An engaged workforce is key to unlocking increased productivity, a great company culture, and more. In this article, we explore what employee engagement is, how to measure it, and what strategies you can use to increase it.
Table of contents
- Employee engagement is how emotionally invested employees are in their jobs and the company they work for.
- Employee engagement is different from employee happiness. Employee happiness can be affected by external factors, while employee engagement is solely based on workplace factors.
- Engaged employees are less likely to miss work, are more productive, and are more likely to go the extra mile.
- There are many options for employee engagement initiatives. You could create time for fun activities, revise your benefits package, publicly recognize employee success, and hold regular pulse surveys.
Businesses with high employee engagement have a higher employee retention rate, increased employee productivity, and are more profitable than those with low engagement. When employees are engaged with their workplace, they’re more likely to stay with their company long-term, tend to be happier at work, and contribute to a great company culture.
But how can you boost employee engagement at your company? In this article, we list the 10 best initiatives to help you develop employee engagement within your team. We also define employee engagement and explore the many benefits of having an engaged workforce.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is an employee’s emotional investment in your business and their connection to the work they do. Engaged employees are more likely to enjoy coming to work and less likely to be absent. They’re also more productive than non-engaged employees.
When employees are engaged with your business, they’re more likely to take part in company initiatives. They’re also more motivated to do their best work. This positive attitude contributes to a great workplace culture and increases your bottom line. In fact, a survey by Gallup found that businesses in the top quartile for employee engagement see 23% higher profitability than those in the lowest quartile.
Is it different from employee happiness?
Employee happiness is different from employee engagement. However, the two are linked. Highly engaged employees tend to be happier in the workplace, but happier employees aren’t always more engaged.
This is because employee happiness can be influenced by a number of factors, many of which have nothing to do with your workplace. This might include personal issues, family situations, and financial stresses.
On the other hand, employee engagement is concerned with how invested employees are in the work they do and the mission of their company. Employee engagement doesn’t increase with employee happiness. However, employee happiness will naturally increase if employee engagement increases.
The Benefits of Improving Employee Engagement
Increased discretionary effort
Discretionary effort is the technical term for “going the extra mile.” Engaged employees are more likely to display discretionary effort and will achieve more than what’s expected of them. This results in a high-performance workplace, increased efficiency, and happier customers.
Studies show that engaged employees are 18% more productive than their peers and make 20% higher sales than non-engaged employees. More productive employees complete more work in less time, reducing the need to hire additional people. This will minimize unnecessary payroll spending.
Businesses with engaged employees can notice a 41% reduction in absenteeism compared to those with low employee engagement. This is because employees are more motivated to come to work when they feel connected to their jobs and the company they work for.
Reduced employee turnover
Forbes states that businesses with high employee engagement experience 59% less turnover than those with low employee engagement. It’s also estimated that replacing an employee will cost between 6 to 9 months of an employee’s average salary. So, reducing employee turnover will increase your bottom line as well.
Strong company culture
As mentioned, engaged employees are more likely to enjoy coming to work and will feel more connected to their team. In addition, higher engagement indicates that employees are more on-board with the company’s mission. This increases teamwork, helps employees see they’re working towards a common goal, and makes them feel happier at work.
All these factors contribute to a company culture of positivity and productivity.
10 Employee Engagement Initiative Ideas for 2023
Below, we dive deep into 10 employee engagement strategies to increase job satisfaction.
Some are HR initiatives for employee engagement, which will need careful planning. But the other employee engagement ideas are quick and easy ways to boost employee engagement at work day to day. Let’s dive in.
Hold an initial employee engagement survey
To increase employee engagement, you first need to understand how engaged the employees working at your company feel.
You should design an employee engagement survey that seeks to understand:
- How employees feel about the workplace
- How employees feel about the current company culture
- Whether employees feel supported at work
- How employees view development opportunities at the business
- Whether employees like coming to work
- How employees feel about their work environment
- What employees’ relationships with their teammates and managers are like currently
- Whether employees have a good work-life balance
- Employees’ thoughts about your current benefits package
- How likely an employee is to recommend your place of work to a friend or family member
Once you’ve collected this data, assemble a team of managers and HR professionals to analyze it. Decide which aspects of employees’ work days stand out the most. Then, devise a plan to address these areas of concern.
For example, if many employees indicate that they feel they have a poor work-life balance, you can consider offering more flexible or remote working options.
Create a formal onboarding process
It’s important to create a great onboarding process for new hires. A business with a lackluster or disorganized employee onboarding process is less likely to retain the employees they’ve hired.
Before each employee starts, you should:
- Ensure you’ve ordered all their equipment and set up their company accounts.
- Give them a tour of the office or job site(s).
- Educate them on health and safety procedures. You can provide training materials like videos and documents, as well as digital training courses.
- Introduce them to their fellow team members. For a fun and engaging introduction, consider having them record a video introduction or post about their arrival on your company newsfeed.
During onboarding, limit the amount of work the new hire has to do. This gives them time to acclimate to their new workplace and complete any necessary training.
You should also make sure that the new hire has access to the employee handbook and company policies and procedures. Block out time for them to read these.
Once your new hire has completed onboarding, set time aside to answer any questions they may have.
A good onboarding process is crucial in achieving high employee engagement. When employees feel welcomed and supported during their initial days on the job, they’re more likely to feel connected to the company’s mission and values. In addition, a thorough onboarding process provides new hires with the necessary tools, resources, and knowledge to feel confident in their roles. This all helps boost employee engagement.
Hold regular pulse surveys
Pulse surveys are anonymous employee surveys held at regular intervals throughout the year. The data collected from pulse surveys develops a baseline for employee engagement data over time.
