Ever since Gallup began tracking employee engagement as a metric - and revealed remarkably low engagement rates across professional industries - organisations have placed a renewed focus on the importance of employee engagement.
Often viewed as they key to retention, productivity, and innovation, employee engagement has remained a top priority over the years. More than 8 in 10 executives in Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends survey rate engagement as very important or important, and over 7 in 10 (72%) formally measure engagement in some way.
Yet despite the pressure executives feel to improve employee engagement, many organisations still struggle to build a company-wide system of behaviours and beliefs that support it.
While no single effort can improve employee engagement overnight, there are three powerful levers organisations can pull to have a positive impact on company culture quickly. Read on to find out how employee onboarding, middle management, and returning to your mission can deliver quick wins that improve employee engagement:
1. Lean into employee onboarding.
According to SHRM, one-third of new hires leave their jobs after only six months. Effective employee onboarding therefore represents a two-fold opportunity to improve employee engagement: first by reducing the number of employees who leave in the first year of employment, and second by ensuring that the two-thirds of employees that stay are given everything they need to contribute to a highly engaged organisational culture.
After all, a good interview process increases the likelihood you'll offer the right job to the right candidate. But a strong employee onboarding experience is how you ensure the employees that stay make a positive contribution to the company culture. Establishing culture-building behaviours and setting expectations for engagement during the onboarding process is one of the first and most important ways an organisation can build and maintain a high baseline level of engagement.
[Keep reading: Top Tips for How to Prevent Employee Turnover]
2. Keep a close eye on management
Alignment. Clarity. Job satisfaction. The role of the middle manager can have a powerful impact on an employee's day-to-day experience, both for better and for worse. Companies that seek to establish a culture of engagement must keep a close eye on the performance of its management teams to ensure employees are getting what they need to stay engaged in their work.
According to research from notable HR analyst Josh Bersin, High-performing managers inspire loyalty and high levels of engagement because they excel at giving employees clear, reasonable goals; taking a coaching approach to employees instead of an evaluation approach, and continually try to develop themselves as leaders. At an organisational level, you can have a significant impact on the overall culture of employee engagement if you're encouraging your middle managers to exhibit these behaviours.
[Keep reading: Employee Satisfaction Survey to Help Manage Your Managers]
3. Make the mission clear
In order to be engaged, employees must have something to engage with. Many companies rely on employees to bring all of the motivation and excitement to their job based on the job's duties or salary and benefits. But in reality, 9 in 10 employees value meaningful work above all else, including salary - and it's up to the organisation to make that connection and alignment clear.
If you want to improve employee engagement, find regular touchpoints in interactions with employees where you can bring meaning and mission back into the conversation. From internal newsletters to team meetings to quarterly reports, there are many ways you can make it clear how your employees are contributing to an improvement in the world or the workplace.
[Keep reading: 17 Truly Inspiring Company Vision and Mission Statement Examples]
Building a culture around employee engagement
Every company in the world needs to invest in its employee engagement. Companies with low engagement must work to raise it, and companies with high engagement must work to maintain it. But establishing a culture of employee engagement is a long-term, multi-departmental approach that requires the buy-in of everyone within the organisation. There's no shortcut to the end result, but focusing your efforts on these three quick but impactful wins is a great way to capture some immediate improvements while paving the path for future investment.
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