Five Tips for Building a Winning Employee Engagement Strategy

Employee engagement is central to any organization’s success. Engaged employees work to build the bottom line, come up with solutions to work-related problems and often act as evangelists for their companies. So developing a winning employee engagement strategy is beneficial across the entire organization. Most companies want to engage their workers – and have happy employees who are more productive and invested in their job. But few companies succeed.

Have you noticed that when you Google “employee engagement suggestions” you find an enormous amount of information? Sifting through the dozens of simple and generalized tips— starting health and wellness programs, offering snacks, and promoting a work/life balance—can be a challenge. So, I’ll make it easy for you. Here are five powerful tactics you can use to build that winning strategy. Ready?

  1. Establish Concrete Objectives at the Employee Level You’re already familiar with the importance of setting goals—all successful companies set goals—increasing the base profit margin by X percent, lowering the enterprise’s carbon footprint by such an amount by a particular year, etc. These big goals are essential for success, but they don’t necessarily motivate your employees. Engaging employees means breaking down company goals into smaller pieces and then creating targets they can see, strive for, and achieve. These objectives might be things like replacing disposable cups with reusable ones or increasing enthusiasm for a faltering project. The point is that giving workers purpose (which is a philosophy Southwest Airlines embraces) fuels their commitment to the enterprise.
  2. Ensure Your Strategy Is Easy for Employees to Begin  You’ve heard it said, even thousand-mile journeys begin with one step. Getting employees to perform the first action towards engagement is the most difficult part. Once they’ve started to engage, it’s easier for them to engage more and more fully. So any successful employee engagement strategy starts with a low entry barrier. Don’t expect anything large from your staff in the beginning. Let them begin with something small. They’ll work themselves up to larger, more challenging engagement tasks with time.
  3. Create Personalized Choices People won’t all be passionate about the same things. If your plan offers choices across different topics, your employees are more likely to try it once—and if they try once, it’s easier for them to engage more. Allow them to choose topics they value. It will make them feel more in control of their work environment and create a greater feeling of investment in your business.
  4. Produce a Bottom-Up Approach for Good Employee Engagement Typically, most of the problems companies face are solved from the top down. People higher up the chain of command analyze the problem, decide on a solution, and pass it down the ladder for those under them to implement. An employee engagement strategy must work opposite to this typical problem-solving method, which can be difficult for some companies. get used to. Workers must be the ones to develop a successful employee engagement strategy. They know their own minds— as management, you can only guess. A good employee engagement strategy starts with talking to the people who work for you, distributing survey results among not just upper management but middle and lower management. In turn, team managers can directly involve their employees in the strategy creation process.
  5. Communicate Frequently with Your Employees Your employees want to know that their voices are being heard. Any good employee engagement strategy incorporates this fact. Annual or semi-annual reports on employee engagement are simply not enough. Employee morale—and hence engagement—increases when people feel comfortable communicating with their managers on a frequent basis. And, when managers ask their employees about their feelings and opinions on engagement strategies, those workers are more likely to participate. Transparency is another important factor to consider. Google, for example, encourages its employees to spend time being creative outside of their regular workday cycles. This promotes imagination and inspiration, but it’s also a fantastic way to let workers incorporate their own interests in their daily work and drive engagement.

Create a Tailored Strategy to Realize the Results You Need

However, just knowing what has worked for other companies won’t necessarily help yours. The trick to creating a truly successful employee engagement strategy is to tailor it to your workers’ unique needs and issues. Start by surveying your staff and asking for their opinions, which can lead to an engagement strategy perfectly tailored to your company’s unique employee pool. 

Pull an Employee Engagement Strategy Together

Understanding the mindset that goes into creating a working employee engagement strategy, a bottom-up mindset, and knowing a few solid pieces of advice on what has worked for other companies, can help any business create a successful strategy. But don’t think that simply adopting all the elements that worked for other companies will work for everyone else— get your employees to pinpoint their desires for an engagement strategy, and create a tailored plan that meets those expectations. If you do? You will begin to see powerful results that extend across your entire organization.

A version of this was first posted on V3B.com

photo credit: Maxime Dinaux : Speech balloon via photopin (license)

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