellbeing services. You can also easily monitor scheme usage and gain critical business insight that will help you develop your employee engagement strategy further. To find out about our employee engagement hub, spaces, click here.