Employee engagement is critical for companies of any size or industry, as engaged employees demonstrate a level of commitment associated with success in every business outcome, from customer satisfaction to revenue. A leading Gallup study found that when employees are engaged, they are more productive and help to create more satisfied customers. In today’s “war for talent,” engaged employees are especially valuable because they are the most likely to remain dedicated to the company, even when lucrative opportunities arise elsewhere.
However, while every company can benefit from investing in initiatives that boost employee engagement, many do not have big budgets for such programs. As we head into 2020, attracting and recruiting top talent will be harder than ever, but the effort cannot stop there. Companies need to have a strategy for both recruiting and retaining top talent. But, investing in employee engagement (and the resulting long-term retention) doesn’t have to mean spending large sums of money. Here are 8 low-cost, high-impact ways to increase employee engagement in your organization in 2020:
Collect employee feedback
When you ask employees for their feedback, they can tell you directly what aspects of their work experience enhances or detracts from their engagement. Asking for feedback also allows employees to develop a deeper sense of engagement at work; giving feedback empowers employees, allows their voices to be heard, and gives them opportunities to impact changes in the workplace. One study found that when employees feel their voice is heard, they’re nearly five times more likely to feel empowered at work. Implementing employee engagement survey software is a low-cost way to survey employees and ask the questions that will guide the path to higher engagement.
Recognize employees for their work
Recognition helps employees see that their contributions are noticed and appreciated. A study by Aon found rewards and recognition (beyond pay and benefits) to be the strongest driver of engagement. Recognition doesn’t have to be a costly program of gift cards or bonuses; recognition can come in the form of an email of thanks, time with a senior manager, or a chance to work on a strategic or cross-functional project.
Add opportunities for relationship building
No person is an island, and in fact, developing strong relationships at work helps to increase engagement. A Future Workplace study found that among employees with 5 or fewer work friends, 72% said they weren’t engaged at work. Activities that help employees build relationships and even make friends are low-cost ways to improve workforce engagement. Examples include cross-functional get-togethers, lunch and learns, and mentorship pairings.
Personalize new hire on-boarding
A robust on-boarding program delivers a range of benefits to new hires, their team, and the company; it can also help to improve engagement by giving new employees the information and introduction to key people and processes that will help them find success and develop confidence in their new role. According to a SilkRoad survey, 53% of companies reported an increase in employee engagement as a result of improving their on-boarding process.
Improving on-boarding doesn’t have to mean a costly implementation of new on-boarding software, but can include low-cost activities to make the experience more personalized and engaging for employees, such as:
- Leaving a few helpful office supplies and goodies on their desk the first day
- Ensuring each new hire has a buddy who can take them to lunch, answer questions, and introduce them to other members of the team in their first few days
- Setting a schedule of introductory meetings and training to guide the employee’s first week on the job
Offer workplace flexibility
In a SHRM survey of HR professionals, 91% said that flexible work arrangements positively influence employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention. Flexibility allows employees to achieve better work-life balance and to structure their work day in ways that allow them to be more productive. The rise of new technology has made it easier for people to work remotely and with flexible schedules, but providing workplace flexibility doesn’t have to be limited to location and hours; another low-cost workplace flexibility option is a BYOD (bring your own device) program, which provides another way to give employees more autonomy over how they accomplish their work.
When employees can trust each other to follow through on their commitments, individual relationships are more rewarding and contribute positively to employee engagement. Accountability has the most impact in the workplace when it comes from the top; leaders who deliver on commitments and expect the same from others are able to build a strong sense of teamwork and trust among employees.
One high-yield way to build accountability is to implement 360° feedback, which allows employees to share feedback with peers, managers, and others. Modern 360° programs like Macorva streamline this process from hours down to seconds, making 360° feedback more accessible to employees and far less expensive to employers. Implementing 360° feedback demonstrates to employees that leadership cares about teamwork and accountability.
Establish communication between leaders and employees
Frequent communication informs, inspires, and helps employees learn. A low-cost, high-yield way to improve communication and engagement in the workplace is through regular 1:1 discussions between managers and their employees. One study found that employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as those whose managers don’t hold regular meetings with them.
Other ways to improve communication include having company town halls or other large group meetings. These larger meetings promote transparency, create opportunities for cross-team interaction, provide space for employees to give feedback on new initiatives or processes that affect the entire company.
Add a dose of fun
Yes, people can be productive and focused and have fun at work. In fact, a regular dose of fun actually increases the likelihood that an employee will be engaged. A study by BrightHR found that employees who recently took part in a fun activity at work were more likely to feel committed to the company and less likely to have taken sick days. Examples of low-cost ways to improve employee engagement through fun include potluck lunches, fantasy football leagues, volunteer days, and celebrations for important milestones like work anniversaries or product launches.
Employee engagement is more important than ever as we welcome the year 2020. While many companies do not have a dedicated budget for employee engagement initiatives, there are plenty of ways to invest in higher engagement at little to no cost. A few strategic investments or internal changes can reap huge returns in the form of happier, more committed employees.