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April 26, 2022

Employee Engagement Strategies: Getting Serious About Company Culture

Employee Engagement Strategies: Getting Serious About Company Culture featured image

Engaged employees, as in workers who truly care about a company’s mission, can provide a level of service, both internal and customer-facing, that goes beyond the basics. This is the most important factor to keep in mind when considering whether to invest in employee engagement.

Your people are your company, and when they’re feeling motivated, energized and committed to the business’s mission, every part of people management becomes easier. Employees who are not just satisfied but excited are more likely to turn in great work, and less likely to leave their positions — an especially serious consideration in a time defined by resignations by top performers.

Time to Act on Employee Engagement

While it’s always been clear that it’s better to have happy employees than unhappy, unmotivated ones, this effort has never been more important in sheer business terms. Companies that build strong teams of engaged employees are ready to grow and thrive.

What does it take to engage teams of employees? The answer should involve a specific, focused strategy designed around the company’s needs, as well as employees’ motives and desires. Engagement and morale, in general, are too important to leave to chance in the absence of a solid strategy.

Since the best employee engagement strategies are customized, your business should first survey its people to ensure the resulting plan is suitable. The chosen strategy will likely include a strong selection of training courses. These should reach every level of the company, with a special focus on the supervisors to whom employees report every day.

Once the strategy is in place, your business is on track for a better future – one powered by people who are committed to the company on a deeper level than a simple means to a paycheck. This is another reason to go with a fully-featured strategy rather than scattered, one-off efforts: Companies fare better with a planned-out, repeatable system.

Why Focus on Creating an Employee Engagement Strategy?

As an organizational leader, you can take your pick regarding exactly why you’re committing to an employee engagement strategy. Is it to help the company thrive in its industry through the efforts of committed, highly motivated employees? To turn these workers into brand advocates on social media? To retain top performers in an employee-friendly labor market?

A commitment to strong engagement can deliver those advantages and more, which makes it worthwhile for companies of all kinds to begin planning. There’s a catch, however: While research has consistently found strong employee engagement is a multifaceted advantage for businesses, polling also finds engagement rates are consistently low. Businesses that buck the trend and win over their workers are poised to succeed.

Advantages to Be Had

Gallup polled companies on their relative employee engagement levels and the performance of those organizations according to other important metrics. The results show just what a business can accomplish when it focuses on bringing out more commitment from employees.

These effects include:

  • Greater ability to make money: Sales are 20% higher at engaged organizations, and profits are up 21% when compared to less engaged businesses.
  • Enhanced safety and competency: With 70% fewer safety incidents and 40% fewer defects in finished products, highly-engaged organizations put workers’ increased focus to good use.
  • Greater loyalty from workers: Highly-engaged high-turnover businesses see 24% fewer employee departures — at low-turnover businesses, the rate is even more impressive: 59% fewer departures.

Many aspects of a company can improve when workers see the job as more than a way to earn a paycheck. An engaged employee is someone who believes in the tasks they do every day, and, as the Gallup report has revealed, that key difference in motive has a tangible effect on results.

Making sure employee engagement spreads widely and deeply among the team is an important priority for leaders. While a few motivated workers can drive better results in their departments, a more widespread feeling of engagement can drive margins for the whole organization.

Action Needed: A Lack of Engagement is Common

While the Gallup report revealed just how important it is for businesses to step up their commitment to employee engagement, it also highlighted a less promising side of business today: Statistically few workers are fully engaged with their jobs today.

The data revealed just 15% of workers today are fully engaged with their work. That means more than 8 out of every 10 employees are either somewhat or very disconnected from the tasks they perform every day. That is a massive percentage of the total workforce not achieving at the levels they could if they were fully connected and committed to their jobs and employers.

What’s the State of Employee Engagement at Your Company?

Before thinking about the specifics of employee engagement strategy, you need to assess the current level of connection between your people and your company mission. This can vary widely, for several reasons.

What makes an engaged workforce?

