Employee engagement is a big deal in the modern workforce, and it's catching fire in organizations around the globe. You may have heard of it in your own workplace, or maybe you saw a session focusing on engagement at a recent conference you attended. Either way, this is an important field that is growing in popularity. Why is engagement such a big deal, and how can you ignite engagement in your own organizations?
In a recent study by Forbes disengagement is shown to cost American companies $550 billion dollars each year. And that’s only for American companies! In another study only 51% of the workforce is actually engaged, which means the other 49% are not. While it may be unrealistic to expect 100% engagement (everybody has bad days, right?), surely we can expect a better engagement rate than a mere 51%.
Photographic proof that engagement brings greater happiness.
With such a high level of disengagement in the workforce, it’s no wonder it’s costing $550 billion a year. How can this be improved? How can employers engage their employees and help them not only provide better ROI to the company but a better ROI to their personal life? While there are many ways to do this, it’s important to realize the people that work with you are people—not just employees—and need time and space to have a life outside of work. Better yet, if you can empower employees to live a better life outside of their daily projects, you’ll see a much bigger boost in productivity. How can you do this?
Here are some ways employers can better light the fire of engagement for employees:
Encourage a healthy work-life balance through a minimum time off policy
- Do they need to leave a little early to get to a family event? Cool. Go cheer little Kaylee’s soccer team!
- Maybe somebody is late because of an unforeseen issue with their car? No problem—it happens!
- Is burnout a thing for your employees? Encourage them to take a break. Some companies do this through unlimited PTO or even a reimbursed vacation every year (sometimes referred to as paid paid vacation). Treat your employees like adults and by and large they’ll respond as adults.
Provide great health benefits
Making sure your employees have the best health care can have major influences such as employee peace of mind and attracting the best talent for open positions. People will want to come work for you and will stay with you if you provide them the security they’re looking for!
Supply a fantastic physical work environment
The physical environment of your organization has a big impact on the psychology and outlook of your employees. If the workspace is clean, welcoming, and organized that will help employees feel good about coming to work.
Offer the best technology
It makes a BIG difference if on day one an employee is handed a 10 year old laptop vs an up-to-date machine. You don’t have to go out and get the latest and greatest, but be sure you have technology that is functional and empowers your employees to do their jobs well.
They may have sent men to the moon with this technology, but that was the 60's, when we also thought margarine was good for us.
Support continued education
Supporting employees in their educational efforts can mean many things. Maybe it’s a tuition reimbursement program, or a part-time in-house internship in another department. Maybe it’s sending them to a conference they are interested in, or just encouraging them to schedule time each week to learn something new that will help them gain new skills. Encouraging continued education shows you are invested in your employees’ growth, and will provide many benefits.
Build a killer recognition program
Employee recognition is absolutely vital to building an engaged workforce. If employees don’t feel recognized for the work they do, many will disengage completely from the work. Recognizing people for their successes and efforts both inside and outside of work has a massive impact on engagement. Without recognition, all of your efforts may be wasted. Sometimes people just want to feel appreciated for what they do, and there’s no better way to do that than with rewarding recognition.
With these ideas you can begin to build your own bonfire of recognition and engagement, and will begin to see immediate ROI first in the attitudes of your employees and then in the attitudes of your customers. After all, employees are really your first customers, and if they are treated well then all of your other customers will be treated well as a result.