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How to Plan Employee Engagement Contests That All Your Teams Will Love

Thirty-three percent. It’s a fairly low number. We wouldn’t want to see that number for our customer satisfaction or client retention rates. But that’s the number of American workers who report being engaged at work. And if a figure that low isn’t acceptable when it comes to our clients, it shouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to employees either. Low engagement leads to poor performance, dissatisfaction, and higher turnover. But there are ways to combat this disengagement. Employment engagement contests help keep people motivated and gives everyone a common goal beyond just doing well at work. You want to make sure your contests are inclusive of everyone within your organization, regardless of department or job title.

Here are a few tips for building employee engagement contests that everyone will love.

Get Out of the Office

When you have different departments with different goals and responsibilities, it can be hard to manage an in-office contest. You can’t pit them against each other to see who can close the most sales or enter the most data, because there will be very clear winners before they even begin. Instead, focus on contests that everyone can reasonably participate in, regardless of their job title or skills.

This often means getting out of the office. Though you might have the time, budget, and resources to execute numerous company outings, planning even a single event a year where employees can get together outside of work for a little friendly competition can help make everyone feel a little more engaged within the company. Do trivia at a bar, play a few rounds of mini-golf, or even see which department can collect the most cans for a community food drive.

Ask Employees What They Want

Employment engagement contests are only effective if they are actually engaging. While no one idea will likely ever satisfy every single employee, it is still a good idea to at least try and get a good idea of what your employees might like to do. After all, this about them.

An employee-led committee to plan contests can incorporate employees from various departments to make sure everyone is represented.  Or you can even use surveys to help you figure out what kinds of contests everyone might be interested in. Most enterprise chat systems have polling features built in. And many HR suites offer employee feedback tools like surveying as well.

Not everyone will excel in every single contest. But you should have a pretty decent understanding of your employees that allows you to tailor your contests for a high chance of success. Contests are a lot less motivating when few participants can succeed. Make sure everyone is gaining something.

Make it Regular

Of course, you can’t host one contest and expect everyone to remain engaged long term.

To keep employees engaged, contests should become regular events.  As is the case with anything good, you don’t want to overdo it. But you also don’t want to introduce your employees to something they enjoy only to never bring it back. Then they’ll just be demoralized on top of being disengaged.

Establish what “regular” means for you and what works for your organization, then stick with.

Whether it’s once a year or twice a week, having something consistent to look forward to always makes work a little more enjoyable. Plus, the more regular these inter-departmental contests are, the most opportunities employees have to mingle and get to know each other.

Reward Teams for Little Tasks

Rewards can go a long way and the be the incentive your employees need to go the extra mile. Come up with contests that involve everyone doing their job but aren’t dependent on specific positions. For example, everyone, regardless of position, should be showing up to work on time. So consider building a contest around perfect attendance and punctuality. Even something as simple as free lunch for the entire floor if the dishwasher gets loaded and unloaded for 30 days in a row can engage employees around a common cause.

Show Off the Results

There’s nothing more frustrating than doing something well and getting no recognition. No matter what kind of contest you decide on, consider displaying the results somewhere or sending them out to the whole team. It’s important to recognize and reward employees for their participation.

You can keep a leaderboard in the break room or leverage a recognition platform to showcase results so that those who didn’t win will be encouraged to work harder next time, and those who did win can appreciate their own victory.

Implement Initiatives to Help With Goals

Have departments in the office compete and see who can hit the gym after work the most days per week or eat the most fruits and veggies for lunch? Is a group of employees working together to raise the most money for a local charity? Help these freelance efforts out! Initiatives like a company-sponsored gym membership, catered lunches, or charitable giving matching can all help employees reach their own goal. Even simple acts like these can increase employee engagement.

Hold Managers Accountable

Getting different departments on board for a contest can be tough. Making sure everyone is involved can make it a little easier. Managers need to set the example for other employees by participating in contests, and by giving it their all.

Seeing managers compete can be good motivation for employees to step up their own game, and the idea of winning a competition against their boss might make people work even harder!

Finally, Be Proactive

The best way to maintain employee engagement is to never lose it in the first place. This is easier said than done, of course, but you should be taking steps to ensure that every employee is engaged from day one, and that they all stay that way.

No matter the age, everyone likes the chance to have some fun at work. Incorporating simple contests into the daily routine can be incredibly effective in helping your teams bond and work better together.

Learn more about what incentives to offer in your next employee engagement contest by accessing Achievers’ e-book: “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Laura HudgensLaura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.

