What is employee engagement?

Point blank – employee engagement is the most important aspect you should be looking to improve because if you’re not looking after your employees, your organisation will not thrive. Organisations rely, more than ever, on their employee’s motivation and performance to reach their business goals and to be successful. (I want to skip straight to the steps for increasing employment engagement!) This finding by Gallup suggests that more highly engaged employees resulted in a 21% increase in profitability. An organisation with high employee engagement is more likely to increase:

  • Productivity 
  • Retention rates
  • Financial performance
  • Customer satisfaction

Organisations that have a high percentage of employee engagement gain an edge over their competition. Shrm outlines the key differences between engaged and disengaged employees.  Engaged employees are optimistic, team orientated, solution-orientated, selfless, show a willingness to learn and accept blame while passing on credit.  Overall an engaged employee is more likely to have better:

  • Attitudes
  • Behaviours
  • Performance
  • Mental and physical well-being

Disengaged employees display a pessimistic attitude, can be self-centred, are often absent, have a negative attitude, do not show passion for learning and accept credit but pass along blame.  Employee engagement is an approach which is based on a two-way commitment between the organisation and the employee. The aim is to provide an employee with the right role, responsibilities, environment and culture so they are well equipped to perform their best at work.

Here are some steps to increase your organisation’s employee engagement:

1. Place employees in the right role

When companies place employees in the wrong role, due to reasons such as growth and unexpected employee losses, it can lead to rushed hiring decisions and therefore a selection of the wrong person for the role. An employee can feel under-utilised or conversely over-worked if placed in a role that is not suitable for their experience level and personal preference. Plus hiring the wrong person for the role could cost your organisation over $200,000!

A poor hiring choice can:

  • Bring the whole teams performance down
  • Create bad habits and behaviours
  • Create resentment from team members performing well and taking the slack
  • Impact company culture in the long term

When selecting the right person for a role ensure you:

  • Get another opinion – by conducting several interviews or inviting other team members to sit in on the interview
  • Check their references! –  This is a free resource to gather more information about a candidate before they get started
  • Conduct an interview that gets them involved – For example, create a hypothetical work situation and ask them what steps they would take to achieve an outcome
  • Set clear expectations early – If they are not meeting the expectations, there will be no surprises for them when they are told so. This is important for measuring the performance of your employees too
  • Trust your instincts – It’s likely you know which employee will be the best fit, go with your gut.

2. Provide quality training from Day 1

There’s nothing worse than starting a new job and not being provided with up to date training and information required to get started Those first few weeks for a new employee are crucial in making them feel like they made the right choice in deciding to work for your organisation. 

Here are some key tips to include in your induction to make sure your employee is engaged from their first day: 

  • Supply a rough plan or calendar for your employee’s first week – this helps your new employee to know what to expect each day as they get to know the organisation and the team
  • Introduce them to to the company – this includes missions, values, goals and/or history
  • Complete those administrative must-do’s – this includes Workplace, Health and Safety, car parking and covering all key policies and procedures. Make this a resource your employee can access whenever they need it.
  • Who’s who in the zoo – provide your new employee with a company organisational structure diagram will be helpful for learning everyone’s names and roles. Avoid overwhelming a new staff member by only introducing them to specific team members on their first day, not the whole office! (they are likely to not remember names or roles)
  • Inform them of their reporting lines – knowing who to contact and which process to follow to achieve an outcome, from day 1, will benefit your employee immensely!
  • Set up one-on-one inductions – with team members they’ll be working closely with
  • Provide training – on how to use software, relevant IT tools or other processes
  • Organise a special welcome – this could be a team lunch or a coffee catch up. One organisation takes its employees to choose their own desk plant on their first day! 

3. Discuss goals with your employees

Ask your employees if they want to work on particular projects or tasks. Understanding how an employee fits with an organisation’s future is one of the key employee engagement drivers that has the biggest impact. If your employees see longevity within your organisation, they are more likely to have higher engagement and therefore remain in the organisation for longer.

Have a discussion with each employee regarding:

  • Short term goals
  • What would they like to achieve in the next 3 months? 
  • Which current projects interest or excite them?
  • Long term goals
  • Where would they like to see their career progress in the next 3-5 years? 
  • How can your organisation help them to reach their career goals?

Related Blog – Performance Management – 8 Tips To Boost Your Call Centre

4. Task employees with responsibility by delegating effectively

Managers need to know how to effectively assign responsibility, but with many never receiving proper training in delegation, this can be seen as a big downfall for an organisations’ employee engagement.  Asking “Who can do this task?” and then providing proper guidance and monitoring progress once the task is delegated is crucial to keeping employees on track and engaged. Shrm outlines a checklist to prepare for delegation to ensure that employees feel equipped to take on responsibility. Your delegation checklist should include:

  • A defined desired outcome
  • Choose the person with the experience and skills to take on the responsibility
  • Provide the deadline and progress reporting timelines
  • Provide training and guidance
  • Monitor progress
  • Provide feedback
  • Identify what lessons were learned
  • Evaluate employee performance

In contact centres, where much of the work is repetitive and sometimes mundane, keeping employees engaged is critical to reducing attrition and increasing quality of work. Gamification platforms such as Datagamz, allows managers and team leaders to delegate tasks to agents and makes tasks more interesting by turning employees into gamers. Productive behaviour is rewarded by earning points and a visual leaderboard promotes healthy competition among employees.

