We’ve all heard the trite phrases like “You are a valuable employee to the company.” Every few months, HR teams will talk about some new initiative to carry everyone along and create an atmosphere for healthy growth and steady development in the workplace. But what does it all really add up to? Do these initiatives ever achieve their purpose?
While the goal is employee engagement, a lot of companies are not really going about it the right way. Amidst the daily firefighting with projects and clients, the leadership doesn’t have time to really invest in employee engagement. And without well-planned, interesting initiatives, employees are not really motivated to participate in employee engagement.
But given that employee engagement is critical for a company's success, let’ begin at the beginning.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is a basic measure of how in-tune a workforce is, with the work they do, and with the overarching goals of the organization. Simply put, it’s a look at whether your employees enjoy the work they do, and feel invested enough in the company to give their best.
Why is engaging your employees essential?
While the motive of the the leader, or a company stakeholder is to maximize profits and ROI, they must not forget the importance of empathizing with their employees. The goal is to make the work and the workplace engaging, so employees feel valued. When they have a sense of belonging to the organization, that is when they will be at their productive best.
Some of the essential benefits of employee engagement include:
- It provides a platform for outright expression of the workforce. There are certain tools that a company can use to provide a portal where the employees can share their feelings fearlessly. To start with it, a company can use surveys and questionnaires. It doesn’t matter if the questionnaire is open and direct or anonymous. It always gets the employees talking, and makes them feel heard.
- It provides for collaborative contributions in the workplace. When the employees finally start talking and engaging, it doesn’t take them long before they start suggesting and recommending on important issues, too. There is no better way to harness the pool of experience and talent of the company’s workforce.
- Employee engagement creates an avenue for high motivation. This kind of motivation helps workers to become passionate about your company and its core objectives. This also ensures that when they are asked about your company, they emerge as true brand ambassadors.
- Employee engagement makes them feel they are a part of the company’s movement, and an integral part of the organization. With an accumulated result, employee engagement triples motivation, aids collaboration and drives productivity.
What is wrong with the current employee engagement strategies?
While it is an essential process for your company, it could feel a little monotonous after a point of time. The same repetitive activities to engage your employees may diminish their effectiveness. The right approach, therefore, is to devise, improve, and master different ways to engage the workforce.
It’s safe to say that not every strategy is equally effective. The effectiveness can be measured by how happily your employees work towards your organization’s goals.
But what are the factors that determine the effectiveness of an employee involvement strategy and how can these be harnessed? What is the dividing line between persuasive employee engagement and intimidating employee engagement? What works and what doesn’t?
All of these are common questions that often plague the mind of a Human Resource Personnel targeting effective employee engagement. The truth is that there is no strict working formula.
As we proceed, you have to keep in mind that there may be no stringent working formula that is good for all times.
Yes, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach you can adopt. Employee engagement involves the use of discretion and corporate discernment to identify the best move per condition and to improvise accordingly. It is, however, important to add that even though there is no strict working formula, there are some strategies that simply don’t work.
Some employee engagement strategies simply don’t Work
There are three strategies that are easily noticeable in many organizations, today.
- The one that creates a great divide in the company: Your employees don’t like being left out. So, when you include only the senior leadership in the process, the rank in file or the middle managers could feel a little left out. To engage one part of the organization while disengaging the other part is a recipe for disaster. A good strategy ensures that each employee feels equally important.
- The one that is forced rather than inspired: Present the idea of employee engagement as an exciting means to participate in, and you will have willing participants. Create one that is forced and feels like a compulsion, and you will have an army of unhappy workers. As psychological studies have suggested over the years, the best way to control people is to not control them at all.
- The one where you don’t practice what you preach: If you tell your workers how important they are for your company but treat them as machines, soon they’ll stop believing you. It is important to gain their trust and empathize with their situation. Start treating them as human beings you actually care about and would never hurt, and you’ll find your company’s goals will become a priority for them.
How could the present employee engagement strategies be improved?
Every strategy starts with empathy. Once you’ve started empathizing with them, half of your job is done. To do the other half, we suggest you
- consider your employees’ opinions while making a decision
- introduce fun incentives to your existing employee engagement strategy
- start encouraging collaborative cooperation
- shuffle and change the mediums for employee engagement to instill a new energy into the process
Companies face some challenges in their quest for employee engagement
There are many hurdles that a company needs to cross in order to engage its employees. These are some of the most common ones.
- Disregarding employees’ goals at the cost of your ‘bottom line’: While putting your company above employees is easy and desirable, it can have some serious repercussions. For one, your employees won’t be working wholeheartedly towards attaining your company’s objectives. In other words, it’ll be hard for them to feel at home.
When they start viewing your company as something they’re merely a part of, instead of something they truly care about, disengagement happens. A clear remedy for such a situation is to ensure your goals align with their personal goals.
- A huge gap in salary: Less than 50% employees in the world think are paid fairly for their work. What makes matters worse is the realization that the gap is a really huge one. In a study by Glassdoor, it was found that CEOs, on an average, earn 204 times more than the median worker’s salary.
The effects of this gap could be detrimental, too.. The companies with the highest earning CEOs saw an overall satisfaction rating of 2 or below, out of 5.
- Lack of inspiration: This is the center of it all: an employee cannot be engaged when he’s doing something that doesn’t inspire him. Nobody likes to get our for work to do something that doesn’t inspire them. Doing something uninspiring everyday can lead to disengagement with the workplace. When this happens, a leader has two options at his disposal:
- he could either find something that inspires the employee, or
- he could find ways to make the work exciting and inspiring for him
It is a leader’s responsibility to identify what motivates and inspires his employees. Having a personal conversation every month can help him identify everything that moves his employees.
How to ensure your engagement strategy works
Zinda has created a 5-tiered process that makes employee engagement an absolute breeze.
- Recruit the right workforce
Employee engagement begins at the recruitment stage. We advice that employees should be immersed deeply into the concept of meaningful service and collaboration at the very beginning. This will allow the employees to view participation as one of the most important activities, and empower them to look towards giving more to the organization.
- An active managerial team
Oil runs down from the head to the feet. Your leadership team will also go a long way to drive employee engagement by leading with example. An active and engaged leadership team will send the right vibes to their subordinate, and positively incorporate them into the daily workload.
- Making the vision clear
Write the vision and make it plain and clear. The challenge of indefiniteness and uncertainty can be resolved with the incorporation of employee engagement in the company’s core objectives.
- Strategy and Re-Strategy
Strategize, take stats, see what works, and discard what doesn’t. Employee engagement is about growth, and as the workforce develops, the strategy must improve, too.
- Incorporating full workforce
Finally, employee engagement can be maximized when workers are made part of the decision process. It doesn’t if they’re a big part of the process, or not. What matters is that employees are a part of the important conversations in the workplace.
The truth is that employees will see more cogent reasons to beat a deadline if they become a part of the team that set these deadlines, and they will vouch for a change when they know that they have a voice.