Engagement is the combination of being both happy and motivated at work—the feeling that you're truly doing what you love. Although engagement is a priceless quality in an employee, it's also a relatively uncommon one. A 2014 poll by Gallup found that only 31.5 percent of U.S. workers felt engaged in their jobs and 17.5 percent felt actively disengaged from their work. Feelings of engagement and disengagement have repercussions far beyond your employees' own minds. Another Gallup study in 2012 revealed that businesses ranking in the bottom quartile in employee engagement had 48 percent more safety incidents, 37 percent more absenteeism and 22 percent less profitability than those ranking in the top quartile. (Download this white paper to learn more about the importance of employee engagement.)
The need to improve employee engagement and company culture is therefore a pressing one. How can you tackle the problem of engagement at your workplace? These five ideas are a great place to start.
1. Lead by Example
Any change in engagement needs to start at the top. Executives should be role models for the type of behavior that they wish to see in the workforce. Being honest and transparent with your employees also makes them happier, giving them a deeper sense of investment in the company and a more collaborative workplace environment. Encourage communication between management and employees; workers should feel that their supervisors are accessible and approachable.
2. Paint a Big Picture
Especially in a large organization, it's easy for a single person to feel adrift and lost in the shuffle. Let your employees know how their work fits into your business strategy; remind them of the company mission and how they have contributed to achieving it. Involve them in the planning process as much as possible and improve workplace communication so that their feedback is acknowledged and appreciated. Giving your employees a sense of purpose is essential to motivating them, which is one of the two components of engagement.
3. Say Thank You
Whether it's simply saying "thank you" after a task is completed or honoring a long history of achievement, acknowledging employees' hard work is one of the best ways to boost their engagement. Providing heartfelt praise for a job well done is a surprisingly effective way to increase morale. Employees who know that their work is meaningful and impactful are more likely to do a better job in the future. For those who have consistently performed well, a number of potential rewards are possible, from promotions and raises to awards ceremonies and extra time off.
4. Improve Internal Communication
Check in with your employees at regular intervals to make sure that they have everything they require and that nothing is falling through the cracks. Discuss career goals with your staff and offer them the training and tools that they need to achieve them. Improve collaboration and internal communication by building a company intranet that is tailored to the needs and desires of your employees. In order to boost user engagement, your intranet portal should be responsive—available to be used from anywhere, at any time, with any device—and easy to search through and navigate.
5. Be Human
Understand that your employees have personal lives and give them breaks to let them relax and recharge. Help your staff with their work-life balance and be willing to provide flexible work arrangements and telecommuting options when appropriate. Foster a workplace environment that's welcoming and friendly yet professional.
While these tips will go a long way in improving employee engagement, the most important solutions are the ones you get from your own employees. Ask your staff about their own ideas for how to improve your workplace, and be prepared to open your ears and take their feedback into consideration.
To learn more about the importance of employee engagement, check out this white paper.