Employee engagement is key to the success of any company. It is one of the core human resource (HR) concepts that refer to the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward their job. Engaged employees are passionate about their work and the company’s performance, and they think that their efforts make a difference.
A high employee engagement level means that employees are happy, motivated, and productive. But achieving this goal is no easy task. It takes a concerted effort from both management and employees. However, with so many variables to consider, it can be tough to create a strategy that works consistently and is scalable. So what are the critical elements of an effective employee engagement strategy? In this post, we look at five key factors that one should consider when designing an engagement strategy.
Why has employee engagement strategy become even more critical in the hybrid work era?
Challenges in creating high engagement among employees were already a challenge in the pre-pandemic era for the companies. The pandemic and its associated shifts in working have brought new challenges for companies and managers to create a highly engaged workforce. The remote and hybrid model has given way to a more fluid and flexible model, requiring employees to be more engaged and empowered. In the pre-pandemic era, employees sat together. Hence it was easier to gauge their pulse and moods. Moreover, the post-pandemic age puts a higher onus on the organizations and managers to work strategically toward employee engagement. There are several reasons for this trend:
First, the hybrid work era is characterized by constant change and uncertainty. Employees need to quickly adapt to new situations and take on new responsibilities in this environment. They can’t do this if they do not engage in their work.
Second, the traditional employer-employee relationship is changing. In the past, employees were expected to be loyal and dedicated. However, the balance of power is shifting as knowledge workers trade loyalty for expertise. A prevalent thing in the current times is these hybrid employees (usually millennials) making their own decisions about workloads and how long they should work. Their career goals and their job satisfaction standards are way different from ever before, which significantly involves an elaborated work-life balance explicitly. This trend leads employers to depend on a new breed of employees: happy but self-interested.
Third, retention has become more challenging than ever. It presents a massive challenge for companies that have adopted a hybrid format. In the hybrid setup, employees are more likely to quit their jobs if they feel that their skills are no longer put to use or the company’s expectations have changed. Also, working in a remote or a hybrid setup doesn’t allow employees to build strong belongingness or positive emotional connection with the organization. This makes it easier for them to quit if things don’t go their way.
In the traditional workplace, employees were more likely engage in their work. After all, they’re surrounded by other employees and physical office space. Employees often isolate from their colleagues and work environments in the remote setup. It makes it more difficult for employees to feel part of the team, which is critical in maximizing employee engagement.
It makes the task cut out for HR leaders to implement engagement strategies.
What is missing in the current employee engagement strategy?
The current employee engagement strategy is missing something that stops it from being effective. Leaders, HR heads, and managers have been trying to fix it for years, but the issue persists. According to The Starr Conspiracy, $ 205.5 Mn was invested in employee engagement measurement in 2021. Even after that, the turnover rates of employees worldwide are at an all-time high. We can see organizations struggling to engage their employees and retain them.
Organizations are still trying to work on several essential topics, such as building inclusiveness and belongingness in their employees. Why? Somewhere or the other, there are still several shortcomings in the current employee engagement strategy. The major ones of those shortcomings do include:
1) Employee engagement is still not being looked at as strategically as it should be
Employee engagement is a hot topic these days, with many companies striving to create an engaged workforce. A study by Forbes in 2018 showed that 83% of companies with high employee engagement had outperformed the S&P 500 Index over the past five years. But even though employee engagement has become a strategic goal for many companies, it’s still not being looked at as strategically as it should be.
A recent study by staffing company EY revealed that while almost two-thirds of companies are taking employee engagement seriously, only a fraction (11%) are implementing strategies that effectively motivate and engage employees. The biggest miss due to which this happens is that Employee Engagement remains an HR initiative to gauge the engagement and loyalty levels. It is still not an integral part of the overall company’s strategy. It is where the CEOs have to play a more significant role.
A lack of engagement can harm everything from retention costs to customer loyalty. To be successful in the future, make sure your employee engagement strategy is top-notch and geared towards fostering a positive workplace culture!
2) It remains a once a year data collection exercise
While it is true that employee engagement is an important HR metric, it is often measured once a year and used as the basis for bonus or salary decisions. Employee engagement should be measured on an ongoing basis, not just at the end of a fiscal year. When you measure employee engagement on an ongoing basis, you can detect trends and determine whether your efforts are having the desired impact. Employee engagement can be improved by measuring it using a variety of metrics, such as:
- Engagement levels among new hires
- Employee engagement levels over time
- How employees respond to feedback
- Why are they quitting your organization
Additionally, measuring employee engagement helps you identify any areas in which your employees may be feeling disengaged or unappreciated. By taking these steps, you can create a winning employee engagement strategy that will improve the morale of your workforce and result in improved performance.
3) Not leveraging the entire organization, including the people managers, to bring change
At a time when employee engagement is at an all-time low, it’s no wonder that many companies don’t seem to know how to fix it. After all, if you can’t engage your employees, how can you expect them to deliver on the promises they’ve made? The truth is, that most companies don’t have a strategy in place to address employee engagement issues. For any organization to deliver on its objectives, it must rely on its people managers. It is true for employee engagement also. However, that is an asset that companies seldom use when it comes to fixing the engagement levels in teams.
In fact, many managers are completely unaware of the importance of employee engagement, and therefore, aren’t able to take the necessary steps to improve it. Moreover, managers are often unaware of the various strategies and tactics that can be used to boost employee engagement. The truth is, the current employee engagement tools alienate this layer of people managers. These tools tend to give managers a lot of data but fail to support them in change.