A major pillar of employee engagement comes from satisfaction. Do people like working for your company? Pay has a role to play in satisfaction, but that is a rather simple matter of numbers.

Conditions of work can have a major impact on employees’ satisfaction or lack thereof. For instance, are people treated with respect? Is the office a pleasant place to be? Do employees have the option to work from home?

The company may also be judged on its options and offerings to workers. Are there suitable options for health and other insurance coverage? Do workers receive reimbursement for education or fitness programs? Does the business recognize performance with rewards or bonuses?

The same Gallup study that identified an employee engagement rate of only 15% revealed some of the most important factors defining an engaged worker. Some of these are highly focused on work and productivity, such as understanding assignments and having the right materials. Others are personal — for instance, do supervisors care about their employees’ well-being and are workers making strong friendships?

How does engagement go beyond happiness?

Good work conditions and suitable perks tend to build employee satisfaction. However, as the Workday blog pointed out, satisfaction isn’t the only factor that goes into true engagement. An employee can acknowledge a company takes good care of its employees and offers valuable perks, but still not feel 100% connected with the business.

This is the difference between job satisfaction and true employee engagement. To make sure companies are measuring more than happiness, Workday recommends asking personnel whether they have an understanding of their role in things and what their work is accomplishing for the team and the company as a whole.

Other issues that may be important for individual employees include the ability to learn and develop skills. Some employers may be leery of granting workers too much training beyond their present roles, due to fear they’ll take their skills and leave. However, it can be hard for employees to stay engaged and connected with a company that doesn’t empower them to grow and learn.

What role do employee engagement surveys play?

An employee engagement survey like the one Workday recommends helps to gather the intelligence you can use to plan out the first steps of a new strategy or to correct course when an existing program isn’t delivering results.

As Training Magazine contributor Bhavika Sharma explained, it’s not always possible for leaders to gather highly detailed employee feedback from the workers on their teams. In these cases, a quick employee survey targeting essential details is important. This can mean multiple-choice questions or ranking factors on a scale of 1 to 10 — many formats are valid, as long as your organization is focusing on questions that go beyond surface-level job satisfaction.

One approach Sharma suggested involves measuring the Net Promoter Score, which is commonly applied to customers but is general enough to apply to employees, too. In short, the Net Promoter Score is a ratio showing what percentage of individuals would recommend a company to their friends or family. A high score among your staff, meaning employees would encourage others to join the team, is a great sign of engagement. 

How Do You Implement an Employee Engagement Strategy?

Because employee engagement should be a company-wide effort, it can seem daunting to get started on implementing improvements. However, some of the key changes businesses can make are remarkably simple.

The Human Touch

In her Training Magazine article, Sharma noted some of the most important things managers can do to build engagement among their teams include frequently talking about engagement and interacting with these workers honestly and authentically.

Rather than treating employee motivation and morale as a regimented task, leaders can simply be open and clear, satisfying employees’ desire to be treated as people, not numbers. One of the clearest signs of an engaged employee is a willingness to give 100% effort, which is far more likely when workers feel seen and acknowledged.

Engagement Infused into Everyday Business

Gallup’s recommendations include adding a greater commitment to engagement to every step of the employee journey. This extends from promoting the company’s mission and values at interviews to making orientation more engaging and encouraging everyday discussion among teams.

An effective employee engagement strategy ensures no everyday process is completely severed from positive, motivating experiences. Even an employee departing the company can be a positive moment — Gallup recommends noting and celebrating the accomplishments of workers who are leaving, which can help the rest of the team keep morale up.

A Reflection of Today’s Employee

One side of employee engagement senior leaders must keep in mind is norms and expectations shift with the years. The Gallup survey noted while human nature is essentially the same as ever, with people craving to be recognized as individuals, the tools companies have to give them such an experience have evolved.

Organizations looking to move forward and offer cutting-edge employee engagement experiences are simply becoming more skilled than their competitors at providing positive reinforcement. In an employee-friendly hiring market defined by resignations, such a differentiator can be highly valuable. 

What’s the Connection Between Training and Employee Engagement?

