Companies with a high percentage of engaged employees are usually the most performant. On average only 15% of employees are engaged, with this number reaching around 70% for the most performant companies.
It becomes impossible to have 100% of engaged employees when your company reaches a certain size. All mid-size to big organizations have disengaged employees, which cost about $3,400 for every $10,000 in salary. So even the best companies are losing big amounts of money on employee disengagement.
To solve this problem, some executives and managers put more control over what employees are doing and how they’re using their time in the office. But it only makes the problem worse, because your best performers won’t be comfortable working in an environment where they don’t have the autonomy and flexibility to do their best work.
The most successful employee engagement initiatives put control and autonomy back into the hands of individual employees and inspire them to contribute to the development of the company creatively.
Here are nine tips to consider when implementing employee engagement initiatives at your company.
1. Encourage bottom-up initiatives
Employee engagement is what some call the future of performance management. It’s a new approach that helps employees and leaders make better decisions to grow the company. It enables a movement from bottom to top, contrary to top-down approaches where managers dictate everything. It gets employees to bring as much of their passion and talent to work as possible.
Here are some of the things you can do to make your employees more engaged in the success of your company:
- Recognizing and appreciating great work
- Giving short and frequent feedbacks
- Facilitating internal communication
- Nurturing informal learning
- Measuring, surfacing insights and reacting in real-time
- Encouraging organic manager-employee conversations
- Adult-adult relationships between parties
- Focusing on strengths instead of scolding for weaknesses
- Promoting transparency
Your objective would be to make people feel fulfilled and happy so that they can contribute their best to the company.
2. Share your vision and strategy
Achievers’ 2015 North America Workforce report found that 60 percent of employees didn’t know their company vision. This is alarming considering the positive impact a vision statement has on the employees.
The question is this; can the team develop the best strategies if they are not aware of the vision (the light in the dark) that drives the company? The answer is obviously, “No.”
If there’s one secret behind Apple Inc.’s success story today, then it’s based on the effort made by the early founders (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak) to make “Personal computers available for the rest of us.” Steve Jobs was not just visionary, but he was a missionary, he consistently shared the company vision and strategy with all employees.
Another good company did something great that kept the vision of the company alive, with employees intimately connected: MCI Global, one of the most prominent convention planners in the world. At every meeting with three or more employees, someone must read one paragraph from the Vivid Vision. The expectation was that doing this makes sure that the Vision was always top-of-mind for all of their employees.
They started doing this in 2009 when they were at $100 million in revenue. Today, MCI Global is roughly $700 million. CEO Sebastian Tondeur credits the Vivid Vision as a critical part of their growth.
You should share, evaluate, and discuss your strategy with your employees at least every quarter via a meeting. They must know your vision, your ideas, and the actions you intend to put in place.
Their commitment will lie in contributing to the achievement of your vision. Moreover, sharing your vision and strategy with your employees demonstrates your desire for transparency.
Note: Most employees prefer to work in a company that does not hide anything.
3. Set aligned objectives
As previously stated, employee engagement is about putting the employee at the heart of the business. It means that you have to trust them when defining the company’s goals.
Traditionally, top executives defined and melted out objectives, and managers conveyed the information down to the organization members, then decided how to achieve each objective in sequence. But things have started to change.
Employees now have different expectations:
- Life-work balance as opposed to work-life balance
- Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace
- OKRs (Objective and Key Results)
- Millennials’ ways of working
- Employee mental health
- Employee development
- Transparency culture
- Employee autonomy
People now want to be more connected to their work. Employees would appreciate being involved in their organization’s decision making. Anything contrary to this approach is more likely to increase employee turnover.
Hence, goals no longer have to come unilaterally from the top level of the company to the bottom. They will often start from the initiative of the employees (bottom-up).
Employees will be able to define their objectives to stay aligned with the company vision. But it is also important to ensure that this process can be visualized and progress trackable.
It would be best if you considered implementing a continuous performance management system to ease the process; plus, it allows you to evaluate performance and make quick adjustments when necessary.
An excellent way to implement aligned goals setting is the OKRs methodology. OKRs remains one of the best goal setting frameworks since its pioneer usage at Google starting 1999 when John Doerr introduced it. Other great companies using OKRs include Amazon, Adobe, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, etc.
