Do you currently know how engaged your workforce is? Great! That’s only half the battle though. It’s not enough for companies to just gather information about how engaged their employees are through surveys, focus groups or other means. Unfortunately, many companies stop there because they’re either not sure how to interpret the data they’ve gathered or they’re unable to develop and implement a solid employee engagement plan with the information on hand.
The end result: wasted time and lost revenue.
Before we get started, let’s review why employee engagement is so pivotal in the first place.
Why employee engagement is essential
Only 32 percent of employees were engaged in their jobs in 2015, according to a Gallup survey of nearly 81,000 U.S. part- or full-time employees aged 18 years or older. Other researchers, such as those from Development Dimensions International (DDI), found similar engagement rates, with DDI reporting rates as low as 19 percent. DDI also noted that between 40 and 70 percent of employees are likely to be classified as “neutral, middle of the road or agnostic.”
Disengaged employees have further impact on job growth, profitability, share time and productivity over time, explained Emma Seppala and Kim Cameron of Harvard Business Review. These types of employees are also more likely to cause workplace accidents (increasing expenses), be absent from work (decreasing productivity) and result in many more errors and defects, presumably as it relates to projects, which can result in high customer turnover.
What we’re trying to get it is this: Low employee engagement rates can devastate and even topple companies.
Now that we’ve refreshed our knowledge of why highly engaged employees are so important to a company and to spur employee happiness, let’s move on to how you can develop your employee engagement plan and put it into action.
“HR departments need to take a proactive approach after they’ve gathered the facts regarding their employees’ engagement.“
Here are four steps companies should take to create an employee engagement plan that fits them:
1. Identify your company’s reason for being
Before developing an employee engagement plan, a company must be able to articulate and identify what it stands for. After all, employees who are more connected to a company’s mission, values and goals are more likely to be engaged in their work. A company that lacks clear foresight will likely employ a workforce that also lacks direction.
To start, capture and write down your company’s mission, values, and short and long-term goals, along with what your company does to reinforce its brand positioning. Employees must be able to easily articulate and feel motivated by what your company plans to do and what it stands for.
If these things are difficult to articulate or if the answers feel stale and out of date, get together with your company’s leadership to hash out these critical value-points. Some questions that may guide you along this process include:
- What is your company’s short-term vision, and what goals can you accomplish both in the short and long term that will help your business meet that vision?
- Why was the company founded? What value does it serve to customers, vendors and local communities?
- How does it distinguish itself from competitors?
- What qualities do you most value in your employees?
2. Understand the current state of your employees’ engagement
It’s important that companies take the time to understand their workforce’s engagement through surveys, like, regular meetings, focus groups and company get together’s. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) results can give you a snapshot of your company engagement rate. The eNPS survey asks “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely is it you would recommend this company as a place to work?” The output of this survey is an easy, quantifiable way to track engagement over time.
However, it isn’t enough to know your employee engagement rates. HR needs to determine what’s influencing employees’ engagement so it can understand the underlying drivers and, most importantly, what’s working and what’s not at the company. Some elements that can positively influence employees’ engagement are meaningful work, hands-on management, a positive work environment, which includes having a culture of recognition, growth opportunities and trust in leadership.
Other elements to examine to see whether they’re having an effect on employees’ engagement include, your company’s PTO policy, learning and development opportunities, promotion criteria, maternity and/or paternity leave policy, health benefits, communication norms, frequency and type of employee recognition and bonuses. This list is a start, but by no means all encompassing. Your employees will need to give you their feedback to fill in the holes in your understanding.
3. Outline specific steps to improve employee engagement
We suggest including in your employee engagement plan three types of initiatives and the tactics you’ll use to ensure each component can be both improved upon and easily measured.
Communications: It’s critical that your company improves transparency, and it can do so by promoting peer-to-peer and peer-to-management communications. One way you can improve communication is by increasing the amount of times managers and their employees meet to discuss their work and set goals. Management can also sponsor employee presentations where both managers and non-managers make weekly presentations on a variety of topical subjects.
Culture: Develop brand ambassadors who will help motivate their colleagues. These ambassadors relay the company’s mission, values and messages, which, in turn, help employees connect their job to the big picture.
“Increase engagement by appreciating employees for their great work through a rewards and recognition program.”
Appreciation: One way to develop brand ambassadors is by acknowledging employees for their great work through a rewards and recognition program. There are many ways to reward employees.
We’re sure you can find many different ways to better recognize and rewards your employees. However, these ideas should tie back into your company’s core values and cater to your workplace’s employee audience.
4. Examine the results of your initiatives regularly
Once HR puts its strategy into motion, management must show patience as employees make adjustments to any changes. Leadership should regularly reach out to employees to gather reactions and implement any necessary adjustments swiftly and efficiently. HR and any other selected groups should then evaluate the engagement action plan’s success consistently over a predetermined period of time (once a month or six months, for example) against set performance metrics. You may measure how successful these aspects of the plan are in increasing engagement by measuring turnover metrics, Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) results, employee attendance metrics and in-house engagement survey results.
Developing and implementing a strategic employee engagement plan isn’t easy, but when done well company performance, employee retention, and happiness all benefit.
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