Employee engagement: you’ve probably heard this term repeatedly. Companies can’t seem to stop talking about it -- and with good reason. High employee engagement is crucial to a successful workplace. It also provides many research-backed benefits. Engaged employees are more productive and happy, which translates to more profitability and less turnover.
So how do you increase employee engagement and enjoy these benefits? Like most things worthwhile, it takes work -- but it isn’t impossible. Check out these 5 ideas for employee engagement activities.
1. Organize regular employee outings
People invest in people, not corporations. Help employees create meaningful connections with their co-workers. Obviously, this can’t be forced. However, there are certain environments that can help foster conversation and connection.
For example, I used to work in an office where, after our Thursday staff meeting, we would all go to lunch. All felt welcome, yet none felt obligated. It worked. We laughed, shared stories, and got to know one another on a more personal level.
Likewise, encouraging informal get-togethers can have similar benefits for your team. For one thing, it gives the entire office something to look forward to. That alone can benefit day-to-day teamwork.
Note, however, that the goal here is not for your employees to end up best friends. That's fine if it happens, but it’s not necessary. What’s important is that your employees can connect on a deeper level and enjoy the people they work with.
2. Offer a mentorship program
An effective mentorship program can also increase employee engagement. For one, mentorship programs build a stronger relationship between a manager and the employee. This relationship results in clearer communication across the company hierarchy and encourages employees to reach out for help when needed.
What’s more, a mentorship program can empower employees and remind them they are valued. An employee who feels valued is more likely to stay at their current job. In fact, a study by Sun Microsystems found that mentees and mentors had a retention rate of 72% and 69% respectively, while the retention rate for employees who did not participate in the program was only 49%.
3. Reconstruct your employee onboarding program
An employee onboarding program creates a solid foundation for new employees. By offering them the proper training and welcoming them with open arms, you will encourage that employee's best work -- and remind them they made a good choice by coming to work for you.
A well-thought-out employee onboarding program also sets up new hires for success, giving them the tools to grow within your organization. These key elements can make all the difference in an employee’s happiness, productivity, and desire to stay and grow at your organization.
If past employees have complained about being in over their heads with work or if you have a high turnover rate, it may be time to look at your current employee onboarding process and improve the weak areas. A good employee onboarding program will include:
- A clear definition of the person's responsibilities, as well as others’ roles within the company
- Sufficient, timely training on relevant programs and skills
- Something that makes the new employee feel valued, such as a company-paid lunch on the first day with other members of their team
4. Listen to employee feedback - and actually follow through
Employees feel valued when they feel heard. And when they feel valued, employees are more likely to invest in your organization and be engaged at work. However, a recent study by Sideways6 found that over one-third of employees believe that their ideas are not heard or taken into consideration.
Listen to your employees. Ask them how they feel the organization could improve or what they’re struggling with. You can do this directly in a one-to-one meeting. Or, if you wish to do it in a less confrontational way, administering an anonymous survey can warrant honest and constructive feedback as well.
It is extremely important to not just listen to employees, but to actually follow through on their feedback -- even if it's to say you disagree. When a manager doesn't follow through, it can cause more harm than not having asked for feedback in the first place.
Don't waste a good opportunity to build trust and credibility. Asking for employee feedback, letting your team know it was heard and acted on (or at the very least, responded to), will build bonds of trust, increase employee engagement, and make you an even more respected leader.