 

 

 

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Employee Listening and Feedback

How to Show Your Workforce That You’re Really Listening

It’s no secret that the majority (87 percent) of today’s workers feel disengaged in the workplace. While there are many reasons for this high level of disengagement, employee complaints about employers not listening to them certainly ranks high on the list. In fact, a recent study revealed that more than one-third of the workforce believes that their employers do not listen to their ideas.

This is a staggering number and one that employers should not overlook. Not only can showing your workforce that you are really listening to them improve employee engagement levels, but it also can boost workplace morale, job satisfaction rates and overall retention. The good news is that listening to your employees is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips to get you started.

Let Employees Speak

The first step to really listening to your employees is to pave the way for them to speak. If your employees already feel like you’re not listening, you cannot expect them to spontaneously come to you with ideas or concerns. According to a recent study, more than 40 percent of junior-level workers state that they are afraid to bring ideas or concerns to upper management. Your employees will never feel heard if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up in the first place.

You can overcome this barrier by developing a platform for them to speak. Pulse surveys can be an extremely effective platform, especially when using an anonymous and easy-to-use interface, such as single-click surveys. Offering a fast and secure way for employees to voice their opinion can improve day-to-day engagement with your team and provide you with candid feedback.

Make Listening a Priority

It is not enough to simply say that you’re going to start listening to your workers, you must make listening to them a priority. It’s important to develop active listening skills, so your team knows that you are really listening to what they have to say. Improving your listening skills will make you a better leader and enable you to better manage your team.

Look for and create opportunities to listen to your team. For example, set time aside when conducting both individual and group meetings for your employees to discuss their work experience and provide constructive feedback. Once your team discovers that they are able to provide honest feedback without negative results from management, they will start to look forward to these opportunities to share their ideas with you.

Prepare to Hear the Good and the Bad

Don’t make a commitment to listen to your employees if you’re not ready to hear what they have to say. You must prepare yourself to hear both positive and negative feedback. How you respond to your employees, regardless of how you feel about the input, will have a direct impact on their willingness to give their opinions in the future. Remember that the goal is to show your employees that you are really listening to them, whether you like what they have to say or not.

Make Engagement Part of the Process

Listening is the starting point for boosting employee engagement in the workplace. When your employees express an opinion, it is important to actively listen to what they have to say by taking the time to ask questions, gather feedback and encourage them to elaborate more on their input so you have a rich understanding of what they’re trying to communicate.

Ensure that you’ve heard them fully by repeating back what you’ve heard, giving them an opportunity to clarify their points if necessary. Engaging with your people in this way will let them know that you are listening to them and it will reduce potential miscommunication between you and your team.

Take Action

Listening is only the first step. You must also take action. This doesn’t mean that you have to act on every suggestion or concern that your team has, but you should always closely evaluate what they have to say. Then, when you come across employee suggestions or concerns that call for more attention, don’t stop at just listening – take action.

Develop a plan that will put your employee’s idea into action. Technology can help with this by delivering bite-sized, personalized actions to employees and managers so that everyone is empowered to impact engagement right away. When your employees know that you are willing to make changes based on ideas or issues they have shared, they will know that you not only want to listen to them – but that you truly care about what they have to say.

Follow-Up Is Vital

Listening is not a point-in-time activity, it is ongoing. If you fail to follow up on the input you’ve received, your efforts to show your employees that you are really listening to them will be for naught. For example, take the time to thank your employees for providing honest feedback, let your employees know what actions, if any, are being taken, and use communication tools (i.e., the company newsletter) to share survey results and follow on action. It’s critical that your employees know you’ve heard them, even if immediate change is not possible.

Listening to your employees boosts employee engagement and job satisfaction. It inspires positive change in the workplace and has an equally positive impact on the performance of your business. Take the first step in really listening to your employees by downloading Achievers’ white paper, “Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.”

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About the Author
Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers. She has spent her career advising companies of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 500 firms, on issues related to company culture. Specifically tackling key hire assessment and portfolio due diligence issues, she’s found success analyzing what most overlook – the human element. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific focus on assessment and additional training in strength-based psychology. Natalie serves on the board of the Consulting Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She is a popular speaker on culture and recently did a TEDx talk on the importance of culture fit. Natalie is a culture evangelist and is passionate about the power that culture fit has to revolutionize how we work. As an avid Boot Camp aficionado, if you can’t find Natalie in the office odds are good you’ll bump into her sprinting up mountains in her hometown of Denver, CO.

