High employee engagement and a strong company culture translate into bottom line benefits. Engaged employees are more productive, stay with the company longer, and make positive contributions to the organization. This adds up to significant savings on the high cost of managing poor performers, replacing leavers, and attracting new talent to fill open positions.
Business leaders understand the importance of engagement, but outdated strategies to increase employee engagement can often backfire. Traditional activities such as changes in compensation and large recognition events are not as effective as they once were. Today’s workers have very specific expectations of their employers which – when met – can significantly improve company culture and employee engagement.
1. Continuous Feedback
Annual performance reviews can be helpful to wrap up the year, but workers now expect regular, continuous feedback from both their leaders and peers. Whether it is kudos on a job well done or advice on becoming more effective, employees are no longer content with limiting such conversations to a single all-encompassing meeting each January.
Innovative businesses encourage communication and feedback using tools such as intranets. These allow managers and colleagues to give 'on the spot' feedback for excellent work. Many companies also offer leadership training to develop managers’ skills, in terms of delivering constructive feedback to improve performance.
2. Manager as Coach
The trend towards improved workplace communication between leaders and staff members is part of a larger shift in thinking. Keeping today’s workers engaged requires a change in management style. Models that rely heavily on hierarchy and position to assert authority are falling out of favor with employees. Instead, increased engagement requires managers to take on the role of coach and instructor. Workers report high levels of engagement when they trust their leaders, and they expect to use managers as trusted advisors and mentors. Managers seeking to engage team members must be willing to participate in collaborative problem-solving.
3. Collaborative Teams
Social media has connected people from every part of the globe, and today’s workforce is accustomed to diversity of opinion. As a whole, employees appreciate an opportunity to continue that feeling of connectedness at work, through department structures that encourage collaboration. Intranet platforms use advanced technology to improve collaboration, making it much easier for team members to share information and contribute to group projects. This results in overall increased employee engagement.
4. Frequent Communication
Employees have access to extraordinary amounts of information online, and mobile devices have made it possible for news to travel instantly. Organizations face challenges in keeping up with the speed of communication to ensure staff members maintain a feeling of trust in their leaders, which is critical for engagement. Companies that seek to improve internal communication often find that they must adopt the same intranet and mobile technology as outside news sources to meet employee expectations around transparency and open communication. Strong internal communication methods contribute to strong employee engagement.
5. Personal Development
Finally, today’s workforce puts training and development at the very top of their priority lists. Whether they want to sharpen the skills used in their current positions or learn new skills to advance their careers, employee engagement relies on opportunities for personal development. User engagement is at its highest when training is flexible, permitting staff members to participate without disrupting their work/life balance.