A record number of individuals still continue to quit their jobs in various industries. There are numerous reasons for this situation, which include pay scales, benefits, and security. Most businesses seem to understand this and are spending considerable time and money to change the pay structures and offer better benefits and security to bring these individuals back to work.
As the demand for these individuals is increasing daily, offering them better pay and benefits as their last offer will only result in a price war and eventually lead to a lot of companies still not being able to afford to hire great team members.
While pay and benefits have been highlighted as the key reasons behind the individuals quitting their jobs all over the place, one of the key factors has been pushed down to the footnote of these discussions. This key factor is employee engagement, which has dropped for the first time in 10 years, according to a study.
Before understanding what is employee engagement, let us understand its importance. When your pay and benefits are in sync with what other businesses in your industry are already offering, a great employee engagement strategy could be the differentiating factor to win over the individual to join your team or even retain them in your team. This is even more important when it comes to remote teams. Global businesses are still trying to figure out the formula for employee engagement strategies to keep their remote team members engaged.
Now, let’s explore and understand what is employee engagement strategy.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement in its simplest form describes the level of enthusiasm and dedication that an individual feels towards their work. So the question that pops up for HR leaders is how do they create or develop that enthusiasm and dedication within the individuals when they come into work.
Why is employee engagement important?
Here are some stats that illustrate how crucial employee engagement is to building a successful business:
- Over a third of workers in the US are either actively or casually searching for a new job. As a result, employers spend nearly 1 trillion dollars every year due to voluntary turnover.
- According to a Gallup report, highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable. Engaged employees show up to work with passion, purpose, and energy.
- Employees who feel heard in an organization are 4.6 times more likely to be motivated to perform their best work.
The employee engagement model
An employee engagement model is like a map that helps you understand what makes people productive and happy in the workplace. Each model is based on organizational psychology and helps businesses create their own systems for improving employee engagement.
The Zinger Model
David Zinger's employee engagement model showcases 10 actions that managers must take to engage employees. It follows a pyramid structure made of building blocks, where each block is a step that must be taken to foster engagement in the workplace.
The bottom-most row consists of the essentials that every human needs in order to do good work. These include experiencing leveraging energy, making meaning, enlivening energy, and enhancing well-being.
The second row builds upon the essentials to connect individuals to the organization. The key aspects here include building relationships, fostering recognition, and mastering moments.
The third pyramid row converts the building blocks of individual and community engagement into achievable outputs. The steps here include maximizing performance and marking results.
At the very top of the pyramid is the end goal, engaged employees. They will be the ones to increase profitability and take your business to the next level. To achieve these results, ensure that you clearly define your strategic engagement objectives when you start this journey.
The Deloitte Model
Deloitte's engagement model aims to create a workplace that is irresistible to employees and the key to that outcome is culture. In this model, there are 5 elements to culture, each with its own accompanying actions.
- Meaningful work: This includes autonomy, hiring for culture-fit, creating small and empowered teams, and allowing time for slacking.
- Hands-on management: It's important to set clear and transparent goals, provide regular coaching, invest in management development, and manage performance.
- Positive work environment: Create a flexible and humanistic work environment, where there is a culture of recognition, and an inclusive, diverse environment.
- Growth opportunities: Provide training and support on the job, facilitate talent mobility including internal hiring, and develop a high-impact learning culture.
- Trust in leadership: Have a clear mission and purpose, continuously invest in people, optimize for a culture of transparency, and inspire employees.
The AON Hewitt Model
The Aon Hewitt employee engagement model recognizes that employee engagement directly affects metrics across the organization—from customer satisfaction to profits and more. This model bridges the gap between business targets and engagement drivers by adding a middleman: engagement outcomes. These are essentially used by managers to gauge the level of engagement.
The three engagement outcomes can be summarized as say, stay, and strive:
- An engaged employee says positive things about the company. This might also include their coworkers, network, or customers.
- The employee also wants to stay with the company. It's not just the paycheck that makes them want to stick around—they feel loyal to the organization, connected to the people, and have a high level of work satisfaction
- Engaged employees strive to do their best work. They are motivated and tend to contribute above and beyond what’s required of them.
Aon Hewitt also describes the engagement drivers or the six operational levers that define your culture. These help you achieve both business and engagement outcomes. These engagement drivers into two categories: foundations and differentiators.
- The foundational engagement drivers include providing for basic needs, updating company practices like staffing and inclusion, and ensuring that the work itself is mentally stimulating.
- The differentiating engagement drivers set you apart from your competitors. These include your company's brand, leadership, and performance opportunities that involve cultures of feedback, recognition, and learning.
Employee engagement examples
Here are some examples of successful companies that make headlines for diversity, strong cultures, and of course, employee engagement:
The company has spearheaded employee engagement efforts for decades now.
- Open-communication: The company uses a “CEO Connection” page that's built into their internal communications plan. This gives employees the opportunity to network with staff and leaders and fosters top-down communications.
- Pulse surveys: Microsoft’s ‘Daily Pulse’ is a series of pulse surveys that paint a picture of how employees are feeling. They are even used to measure employee engagement trends over time.
- Drive Engagement: Microsoft has “green teams” that offer opportunities to employees who want to be more directly involved in the company’s sustainability work.
Google has consistently featured on Fortune’s annual list of ‘Best Companies to Work For.' Here are some examples of how they foster engagement:
- Exclusive perks: Flexible work schedules, a maternity leave policy that includes 5 months paid time off with full pay and benefits, free health and dental coverage, on-site physicians, and more. In 2006, Google became the first company to introduce a transferable stock option program for employees.