HR leaders should remember that managers play a prominent role in employee engagement and need to be engaged themselves to engage their employees. Therefore, this gap needs to be filled quickly.
4) Less focus on employee experience that is an input to employee engagement
When it comes to employee engagement, the focus is on the employee, not the experience. That’s why your engagement strategy should centre around understanding and addressing the employee’s needs and goals. You can engage your employees by focusing on their experience and making sure that it is positive. This means giving your employees the tools and resources they need to be successful and to feel like they are a part of the company culture.
A well-rounded employee engagement strategy focuses on building relationships with your employees, engaging them in the mission and vision of the company, and providing them with opportunities to grow and develop their skills. It is the overall experience, that employees get at the company, that translates into engagement. Experience is the input and engagement is the output. Hence, your employee engagement strategy should focus on measuring and changing the input i.e. Employee Experience.
5 Secrets On How To Create A Winning Employee Engagement Strategy
There are several ways organizations can develop an effective employee engagement plan or strategy for their workplace which can guarantee long-term success. The six best secret ways which can help your organization stand out include:
1. Identify your company’s unique assets and positioning
Every company has unique assets that one can leverage to create an employee engagement strategy. When you know what makes your company special, you can find ways to communicate that to your employees. For example, if your company is known for its customer service, you can highlight the importance of customer satisfaction in your messaging. Or, if they know your company for its innovative products, you could focus on the importance of creativity and problem-solving.
Once you know what makes your company unique, you can start to position it in a way that will engage employees. It involves communicating the company’s values and mission, transparency in decision-making processes, and empowering employees to make decisions that impact their work environment.
2. Bring measurement that is agile, real-time, and scalable
Organizations need to have an effective measurement product to create effective employee engagement strategies. There are several specifications you should look for while selecting one for yourself.
- Real-time: It is important to remember that engagement is not an annual exercise. Hence the measurement of engagement can’t be a yearly exercise as well. Since employees’ experiences happen every day, you should measure them frequently also. Moreover, measuring employee engagement or experience once or twice a year may lead to a skewed picture. That picture will depend on the state of mind employees have at that time. On the other hand, a more real-time view of employee experience brings out these variations in measurement.
- Agile: Measurement engagement is highly dependent on the context of the organization. Therefore, while choosing a measurement tool, you should make sure that the tool should be able to quickly adapt to change according to changes in the organizational structure or the environment they work in.
- Scalable: While choosing a measurement tool, you should also ensure that the tool you select is scalable. There’s a chance that your organization may increase in size. But if your measurement tool doesn’t allow the measurement of your new hires, then there’s no point in it being in place. It should also be able to automatically distribute the findings to all relevant people managers. The faster they distribute the insights, the faster the change and understanding will be.
3. Enable the managers to change engagement and experience levels in their span of control
Every organization is different and will have a different view on how best to engage and motivate its employees. Very few organizations leverage the most powerful asset at their disposal i.e., the people managers. By enabling the managers to change in their span of control, they can increase engagement levels drastically.
There are many different ways that organizations can enable their managers to change employee engagement and experience levels. The most crucial part is that the organization must trust its managers to make the right decisions for their team. Once this trust is in place, the organization can provide the necessary tools and resources to help the managers succeed. They can provide them with coaching and handholding to make sure that they understand what they need to do.
Due to the large scale, companies can’t do this coaching manually through HR teams. Therefore, organizations should look for tools or systems that can coach their managers to change the engagement and experience. Having one platform that measures and brings behavior change in the managers and employees unlocks several hidden forces in the company.
4. Reward managers for their efforts to build engagement and experience in their span of control
Having a recognition program and rewarding plan for managers to reward their efforts to build engagement and experience will motivate them. These perks should push managers to drive up engagement in their span of control by working on their professional development, thus creating a virtuous cycle that boosts bottom-line growth.
Organizations also need to think that the reward will not be small but significant as its goal is to impact their organization’s performance and reputation positively. Organizations should include engagement and experience metrics as a part of their managers’ performance evaluations. Doing so will encourage them to work hard for it.
5. Invest in employee training programs that emphasize cross-cultural understanding and productive teamwork
With a rapidly changing and increasingly globalized workforce, it is more important than ever for businesses to invest in employee training programs that emphasize cross-cultural understanding and productive teamwork. To successfully facilitate employee engagement and positive employee experience, companies need to work collaboratively with employees from different cultures. Businesses can create a more engaging, diverse, and successful workforce by providing employees with the necessary training to understand and work productively with people from other cultures. Organizations should also start circulating an employee engagement survey across their workplace to gain information from employees about if they are feeling engaged in their work.
You can further use gamification for increasing employee engagement within your team. This includes Competitions, Badges, Leaderboards, Bonus prizes etc. These exercises will work in motivating your team members to constantly give their best at work which will enhance your team’s overall performance and engagement.
Employee engagement is one of the most critical aspects of any company’s success. It’s crucial for the morale and productivity of employees, retaining top talent, and boosting innovation. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to achieve positive employee engagement levels, which has led to disengagement and a rising trend of employee departures. This blog post will provide you with six insights on creating a winning employee engagement strategy. By following these five secrets, we believe that organizations can take employee engagement at their workplace to a whole new level.