Imagine your boss is fun to be around and makes you feel confident about your work. You get along with your coworkers and feel you’re making a difference in an important field. Wouldn’t you be excited to go into the office every day?
As an employer, if you’re dedicated to your organization and its work, you likely want your employees to share this enthusiasm. The best way to cultivate this kind of work environment is by truly engaging your employees.
In this guide, we’ll look at the basics of employee engagement and the top ten ways to go about it:
- What is employee engagement?
- Why is employee engagement important?
- How do you measure employee engagement?
- How do you know if your employees are engaged?
- Top 10 ideas for engaging your employees
Engagement might mean recognizing your employees, encouraging open communication, or providing training opportunities depending on your organization and employees’ preferences. It also might look different for remote employees as opposed to employees who work at your office in person. But, before you can choose the right engagement strategy, you’ll need to understand the basics of employee engagement. Let’s get started!
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is the level of commitment and investment employees feel toward their employers, workplaces, and jobs. For example, employees who are passionate about their jobs are more engaged than employees who don’t care.
The balance between productivity and employee happiness is delicate. You may feel you have to sacrifice one in order to gain the other. Instead, understand employee engagement as a strategy to professional success.
An employee engagement strategy involves planning how you’ll establish a healthy work environment that prioritizes both your employees’ satisfaction and your organizational goals. This might include gathering feedback through surveys, offering additional perks, and using other tools to keep employees happy. Ultimately, your strategy should find an intersection between the needs of your organization and the needs of your employees.
Why is employee engagement important?
Recognizing, rewarding, and interacting with employees will ultimately cultivate a workplace culture that increases productivity and job satisfaction. This is why employee engagement is crucial to accomplishing your organization’s goals—your success hinges on your employees’ job experience! Consider these key benefits of employee engagement:
- Retention: You’ll easily retain employees who feel supported and valued, especially if they’re given opportunities to grow in their roles. The potential for professional growth can encourage some employees to stay with your organization for the long haul since they’ll be able to accomplish future goals through your organization.
- Productivity: When employees are passionate about their jobs, they’ll be more enthusiastic about their work. Engagement will make employees happy to work and, consequently, more productive.
- Community: A connected workplace in which everyone believes in a collective mission will produce more successful progress toward your shared goal.
A robust engagement strategy will not only improve working conditions for your employees, but also improve the quality of work they produce and the overall success of your organization. This is true regardless of if your organization is for-profit or not-for-profit. Nonprofit employees may even be more receptive to your employee engagement strategies, as they are often passionate about their nonprofit’s cause.
How do you measure employee engagement?
Engagement can be measured in numerous ways, but is ultimately dependent on your organization’s unique purpose, practices, and environment. There are all kinds of employee engagement software that can help you both facilitate and measure the impact of your new initiatives. If you’re not sure how your employees feel, start by using the following techniques to measure their engagement:
- Survey: The simplest way to get feedback on employee satisfaction is by asking your employees directly. Regularly survey them to find out how they feel about different aspects of their jobs, such as workload, compensation, and office environment.
- Advocacy: If your employees recommend or voluntarily advocate for your organization, it’s likely they believe in your work and are proud to represent your organization. This might be reflected in job referrals, service recommendations, or social media activity.
- Involvement: Consider which employees actively participate in events and activities outside of the regular work schedule. Employees who are happy at the organization are more likely to be heavily involved.
Keep in mind that employee engagement strategies shouldn’t be used as damage control. It’s important to continually reach out to your employees and gauge their satisfaction, even if no problems have been identified.
Make it evident that your employees are noticed to encourage openness for feedback. When employees feel that you care, they’ll be more likely to voice their opinions and give you the insight you need to improve engagement.
Show that you care by calling out what you notice on a daily basis. For example, consider the following eCard created by Circa Logica Group to celebrate employees’ achievements.
By emphasizing that your employees make a difference daily by working for your organization, you’ll show that you value them and their work. With this understanding, the foundation will be laid for employees to feel comfortable expressing their opinions about the workplace.
How do you know if your employees are engaged?
As you reach out to employees for their feedback, keep in mind you can still learn from environments that lack employee grievances. For example, if your employees are particularly happy with the way you regularly incentivize their work, implement rewards in your strategy for yearly performance reviews.
Paying attention to your employees’ preferences is just the first step. Signs of engagement can also be evident in employees’ work, so it’s especially important to recognize their daily efforts around the office. Look for the following signs of engaged employees to determine what you’re doing right:
- Positive attitude: Engaged employees are happy to do their work and approach every situation with a positive attitude. They’re enthusiastic about their work and about supporting your organization’s goals.
- Surpasses expectations: Employees who are happy with their work situation will go above and beyond every chance they get. They’ll search for ways to bring genuine value to the organization rather than working for a paycheck.
