7 Steps to improve employee engagement

We’ve spoken extensively around the topic of strategy, and often you’ll hear us write of the importance of your people in actually executing that strategy. It’s all well and good for to have a solid strategic plan, but if your people aren’t bought in and engaged, you’re strategy is going to stay as just words on paper.

So, what is employee engagement?
Employee engagement can be understood as the degree to which people are invested in the success of a business. Having engaged employees means higher levels of productivity, improved retention rates and ultimately a boost in your bottom line. In this post, we’ll go through 7 tangible steps to improve employee engagement for your organization. These include:

  1. Giving employees a sense of purpose
  2. Involving employees in the creation of strategy
  3. Clearly defining roles and responsibilities
  4. Presenting opportunities for growth
  5. Communication
  6. Recognition and reward
  7. Fostering friendship

1. Give employees a sense of purpose

One of the critical drivers of employee engagement is their sense of purpose in an organization. People need to understand and align with why they are doing something. Companies will use their vision statement to communicate their purpose. So, to ensure your people are aware of and understand the why of your organization, you should aim to display your vision statement not just externally, but also internally.

2. Involve employees in the creation of strategy related to their goals

Allowing employees to be a part of the strategy creation process in relation to their jobs can go a long way in improving employee engagement. When people feel like they have a measure of control in the work they are doing, they experience higher levels of accountability and ownership over their jobs and goals. It is no surprise then that they are more engaged with their job and organization. The strategy creation process should cascade down through the organization, starting at the top with upper management, and down through the layers of the organization so that employees at every layer play a part in the creation. Managers, once given their strategic objectives and KPIs, should sit with their teams and create strategies with all who will be involved in the execution process.

3. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities

While this seems obvious enough, it’s amazing how often you will find employees unclear on the rights and responsibilities of their roles. How can you expect people to be engaged with their role if they’re not 100% sure what that is? Clearly defined roles which articulate the scope of the rights and responsibilities can mean the difference between employee engagement and disengagement. Your people should also know exactly how their work contributes to the bigger picture. A clear understanding of the alignment between people work and top level company goals is key. Employees are then able to see how valuable their work is, and it places importance on their job and increases employee engagement.
The steps below are simple efforts to ensure all employees have clearly defined roles and responsibilities:

  • Write out a clear job description for each employee
  • Outline the rights and the decision making scope of the role
  • Clearly define the goals and objectives the role should achieve

4. Opportunities for growth

Providing your people with opportunities for growth instills a confidence that hard work will pay off. The chance to continually grow and develop keeps employees engaged with their work. If employees aren’t given the opportunity to rise and grow, you will notice engagement fall pretty quickly and turnover become a real upward trend. Employees who feel underused and restricted in applying their skills and abilities will quickly look elsewhere for opportunities. For this reason, it’s important to create and offer your employees opportunities for growth.

At certain intervals throughout the year make time to talk with your employees about their career plan. Are they happy with their current role? Do they feel ready to take on a new challenge and expand their skill set? Do they feel they are given adequate opportunities to do so? Map out plans of progression and check in regularly to ensure it’s staying on track.

5. Communication

An organizational environment that fosters good communication, increases the likelihood of employee engagement. When employees receive clear and consistent communication it allows them to feel valued. They are being kept in the loop, and are privy to information required to successfully complete their job. People respond well to the feeling of importance and being valued. As a result they have increased levels of motivation and engagement in their work.

Good communication should be:

  • Frequent
  • Consistent
  • Correct
  • Complete
  • Considerate
  • 2 way street

Though it seems simple enough, fostering good communication takes practice and a dedicated effort. Giving employees channels to properly communicate through will set the stage, you’ll then need to encourage the right type of communication is being conveyed.

6. Recognition and reward

A fairly common motivator of employee engagement in organizations is recognition and reward. Employees who receive recognition and reward for positive contributions to the organization have increased feelings of being valued. When they excel at their job and are praised for their efforts, a level of importance flows through to their role. This all creates an environment ripe to increase employee engagement. So, what are they different types of recognition and reward, and are some superior?

Yes, there’s no denying it, money is important. The most common kind of organizational reward is monetary benefits. It’s a driver of motivation for many, though it does have it’s limits. Studies have shown beyond a certain threshold, money no longer stimulates motivation and engagement. Luckily, there are many other ways to reward and recognize employee contribution.

Organizations who recognize employees for their hard work, allow their employees to feel as though they are a valued team member. This helps people develop a deep bond with the work they are doing.

7. Cultivate friendship

Last but not least, the friendships created amongst employees has some seriously positive effects. When an organizational culture encourages friendships to flourish, employee satisfaction improves immensely, some studies even show up to 50% increase in satisfaction. These personal friendships help build emotional bonds that generate positive feelings towards one’s work and organization.
Organizations can cultivate friendships amongst their people by creating social events that allow employees to show their true selves in a more relaxed environment.

What do you think about these 7 steps? Are we missing a key driver of employee engagement? Let us know what you think about the post.