They’re an extension of the employee engagement survey and usually ask similar questions. However, the point of a pulse survey is to be quicker and more targeted than an in-depth engagement survey. They usually take 10-20 minutes to complete and can help business owners gauge how employees feel and decide what needs to be changed.
For example, say your employees are more frequently taking absences for mental health reasons. You may consider holding a pulse survey to ask:
- What communication is like within the business
- How employees feel about coming to work
- Whether company benefits specifically support employees’ mental health
- How employees rate their work-life balance
This feedback will help you understand what changes need to be made. Acting on pulse surveys also demonstrates to employees that you actually listen to their opinions. Plus, employees will be more likely to participate in surveys in the future if they see changes being made based on pulse survey feedback.
Develop a great benefits package
Offering workers a comprehensive benefits package shows them you care about them as individuals, not just as employees. When employees have access to benefits like healthcare, retirement plans, or flexible working, they feel valued and supported. This, in turn, makes them more engaged with their jobs.
In addition, Forbes found that 40% of employers cite leaving for better benefits as a key reason why employees quit their jobs. So, creating a great benefits package is also an important part of retaining an engaged workforce.
Remember, your benefits package doesn’t need to be expensive. Unlimited paid time off (PTO), subsidized gym memberships, and on-site snacks are great. However, there are many other benefits you could offer that won’t break the bank. These include an employee of the month scheme, offering a PTO buyback scheme, or offering flexible working arrangements.
Offer flexible and remote working initiatives
Flexible or remote working options increase both employee engagement and job satisfaction. They also reduce workplace stress and employee commute time. They help employees find a work-life balance as well.
Importantly, there’s a difference between flexible working and remote working.
Flexible working arrangements can include remote working but they also encompass things like flexible start and end times, choose-your-own-job-site options, and more. For example, if an employee’s contracted hours are 9 am to 5 pm, flexible working would allow them to work 8 am to 4 pm or 7 am to 3 pm.
Remote working is where employees can complete their work from anywhere within their contracted hours. Remote working is usually extended to office workers. However, there are ways to support your deskless or in-field workers with remote working initiatives. For example, with permission, retail managers can plan employee schedules or purchase orders from home.
Flexible and remote working initiatives give employees a greater sense of autonomy over their workdays. This autonomy helps employees manage their work-life balance and builds trust between employers and employees. As a result, it increases employee engagement.
Create time for team building activities
Making time for fun activities can help employees feel more connected to their team and workplace. It’s also a great way to reduce workplace stress and develop a cohesive workplace community.
These activities don’t need to be extravagant or expensive. Something as simple as a potluck lunch or bringing in a cake on a birthday are great ways to get everyone smiling. You could also try setting up a workplace scavenger hunt, attending happy hour with your team, or setting up a company party for a holiday like Halloween.
These activities foster a sense of community and encourage employees to take a break from their busy work schedules, which increases employee engagement.
Recognize employees’ hard work
Recognizing your employees for their hard work is a powerful employee engagement strategy. Employees who feel their efforts are valued and recognized are more likely to repeat the same behavior. Their colleagues will also see that hard work is appreciated by the company and will be more likely to behave similarly.
Something as simple as saying “great job” during a one-on-one chat or sending a thank-you card are cost-effective ways to recognize hard work. For more public recognition, you can send a company-wide email congratulating the employee or hype them up in a post on your company newsfeed.
When creating or refining your employee recognition scheme, you could also try:
- Giving bonuses or cash rewards to high performers.
- Offering additional time off or sabbaticals.
- Gifting company merchandise, such as mugs and t-shirts.
Introduce health and wellness programs
Health and wellness programs increase your team’s physical and mental well-being. This will reduce stress, prevent absenteeism, and minimize payroll spend by reducing sick leave. These programs can include company-subsidized gym memberships, free courses on stress management, and more.
You could also try putting healthy snacks in the breakroom or at job sites. You might even encourage afternoon wellness walks in addition to regular workday breaks. It’s also important to share information about your employee assistance program (EAP) so employees can access mental health support if needed.
Overall, introducing health and well-being programs shows that you care about your team as people, not just employees. This will encourage them to show the same care towards your company. Thus, employee engagement increases!
Support employees’ professional development
You can offer professional development opportunities like one-on-one mentoring, job shadowing, stipends for educational courses, and courses to upskill or cross-skill workers. They can brush up on their current skills or gain new ones.
Providing professional development opportunities shows your employees that you see a future for them at your company. This motivates them to be more engaged at work, take pride in what they do, and stick with your company in the long term.
Make diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ensures that all individuals are treated equally regardless of race, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Making DEI a priority at your company can boost employee engagement. It shows your team that your business is a fair and ethical place to work. It also helps all employees feel like they belong, no matter their background.
To promote DEI in your workplace, review your hiring practices to ensure they’re fair. Ask yourself, “Am I hiring more employees from one particular background? Can I hire more women or more workers from different religious backgrounds? Is the language used in my company’s job descriptions clear, fair, and inclusive?”
To that point, you should also encourage employees to use inclusive language, such as referring to a group of people as “folks” instead of “guys.” Including your pronouns in your email signature is another great way to promote DEI.
An engaged workforce is key to the success of an organization. Increasing employee engagement will reduce turnover, minimize absenteeism, and help develop a great company culture.
You should send out an employee engagement survey to understand your employee engagement levels. This will indicate how your employees are currently feeling and will help you devise a plan to boost employee engagement.
Using this data, you can then plan your employee engagement strategy. There are many employee engagement initiative ideas you can implement in your workplace. These include creating a formal onboarding process, developing a great benefits package, and recognizing your employees’ hard work. You should also take steps to increase DEI and make time for fun during the workday.