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With the Great Resignation in full swing, keeping employees engaged is more important than ever before. According to Gallup, organizations are still not meeting this challenge, as the U.S. employee engagement slump continues with only 34% of employees citing they feel engaged.
This isn’t too surprising, as the factors that drive employee engagement remain mysterious to many companies and HR professionals. Should your organization focus on building a recognition program? Maybe employees would respond more strongly to new wellness initiatives. Or perhaps a series of employee engagement surveys is the best place to start.
There’s no need to base your engagement strategy on guesswork. By prioritizing these 12 major drivers of employee engagement, your company can focus its resources where they’ll have the most impact.
12 ways to drive employee engagement
All of the engagement drivers below affect how employees perform and their feelings about their peers, leadership, and your organization as a whole. While each of these 12 drivers is impactful on its own, team members all have individual preferences. This means that the best way to boost engagement is with a comprehensive employee engagement platform that gives your company the insights it needs to tailor its engagement initiatives to meet your employees’ unique needs.
That said, let’s dive into the 12 major drivers of employee engagement.
Employee recognition is the number one driver of engagement. It’s the best way to make employees feel valued and motivate them to give their all. However, the occasional thank you in the hallway or shoutout in a company meeting isn’t enough to impact engagement.
Instead, look to build an organization-wide recognition program that enables frequent social and monetary recognition. Use a recognition platform that makes social recognition simple and engaging. It should include mobile capabilities that let employees show appreciation from anywhere and allow interaction with others’ recognitions by commenting, liking, and boosting them with additional reward points. All employees accumulate these points on a regular basis and can award them to other team members. These team members can then redeem the points for rewards that they actually want, rather than another one-size-fits-all gift they don’t know what to do with.
It’s hard to effectively drive engagement without gathering input from employees themselves. Team members want to share ideas for how your organization can improve by expressing their true voice without fear of judgment. Ninety percent of workers say they are more likely to stay at a company that collects and acts on feedback. And employees who feel heard by leaders are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.
Companies need an always-on feedback tool that surfaces insights to managers in real time. Implementing an employee engagement platform that makes soliciting frequent feedback easy and helps managers act quickly on that feedback is an engagement game changer. These tools let you collect honest input with anonymous channels like pulse surveys and always-on, intelligent HR chatbots. You can then analyze the results with tools like intuitive reporting dashboards and heat maps that show you where you should focus your efforts at a glance.
Organizational culture has a huge impact on employee engagement. A dysfunctional culture can make even the most self-motivated workers apathetic. When employees feel like outsiders at their own company, disengagement and turnover are never far away. From the CEO to the most junior employee, everyone should understand and believe in why and how your organization does what it does.
Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, but it is achievable. Define your vision clearly, make discrete changes to advance toward the culture you want to see, and adjust your approach as needed based on employee feedback. Continue to prioritize the foundations of a great culture like trust, recognition, and diversity, and your organization will be well on its way to creating a truly exceptional company culture.
You know you’re on a good team when you love coming to work and know that you perform better with your peers around. Cooperative, helpful, conscientious, and inspiring colleagues drive engagement across the organization. Cultivate a diverse workforce made up of true team players and engage in team building activities to keep connections strong. Even in today’s world of remote work, there are plenty of ways to help teams stay connected, from brief virtual coffee chats to full on organization-wide events held online.
Without the necessary tools and resources to succeed — and an environment they can thrive in — it’s easy for employees to feel defeated and helpless. How can you empower employees from their first day? It starts with the basics: ensure they have the time, technology, personnel support, and other resources their position requires. But true empowerment means more than allocating resources and letting employees have at it. Provide employees with opportunities for growth, the coaching and training needed to realize their potential, and tangible proof that their voice matters. This establishes the trust between employees and your organization that serves as the foundation for an engaged workforce.
Professional development is worth the investment. Giving employees the option to take online courses, enroll in an MBA program, or listen to a seminar featuring an expert in the industry demonstrates that your company is invested in their long term success. Of course, these opportunities should be something employees are excited about rather than a burden on top of their usual duties. To ensure you’re providing employees with opportunities they actually value, collect and act on their feedback regarding your training initiatives, and adapt those initiatives to changes in your organization and industry.
7. Work-life balance
Burnout is an engagement killer, and avoiding it should be a top priority. Preserve employees’ work-life balance so they have the time they need to recharge and handle other responsibilities, from social commitments to taking care of their children. Flexible schedules, additional time off, and ensuring responsibilities are delegated equally throughout the organization are all key parts of preserving work-life balance. And developing employee wellness initiatives helps team members stay emotionally and physically healthy both on and off the job.
You can’t perform well when you don’t know what’s expected of you. Poor communication from managers and a lack of feedback leaves many employees confused and disgruntled, robbing them of opportunities to succeed and improve every day. Train leaders at all levels to clearly communicate goals, keep expectations reasonable, and maintain transparency at all times — even in a crisis.
Few things engage employees like a mission they believe in. With a set of company values that employees find meaningful, team members will associate their day-to-day tasks with a higher purpose and stay motivated. Company values need to be more than just words to accomplish this, however. When your organization and its leadership live your values day in and day out, employees will follow suit.
When your role doesn’t match your interests, skills, or experience, it’s hard to stay engaged. But when your job is a perfect fit, success follows naturally. Double down on intrinsic motivation by giving employees the positions and responsibilities they crave to realize the benefits of an engaged workforce. Even if it takes the form of shadowing or a gradual shift, giving team members a taste of something they’re passionate about can make all the difference.
11. Manager support
Ever had a boss who pushed back on your ideas, denied your PTO requests, or messaged you at all hours of the night? You probably started looking for a job elsewhere. Manager-employee relationships are a key part of the engagement equation. In fact, Gallup found that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. More recently, Gallup made recommendations to leaders to help drive success, a main one being manager development. Encourage and train managers to recognize their direct reports frequently, coach rather than micromanage, and truly listen to and act on employees’ concerns and needs.
12. Leadership and strategy
The impact of leadership on engagement goes beyond the managerial level. After all, it’s not easy to feel engaged when you don’t believe in where your company is headed or the leadership that’s guiding it. From practicing transparency when making key decisions to championing recognition throughout the organization, leaders should serve as examples that everyone wants to follow.
Drive employee engagement to new heights
Employee engagement elevates performance and boosts your company’s bottom line. Now is the time to take control of engagement at your organization and implement an employee engagement platform that can put these drivers to work.
Achievers Listen and Achievers Recognize — two core parts of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform — are designed to drive engagement at any company and are built on decades of academic and business research along with real-world experience. Listen enables employee voice through frequent pulse surveys, an always-on, AI-powered HR chatbot, and the reporting and analytics capabilities required to guide you from insight to action. Recognize is an award-winning recognition platform that makes it easy for everyone at your company to participate in social and points-based recognition.
Start driving engagement at your organization today by trying a free demo of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform.