How to Improve Employee Engagement and Productivity
According to a 2017 global study, Gallup found that only 15% of employees worldwide, and 30% in the U.S., are engaged at work. This is a shockingly-low metric which should be of concern to all companies. According to the website, engageforsuccess.org, employers spend $450-$500 billion annually on actively-disengaged employees. Clearly, unmotivated employees who are not fully invested in their work are a drag on overall productivity which has a material effect on a company’s bottom line.
Why is such a large percentage of the workforce not engaged at work? There are a myriad of possibilities, including ineffective hiring practices, inadequate onboarding, stress and burnout due to heavy workloads, dysfunctional team and management dynamics, or the lack of clear career paths.
Indications of a systemic, company-wide employee engagement problem are manifested by difficulty attracting top talent and low retention rates. Many companies try to measure employee engagement with annual surveys, which only provides limited insight into what’s really going on. Rather, an effort to improve employee engagement should be an ongoing, company-wide initiative.
So, what do you do about it? What should a company do to improve employee engagement and productivity? Following are some recommendations and ideas:
Having a rigorous, structured hiring process in place to ensure your company accesses top talent is critical to your success. Not only must this talent possess the skills needed to get the job done, they should be a good fit for your organization. A good process should include these basic steps:
- A forward-thinking, well-thought-out job description
- Aptitude or skills testing
- A thorough interview process
- Complete reference checks
It’s important that candidates have a positive recruiting experience—right from the get-go—as that will give them a positive impression of your company, even before they start work.
Establish a Formal Onboarding Process
Ensuring that all new hires receive the orientation and training they need increases the chances they will become successfully engaged in the first place. The faster employees feel comfortable in their new jobs, the faster they’ll be able to make a meaningful contribution to your organization.
It’s also important to ensure new hires understand your company’s values because this helps them readily acclimate to the new role and bond with team members quickly. A good way to do this is to assign each new hire a mentor to guide them through their initial few months.
Coach Managers to Engage Talent
Managers play a key role in employee engagement in the workplace. A manager is not only responsible for an employee’s daily workload and performance review, they model behavior and set the tone for the entire team or department. But, according to a 2015 article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), research suggests that ‘most managers are not creating environments in which employees feel motivated or even comfortable.’
Effective managers don’t develop overnight. They must be trained to lead and inspire employees to ensure they remain engaged and fully productive, by implementing the following tactics:
- Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage employees to ask questions and voice any concerns.Treating all employees with patience and respect goes a long way towards reducing workplace stress.
- Give employees autonomy which will make them feel invested in their work and the company, and will encourage outside-the-box thinking.
- Make employees feel valued by celebrating their achievements and rewarding them appropriately.
- Facilitate teamwork by reinforcing the team’s shared purpose, divvying up tasks and responsibilities equitably, and encouraging (and budgeting time for) collaboration. Remain vigilant about unproductive team dynamics which may crop up at any time.
- In today’s competitive 24/7 marketplace, it easy to fall into the trap of demanding more work from employees than they can reasonably handle in any given timeframe. Set realistic expectations for employee deliverables.
- Allow flexible work hours with the possibility of telecommuting periodically.
Employees are more satisfied and engaged at work when they’re given an opportunity to expand their professional knowledge and skillset. These professional development opportunities can be in the form of on-site courses, tuition reimbursement and/or time off for continuing education or independent study.
Provide Career Advancement Opportunities
Similarly, employees are more likely to be motivated to work hard and embrace the company’s values if they know there’s a possibility of advancing through the ranks as a reward for their efforts. Many employees will start to feel stagnant in their jobs after some period of time, and if their current employer doesn’t offer career path potential, they will look outside the company.
In order to attract and retain the best talent, organizations must establish and communicate clear upward internal career paths for employees. That may mean changing the organizational structure or culture to do away with outdated, rigid hierarchies that limit mobility.
Aside from effective engagement tactics, as described above, your company culture is the most important underlying factor in attracting and retaining top talent. Culture is an amorphous concept that can be hard to describe but directly relates to a shared passion for the company’s mission in an atmosphere of cooperation, collaboration, respect, and dare we say it—fun or good humor—that is recognized and valued by all stakeholders in the company.
This culture can manifest in a variety of ways including general treatment of talent as described above, but also in other ways that reinforces the community—both inside and outside of the company. Here are a few examples:
- Provide employees regular opportunities to bond in a more relaxed setting: Friday office pizza parties, regular company off-site outings such as happy hours or sporting events, etc.
- Allow employees time to pursue their own ideas, even if they are only tangentially related to work. Or help them support a charity or host volunteer day to benefit the greater community, etc.
- Fine tune your company brand and voice as captured in marketing material, social media, etc.
A strong, healthy company culture inspires talent to do their best work and remain committed to the company and its mission.
In addition to reducing turnover rates, implementing a strategy for developing a motivated and engaged workforce gives your company the competitive edge. According to engageforsuccess.org, companies with highly-engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147% in their earnings per share.
Let LINK Staffing help your company develop that competitive edge by implementing an effective strategy for hiring and retaining top talent.