HR departments all over the world are focusing more and more on their employee engagement strategies, and it's not hard to see why. Unemployment rates have plummeted across the U.S., and skilled workers are in high demand. In order to actually keep their talent around, organizations need to develop strong employee engagement plans.
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To be clear: Employee engagement is much more than employee satisfaction. A happy employee is not necessarily an engaged employee. Engaged employees are emotionally invested in their work and highly committed to their organizations. They advocate for the company, have no plans to leave the company, and enjoy helping the company succeed.
Every business needs those kinds of employees. Unfortunately, today's diverse workforce can make it difficult to develop engaged employees. In fact, research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that "maintaining high levels of employee engagement" is a top challenge for businesses today.
On the bright side, it's not impossible to meet this challenge. There are plenty of proven tactics for igniting employee engagement. Here are four strategies designed to increase employee engagement in 2017:
1. Value Innovation and Agility
Businesses tend to move fast and change frequently these days. Developing agile and innovative employees is crucial to your employee engagement strategy. Employees who are willing and able to create positive change in your organization and respond enthusiastically to unexpected bumps in the road are extremely valuable.
Make sure your employees know these qualities are valued in your organization. Communicate openly and give them room to challenge processes and bring their ideas to the table. Provide employees with the opportunity to evolve with your company and contribute to the company's growth in order to develop deeper engagement and commitment within your workforce.
2. Recognize and Reward Employee Performance
Aon Hewitt's 2016 global employee engagement trends report found that "rewards and recognition" is one of the top three engagement drivers around the world. It makes sense: Engaged employees feel valued and appreciated. One way to cultivate that sense of value is by recognizing employee performance.
To motivate and recharge your team members, create a rewards program that frequently recognizes employees for their efforts and achievements. It doesn't have to be complicated. Give standout employees small prizes like gift cards or acknowledge their efforts in office-wide communications. Most importantly, don't forget to incentivize your employees with promotions and raises. Communicating team successes and offering rewards encourages camaraderie and makes employees feel like essential members of your organization.
3. Foster Strong Relationships
Providing opportunities for employees to develop close connections with each other is essential. SHRM's 2016 job satisfaction and engagement report found "relationships with coworkers" to be one of the top three employee engagement conditions. Similarly, TINYpulse's 2015 employee engagement and organizational culture report found that peers and colleagues are what employees love most about their jobs.
To nurture these important relationships, first make sure you're hiring the right people. Companies need employees who mesh well while energizing and motivating one another. You should also consider sponsoring team-building events or service projects that bring employees together outside of the normal work setting. Situations like these allow employees to get to know each other on a more personal level, which can make working together more comfortable and enjoyable.
4. Measure Engagement
Implementing effective employee engagement strategies is meaningless unless you take time to analyze the outcomes. For maximal impact, your strategy should include regular measurement of engagement among your employees.
Measure your efforts with an online form tool or data collection platform to conduct thorough annual, semi-annual, or quarterly employee engagement surveys. You can also create quick polls to send out more frequently. These surveys and polls will help you gather actionable data about what is motivating or discouraging employees, which means you'll be able to make informed decisions to boost engagement in the workplace.
The implementation of any of these four tactics will likely lead to an uptick in company morale and employee success. We live by these practices at Formstack and have developed a highly engaged workforce as a result. Get started with one of these ideas today, and watch it transform your organization. Your employees will thank you.
Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, an Indianapolis-based company offering an online form builder and data collection platform.