From personal growth to making work fun: Here’s what you need to do to keep your employees engaged

Just imagine that right at this moment your best employee is sending someone his CV or updating his profile on Upwork, or even worse, negotiating a time for an interview with your competitor. Would you like to know why? And how to deal with this?

Companies are focused on building strong public relations to gain recognition from the customers and partners. They are picky about the media they are featured in, trade shows they are showcasing their achievements, and about their product to satisfy customers’ needs. In reality, for a company to become successful, it’s important to pay attention to both external relations as well as internal ones. Unfortunately, many employers neglect the importance of employee engagement which in turn, leads to decreased productivity, worse customer relations, and higher turnover.

To increase employee retention, the company should develop employee engagement. Why does employees’ engagement matter? When the workers love their job, they perform enthusiastically, and it positively affects financial indicators of the enterprise.

What is employee engagement

Engagement is the attitude of employees when they do their job with genuine interest, and full dedication, while being extremely productive and hitting the company goals. It’s an indicator of a trusting relationship between the organization and its employees where the company creates comprehensive conditions for the workers to grow as a professional and achieve self-realization.

Let’s walk away from the business and step into a high school history class. Joe is trying to listen to his professor because his parents promised him a nice summer vacation if he ends the semester with “A” grades. Meanwhile, another student Michael is learning the history of the Roman Empire simply because he is interested. He asks lots of questions during the lectures, comes back home and watches historical TV shows. He is planning a trip to the Roman Forum this summer to see the founding of the ancient Roman Empire with his own eyes.

Joe is artificially motivated while Michael is truly engaged as a student. Can you imagine how different things would be if every student had the same attitude towards the class as Michael? The students will become closer, united by a common hobby, get higher grades, and can even receive a grant for the state historical contest. It could positively influence school rank, making the director happy and make the school itself more prestigious within the state.

The same approach is applicable to businesses. Everyone – from the ordinary employee to the business owner – will benefit if the team is engaged.

The problem

Most of the team leaders and C-levels manage their workers relying on the quantitative factors – sales plans, KPIs, job descriptions etc. Herewith, they forget they are working with people and do not pay attention to their emotional feelings. But it is in vain! Emotions are like fuel for our actions, and positive emotions are a fuel for positive actions. Same with employees, while having positive emotions, they tend to deliver different results and achieve a higher level of effectiveness.

Thus, if you want your employees to achieve goals (and outperform!) take care of their positive emotional tone.

Top 23 employee engagement ideas and how to implement them

When surfing the Internet and looking for the related books on Amazon, you will find tons of ideas for employee engagement at work. The thing is that every company is unique, with its corporate culture, management mode, and atmosphere. You need to make an analysis and pick the most appropriate employee engagement ideas that work specifically within your company.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of employee engagement activity ideas that proved their effectiveness.

1. Respect your employees

If you ask your employees what treatment they want at the workplace, most of them would definitely ask for respect. This might sound obvious. However, not many managers demonstrate their respect to the workers. Basic respect rules include but are not limited to:

  • Polite and kind behaviour
  • Encouragement to express ideas
  • Usage of employees’ ideas
  • Equal conditions for all employees etc

You will find more advice and rules on the web, but the general one is to treat your colleagues the way you want to be treated.

2. Recognize Accomplishments

Acknowledging the achievements of employees is a low-cost but high-impact approach. A worker wants to feel that their attempts and achievements will not go unnoticed. It does not necessarily have to be a cash reward (although the majority are waiting for exactly this), but a thankful email can be a good option. Public recognition is a better way to boost workers confidence. The main thing is to demonstrate that you notice every achievement, you value your workers and appreciate their commitment.

Neal Taparia, who runs Spider-Solitaire-Challenge, explains “I send out weekly emails about company progress, and in the email, I give shoutouts for standout work. One of our engineers who had released a new solitaire game and was thrilled to be mentioned in the email. Simple actions can make a huge difference.

3. Improving employee engagement with mentoring

Mentoring programs can be both engaging for senior employees who feel exhausted, and for newcomers who can feel that the company takes care of them. Mentoring is all about collaboration and building relations between the mentee and mentor. The mentor develops his leadership skills while the mentee adopts relevant knowledge and insights. You must admit that it’s easier for you to practice in the gym, knowing that an experienced trainer is behind you.

4. Provide opportunities for development

Employees have to be constantly upskilled in order to be involved. Once they gain new knowledge and see the progress they achieve, they stay motivated. Let your colleagues attend industry conferences and professional meetups. While sharing the same space, it’s possible to meet influencers or industry experts they admire, make a new connection, find the next mentor or even sit next to your potential customer.