Many of the most effective approaches to boosting employee engagement involve process changes that come from supervisors and team leaders. Some examples of these new practices, cited on the Hive HR blog, include committing to transparent communication, holistic well-being and feedback.

These practices rise or fall depending on whether leaders support them. If a supervisor is committed to having a more transparent team structure, with greater employee recognition and a caring approach to workers’ health, they can expect boosted engagement. That leader has to learn these practices somewhere, however. It’s unfair to expect leaders to take on prescribed management styles without training them.

The most straightforward way to bring a new engagement approach through training is to change up the curriculum for managers who have employees reporting directly to them. Learning about the support today’s workers want and need from their supervisors is valuable, as is discovering practical ways to work that kind of attention into everyday leadership. Training modules designed specifically to enhance employee engagement can help in this regard. 

What Are Some Types of Employee Engagement Training Courses?

Putting together the ideal employee engagement strategy for your company means selecting training courses that make sense for your industry, your employees’ needs and your overall goals for company culture.

The modern model of training, favoring online learning and video-based lessons, makes it easy to browse your options and select lesson modules to serve your team well now — and become key parts of orientation for new hires.

The following online course selections exemplify a few of the prominent types of training content you can choose from when assembling the curriculum for your employee engagement training program.

Employee Engagement

This course’s five-lesson modules, aimed at managers, cover all the major points associated with employee engagement. It starts with a definition and moves through essential elements for a scientifically focused employee engagement strategy, such as individual goal setting and metric tracking.

When team leaders have the benefit of this type of training, they can gain confidence in their ability to build out an engagement plan for their team members. Trained managers know their programs are in line with the latest thinking on engagement and motivation. The result is workers who feel valued and committed.

Employee Engagement Essentials

As with the Employee Engagement course, this set of online lessons is also aimed at managers and designed to help them build successful engagement programs for their teams. The difference is while the aforementioned course is an overview, this is a deeper dive, providing lessons that highlight specific touchpoints in the manager-employee relationship.

Ideas that receive greater focus in this course include:

  • Getting out of workers’ way and letting them use their skills in the workplace.
  • Building strong relationships with colleagues and subordinates.
  • Showing appreciation for the things employees accomplish.

With skills such as these, leaders can get more out of their team members while building their overall engagement with the business.

Employee Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

When an employee becomes disengaged at work, a lack of motivation may be to blame. The fact is, business leaders don’t always realize what gets their employees excited or builds their loyalty—that’s where this training course can provide answers. The lessons are for both leaders and human resources professionals and are designed to give companies options about how to proceed.

Completing the course means learning about the factors, internal and external, that motivate people. Knowing more about this topic prepares leaders to design custom employee engagement strategies. These plans can be built to give workers access to rewards, goals and everyday experiences to win their buy-in and help them truly engage with their roles.

What Does a Modern Employee Engagement Training Program Look Like?

When choosing which courses make up your employee engagement training curriculum, it’s also important to figure out what model of training to use — in-person, hybrid or online. Though training has traditionally been carried out by in-person instructors, recent trends have favored digital delivery.

A key change has been the rise in decentralized corporate models, as well as remote and hybrid workforces. When your supervisors and HR personnel are scattered across multiple offices around the world, or when they work remotely full time, it’s difficult and costly to bring everyone together for an in-person training session. Digital lessons that can be accessed on-demand fit into the variety of schedules kept by employees.

Digital lessons are also more economical and effective when it’s time to train the next group of supervisors and HR leaders. Rather than hiring an in-person trainer for every new employee in need of engagement training, it’s possible to use the same digital courses multiple times, making them an evergreen part of a business’s training strategy.

With the help of modern, digitally focused employee engagement training content, you can consistently teach members of the leadership team to motivate and connect with their employees. The employee engagement lessons and best practices gained when you first implement the strategy don’t have to be lost over time, and if new priorities emerge, it’s simple to supplement the courses with new ones.

With the aid of a training content network, your employee engagement efforts can take on new levels of assurance and reach greater heights of effectiveness.

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