Making sure that your employees are engaged and committed to your organization has many benefits, but employee engagement comes with some challenges. For many companies, you may be working against an already disengaged culture at your workplace. And even if your organization has engaged employees, keeping them engaged can still be difficult. This is even more challenging with the rise of remote work, as not being physically together can make keeping your employees engaged even more challenging.
Research has shown that employee engagement at your company can be one of the most important factors in your company’s success. Employee engagement has been shown to improve retention, improve productivity, and improve the experience of customers. A study by Harvard Business Review found that 74% of business leaders believe employee engagement is important, but only 24% reported their employees are engaged.
The question of why employee engagement is important is easily answered. There are impacts on the bottom line of a business when employees are committed to their work and focused on it. Companies spend incredible amounts of time and money trying to discover how to improve employee engagement.
The most important thing to increase employee engagement? Consistency. If your employees don’t feel valued or respected generally, no amount of free food or cool office space will fix it. Employee engagement programs are not a fix-all; other issues of workplace conflict, human resources concerns, and distrust of management are not fixed overnight. Employee engagement initiatives can be part of a solution to some of these concerns, but not the only part.
Remote work may be an occasional option for your team or you may have a remote-only workforce. No matter what situation your company is in, the onset of remote work has changed the workplace forever. Your employees have experienced what it’s like to work outside of the office, some of them for the first time, and they’ve learned from that time. Your company needs to learn, too. Remote work has a serious impact on your employee engagement.
The biggest takeaway for employee engagement with remote work is to offer flexibility. It’s incredibly important that you trust your employees, allow them to have flexibility, and give them freedom to do their jobs. Insisting on very exacting times, monitoring your employee’s online performance, and refusing to offer any kind of hybrid options for work at least on an occasional basis will negatively impact your employee engagement.
Some employees may still prefer to work from the office—your company may even require some or mostly in-person work. The issue is not that in-person work is off the table, but rather that employees have seen that flexibility at work has not harmed productivity and that it allowed them to do things that were otherwise more challenging. It’s important that your employees understand what level of flexibility they have with remote work and more. Employees that feel trusted to do their work remotely, even just occasionally, are more likely to be engaged and to stay with the company longer.
Different employees will have different preferences on remote work policies. Keeping your employees engaged in the era of remote work means listening to what your employees want—does your team want a few days in the office to collaborate and enjoy a more focused atmosphere? Or will your employees appreciate the flexibility to have a hot-desking setup, where they can come into the office when they want?
Overall, trusting your employees and giving them flexibility will build serious long-term loyalty, according to Ragan. Ask them what they want and then build a system that works for the team—accounting for the fact that different team members may appreciate different levels of remote work to best keep those employees engaged.
Making sure that your managers are effective leaders can be one of the most important ways to positively impact your employee engagement. Managers who support their teams well keep them engaged and boost retention rates in their department and beyond. Make sure that your managers are trained and supported so that they can support their teams well. Research by Gallup has found that good managers make it much harder for competitors to poach your employees!
Employees that feel like their role and work are valued at their job are more likely to be engaged. Feeling valued is more abstract, and will vary depending on the situation and company. Some easy ways to improve employee engagement by making sure your employees feel valued include giving opportunities to contribute or provide feedback, connecting people’s tasks to the bigger picture, and communicating about big decisions and changes consistently and quickly.
Business News Daily recommends 10 creative ways to help your employees feel valued:
Their ten recommendations will help you go a long way towards making your employees feel valued and engaged.
You’ve probably heard someone talk about the “cool” perks that have become common in certain industries or regions. How many tech companies with cold brew coffee on tap and bring your dog to work policies have you seen in a TV show or come across? With many companies shedding traditional workplace norms and opting for perks in everything from casual dress code to company-provided lunches to an onsite exercise room, it can seem like a no-brainer to implement some of these in your workplace.
But do perks increase employee engagement? Will bringing in free food or ping pong tables inspired people to stay at your company longer?