- Successful teamwork: Engaged employees will happily work together for the betterment of the company. Your team will not only collaborate on work tasks, but will also create a naturally positive workplace culture.
By noting opportunities to improve employee engagement, you’ll tap into the benefits of an enthusiastic staff. Let’s take a look at a few ideas you can implement to further engage your employees.
Top 10 ideas for engaging your employees
Your organization is unique in its services, mission, and structure. The same can be said about your employees. Each individual employee is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement. Consider these ten specific ways to connect with your employees and determine which ideas will best serve your staff.
An eCard is a digital greeting card that is usually sent via email. With a tool like eCardWidget, you can incorporate creative engagement opportunities into your organization’s employee portal. There are two ways digital cards can engage your employees:
- Interpersonal connections: Employees can send each other cards for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. Not only does this encourage friendships between employees, but it can also help them feel more connected to your organization as a whole.
- Work achievements: Employees can send cards to thank each other for their hard work or bring attention to a specific accomplishment. As an employer, you can also send cards to recognize certain employees for their work. This can encourage peer-to-peer, manager-to-team, and team-to-manager appreciation.
With eCardWidget, you can also brand your ecards and create templates with custom imagery for certain occasions. For example, if you have a picture of the head of human resources hula hooping at a Christmas party, include it in a Christmas card!
You might also theme these cards according to your company values or mission. When an employee does something to further the company’s mission, a specific card will call out the exact value they brought to the organization.
2. Fun events
It’s important to intentionally host events that aren’t work related to demonstrate the importance of healthy work-life balance. This shows employees that your organization cares about them as individuals. You can host get-togethers or celebrate special occasions with your employees. For example, you might host events for:
- Birthdays: Post a calendar of all your employees’ birthdays in an easily accessible place so that no one misses the chance to celebrate. Then, allow your employees to buy cakes and streamers to celebrate. As an employer, make a special effort to attend these celebrations and wish your employees a happy birthday.
- Holidays: You might already host a Christmas party each year, but make your celebrations a little more fun by celebrating smaller holidays throughout the year. For example, order a few pies for your employees on Pi day (March 14th.)
- Company anniversaries: Celebrate the founding date of your organization or any other significant milestones. You can also celebrate employees’ anniversaries, such as a certain number of years working for the company.
- Hobby how-tos: Your employees likely have unique hobbies that fill their time outside of the office. Get to know them better by hosting events where they teach others about their hobbies. For example, if you learn that an employee is skilled in calligraphy, purchase calligraphy pens and paper for an after-work gathering where that employee teaches everyone how to write in calligraphy.
Set aside a party fund in the company budget to provide food, desserts, and other party materials for fun events throughout the year. Make your budget reasonable, but don’t be afraid to fund these events, even though they’re financial nonessentials. When your organization invests in celebrating and spending time with its employees, it can be viewed as a generous gift from a thoughtful company. This will make employees more committed to your organization.
3. Feedback opportunities
To help your employees feel heard and understood, ask for their feedback regularly so that they always have an opportunity to be heard. Consider asking for feedback with a survey or checking in via email on a regular basis.
You can further narrow down the feedback you receive by focusing the intent of each survey or email. For example, offer a survey to reflect on workload at the end of a quarter. Provide another survey that asks about company-wide improvements once a year.
Some general questions to ask in your surveys include:
- What is something you think the company should start doing?
- What is a missed opportunity for revenue for the company?
- How do you feel about our company’s values?
- What part of the company’s mission statement do you feel you’ve served recently?
- What could the company do to improve office culture?
- How do you feel you’re excelling in your role? How do you feel you’re challenged in your role?
Above all, look for qualitative feedback rather than a certain number of responses. Encourage your employees to answer honestly. If they don’t have any opinions to give, that’s okay!
4. Meaningful work
Imagine this: you go to school every day and take a test. You do nothing else the whole day and you never get your test scores back. After a while, wouldn’t you start to wonder, “What’s the point?”
In the same way, your employees don’t just want to mindlessly clock in every day. You can better engage them by showing that their contributions make a difference in your company, which makes a difference in its community. There are several ways you can show the impact your company is making, including:
- Matching gifts: Incentivize giving by matching employee’s gifts to their favorite charities. You can double, or even triple, their donations and even contribute for recurring donations.
- Volunteer grants: Support employees’ volunteer efforts by donating monetarily for the hours they give to a nonprofit. For example, you might offer to donate $100 for every 10 hours volunteered.
- In-kind donations: You can support a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts or projects by donating items they need instead of cash. For example, when an employee volunteers at their favorite nonprofit’s upcoming auction, your company can donate items to be auctioned off at the event.
Discover your employees’ values and ask what causes are important to them to determine how you can make the most significant impact. For example, after learning your employee volunteers at the local animal shelter, you might offer a volunteer grant to help support their charitable work.
