Employee engagement may sound like some corporate-speak buzzword, but it’s vital to your success. Simply put, employee engagement is the level of commitment and passion your employees have for both your company and the work they do every day.
It’s no secret that highly engaged employees are good for business. When your staff is happy and engaged, they stay with your company longer and do better work. Retaining your top performers saves on overhead expenses tied to hiring. And employees who come to work on time and ready to perform can increase your productivity (21%) and profitability (22%), according to Gallup.
On the flip side, another Gallup study shows that disengaged employees cost an estimated $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. Employee engagement is the difference between an employee who arrives early, stays late and constantly looks for new opportunities to contribute their expertise and one who watches the clock, doing the bare minimum until they can leave. Right now, only 32% of employees in the U.S. say they feel engaged at their jobs. That means more than half of the workforce feels undervalued and disconnected from the work they are doing each day.
Employee engagement doesn’t just matter to business owners. Glassdoor found that more than half (58%) of employees and job seekers feel that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction. People want to know that the work they do is meaningful and that they are valued. You can meet your employees’ needs with a little forethought.
Building Your Employee Engagement Strategy
Whether you already have a strong company culture or you’re just starting to think about how to engage your employees, these tips can help your staff feel excited about coming to work.
Don’t just focus on milestones. Many companies focus on the key milestones when they think about employee engagement: onboarding, leadership development, retirement. But if you wait until an employee reaches the next phase in development, you miss out on opportunities to enrich their everyday experience. At any job, employees spend most of their time in between these milestones. If you focus on creating great everyday experiences, you can help them feel more positive about other aspects of your company culture.
How we focus on everyday experiences: Something as simple as spreading the love with special projects helps our team feel valued. With our pro-bono clients, the creative team rotates each year, which provides a new perspective and allows each employee a chance to work on a project where they can see the impact firsthand.
Get leadership on board. In some corporate cultures, an employee engagement strategy is a bit like an internal marketing campaign. Company leadership rolls out a communication strategy complete with posters papering the break rooms, all of which may be completely ignored by employees. For your strategy to work, there needs to be buy-in from leadership. Your staff pays attention to the behavior of its senior members: who gets rewarded, where you invest your time and budget, and what kind of support is given. If their actions don’t align with your stated company values, then employees won’t put much stock in them either.
How our managers lead by example: Both the partners and senior staff are some of the most active users of our Fuelanthropic time, showing employees that it’s encouraged to use the time allotted to serve our communities. Plus, senior staff members meet regularly with junior and well-established team members to identify areas for growth and connect them with projects that build their skills.
Recognize achievements every day (not just during annual reviews). Your staff won’t automatically become engaged when they receive praise or thanks. But they can easily become disengaged if they feel that their efforts are invisible. When you see an employee put in extra effort, going the extra mile for an important client or investing additional hours to meet a critical deadline, make sure to acknowledge their efforts. After all, employees who aren’t recognized are twice as likely to quit, according to Gallup. If you want to keep your top performers, you need to recognize their efforts, which also includes compensating them accordingly.
How we recognize employees every day: When a project goes well, everyone in the agency hears about it. Management and team leads routinely share feedback from our clients with the entire agency, thanking the team for their hard work. We also encourage peer recognition with our Above and Beyond Awards. Twice a year, two employees who have been nominated by their peers receive a trophy and an extra vacation day to recognize their hard work and commitment to the agency.