5 Ways To Raise Employee Engagement in 2020

Short-term employee engagement strategies fail. Intermittent engagement strategies fail. Strategies implemented over the long term can succeed—but only when a company’s leaders do more than “support” them.

That’s the latest on the nation’s employee engagement problem, straight from analytics and advisory firm Gallup, which has been studying employee engagement for the last 20 years.

As you probably know, engagement levels have been fairly dismal. Even in 2018, when those levels were on the rise in the U.S., just 34% of the nation’s employees were engaged in their work. That’s the highest level of engagement ever—but it means 66% of employees remained disengaged from their jobs.

Little has changed since then. The truth is, employee engagement levels have barely budged in the last 10 to 15 years, either nationally or worldwide. Of course, we can’t solve a problem like poor employee engagement on a global scale … Or even nationally or regionally, for that matter. We can only solve it one organization at a time.

In other words, every organization must figure out how to bridge its own engagement gaps.

5 Best Practices
Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for raising your company’s engagement levels. That’s because engagement is influenced by a complex web of factors, including ensuring employees are personally aligned not only to the work you’ve hired them to do but also to your organization’s mission and culture.

Engagement also depends upon how well you communicate with and manage your people … The opportunities you provide for personal and professional development … And your compensation, benefits and rewards. The list goes on.

With so many factors in play, it’s easy to see why engagement gaps can vary widely from one employer to another. However, there are best practices you can implement that will move your company’s engagement needle in the right direction.

5 Best Practices

  1. Hire for culture fit. To do this correctly, you need to do several things: a) identify the essence of your company’s culture (mission, vision and values along with the behaviors, habits and beliefs that define successful performance); b) map these elements to your open jobs; and c) interview and assess candidates to pinpoint those who best fit your culture and add value to it. Hiring for culture fit means you’re signing on people whose personal goals are aligned to those of your company. These people are passionate about the work you’re doing and want to engage and contribute.
  2. Help employees map out development and growth opportunities. Investing in employee development increases employee engagement. The reason, Gallup noted, is simple: “High-achieving employees continuously seek purpose and development—so if they’re engaged at your company and you provide those growth and development opportunities, they won’t have a reason to leave, and you’ll attract even more top talent.” In fact, organizations that invest in employee development are 11% more profitable and twice as likely to retain their employees.
  3. Commit to a multiyear engagement plan. Gallup also found that its clients who achieved exceptional engagement levels made long-term commitments to doing so. “Only a sustained, focused commitment from executive leadership can produce outstanding, long-lasting results,” it reported, referring to engagement as a marathon rather than a sprint.
  4. Have leaders do more than offer “support.” As mentioned at the start of this post, leaders who support their companies’ engagement strategies don’t actually remedy the problem. Even those who communicate openly about the strategies aren’t going far enough, according to Gallup’s research. Business leaders—and not just the few at the very top—must actually drive change via a four-step process to lift engagement. “If those leaders take ownership for culture change, understand the business case for engagement and create a high-engagement, high-development strategy that they lead by example, employee engagement stops being a program and starts becoming a way of life,” researchers state.
  5. Invest in benefits that support better engagement. It’s no secret that employees are frequently torn between their work and personal/family responsibilities. There are many benefits programs that help employees efficiently resolve personal and family matters, which enables them to be more focused and productive during work hours. These benefits include comprehensive work-life programs, child and senior care programs, backup care programs, and legal and financial services, among others. Employers who help people balance their competing responsibilities win big—not just in terms of engagement but also in attracting and retaining talent.

Engaging Benefits for an Engaged Workforce
If you want to improve employee engagement, a December Forbes article counseled your benefits need to have value and reflect your company’s values. To “have value,” your benefits must consist of programs your employees actually want and will use, and they have to prioritize real-life needs over trendy perks. As the article points out, there’s not much use in offering gourmet snack stations or onsite dry cleaning if you’re not attending to your employees’ more urgent needs like adequate medical insurance and dealing with family caregiving responsibilities.

Having a highly engaged workforce pays off in all sorts of ways—not the least of which are improved productivity, greater profitability and reduced turnover. You may not be able to sprint to those results … But they’re the rewards of a marathon well worth running.

If you’d like to discuss your company’s engagement and support programs challenges, contact us here or call us at 1-(866) 675-3751.