More study needs to be done, but the results aren’t promising so far. While tech companies are known for having loads of interesting and unique perks, they are also known for having some of the highest turnover rates as an industry.
Look at it this way—perks provide small boosts to an employee’s mood, maybe helping them get through a particularly long day or week. But the larger reasons why people leave a company or stop engaging at one aren’t solved by free donuts.
There are hundreds of companies that exist solely to diagnose and solve internal communication problems. These issues have serious impacts on employee engagement. There are many levels to this, but inadequate communication is one of the most common shortcomings. When thinking about communication with your employees, there are components that can help prevent serious disasters: make sure the information is necessary, make sure the timing is when needed, and make sure that the load of communication is not too much to handle or too little to help (according to Downs & Adrian’s 2004 book, Assessing Organizational Communication: Strategic Communication Audits).
Employees want to feel informed so they can do their jobs but are not flooded with information they don’t need. Try surveying your employees to see how they get their information, whether that’s through email, conversations with their managers, or other places. By knowing how your employees get the information they need, you can target them with the right information, the right way, at the right time.
Another common employee engagement tactic involves providing employees opportunities to connect with each other outside of work. Hosting happy hours, holiday parties, and other social events can help your team get to know one another better and see each other as people, not just cogs in a machine. Especially in a remote work environment, many employees may feel more disconnected from their team, so finding ways to connect people in meaningful, enjoyable ways can help. Consider doing some of these events during the work day and giving your team flexibility and time to attend, instead of adding it outside normal work hours. Helping your team feel connected is a great way to increase your employee engagement.
One word of caution, however—if there’s some sensitivity about compensation, spending lots of money on social events may trigger cynicism in your team. Make sure that your communication about finances appears consistent.
Corporate Social Responsibility Programs: how to boost employee engagement
Another helpful tactic in employee engagement programs is corporate social responsibility. While often leveraged by companies to improve their perception in the eyes of the public, corporate social responsibility can help improve employee engagement sustainably. But why does CSR boost employee engagement?
It has to do with some interesting psychological research. Studies have shown that motivating workers solely for personal profit through things like salaries and bonuses eventually stops working. Money has diminishing returns as people are asked to do more complex or creative tasks. Now, this is not a reason to underpay people, just a reminder that money can’t be the only way companies encourage people to be engaged. It’s important to make sure that the profit motive doesn’t get unmoored from the purpose motive.
Corporate social responsibility helps improve employee engagement by connecting your team towards larger important goals. By allowing your staff to volunteer, donate, and participate in meaningful causes, you help them to see greater purpose in their day-to-day work. The staff becomes more engaged, excited about work, and loyal to your organization—one study pointed out that 73% of employees who work at companies with a strong purpose report high levels of engagement. Corporate purpose gives employees a sense of purpose, which leads in turn to a deeply motivated and engaged workforce.
Understand that corporate social responsibility is key to engaging your employees. Implementing CSR to improve employee engagement can be challenging but a few proven tactics can help structure your program effectively.
One of the most effective corporate social responsibility tools involves rewarding your employees for volunteering. This can involve giving them time off to volunteer, contributing money to an organization when employees hit certain volunteering thresholds, and even providing food at company-sponsored volunteer events. Each of these small initiatives can go a long way to showing your employees that your organization is committed to the community. By letting your employees be a part of that, you also demonstrate that you value them and are committed to them!
Many companies create matching gift programs. If your employee gives money to a nonprofit on your pre-approved list, the company will match that gift, dollar-for-dollar, up to a certain amount. This means your corporate giving to nonprofits can go even farther—and your employees see the company supporting the causes they care about most. This is a great way to connect with your employees and help them feel in control of their giving.
Having a pre-approved list avoids any issues with having to ensure a nonprofit is reputable and effective. However, many employers give their teams the option to submit new nonprofits for consideration—further allowing staff to be a part of the process and contribute.