- Data-backed people culture: Longer lunch tables means exposing people to more employees who they can get to know, and using diner booths instead of conference rooms to facilitate creativity. Google also frequently conduct surveys that quiz employees on their work-life balance and use the results to change work culture.
- All-inclusive policy: Every week, Google India holds a companywide meeting where employees can put forward questions to the senior management. Every employee feels like an equal this way, regardless of their place in the hierarchy of the company.
Steve Jobs once said Apple is "organized like a start-up."
- Culture of collaboration: Teamwork is reflected in just about every aspect of the business. From flexible company hierarchies to an open office design—everything is designed to boost collaboration.
- Competitive benefits: Since 2015, Apple has allowed free stock shares to all employees, with grants starting from $1000 to $2000.
- Wellness in the workplace: These include in-house fitness centers and sprawling nature walks right outside their office.
Building an employee engagement strategy
Step 1: Assign the right jobs and offer growth
The secret sauce for employee retention is to place an individual in a role that best fits their skills and interests. It is the most efficient way to align them with the company role, where success is easy to achieve. Once they're in a role they love, ensure that you provide individual attention preferably through a mentor or guide, during their training phase. Training can unbox areas for improvement, ensure accountability, and ultimately increase work satisfaction and productivity.
Step 2: Check-in often
Engagement stops when an employee feels disinterested at work. Ensure that you get timely feedback via surveys and reviews. Find out factors that cause disengagement, and remove sore spots as soon as possible. Remember to offer the basic needs of every employee-pay, career path, safety, and growth.
Step 3: Prioritize open communication
Celebrate wins, open-up avenues for conversation with management, and be approachable. Employees that look forward to work are more likely to be present and motivated. Conduct team-building activities, ensure that employees are looked after well, and foster creativity.
How to measure employee engagement
Here are a few ways you could be measuring employee engagement on a regular basis.
- Pulse Surveys: Create short, frequent surveys to maintain a consistent pulse of how employees are feeling. This can also include free text where they can mention what they would like to have changed.
- 1:1s: Having regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings between managers and employees is a great way to get a real sense of what’s going on with them. It’s a private conversation, and you can get much more detail about each issue that’s brought up.
- Stay/exit interviews: Using structured interviews for current and exiting employees is great for collecting feedback and finding out what works and what holds them back from being engaged.
- eNPS: Using the employee Net Promoter score (eNPS) is the simplest way to measure engagement.
How to improve employee engagement
A few decades ago, the motivation for people to go into a job was good pay and security. That was enough for them to choose a job and stick to it. However, now this scenario has changed, and individuals today do not just want good pay but also want to feel a sense of purpose and connection to achieve the enthusiasm required for them to be engaged at their workplace.
Here are a few ways that businesses can improve employee engagement:
Align with team member’s purpose
Several individuals these days are not just keen about getting their paycheck and benefits from the company. They want to join a company that has a higher purpose than just making money. They want their companies to understand that they are more than just team members, they are humans, they have their goals and are attracted to the purposes that they believe in.
Companies with a strong purpose are more likely to attract and retain these individuals. Activities like volunteering and CSR not only improve the brand equity for the company but also enable team members to align their personal purpose with the company. This creates an enthusiasm in them to work for the company, and they also tend to be more dedicated to the company.
Give them a sense of achievement
Companies are still trying to adapt their performance management systems to identify how to best track and measure the performance of their team members who are currently working remotely. The big question of productivity while working from anywhere is still being debated across virtual boardrooms, and leaders are working hard to rethink the performance and productivity measurement metrics.
On the other hand, individuals are willing to work hard to reach the performance metrics that companies are looking for. However, they are now starting to ask, what about my achievements? What am I achieving in this role and company? Is this something that I would want to be proud of?
Companies that can answer these questions by not just creating a cookie-cutter job role, but allowing individuals to grow and experiment with their skills to achieve the success that they want will be able to experience better employee engagement.
Provide better feedback
Individuals today are looking for jobs that give them more than good pay; they want a sense of satisfaction and achievement. They want to achieve more and do more than just their daily tasks, they want to be guided, and learn beyond their radius.
Over the last few years, there has been an increased focus on learning systems. Companies are looking to upskill and sometimes reskill the people currently working with them. Investing in new learning systems is a great initiative, but all of that amounts to nothing if they are not provided with appropriate and timely feedback from their leaders on how they are learning as well as how they can implement these learnings in their jobs.
This feedback aligns with their need for achievement as they continue to learn and improve their skillsets to reach their personal goals.
Give them a voice
Individuals are engaged in their job when they feel that they have some form of ownership of the company. Most new companies and startups today offer ESOPs, which actually give them ownership in the company, and its potential future fortune. Companies that do not have ESOP plans in place can also consider other ways to create a sense of ownership for their team members.
One of the best ways to do this is to provide opportunities for them to provide feedback and suggestions across various business initiatives. Upward feedback can really do miracles for companies that take the time to understand and implement the feedback that has been provided by the team members.
When the feedback is received from individuals who are working daily, they tend to also ensure that the feedback is constructive, sensible, and can be implemented. They also take a lot of effort to implement the initiatives that they suggest as feedback, as it makes them feel responsible for the initiative and creates enthusiasm in them to work toward implementing something that was initiated by them.
Once you know what is employee engagement beneficial for, you can design a strategy best suited for your organization. The need for employee engagement is high right now in all industries. Companies that can keep their team members engaged and motivated will see immense improvements in retention rates and productivity increase. Companies that fail to act now, may end up in a vicious circle of hiring and resignations.
The power of employee engagement and recognition combined
In a world of instant feedback, how can you make your employees feel valued and appreciated? See how to recognize employees and provide feedback with the best performance management software out there.