Do not forget to provide your employees with the resources they need to implement an excellent OKRs system. For a start. See How to write Objective and Key Result – Practical Examples.
4. Give employees autonomy to carry out their tasks
Autonomy is the extent to which people have the freedom to make their own decisions about the content and planning of their work. Research conducted by the University of Birmingham showed that employees with higher levels of autonomy in their work reported positive effects on their overall well-being and higher levels of job satisfaction.
You won’t be able to have good employee engagement if you can’t delegate responsibilities to your employees. For effective results, managers must empower their subordinates to make their own decisions and take initiatives.
Employees won’t need to come to the manager every time they encounter difficulties. They won’t need to escalate to the top-level problems that can be managed at the lower levels. Decisions will be made faster, and you’ll have more time to focus on what matters.
It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.Steve Jobs
5. Establish a strategic growth roadmap
For super-speedy company growth in significant areas by the end of the year, a growth roadmap is an ideal toolkit. It highlights the essential tasks that contribute to the rapid growth of the company. In a nutshell, it is a reference point for the daily activities of employees.
The fact that any team or an employee at the company can sneak-peek at this roadmap to understand how the rest of the organization will participate in growth, and thus, plan their initiatives accordingly, is a good reason to take this point very seriously.
Good growth roadmap should answer the following questions:
- What are our desired outcomes?
- How do we plan to meet them?
- At what level are we presently?
- How can we prioritize these initiatives for maximum impact?
Your product vision is the main focus for the rest of your growth planning, so don’t skimp on this crucial step! Find examples of product vision here. You will build further strategies based on the product vision you have defined. Every team will be able to derive its short term roadmap from the vision and every team member will know the task to prioritize.
Here’s a typical example of how a product team defined its priorities based on their company’s roadmap:
6. Communicate frequently, establish regular check-ins and 1-on-1s
Communication among teams is an indispensable asset in a company. Popular researches have proven that frequent communication among team members fuels employee engagement and enables steady task completion.
In a traditional performance management program, a performance review is usually conducted yearly or bi-yearly, meaning employees and managers have to pile up all the changes, ideas, suggestions or anything they had to discuss till the next performance review. The result is very poor, 87% of employees were found to be unsatisfied with this approach.
A recent report by Globoforce punctuated that 89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing feedback and regular check-in are key for successful outcomes.
Organizations that have adopted a more frequent pace of performance management and feedback see increased productivity, engagement levels rising between 83% and 87%, and a 33% decrease in voluntary attrition.
The anatomy of great check-ins
Check-ins are done on a daily or weekly basis with the employee in control.
Check-ins should be empowering and collaborative for both manager and employee and also amongst the employees. Hence, it should be open for everyone to see and make contributions if necessary – Transparency is supported.
Everyone knows what everyone is doing. Feedback can easily be given. Recent accomplishments can be shared across the company’s feeds.
Check-ins should provide an opportunity to collect data more frequently, with a more formal format than an unstructured conversation, but without the rating and pressure of a full performance review.
Some intuitive work tools like Happierco facilitate check-ins and make life easier; of course, if you care enough about employee engagement; this is worth implementing.
7. Track progress
Employee engagement depends on monitoring the progress of the goals at every level of the organization and also having employees follow their personally defined goals for continuous improvement.
Keeping track of the progress made in the company isn’t just for the top-level executives, it should be a conscious reminder for employees too, thereby making them more committed to achieving those goals. They’ll know what to prioritize, what to improve or change, and how to get it done faster.
A typical way to better implement this process for the benefits of everyone in the company is by using a structured OKRs system.
Another good use of this type of dashboard is that you can easily track the source of the progress (an answer to: where are we making progress?). Having an overview of the OKRs at every level of the company, with their status, growth metric, last update made on each OKRs and a global statistics of how the company is performing globally puts top executives, managers, and employees at the best position to make quality decisions that matters and also gets everyone on the same page.
Tracking progress also means recognizing your team members’ work and congratulating them. You have to celebrate the best performers to motivate them more. Motivation is at the root of engagement.
