It’s no secret that unhappy employees can have a serious impact on your company’s bottom line, from lost productivity to lowered quality of work to retention costs. It's estimated that disengaged employees lose organizations between $450 and $500 billion each year. That's a whole lot of moolah.
However, the opposite is just as true, and an engaged workforce can dramatically improve company returns. In fact, the Harvard Business Review found that in comparison with dissatisfied workers, happy employees:
So if it seems obvious that happy employees produce better results, perhaps the better question is, how do we help workers achieve satisfaction in their roles?
A recent post from Good.Co lists six elements that are important for building an engaged workforce. The benefit of each of their recommendations is that they can have immediate impacts on employee engagement. We’re going to look at specific ways you can implement them and start building a healthier work culture today.
1. Screen new hires
One of the most important factors companies should consider before adding a new member is whether or not they fit in with the team culture. When people work closely together, it’s extremely important that they’re on the same wavelength in order to cut down on miscommunication, office drama, and other unnecessary intangibles that can get in the way of productivity. The following are ways for you to ensure that prospective employees match up well with your organizational values:
- Know your values: If you don’t know what your organization stands for, it’s impossible for a potential candidate to.
- Ask about theirs: What does this person value in an organization? How do their personal goals line up with your company’s? If the candidate you’re interviewing wants to be on the fast track to executive leadership but your organization emphasizes collaboration over hierarchy, they may not be a perfect fit.
- Have team members interview them: Probably the best way to gauge how a new employee will fit in with your current crew is to let them take part in interviewing them. Current employees will appreciate having their opinion valued and will likely even feel better about the final choice since they had a chance to vet each interviewee.
2. Develop company-wide volunteer initiatives
Coordinating out-of-the-office work activities can be tricky, but these excursions can add a huge boost to team engagement. According to an infographic from Good.Co, 93% of employees who volunteered with their employer reported being happy with their job. Doing good, inspiring work with fellow employees can infuse individuals with a stronger connection to their company. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for businesses to take advantage of volunteer opportunities.
The first place to check is within the company. There may be partnerships with various charities already in place that you can take advantage of.
The Hands On Network helps lead volunteer activities for businesses, so managers don’t have to focus as much on planning events and can instead work to rally team members to a joint cause. They also have 245 locations across the United States, so check to see if there’s one near you.
Finally, check Google or look in your local directory to find charities near you. There are plenty of great causes in need of willing volunteers. Help give back and engage your employees at the same time. It’s a win-win for everyone!
3. Recognize employee accomplishments
It’s hard to stay engaged with a company when you don’t feel appreciated. Making sure you’re taking the time to recognize employee accomplishments is a huge deal — whether or not they’ve accomplished something major. Not only will you show that you’re paying attention to who’s doing a great job, but you’ll also be making sure your employees feel appreciated. Here are some ways how:
- Give them a shout-out during stand-up meetings: If someone went above and beyond, make a note of it and mention how awesome it was in front of their colleagues.
- Stop by their desk: Drop by and give them a high five in person.
Treat them to a gift card: It’s not always in your power to hand out bonuses, but for someone who consistently puts out excellent work, doing something as simple as giving them a gift card can go a long way towards showing how much you appreciate them.
Set up a one-on-one lunch — and treat them: This will also give you the chance to get to know them better and chat about their professional goals.
4. Emphasize work-life balance
One of the biggest complaints employees have is being worked too hard. You don’t want anyone getting burnt out, so if you notice that someone’s consistently staying late or working over the weekend, make sure you’re taking appropriate steps to get them back on track. Try some of the following:
Call them over for a brief one-on-one: Just have a quick chat and see what’s going on. Find out what’s keeping them so late, and see if there are ways you can help balance some of their workload.
Keep them in the hiring loop: Workers may be taking on additional responsibilities because the company is short-staffed at the moment. If that’s the case, let them know what the plans are for finding them relief. In the meantime, see if there are ways you can cut out less important tasks they’re doing, and remember to recognize that they’re doing a great job (see above).
Invite them on breaks: There’s no better way to show workers that breaks are encouraged than making sure to take them yourself. Even better, invite your employees along and use this time to get to know them and ask about their interests outside of the office.
5. Encourage workplace friendships
Similar to volunteering with their organization, employees who have people they can talk to and socialize with in the workplace are found to be much happier with their company overall. You can’t force people to get along with each other, but here are some ways to help foster these relationships.
Set up after-work happy hours: Give coworkers a chance to let their hair down in front of one another and socialize in a comfortable setting. Try to make sure things don’t get too out of hand, but also trust your employees to be adults and handle themselves accordingly.
Give them volunteer opportunities: Doing good work for a worthy cause is great for everyone involved.
Hold team lunches and split into groups: Take time to bring the team together for a lunch. It provides an easy environment that can act as an oasis within the corporate office.
6. Focus on employee strengths
Similar to calling out employee accomplishments, when reviewing your workers, make sure to focus on addressing what they do well. Having this kind of affirmation from a manager has been shown to increase employee engagement across the board, as workers feel themselves valuable.
Connect accomplishments to strengths: Make note of the things people excel at, and connect them to positive strengths. Whether they’re great at organizing, thinking big-picture, or creating Excel files, make sure to focus on these skills during reviews.
Don’t harp on mistakes: Let employees know what they need to work on, but don’t talk their ear off about it all day. This will only make them feel devalued and will further disengage them. Instead, make your feedback a complete picture by also talking them up about their strengths.
Create cards for different strengths: A fun idea is to give employees cards for their strengths. Hand them out at team meetings so everyone can see the positive contribution they’re making.
There are many more ways to get your employees engaged, the important thing is to make an active effort. Treat this article as a guideline, and come up with your own ways to uniquely appreciate your workers.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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