The research on engagement supports what most of us already know intuitively: employees are more engaged when employers value their contributions and communicate that value in specific, visible ways. Engagement matters because engaged employees are more productive workers. Companies with successful engagement strategies enjoy 33% higher profits and 51% lower turnover rates.
If higher workforce engagement is one of your objectives for 2019, then you need an intentional strategy with specific, actionable goals. Because engagement is the natural outflow of employee experience, we recommend that your engagement strategy center on creating a culture of RESPECT:
The RESPECT framework was developed by Dr. Jack Wiley and describes the seven key dimensions of a positive employee experience. With these in mind, let’s take a look at seven New Year’s resolutions you can make to boost engagement in your workforce this year.
Resolution #1: Rethink your engagement strategy. The first step toward any positive change is to have a plan. Start by reassessing what engagement should look like in your organization, aligning your engagement goals with your business objectives and designing strategic employee experiences that reward desirable performance behaviors. Correlate each action item in your program with specific business objectives and identify key metrics (such as retention, turnover and productivity) to measure their business impact.
Resolution #2: Establish a survey process to measure employee perceptions. Engagement surveys offer a proven way to measure employee engagement and create actionable insights you can use to improve workforce culture and experience. An effective survey process can help you pinpoint organizational strengths and weaknesses, identify root causes of employee perceptions and give you a benchmark for holding managers accountable to implement change.
Resolution #3: Follow-up on employee feedback. It’s not enough to conduct the survey. The real value lies in following up with strategic action. We found that 70% of companies communicate survey results. If, however, improving employee engagement is not a priority for your organization and there is a small likelihood of acting on the results, it might be better to forego the survey altogether. Engagement can suffer when employees provide feedback and then see no action taken as a result of their input.
Resolution #4: Design (or redesign) a strategic employee recognition program. Recognition is one of the key dimensions that contribute to workforce engagement. In fact, one in four employees say that lack of “recognition, appreciation or respect” is the primary reason they would consider leaving an employer. Effective recognition programs reinforce desirable employee behaviors in areas like productivity, customer service, quality control, safety and wellness. The program should reward achievements, share accomplishments across the organization and make employees feel appreciated by both peers and managers.
Resolution #5: Rethink your candidate experience. Our research shows that being treated with dignity and respect during the hiring process is the #1 reason employees accept a job offer. Engagement efforts create impact long before the hire, beginning with strategic actions like creating a straightforward application process, communicating frequently with candidates, recognizing their efforts during the recruitment process, keeping them informed during candidate selection, and making a great first impression with a welcome gift delivered to the home. If engagement begins on day one, it’s too late!
Resolution #6: Consider remote work opportunities. Remote workers are more engaged than average workers overall. That shouldn’t be surprising, given that 50% of millennials want more flexibility in their work. Employees who work remotely at least one day a week are more likely to agree that their managers recognize them for doing good work, treat them with dignity and respect and show concern for their well-being.
Resolution #7: Invest in manager training and mentoring. Effective engagement programs depend on managers. Managers are responsible for communicating consistently, providing regular performance feedback, building relationships and implementing recognition programs. If your managers aren’t onboard, you’ll struggle to move the needle on experience and engagement. Consider implementing manager training programs to help managers support their team members and promote positive experiences on the job. Better yet, pair your most engaging managers with new managers and those needing skills development for 1-1 mentoring. And don’t forget to recognize managers for their hard work – because managers need recognition, too!
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