5. Establish a clear vision

While working from 9 to 5 and being focused on everyday tasks that should be completed, it’s sometimes hard to keep in mind the mission of the company and the common ultimate goal. Which is why company leaders have to reinforce the vision and motivate the team to contribute to that vision. It’s a roadmap that leads to success.

6. Timely Communication

One of the methods to measure employee engagement is to conduct exit interviews with the employees that are leaving your company. However, it’s much more effective to talk to your workers while they are still with you and it’s then possible to impact employee retention. Find out what makes the employee keep working with you and what factors may make them leave. Try to prevent the disaster before it’s too late.

7. Improve the workspace environment

Nowadays, the job market is very competitive and employees have lots of opportunities. Employees no longer want to stay at the same company for their whole life, they would rather choose the companies that resonate with their values. To attract new employees and retain existing ones, companies should create an engaging work environment and psychologically safe. Often, employees feel disengagement when they are sick and tired of a boring office. Therefore, try to create a unique and comfortable space around them.

8. Provide Flexible Work Hours and Locations

Flexible work hours have already proved to be very beneficial. Studies show that flexible work hours lead to increased employees’ satisfaction, loyalty, engagement, higher job satisfaction, better productivity, reduced employee turnover, etc. A free schedule also reduces conflict between work and life responsibilities. Research shows that successful accomplishments of life responsibilities helps employees perform better. Flexible locations are also suitable for both employers and employees. For example, working from home frees up at least an hour, which is usually spent to get to and from the office, at the same time reducing organizational costs for employers.

9. Give your employees more responsibility, not just more tasks to do

A huge mistake of a manager is trying to do everything by his\her own without delegating responsibilities. Tons of stories and researches show that this can lead only to the company’s decline. There are many reasons why not delegating is bad, but here are a few of the most important ones:

  1. It doesn’t let you spend enough time on higher-level tasks because you are overloaded with routine
  2. Ruins trust between workers
  3. Doesn’t let your employees learn and develop new skills

On the other hand, delegating improves efficiency, time-management, and productivity.

10. Hold Regular Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorming sessions, if done correctly, can be very useful. Such sessions improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills of an individual and of a team. Employees find it easier to share their ideas and to accept their colleagues’ thoughts. The most important thing to do during a brainstorming session is to follow some simple basic rules, i.e.: no criticizing, generation of a wide array of ideas, new ideas based on existing ones, any idea is good, etc.

11. Give your people “inside” information

Employees do not want anything to be hidden from them. The management and HR department often neglect this, as a result, the engagement is affected. Share some ‘insider’ information with your employees and do not hesitate to invite them into meetings where you will address the issues of the company’s future. Not everyone will attend the meeting, but your level of trust won’t be ignored.

12. Implement Continuous Feedback

Most workers are not ready to come to the head and say bluntly that they are not comfortable at the workplace.Take the initiative and ask colleagues to anonymously share their thoughts. Conduct a short survey among employees. For example, ask the following questions:

  • How are you feeling within your team?
  • Are you happy with career prospects?
  • Is it possible to improve work in a team or in a company?

Be sure to let your employees know that you heard them. Some ideas and suggestions will not be easy to implement immediately, so split them into stages and keep colleagues informed about the progress.

13. Build relationships at work

The main reason why good relationships at work are important is that employees enjoy their work more when they don’t need to spend time overcoming relation-related problems. In turn, it results in increased productivity. Good relations are crucial for developing careers. It is unlikely that the boss will consider an employee for an open position if there is no trust between them. So, if you are a team leader, try to develop trust, mindfulness, mutual respect, and open communication in your team.

14. Make Work Fun

Why not make Friday a day to spend some fun time together? Shorten your workday by a couple of hours and go wall climbing, bowling, take a cooking class or just share a couple of drinks with each other. Such social events help people to connect with people they do not communicate with on a daily basis. It helps to create a stronger feeling of the community within the organization.

15. Help With Personal Growth

From the first glance, there is no connection between employees’ personal development and their productivity at work, but in fact it is pretty straightforward: when employees know that you cherish them, they will reciprocate. Usually, employees spend an average of no more than 5 years at one company. If they feel that the company is not interested in their self-development, they are more likely to find another job. Even a simple activity such as guitar playing can play a significant role in relieving stress. So ask yourself, do you want your employees to be stressed and unhappy or relaxed and engaged?

16. Promote Wellness

There is a direct correlation between the health of personnel and their productivity. It sometimes happens that we are so busy with work and household duties that we don’t have time to take care of our health. This influences work capacity.

