Five Steps for Improving Employee Engagement

employee engagement

Why is employee engagement such an inevitable aspect of any successful organization? The 2018 Gallup report on employee engagement indicates that companies having a highly engaged workforce have 21% more profitability, fewer accidents, higher workforce retention and more productivity. A more recent  Harvard Business Review research shows that 92% of executives believe that employee engagement enhances performance and boosts outcomes exponentially. Yet, 85% of the workforce is disengaged and they influence negativity among their productive coworkers. Now that’s even riskier. Well, to put it in numbers, this disengagement costs the US economy a whopping $450-550 billion every year. Hence, we deduce the statistics to a no-brainer that improvement of employee engagement in the organization is crucial and a non-negotiable prerequisite to success. 

What is Employee Engagement? 

Employee engagement is reflected in the enthusiasm and zeal demonstrated  by the employees at work; how invested they are in the performance of themselves and the company.  It determines their discretionary effort that goes beyond the paycheck.

Examples of Employee Engagement

Leading companies e.g. Microsoft, Hilton, Google, Salesforce, Mastercard, PepsiCo, Deloitte, FedEx, Adobe, Accenture, etc leverage employee engagement to fuel and drive business strategies. Let’s look at some surefire techniques that companies have used to engage and sustain talent in their organization. 

  • Many companies went beyond competitive salaries to offer extra compensation like stock options, health insurance and death benefits. 
  • Several leading organizations have given priority to collaboration over hierarchy. They believe in thriving via teamwork and collective brainstorming. 
  • Most new-age corporate offices have a stellar work environment. From cute campus cafes to micro-kitchens, they leave no stone unturned to make the workplace look admirable.
  • Companies have started implementing Kaizen, a cross-functional team activity that involves employee engagement. Resultantly, they were successful in cutting costs and reducing waste. 

5 Steps to Improve Employee Engagement

1. Step up your workplace efficiency

Did you know, on average, an employee is productive only for 2 hours and 53 minutes per day? The rest of their working hours are disrupted by interruptions. This means an average 8 hour employee wastes almost 62% of his time on inefficient tasks. Improving efficiency at the workplace helps an employee focus more on important tasks. Efficiency can be increased by automating trivial procedures that do not require manual power. One way to boost efficiency is to replace outdated devices with new technology. This will motivate your workforce to give better outputs. 

Time-tracking software can be a great way to track the productivity of each employee. These tools provide insightful dashboards reflecting the efficiency during the employee’s work hours, which will push your team to strive harder. 

2. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

S.M.A.R.T stands for — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

Employee engagement magnifies when clear goals are established. When written in a standard pattern, these goals ensure that the objectives are achieved in the given time frame. Here’s how you set up your smart goals:

  • Specific: You need to be clear and concise about what needs to be done in order to achieve that goal. Ask questions like — Why is the goal important? What resources are required to get closer to the objective? This will make your goal sound more pragmatic. 
  • Measurable: Quantifying your goals makes them easy to track. For example, instead of saying that your luggage manufacturing company aims to produce more units in less time, you can quantify it by mentioning that the goal is to produce 3000 more units in a 40-day time frame. 
  • Achievable: Set realistic and sensible goals that are possible to be achieved. Doing otherwise can overwhelm your employees or even disengage them due to low productivity. 
  • Relevant: Make sure that your objectives align with the end goal. You should think about the big picture first before setting small goals. 
  • Time-bound: Setting a deadline can help your team prioritize more critical tasks. These targets can be classified into short-term, medium-term, and long-term timelines. 

3. Prioritize Constructive Feedback

Delegation of tasks alone often disengages the employees from work. Providing constructive feedback not only improves their performance but also makes your team feel that their work is being noticed. Constructive feedback should be given both during the good performance and when there is room for improvement. Most employees do not prefer to receive public criticism. It makes them feel intimidated and targets their self-esteem. Hence, it is important to establish confidentiality during feedback sessions. 

As a leader, it might be easy to applaud the employee’s achievements but challenging to criticize. In the Harvard Business Review article, ‘The delicate art of giving feedback’, employees respond six times more strongly to negative comments than to positive interactions. The best way to communicate areas of improvement is to summarize the employee’s achievements first and then outline the negative feedback. 

4. Emphasize on employee’s Physical and Mental Health

Employee engagement is directly proportional to physical and mental health. Making an effort to enhance the two can boost their morale and productivity. A company wide wellness approach like sponsoring therapy, providing health insurance, and granting ample sick leaves will keep their health in check. Also, the company should ensure that the employee doesn’t have to recompense for their time off by taking an extra work burden. 

5. Engage employees in Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that works on the principle of continuous improvement. Employees collaboratively brainstorm and give feedback by pointing out the areas of improvement and suggesting practical solutions for the same. The approach not only pushes the engagement rate but also points out the flaws in the business model that need to be recuperated. 

In the words of Simon Sinek, happy employees ensure happy customers and happy customers ensure happy shareholders — in that order. Companies that rank on ‘Fortune 100 best companies to work for’ are often the companies with higher employee engagement and better productivity.