How can businesses increase employee engagement? It’s a common question and one that crops up with clients, and potential clients, fairly regularly. Unfortunately there’s no magic bullet, no single answer because before you can improve employee engagement you need to fully understand where to focus your efforts.
Where do you start?
Before you start to set objectives and create a plan you need to know your current situation: this involves measuring current engagement levels. Gallup uses what they call the Q12 to measure engagement, which includes the following questions, to which employees answer “True’ or ‘False’:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
- The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- I have a best friend at work.
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
The first two questions focus on employees basic needs at work, whilst the remaining questions look at how employees are valued and contribute to the organisation, how they feel they fit within the organisation and their development. Gallup argues that these engagement questions extend beyond an assessment of how happy your employees are but also reveal whether their happiness manifests itself in improved performance.
Once you’ve completed your own assessment then you can then start setting objectives and making a plan to make improvements.
5 Tips for improving employee engagement
Not every organisation is the same but here are five tips to help you make a plan for improving engagement in your organisation:
- Find out what motivates your employees by asking them. Use surveys and meetings to understand their motivating factors.
- Communicate the organisation’s goals and vision. Don’t keep everything locked inside the boardroom, get senior managers and leaders to speak candidly about the business strategy and the challenges the business faces.
- Feedback on a regular basis. Ensure employees receive regular and timely feedback on their performance, and don’t forget to ask for upward feedback, ideas and input on the business’ goals, strategy and challenges.
- Recognition should be part of the business culture. You don’t have to have a formal recognition scheme but saying thank you and making employees feel appreciated should be an every day part of your managers’ role.
- Don’t forget to have some fun. All work and no play make jack a dull boy so inject a bit of fun into work every now and then by either arranging inter-department competitions, social activities, an away day or by putting some games in the break room.
Improving employee engagement often requires a mind shift from seeing it as a HR objective to understanding that it needs to be part of the organisation’s strategic plan. Get that right, get senior managers and leaders to buy into that concept and everything else will follow.