The upshot is clear – staff wellbeing should be integrated into the company’s business strategy. Develop a comprehensive package of benefits and initiatives and carry out systematic work towards this direction. Start small and put some healthy snacks in the office fridge or order some fruits and organize a fruit time. Find a gym near the office and provide your employees with membership cards. To go the extra mile – hire massage therapists to help workers relieve stress. Any step towards a healthy lifestyle enhances employee engagement.

17. Let Your Employees Focus on What They Do Best

There is a story that explains this thesis the best. Most of you know that Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, but probably few of you know that he did it while working on a side project when he was not involved in formal experiments.
Today, big companies like Google allow their employees to spend some time on projects they want to do if they are related to the industry. And this approach proved itself to be quite successful. It will help you, as a manager, attract the best people with the best ideas.

18. Focus on Collaboration & Working Together

Both social and professional collaboration at work increases engagement among employees. They are connected, they share ideas and experience, and sales or production cycles become shorter. It’s a new way for the team to complete tasks that are always engaging, and this increased productivity is beneficial for the company. Invest in the best project management tools to keep them collaborating on projects under a single platform. Think of some social and volunteering projects that might be interesting for your colleagues. Common projects that are united by a shared hobby can be a good way to drive employee engagement.

19. Encourage Experimentation

Routine eventually leads to burn out. Establish the challenges and motivate the team to unleash maximum potential by changing the work process that they’re used to. Set clear goals and let your workers find the path by themselves. It’s fine if they make mistakes, but who knows, you might celebrate a new success? Conduct experiments like letting your colleague work in another department. Let them know the ins-and-outs of the business. This kind of shuffle helps employees get to know each other better and apply new knowledge and approaches to their own position.

20. Listen to the employees

You should always remember that employees have the greatest value in your company. Thus, you should pay a lot of attention to their opinion. Talk to your colleagues face to face, run surveys, or go for a beer with them – this will help you better understand their needs, find weak spots in the company and solve them. Remember that a happy employee is a productive employee!

#21, 22, 23… – creative ideas for employee engagement that you’ve successfully integrated into your company. Share the most unusual in the comments under this article!

How to Measure Employee Engagement

If the company hasn’t worked on employee engagement before, the initial analysis is likely to yield minimal results. Engagement is not the constant value – after a vacation or a teambuilding event, people are normally full of enthusiasm and desire to work. While the employees, who are doing monotonous work without proper encouragement are close to the burnout syndrome.

To prevent this syndrome, that the World Health Organization has recently included in the handbook of diseases, use the following techniques to measure the level of company’s employee satisfaction.

  1. Pulse Surveys. Short but frequent surveys are an excellent way to keep abreast of the staff mood and respond quickly to the negative changes. The questionnaire should not be long and complicated – it is enough to include from 5 to 10 questions about the feelings of your colleagues.
  2. One-on-Ones. Team leaders have to be proactive and establish one-on-one meetings on a regular basis. Employees have to be sure that you value their work and consider their suggestions. One-on-one sessions help reveal individual employee goals and the ways you can shape them into the company goals.
  3. Exit Interviews.HR managers can get valuable insights into the working atmosphere from a particular department or the company as a whole from the exiting employees. Such people can be more candid and provide constructive feedback about the organization. Even though it’s too late to improve relationships with a certain person, it’s a good opportunity to find out the issues that have to be solved immediately to keep current employees loyal and happy.

Employee engagement software

You might think that the only thing you need to measure employee engagement is an experienced HR manager who can conduct surveys, one-on-ones and has the power of empathy. But you are wrong. In the era of digitalization, there are particular employee engagement software that can act as a supplemental tool.

Working with different teams sometimes feels like two different universes: sales team complains about the lack of leads, while the marketing team blames them for neglecting the leads. One software to align all departments is a CRM system.

CRM system is a software to manage incoming leads and nurture client relationships. It helps all departments stay on the same page by accessing the information about every deal. Some CRMs are built-in your fav Gmail account and help sales reps close deals right from their email account, eg. NetHunt CRM.

It keeps the sales team on their toes, ensuring healthy competition among employees:

  • CRM shows the total amount of closed deals and revenue.
  • Allows sales reps to plan and time-manage like a pro.
  • Schedule bulk emails and follow-ups
  • Decrease routine time by at least 20%
  • Monitor the performance of every sales rep

A handy CRM system helps your team set up complete transparency in their daily routine and allows you to share insights, learn and improve overall team performance. This, in turn, increases the team spirit and maximize the productivity of every employee.

And remember, staff engagement is not a science. It depends on your decisions, your behavior, and your actions as a true company leader. Develop employee engagement strategies and implement them step-by-step.

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