5. Be transparent when discussing employee engagement

Be loud and proud about wanting to improve employee engagement in the workplace. Send internal emails to employees outlining what steps you are taking to improve employee engagement.  Maintaining transparency means the team can help encourage fellow colleagues to work together to increase engagement.

Things you can do to promote transparency in the workplace:

  • Include transparency in the company policy
  • Communicate effectively and consistently
  • Involve people in decision-making processes
  • Ensure everyone is on the same page regarding expectations
  • Share both positive and negative news with your employees

Transparency can be achieved and is a very powerful enabler that can aid in increasing your employee’s engagement.

6. Allow remote and flexible working arrangements

The need to be a more flexible organisation with regards to working arrangements is ever increasing due to the increase in daily pressures, stressors and a change in people’s lifestyles. 

Employees are needing flexible working arrangements due to:

  • The demands of having a family 
  • Personal obligations such as caring for a parent or child
  • Life responsibilities
  • Injuries or disability
  • Other circumstances which make it difficult to commit to a regular work schedule

A flexible work arrangement for your employees is likely to boost engagement and performance due to the extra benefits your employees will receive.

Employees will:

  • Save money by decreasing fuel, parking and childcare expenses
  • Have more time to do other activities such as spend time with family and exercise more due to a decrease in commute time and getting ready for work
  • Decrease stress levels by eliminating or decreasing commute time
  • Feel more in control over their schedule 
  • Be able to work when it fits their energy cycle
  • Reduce burnout because they can take breaks when needed (without the boss watching!)
  • Be less likely to be absent from work due to burnout or sickness

However, you want to ensure your employees are continuing to work effectively in their flexible working arrangements.

Here are a few pointers for maintaining productivity for anyone with remote or flexible working arrangements:

  1. Set a regular schedule and stick to it – Some people might work more effectively in the morning and others may work better at night. Figure out what works best for you.
  2. Get organised – Writing a to-do list at the start of your day or week can help to stay on top of tasks. Online to-do list apps such as Microsoft to-do or Wunderlist are useful if you don’t want to use good old fashioned paper and pen.
  3. Use technology – Use tools and software to make your job more efficient and tasks more automated. Project management tools such as Asana, Monday.com and Trello offer an online platform to help manage teams. If you’re a contact centre, software tools such as Aspect’s cloud solution offers a way of operating your contact centre whilst your employees are working remotely.
  4. Stay connected – email, call or video your team members regularly. This ensures regular communication about work-related topics and also upholds your relationships with your colleagues and/or clients. Google Hangouts and Zoom are two popular tools you can use to stay connected online.

Having a flexible working schedule combined with the right tools can be very beneficial to increasing your organisation’s employee productivity as well as their engagement. 

7. Provide a nice working environment

One study showed that up to 70% of employees improve their physical surroundings in their working environment to increase healthy behaviours. 

Some aspects that can be improved to increase your employee’s physical surroundings, ensure each employee has:

  • An ergonomic workstation
  • Adequate lighting
  • A clean and comfortable workspace
  • Safety by following all workplace health and safety regulations
  • Training and access to all Workplace, Health and Safety policies and procedures

Encourage your employees to get creative and personalise their own desk space or workstation by:

  • Adding some greenery by bringing in a desk plant or two!
  • Get them to bring in their own mug
  • Adding framed family photos
  • Bring in motivational quote prints or artwork they like

8. Promote wellness initiatives to increase engagement

Organisations that care for their employees, which are their most valuable asset, are more likely to achieve success because their employees have a better work-life balance. Activities such as encouraging your employees to attend a weekly exercise class before or after their workday can inspire your employees to increase their healthy lifestyle behaviours.  Additionally, this is an excellent way to give your employees the opportunity to get to know their colleagues better. 

Introducing a wellness initiative can provide many benefits which can help to increase employee engagement, it can:

  • Boost healthy behaviours
  • Reduce health risks such as high blood pressure
  • Reduce personal health care or gym costs 
  • Improve productivity
  • Increase the rate of attendance and retention
  • Build team morale and improve work relationships

Some more examples of wellness initiatives that could work for your organisation:

  • Walking meetings
  • Midday fitness 
  • Wellness challenges
  • Meditation 
  • Free flu shots
  • Cooking classes
  • Massages
  • Offer standing desks
  • Order healthy lunches
  • Provide healthy snacks
  • Yoga classes
  • Encourage participation in a fun run
  • Gym discounts
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Employee assistance programs for mental health

9. Encourage your employees to take breaks 

As part of your wellness initiative, encouraging your employees to take breaks is crucial to prevent burnout and decrease associated health issues. Regular breaks give your employee a rest from eye strain, if working on a computer, and muscle fatigue or strain. A 5-10 minute break can help restore concentration and it provides enough time for a stretch. 

