Dec 9th 2020

How to improve employee engagement in your company

Employee engagement is the key to building a successful business. And it is a subject that has dominated HR discussions for years. There are new insights every day into this hot topic – what influences it, how it impacts employee performance, and, for the focus of this article, what a business needs to do to improve employee happiness and engagement. 

Let’s start by taking a look at the data. Research shows that 85% of the global workforce are not engaged at work. Broken down across the UK, we have an average employee engagement score of just 45%. That means that less than half of UK employees feel an emotional commitment to the company they work for and its goals, making them disengaged employees – ultimately costing up to £70 billion per year in lost productivity. 

What can your business do to change this? Well, there are a number of ways you can look to increase your own employee engagement and we have pulled together the top five.

Top five ways to increase your employee engagement 

Onboarding1. Onboarding 

You might think that your main focus should be on the engagement of current employees, but employee engagement starts earlier than that. It starts with onboarding new employees.

If a new hire has been brought on but had a negative experience at some of the touchpoints, they are likely to be actively disengaged from your company and its culture from the get-go. In fact, a survey highlighted that 94% of candidates consider a positive candidate experience a priority in the hiring process. 

Here is how to ensure people have a positive onboarding experience:

  • Engage before day one. Once the contract is signed, it’s important to remain in contact and keep the new hire excited about joining your company.  
  • Buddy up. Help new employees settle in by partnering them with a current employee to show them the ropes.
  • Commit to the first year. Don’t just focus your energy on them in the first orientation week. Keep up the engagement, training, and integration well beyond that. 
  • Give them structure. New candidates will be nervous, so have a plan in place to make them feel welcome. Be sure to cover everything from the offer letter to their first Friday, even including a fun welcome kit.

Professional development 2. Professional development 

Once you’ve navigated the choppy waters of onboarding and have engaged and motivated your new joiner, to let their journey end there would be to undo all the hard work you put into your onboarding programme. 

In today’s working world, the rate at which people need and want to learn new skills to stay professionally competitive is rapidly increasing. Therefore it is essential that you provide the tools necessary for professional development. In fact, 80% of people believe that learning new skills would make them more engaged. 

You can either do this through in-house training or, with a whole world of tech at your fingertips, why not look into some online platforms to help with this. Whether it’s through compensation for online courses or a membership to a learning platform, you and your team will reap the benefits of online learning. 

For some inspiration, take a look at Learnerbly. It’s a central hub for hundreds of books, courses, conferences, and free content from top providers. 

Company culture3. Company culture 

Great company culture is linked to higher rates of employee engagement and has been shown to improve productivity and lead to high performance.

Data shows that the positive outcome of having a strong company culture can increase the quality of work and therefore revenue by four times. So it’s a no brainer to focus efforts on increasing your company culture. 

This can be done through employee experiences that improve their working life. Examples of this are regular team bonding activities, either in person or remotely via platforms such as Zoom or Donut. 

When it comes to more workplace measures, transparency and communication are key. You should encourage an environment where employees feel they have a role to play in developing the overall culture. 

On remote work, Tom Squire, Group Commercial Director at Shieldpay says, “We made a real effort to open up as many channels as possible so people know what is going on. For example, once a week anybody can come and listen in on our internal sales catchups to hear what we’re up to.”

Clarify goals and mission4. Clarify goals and mission 

You need to ensure your organisation’s purpose and mission are clearly defined, communicated, and “lived” by your senior leaders, as your employees will buy into your mission more readily and become more engaged.

By engaging employees, in this way, they will feel as if they are doing meaningful work where they have a clear understanding of how they contribute to the company’s mission, purpose, and strategic objectives. 

Amber Hurdle, successful female entrepreneur says, “Your mission statement, vision statement, core values, and service standards provide a clear focus for all while keeping your team humble and hungry. It creates that family environment in which your employees enjoy coming to work and dealing with the challenges they face each day.”

5. Give, take and act on feebackGive, take, and act on feedback

As in all relationships, there needs to be an element of give and take, where everyone feels their opinion matters and is not ignored.

You should have an employee engagement strategy that has a proactive approach to collecting feedback and is mutually beneficial. These can be set up through Slack for a constant flow of communication, or be conducted regularly through surveys or questionnaires for actionable insights on ways to improve how the team works.

This can be done in multiple ways: 

  • Skip-level meetings. Bring in interactions where team leads meet one-on-one with an employee from another team to help maintain a flat culture throughout the company.
  • Ad hoc surveys. Send out regular surveys to measure employee reactions to a new initiative or a recent business change, so they feel that they have a voice and that they are involved in making an impact on the business. 
  • Suggestion box. This should be something that is readily available to employees. It can be a physical box in the office or an online form that’s always open for suggestions.
  • Employee engagement surveys. This will give you an understanding of how engaged the business is as a whole. Engagement surveys should be consistent and ask questions that will give you detailed, actionable feedback to improve employee engagement and happiness.

It’s important to make it a priority to value your employees. Whether it’s through constant development or fostering a great working environment right from onboarding, putting the time and energy into improving these things will increase your company’s employee engagement. And ultimately lead to the success of your business through improved collaboration, innovation, and productivity. 

Feeling the pressures of the current pandemic in your business? Have a read of our blog on talent management in a crisis