It’s important that it’s simple for employees to take advantage of these programs. The more complicated or difficult the process, the less staff will participate. This prevents your team from experiencing the full spectrum of what you’re offering and may very well backfire by frustrating them unnecessarily.
Creating a central platform where they can view volunteer opportunities, sign up, and leverage matching gifts will increase participation and spread your positive message effectively. Tools like DonationXchange can help manage volunteering, matching gifts, donations, and many other parts of your Corporate Social Responsibility program.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make with Corporate Social Responsibility programs is complexity. While a central platform is a big part of this, you also want to reduce the inconvenience for other parts of the process. Giving time off to volunteer is one way you can show your employees that you’re on their team—and make sure they are able to give their time to causes they care about.
Corporate social responsibility programs can be a logistical headache, especially if they are managed by someone who has other job responsibilities. How do you set up a CSR program to be simple, centralized, and inspire your team?
Thankfully, there are some proven models and tools to help ward off those headaches and make your CSR program an employee engagement success. This is why DonationXchange created Goodness Tokens™.
Goodness Tokens help you to track employee engagement with your corporate social responsibility programs through the DonationXchange software. Every time an employee donates or volunteers through your platform, they receive a set amount of Goodness Tokens— and you set the thresholds and parameters. Goodness Tokens function like virtual currency, rewarding your staff for their charitable efforts. When they’ve earned enough Goodness Tokens, they can redeem them to make their generosity go even further—through things like a cash grant for their favorite nonprofit. You can even reward Goodness Tokens when employees share about the company’s efforts on social media or when someone does a great job on a project. Employees can even send their Goodness Tokens as a gift to another coworker or person external to your company to let the recipient make a difference by cashing them in for a charity of their choice. Goodness Tokens allow your team to connect their day-to-day work with a cause that matters, no matter what industry you work in.
Goodness Tokens leverage a powerful phenomenon called gamification. Gamification is used by designers in every industry to make things like online shopping and donating feel like a game. By including elements of a game like prizes or points into something more mundane, it activates interest and reward centers of the brain to encourage further engagement. It’s an easy win, and a great way to help your employees do good and have fun with it.
You want to improve employee engagement, but you need the right tools to do it effectively. Thankfully, there are software solutions that will help centralize your employee engagement efforts and make them more efficient.
Pros: DonationXchange allows for all the different employee engagement strategies for CSR, from matching gifts to disaster response funds to dollars for doers. Plus, easy integration with software for grant management and other CSR needs means your organization can find solutions in one piece of software, streamlining your processes. On top of all this, the Goodness Tokens solution leverages gamification and other best practices to keep your employees interested and engaged.
Cons: You’re not using it yet.
Pros: YourCause allows you to utilize matching gifts, disaster response funds, and volunteer event management and tracking with great mobile optimization.
Cons: Some users note that YourCause has limited customization capabilities and can make information hard to find.
Pros: FrontStreamis a great starter option.
Cons: Users report the reporting functionality was lacking, and much of the software is geared towards nonprofits—meaning less support and feedback available.
Pros: GivePulse allows backdated data, volunteer tracking, and reporting capabilities. It also lets employees schedule in their time off to volunteer and then notifies a manager for approval.
Cons: Users note GivePulse can be unintuitive and have multiple levels of pages to get to various tasks.
Pros: Benevity makes it easy for employees to give, search for volunteer opportunities, and track their own giving and volunteering—as well as allowing managers to do the same.
Cons: Some users note that Benevity could use options for push notifications or other ways to pull employees onto the platform. Others note that it doesn’t have all the capabilities for CSR efforts, causing them to use multiple platforms in a piecemeal solution.
Employee engagement is an ongoing process. One cookie-cutter solution won’t fix long-term challenges at your organization—it will require consistent work and creative ways of getting your team out of a slump and back into gear. Tools like Corporate Social Responsibility programs, social events, and regular communication checkups will help your team stay engaged and committed. Make sure to do your research on employee engagement software in order to find the best option for your company’s employee engagement program.
BONUS: Key Takeaways from "The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement 2022"
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