 

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Celebrate Your Employees

10 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your Employees

Are you celebrating your employees on a regular basis? The people who work for your organization perform essential functions for you, and in return you should respect them, appreciate them, and be supportive of them. It’s time to celebrate your employees with thoughtful gestures that can take their employee experience to the next level. Here are 10 meaningful ways to show your employees how much you appreciate everything they do:

1. Eliminate the Bullies

Even careful hiring and screening procedures can fail occasionally, accidentally adding a bully or troublemaker into the employee mix. This can demoralize the rest of your staff, and you may lose some of your more dedicated workers. A 2017 nationwide survey of workplace bullying found that 60 million people are affected by bullying on the job, and 29 percent of the victims remain silent about it. Basic concern for your staff begins with making sure they feel safe at work.

2. Get to Know Your Employees Better

Communication works more effectively when people know each other better. Zappos, famed for its employer brand, has an “80-20 rule,” which mandates that managers spend at least 20 percent of their time with their team members. Zappo’s Insights trainer Kelly Wolske says, “When you get to know each other on a personal level, mutual respect grows. Knowing someone’s triggers as well as their strengths can also improve communication.”

3. Offer Employee Recognition

Levi King, CEO of Nav and founder of Lendio and other businesses, emphasizes the importance of acknowledging everyone’s contributions as a way of showing appreciation in the workplace. He writes, “Go out of your way to acknowledge unique efforts and success. Recognition is the icing on the cake of achievement, and it tastes delicious.”

4. Design Workspaces That Encourage Movement

Innovative companies are taking a second look at the layout of workspaces and increasing their employees’ productivity by encouraging them to move around during the day. A recent paper by design company Teknion notes that most office jobs keep workers tethered to a chair, while “alert, engaged, and healthy workers are most often those who are afforded a stimulating and inspiring work environment that encourages movement — to sit, stand and walk around.”

5. Define a Career Path for Each Employee

A major factor that leads workers to seek new employers is stagnation at their current jobs. “Workers who stay longer in the same job without a title change are significantly more likely to leave for another company for the next step in their career,” according to Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. Neglecting employee development can also have a measurable negative effect on your company’s bottom line.

6. Set an Example of Positive Energy

If you don’t seem glad to see your employees each day, those workers aren’t going to feel that they matter to you. Show that you care about them as people by putting out vibes that are encouraging and upbeat. Leadership trainer Shari Bench tells managers, “Do not wait for others to create the positive, rewarding, motivating environment that you have had the power to create all along.”

7. Ask for Employee Opinions

When you care about people, their opinions are important to you. The reverse of this statement is just as true: If you ask people about their thoughts, preferences and creative ideas, they will feel that you value them as individuals. Entrepreneur recommends that managers “ditch the suggestion box” and instead create a culture of transparency and fearlessness, in which everyone feels encouraged to speak up.

8. Reward Good Efforts

According to a study published in Business News Daily, “85 percent of workers surveyed felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered, and 73 percent described the office atmosphere as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ during an incentive period.” The article notes that reliably offering employee rewards and incentives elevates levels of employee engagement, an essential element for building a sustainable business.

9. Encourage Employees to Take a Break

We don’t just mean coffee breaks here. Your workers need to have your permission — and in some cases, your friendly insistence — that when they leave work at night, they can ignore work emails and focus completely on the rest of their lives. To maintain good health and avoid burnout, they need to take all their vacations days as well; American workers left 658 million vacation days unused in 2015, lowering their productivity and depressing their attitude about their jobs.

10. Don’t Forget Free Food

No discussion of valuing your workers would be complete if we didn’t mention snacks. Food is one of those perennial forms of caring guaranteed to delight almost everyone. In a recent survey of millennials, 48 percent said that if they were looking for a new job, the availability of snacks would be a factor in their decision, and in one company, workers said the introduction of a seltzer machine was “life-changing.”

The common thread among all the measures listed above is that employees feel valued when their needs and efforts are individually recognized. To optimize your company’s productivity and attract the best talent in a competitive market, you must create a culture of recognition. To learn more about how to establish best-practice methods for giving employee recognition and rewards, download our e-book, “Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.”

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Offer the right perks

What Hourly Workers Really Want (It Might Surprise You)

Hourly workers are among the most unhappy employees in the workforce. They often take fewer vacations, have worse benefits, and are passed over for promotions compared to their salaried counterparts. This isn’t surprising. When most companies hire hourly workers, they often focus solely on the dollar amount they must pay to attract qualified candidates, rather than the perks and benefits that can set them apart from other potential employers.

Don’t be MOST companies.