By launching a giving program, your company can also boost customer engagement. You’ll see an improvement in your local reputation when constituents know that you’re working to better their community.
5. Training and growth
If your employees are excited about their work, they’ll likely want to grow in their roles. Provide opportunities for professional growth on any scale. For example, you might offer:
- Tickets to conferences directly related to their jobs or the company’s industry
- Training programs or certificates to help them learn more about their specific roles
- Stipends to pay for courses related to their work
By providing opportunities for professional growth, you’re investing in your employees’ futures. Not only are you equipping them to excel in their current field, but you’re also allowing them to grow their skills for any future roles they might grow into at your organization.
Construct roles within your organization to be collaborative to encourage a base level of teamwork. Then, allow for flexibility with other tasks, such as working together to draft a client contract. Teamwork can provide accountability for your employees, ensuring their work is high-quality.
Make sure you establish a support system that is clearly not micromanagement, then let employees know help is there if necessary. Not only will this help employees feel supported by their peers, but they’ll also gain confidence in their jobs when they know that asking questions is encouraged.
To emphasize the value of teamwork, you might create a ‘Team Player’ appreciation award that you award to individuals who excel in this area.
Think of your employees like the cooks in a restaurant. Of course, the restaurant manager has a lot of important duties. But without the cooks, there would be no food. The cooks may experiment with recipes and lean on their own expertise to create the perfect dish.
In the same way, your employees carry out the essential functions of your company daily. Because of this, they likely have a good idea of how to improve your overall operations. If they have suggestions for tasks that could contribute to the team’s overall success, let them try it out!
Allowing flexibility in your employees’ roles shows that you trust them and value their opinions. Consider every suggestion and work as a team to revise roles and responsibilities to boost efficiency.
8. Frequent incentives
Most companies offer promotions or compensation raises in exchange for exceptional work. However, when employees feel like work is only incentivized for bigger goals, they might not see the value in their daily work.
For example, if a company offers promotions but an employee doesn’t want to leave their current role, they may feel like there’s no future for them at that company. Their daily tasks won’t feel as rewarded or significant.
Instead, set smaller goals to recognize daily achievements. Consider offering the following rewards:
- Free lunch
- Themed prizes
- Branded corporate gifts
- Additional PTO
Goals will depend on your company’s work and your employee’s role, but make sure there is a level of achievement for every employee. This might mean creating different goals for different teams or resetting goals on a regular basis. By rewarding small goals in thoughtful ways, employees will feel noticed for their everyday work.
Highlight how work across teams can accomplish company-wide goals. Tying these daily tasks to larger goals helps employees see their work as more important.
To do this, encourage employees to elevate their ideas to leadership. Brainstorming as a team not only makes employees feel valued, but can also produce some great ideas for your business and team. Especially when everyone is bouncing ideas off each other, this is the perfect way to come up with some new solutions or ideas for expansion!
10. Highlight success
Show off employee successes by highlighting their work-related accomplishments. When you give praise for your employees’ work, they’ll gain confidence in their roles. This is certainly valuable coming from company leadership, but there are other ways to show your employees where they’re succeeding:
- Client or customer satisfaction: When your employee’s work pleases a client, share that feedback with the whole team to celebrate that employee. Not only does this make the employee feel successful, but also receiving feedback from someone outside of the organization is an extra credible commendation.
- Team recognition: Provide a way for your employees to encourage each other. Consider setting up eCards for employees to send each other words of encouragement when they help each other out or do something well.
- Top-level success: Think back to the restaurant example. For the restaurant to receive positive reviews, the cooks had to make the food perfectly, the waiters had to give impeccable service, and the hosts had to seat customers quickly and comfortably. In the same way, each team within your company contributes to the overall goals, and they should all feel equally important in your company’s success. When you meet a company-wide goal, celebrate all your employees and recognize the work they’ve done.
Consolidate positive feedback from all sources and share it with your employees regularly. Consider holding a weekly meeting to frequently evaluate this feedback and give employees a recurring opportunity to be celebrated. There are plenty of tools and platforms available built specifically for employee recognition – explore these top picks to see the range of options available and how they can help your business build a more effective recognition program.
To truly engage your employees, you’ll have to find opportunities for your company to stand out in creative ways. Look for meaningful methods to make your employees feel appreciated for their work and excited about their jobs. For more ideas about employee engagement and creating a positive work environment, check out the additional resources below:
- How to Motivate Employees: Easy Ways to Uplift Workers. If you’re struggling to keep employees engaged, this ultimate guide shares creative ways to motivate your staff members and improve company culture.
- Business Marketing eCard Software: Custom Digital Greeting Cards. eCards add a bit of creativity to employee engagement. Explore our solution and get an idea of how it’ll work at your organization.
- Employee Coaching: Complete Overview and How-To Guide. A big part of employee engagement is providing them with the skills to succeed. Dive into employee coaching with this guide from RealHR Solutions.