Many leaders understand the importance of employee engagement, but how to improve it is often less clear. Since it’s also such a widespread issue, it’s easy to think that solving it requires dramatic action. Thankfully, even simple changes can boost workplace engagement.
Only 36% of U.S. employees feel engaged at work, and 15% feel actively disengaged. Considering how engaged employees are more likely to be productive and stay with the company, that’s an issue. However, survey results about what employees want reveal that many of the solutions to this problem are straightforward.
Here are seven simple strategies that can substantially impact employee engagement.
One of the most important steps to take is to communicate. If employees don’t know what they should do or what leaders expect of them, it’ll be hard for them to feel engaged. Managers and executives should consistently and clearly inform workers of everything they need to know and include them in conversations about new developments.
This communication must go both ways, too. Employees want their leaders to hear, consider and respect their opinions. This is also a matter of health since one in five Americans experience a mental health issue each year, yet few talk about it openly.
Employers should encourage their workers to speak up, asking questions and actively listening to promote communication. That applies to both work matters and casual conversations. The more communication there is, the more engaged employees will be.
Provide Career Development Paths
Career development is another crucial area to hit. According to one survey, 94% of employees would stay longer if their company invested in their career. The same study found that a lack of time is the number one thing holding this workplace learning back, so employers must make time.
Business leaders should create career development opportunities and encourage employees to participate in them. That includes giving them time on the job to learn new skills or refine their abilities. Without the chance to progress professionally, workers may feel stuck.
These programs could include paying for professional development courses or they could be as simple as offering training for different roles within the company. Employers can make the most of this strategy by looking for training opportunities that will help the company succeed, too.
Promote From Within
Similarly, employers should provide plenty of upward mobility within the business. Without the chance to get raises and promotions, workers will have a hard time imagining a future at the company, causing them to disengage. By contrast, if they can work their way up and have a lasting, continually advancing career, they’ll be more likely to stay and be productive.
When a position becomes available, look to see who’s qualified within the company’s current staff. Bringing someone in from outside will make employees feel overlooked and undervalued.
Promoting from within has tangible business benefits, too. While current workers may not have the same management experience, they have a familiar understanding of company workflows, making them an ideal fit.
Create a Space to Relax
Employers can boost employee engagement by making them more comfortable, too. One of the easiest ways to do that is to create a space in the workplace where they can relax. Work can be stressful, even if workers enjoy it, so having an area to forget about that stress for a while can go a long way.
Outdoor game centers are an excellent option since they encourage people to spend time together, fostering employee camaraderie. Covering these spaces with transparent or translucent materials can keep them away from the elements while providing natural light to help people relax. It’s also important to cater to different interests, offering games for some and quiet spaces to read or talk for others.
Reward Hard Work
While relaxation is important, it’s also crucial to remember all the hard work employees perform for the company. Feeling underappreciated at work is the fourth most-cited reason for workers leaving their jobs, and 34% feel companies aren’t using their full potential. Employers can reverse that and drive engagement by rewarding employees for their work.
Tracking metrics like productivity, completed assignments, attendance or initiative gives employers a way to recognize top performers. They can then reward these workers with cash bonuses, paid time off, more flextime or other incentives. Surveying employees about what they want can help determine the best rewards.
Remember to reward this performance consistently and fairly to maintain engagement. Rewards should be objective, and the standards should be readily available to help employees pursue them.
Plan Casual, Fun Events
Another straightforward strategy for employee engagement is to plan fun activities outside of work hours. Casual, non-work-related events are a great chance for employees to build relationships with their coworkers and managers. As these relationships grow stronger, the workplace will feel friendlier, making it easier to remain engaged.
As helpful as they can be, it’s also easy for these outings to feel forced and corporate. The way to avoid that is to ask employees what they would want to do. Take a poll, giving a few different options and asking for suggestions, then go with the most popular one.
This could be a paid trip to a theme park, a food truck catering an after-work meal, a holiday party or anything else that doesn’t feel like work. As long as it’s something employees would genuinely enjoy, it can be effective.
Inclusivity plays an often overlooked role in employee engagement. While fun activities are important, they won’t mean much if work itself feels hostile or unfair. Considering one in five workers say they feel personally discriminated against frequently at work, there’s often room for improvement here.
Employers should purposefully look to build diverse, inclusive teams. Making sure managers communicate with everyone equally and workers feel safe to share their concerns are also crucial steps to building an inclusive workplace.
Ask workers how they think inclusivity could improve in the workplace and address any common themes. As people feel more comfortable in the workplace, they’ll start to be more engaged in their work, too. Future job-seekers will also enter the company with higher initial spirits if they see the workplace is diverse and inclusive.
Boosting Employee Engagement Can Be Straightforward
Many businesses fall short on employee engagement, but that doesn’t mean the answer is complicated. These seven strategies are all fairly straightforward and address common concerns that workers have voiced. As employers listen and respond to these concerns, they can make more engaging workplaces, driving loyalty and productivity.