With hourly rates climbing in most major cities, it can be hard to make your job look enticing. However, it turns out that hourly workers value much more than their pay. Employee engagement is more important than ever before. Companies should be considering techniques to attract and engage their hourly workforce

Let’s take a deeper look at what hourly workers really want and how your company can use that to stand out amongst the competition and hire great talent!

Work Flexibility 

It turns out that one of the perks hourly workers value most is work flexibility. In a recent study conducted by Snagajob, nearly 36% of hourly workers reported that work flexibility was the most important perk but only approximately 50% of employers planned on offering job flexibility. So, it begs the questions:

  • How can your company offer flexibility?
  • Is it possible for hourly workers to set their own schedule?
  • Can you offer unlimited vacation time (even if it’s unpaid)?
  • Can your workers choose how many hours they work?

If any of this is possible, your company will greatly improve its odds of making a hire and can even potentially offer a lower hourly rate to prospective candidates.

Bonuses

Another work perk that hourly candidates care about is a performance-based employee bonus.

In the same Snagajob survey referenced above, it appears that 27% of candidates thought bonuses are the most important work perk, so much so that 54% of workers surveyed would change jobs if it meant a bonus structure was included in their compensation plan. Although this seems like the same thing as paying more per hour, which most hiring managers can’t do, bonuses are different.

That’s because bonuses are usually based on work performance. Therefore, if you pay an hourly worker less but offer them a large bonus if they perform well, it’s a win-win situation. If they don’t meet their goals, you don’t have to pay as much. And, if they do, you pay more but you get great results.

See if there is a way your company can offer a bonus tied to performance.  You’ll be able to attract more candidates and it will also give them a great employee incentive to work hard.

Vacation Time

Nearly 13% of workers said that the number one perk they look for is paid time off. However, many hourly employers don’t offer much PTO if they offer it at all. And this, on the surface, seems like a good idea. Why give workers time off when you can have them in the office being productive?

Well, there are a couple very good reasons. Offering PTO is clearly important to workers which means that offering more vacation time will allow you to offer a lower hourly rate or hire more qualified employees. Secondly, many workers don’t even use the vacation time they have earned, so it won’t impact your organization as much as you thought it might. Finally, if your company is in a position where it can offer hourly employees unlimited vacation (even if it’s unpaid), it will be difficult for a candidate to pass up, even for a higher wage. And, as outlined above, they probably won’t use an excessive amount of vacation, even if they do have the option.

Employee Recognition

Don’t just roll your eyes and say “Ugh, Millennials!” Employees, even hourly or contract employees, thrive on engagement, recognition, and general feedback. After all, these are building blocks for improvement and advancement in any career. And even better, deficits in employee recognition are simple to address and can (and most often will) cost you zero dollars. In the meantime, employee recognition improves company culture, increases retention and boosts morale.

There are simple ways to get an employee recognition initiative started. A manager can start by simply sending an end-of-week email highlighting the highs (and lows) of the week. This kind of constructive feedback will enhance an employee’s work. You can even gamify employee recognition, create an employee shout-out on social media or simply give a pat on the back at the end of a grueling project or difficult day. Try taking it one step further and consider implementing HR technology or an employee recognition program across your organization to encourage daily peer-to-peer recognition. Decide what sort of employee recognition best fits your culture and put it into action today!

Employee Engagement

Many hourly employees feel like they’re not really part of the organization or that they are simply temporary workers. However, studies have found that hourly employees usually want to be more engaged with the company they’re working for. There are numerous ways a company and its managers can work to keep hourly employees feeling engaged.

A great way to start is to create a culture of inclusion and make sure that hourly employees are treated and communicated with just like full time or salaried employees. Secondly, managers and other employees should invest the time to get to know hourly employees and form personal relationships.  If an employee integrates particularly well, it may be a good idea to keep them on a salaried basis. Third, managers should communicate regularly with their hourly employees. Many hourly employees complain they are set on a task and are unable to communicate with their boss on a regular basis. Setting up an open line of communication and checking in regularly will not only help an hourly employee stay on task but will also make them feel more engaged with the company and team.

How Does All of This Help Your Company?

If you find ways to stand out amidst an ever-crowded, you can make better hires and pay less per hour by offering the right work perks for your employees. Work perks like flexibility, employee engagement, and vacation time cost your company very little but are incredibly valuable to hourly employees.

If you have any other ideas for great perks that hourly employees highly value, let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear what you think!

For more information on how employee recognition can help your company, check out the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About the Author
Will Zimmerman is a writer for Proven.