Employees are your most essential asset when it comes to business success. They are valuable in your marketing success, as satisfied employees are more likely to engage with your brand. becoming brand advocates and building meaningful communication with your target audience that encourages them to make a purchase. Indeed, your employees deliver value to the business, so finding ways to create value for their professional careers makes sense. Engaged employees also have a halo effect that builds more employee engagement in the firm.
However, many companies struggle to create employee engagement in the first place. What do your employees need to feel more engaged in the workplace?
Why does employee engagement matter?
Engaged employees provide a host of benefits to your firm. Among these benefits are:
- higher employee satisfaction which translates into higher customer satisfaction
- more creativity and better problem solving
- engaged employees support the firm through positive word of mouth both in physical and virtual spaces so that, when others post negative comments, employees respond in ways that put the firm in a more positive light
- employee engagement matters because engaged employees produce content that is seen as less promotional by your target audience. For instance, Johnsonville Sausage produces commercials written by employees that include employees rather than paid actors (see an example below). These employee commercials perform well in the marketplace.
- Engaged employees encourage the right kind of potential employees to apply and, in today’s challenging hiring market, this makes a huge difference in your performance by lowering hiring costs, reducing turnover, and reducing hiring mistakes
- The cost of monitoring employee performance is much higher in firms where employees aren’t engaged with the company
Increasing employee engagement
Given the prior discussion highlighting the benefits of improved employee engagement, we need to move on to our discussion of HOW to increase employee engagement.
Provide opportunities for professional growth
Nobody wants to feel stuck in a position that doesn’t support their professional progress. Feeling trapped in a role with no opportunities for progress is the fastest way to drive employees away. Therefore, providing dedicated training opportunities can help increase employee retention and improve engagement.
Designing an employee training strategy for your team doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider utilizing the resources of a local community college rather than re-creating the wheel with your own training programs. Offer to reimburse employees who choose from a laundry list of courses and even degree programs offered by local educational institutions and you’ll find you vastly improve employee commitment and performance.
In addition, a number of online programs exist, such as Coursera, to help employees acquire new skills with less disruption to their schedules than traditional college courses. In addition, you can purchase training to meet your compliance needs, such as handling employee disputes and ensuring sensitivity to marginalized groups, from a number of providers for a minimal cost per employee.
In addition to formal training, providing individual feedback and helping employees identify areas of improvement can be a game-changer. Managers and employees can partner to determine the best-suited training for individual career growth, whether supporting further education costs or finding relevant courses and certifications.
A place for exchange and interaction
Team-building is an often misunderstood aspect of supporting employee performance. Investing in a team-building event, such as a day out together, is an expensive project that often fails to drive the expected results. Indeed, team-building must be part of everyday interactions to achieve success. Employees who feel their coworkers and managers have got their backs and could help in case of need are more likely to engage positively.
The introduction of communal break rooms in the workplace can help create trust and build friendly relationships between employees. It can also be a good idea to launch a password-protected website for the team, often termed an intranet. Working with a professional web design agency to manage user experience, branding, and functionality can get your internal website up and running in no time for less than you might expect. Employees can use the website as an opportunity to share tips, connect, discuss social or work events, record memories, etc.
No one likes to spend time in meetings and data shows that a lot of meeting time is wasted. For instance, studies show that 9 minutes of every 1-hour meeting are wasted, while other stats show similar results or worse. However, collaboration is important in many job functions, so meetings may seem inevitable. New technologies can reduce or eliminate the need for meetings by helping team members communicate through a portal accessible by all team members so they can share progress and check on the progress of other team members toward goal completion, share documents, and ask for feedback.
Respect for work-life balance
An excessive workload can drain employees’ motivation, productivity, and overall mental health. Unfortunately, the employees must give 110% mindset is still present in many business sectors. Failure to manage an effective and healthy workload contributes to serious work-life imbalances, reducing overall engagement.
Additionally, moving away from strict office-based hours to embrace aspects of flexible working can support employees’ work-life balance. Instead of dictating hours of operation, a business can allow employees to work when they are most productive. As an academic, we work our own time schedules and administrators take our preferences into consideration when scheduling classes. Some faculty are night owls, while others, like me, prefer to work in the morning. While this might seem an impossible task, it works fairly well. I frequently collaborate on research projects with a faculty member in Michigan who prefers to work late into the night. He produces data analysis and inputs on manuscripts during the night; I access them in the morning when I start work and send him back feedback or other contributions that he accesses in the evening when he starts his day. It works great for us. Certainly, this isn’t an option for all workplaces, but the pandemic lockdowns proved it’s a viable option in roles we never considered in the past. Enabling employees to come and go as it suits them can completely transform job satisfaction and work engagement.
Another aspect of respecting the work-life balance relates to email (and phone calls). In France, for instance, they passed legislation barring businesses from contacting employees during their off hours to ensure they have time for family and to recharge before returning to work.
The business must consciously move away from a vertical hierarchy and embrace horizontal hierarchy models that recognize experts at every level. Indeed, employees often feel left behind by business decisions that ignore their knowledgeable input. More often than not, business decisions are made by managers and authority figures, even though they may not have the technical understanding to grasp a situation. It’s time to listen to the experts in the team rather than give the boss the last word.
Supporting employee engagement can positively affect the overall business reputation and growth. Yet, employee engagement begins with the desire to acknowledge and respect employees’ professional and individual needs. In other words, engagement is a two-way road between a company and its employees.
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