Disruptive Innovation. Paradigm Shifts. Higher-Order Thinking. You’ve heard corporate buzzwords, right? Every year brings its own jargon. Today’s buzzword of the day: Employee Engagement.
But what might sound like more trendy corporate speak is here to stay. Millennials are entering the workplace in increasing numbers, and they have unique expectations. And you have to get serious about meeting their needs; they’ll be 75% of the global workforce by 2025. They require more than just yearly bonuses or a clearly defined promotion schedule—they want room for creativity, they want a strong workplace culture, and they want, you guessed it, engagement.
But building that culture and engaging employees starts with taking action, and making an intentional effort in office. So get on the bandwagon and think about implementing 1, 2, or all 15 of these employee engagement activities:
1. Enable peer-to-peer recognition: Do you want to build a culture of teamwork and collaboration? Allow your employees to award their peers. You’ll not only build morale, you'll create space for immediate feedback, reinforcing good practices and making sure your processes continually improve.
2. Leverage regular, pulsing surveys: It never hurts to stay up to date on what your employees want and need. (Oh, and we know an excellent tool.)
3. Roll volunteer opportunities into your regular work schedule: Schedule quarterly volunteering opportunities during the workweek, not on a Saturday. Take an entire day to organize canned goods at a food bank, or serve a monthly meal at a mission.
4. Leverage values to make company decisions: Your values should be the filter through which you make your decisions. If you fail to do this, you come off as inauthentic. And above all else, Millennials are looking for authenticity and a commitment to values.
5. Include employees in business planning sessions: Do you have an employee who isn’t in leadership but has bought into company culture? Let her in on business planning sessions. Break off pieces of decision-making ownership to increase buy in and commitment.
6. Be transparent about company performance: The most inspiring thing a company can do is tell the truth—in the good times and the bad. Keep your books open. Answer questions with candor. Don’t create a culture of secrecy or bureaucracy.
7. Make onboarding fun: Plan a team building event for your new hires. Gone are the days of trust falls, but who doesn’t love white water rafting or a tasting tour of your city’s best food and drink?
8. Let them critique and influence the onboarding experience: This is where surveys come in handy again. At every stage, give your employees an opportunity to comment on (and most likely improve) your processes.
9. Provide opportunities for professional growth: Seminars, conferences, mentorship programs—it’s imperative you make room in your budget for these things.
10. Be clear about career paths: When you onboard new employees, you should have a candid discussion about where they’re headed. Create clear expectations for their performance with benchmarks for progress, and most importantly, let them know they’ve got your full support.
11. Celebrate personal wins: A $5 coffee gift card isn’t going to break your bottom line. If that seems like too much, consider a personal email. Regardless of the expense, take time each week to acknowledge an employee’s hard work.
12. Act on employee feedback: You can listen to your employees, sure, but are you responding? The only way to gain from employee feedback is to actually enact positive change. Listen. Respond. Succeed.
13. Encourage team-building activities: Allow teams to expense monthly lunch outings. Form an office softball team. Plan a holiday potluck meal. Give your employees an opportunity to bond over something other than work.
14. Crowd source company goals: Not all goals need to come from the C-level. Your employees are on the ground. They are face-to-face with your clients. They know the functions (and dysfunctions) better than you might. Look to them to create new goals for the company, giving them a sense of pride in company culture.
15. Leverage real-time messaging: Encourage team communication by letting them chat whenever, wherever they want. We use Slack, but there are lots of great tools out there.
These are not one size fits all solutions. Be deliberate about which one (or ones) you choose. Consider the unique employees you have in your workplace and what will resonate best. When you do, these will work beatifully. But when you don't, they will feel forced and no one will get on board.