8. Create employee development plans
One of the key elements of employee engagement is employee development. Finding smart employees is not just everything. Research shows that 56% of businesses plan on hiring in the next 12 months while 82% plan on developing employees more. These companies have learned that Millennials are looking for support, coaching, and paths to advancement.
Employee development can be about organizing regular training to improve employees’ skills. They can also acquire new skills that do not directly relate to the job they do for the company.
Here are strategies to implement employee development efficiently:
Create Individual Development Plans
It is clear that even though employees work on the same vision, everyone still has their own goals. That is why most HR leaders suggest asking a candidate on their interview day what they want to achieve by working for the company.
A manager should sit with an employee to discuss their personal goals while they are working for the company and create a development plan together. Psychologically, this shows that you care about their welfare, and in return, you get a committed employee.
No matter how intelligent an employee can be, if they are not growing with the marketplace trends, new practices, strategies, and tactics, your business may also fail to evolve with time.
It is vital to organize professional training for your employees to keep them updated and well informed in their respective roles and positions. You can augment this process with business books, seminars, or even access to e-learning on topics from project management to leadership training.
Provide Performance Metrics and Constructive Feedback
Performance metrics are an integral part of organizational success. They are the figures and data representative of a company’s actions, abilities, and overall quality. This is quite similar to the dashboard we discussed earlier on tracking progress.
However, to be able to provide constructive feedback to employees, help them grow and keep them more engaged; A 360-degree feedback system should be implemented.
A 360-degree feedback system helps employees measure their strengths and weaknesses base on some reasonably defined competencies to know what they should improve on. In addition, it helps managers measure the engagement level of individual employees. Through this means, managers can provide employees the best feedback they need to grow based on metrics.
Initiate a learning atmosphere outside of the job function
A lot of organizations, especially growing companies, make this mistake of making employees believe they can only function within their department. But, to engage an employee in the nut and craning of an organizational background and develop them for more important roles in the company; they need to understand at least how every aspect of the organization work.
This can be done by creating opportunities for employees to take up a new role after a quarter or to take up an additional responsibility outside of their job function. This job rotation strategy will put them in a new situation, new experience, and new challenges. However, it will go a long way to expand their skill set. This kind of employee development creates excitement and energy in the workplace.
Be an Example
We all know that good leaders lead by example. The reason why this is very important is that 99% of the employees are always looking up to you. You are a motivation to them knowingly or unknowingly. Therefore, as a leader, you should focus on being at the forefront of information and self-development.
In general, creating an employee development plan means thinking about the happiness, development, and skills of the employees. The more competent and fulfilled they are, the better results they’ll give. They will be more engaged and productive.
9. Evaluate the effectiveness of your employee engagement initiatives
The primary purpose of employee engagement initiatives is to increase employee engagement level, retention, and productivity. Therefore, it is crucial to make regular assessments to ensure the effectiveness of your employee engagement initiatives via pulse surveys. This is quite different from the annual or bi-annual employee assessments or surveys being conducted as part of the traditional method of performance management.
Pulse surveys are regarded as part of modern performance management. Pulse surveys are often described as shorter, frequent, trackable, and optional anonymous assessments conducted to better study, track, and understand the progress of engagement initiatives in your company’s workforce.
It is also important to have a tool that shows the insights derived from pulse surveys to gauge the progress of engagement, warning of potential dangers, understanding trends in the employee experience, and actions to take.
A screenshot of Happierco survey system displaying results of previous surveys under each attribute, their engagement progress and scores.
Initiating employee engagement strategies in your company is simple and can have a high return on investment. Don’t worry if looks overwhelming the first time. After you’ve walked your team through the processes a few times, it will be part of everyone’s lifestyle.
The next time you have a meeting to improve your company culture; build a strong employee engagement strategy by following these nine tips:
- Encourage bottom-up initiatives
- Share your vision and strategy
- Set aligned objectives
- Give employees autonomy to carry out their tasks
- Establish a strategic growth roadmap
- Communicate frequently, establish regular check-ins and 1-on-1s
- Track progress
- Create employee development plans
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your employee engagement initiatives
If you can put these various tips into practice, your company will be ready to adapt to a World where individual employee engagement has a significant impact on the overall company’s success. Are you prepared for the change?