There are many free tools you can use to help your employees remember to take breaks:

  • Eyeleo – is for workers that spend more than one hour looking at a screen, this tool provides alerts for short and long breaks and eye exercises
  • Flux – adapts the colour of your screen based on the time of day
  • Stretchly – is an open source app that reminds you to take both short and long breaks.

Encourage your employees to stretch regularly during their workday, these stretches are a good starting point but ensure they seek medical advice if they have injuries or are unsure of how to perform the stretch.

  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Stretch arms overhead
  • Torso twist
  • Hip flexor stretches

10. Ensure you check in with employees often

Whether the check-ins are casual or scheduled, don’t forget to have regular check-ins to see how your employees are tracking.  One study showed that when an employee feels like their voice is heard, they are 4.6 times more likely to perform better work. This is why it is important to have an open conversation about their progress and career goals. 

What you should check in on your employees about:

  • Are they meeting expectations?
  • Are they reaching their goals?
  • Would they like to undertake any extra training or professional development?
  • Are there any barriers for them at the moment?
  • How do they feel about the extra measures for increasing employee engagement in your organisation?
  • Any other topics they wish to discuss with you?

Make sure you end the meeting on a positive note, try to make your employee feel optimistic going forward, even if the chat was focused on some not-so-good news.

11. Be open to asking and receiving feedback (also ask about your new employee engagement initiatives!)

Regularly asking your team how they think you’re going as a manager can promote a great working relationship and develop your managerial skills. Feedback can be anonymous or an open discussion. Because you’re being transparent about employee engagement, ask your employees how you think the new initiatives are going! One study found that 89% of HR leaders agreed that ongoing feedback and check-ins are crucial for success.

Here are some ways to get honest employee feedback that will help you boost employee engagement:

  • Create a culture of open and honest communication by showing genuine interest in your employees’ work and their lives
  • Make note of non-verbal communication – body language can sometimes provide more information than speaking!
  • Tell your employees that you have an open-door policy – meaning they are welcome to chat with you about anything they need to, whenever you are available
  • Implement a suggestion box – anonymity will be preserved too!
  • Schedule a one-on-one catch up to check in on how they think you are tracking as a manager
  • Avoid becoming defensive – ensure you realise that not everyone has the same perspective and information as you, so think carefully before responding when receiving feedback 
  • Be genuine and build trust by owning your mistakes

12. Increase employee engagement by providing recognition

When an employee does a good job, ensure you let them know! A thoughtful reward for an employee can boost productivity and engagement.  Recognition makes people feel good about themselves and their work, so ensuring you provide positive reinforcements is crucial to increasing your employees’ motivation. 

Here are some suggestions on how you can provide recognition to boost engagement:

  • Handwritten note
  • Certificate of achievement
  • Team lunch
  • Company branded apparel
  • Lunch with the boss
  • VIP parking
  • Casual dress day
  • Time-off or extra leave
  • Work from home day
  • Free coffee
  • Trophy
  • Tickets to events
  • Movie tickets
  • Bring your pet to work
  • End of year party with awards
  • Bottle of wine
  • Thank you video
  • Gym membership
  • Spa voucher
  • Badges/gems or sending kudos through online gamification software

A gamification platform such as Datagamz can be a useful tool to reward

employees that work in contact centres and back-office environments. Learn more about how Datagamz could help to boost your employee engagement.

13. Encourage employees to get social to increase engagement

Boost team morale and increase workplace culture by having a regular social catch up or activity.  Whether it be Friday drinks, lunches or a sport, providing the team with time to bond over something that is not work-related will be beneficial for increasing your employee engagement.

Ideas for social activities so you can start boosting your team’s engagement:

  • Monthly lunches or drinks
  • Friday afternoon drinks
  • Weekly draws
  • Workplace awards
  • Themed dress days
  • Daily fun routine – for example, a joke or riddle
  • Celebration of milestones – for example, a 1 year anniversary
  • Fitness classes
  • Trivia night
  • Karaoke night
  • Cooking class
  • Kayaking
  • Painting class
  • Attend networking events – for example, a motivational speaker or thought leader

Our at Datagamz mission is to radically improve the engagement and capability of contact centre teams by helping them connect better with each other and with customers. Understanding what motivates and engages individual team members and provides a sense of accomplishment and pride is critical to improving each individuals performance and the overall customer experience. Datagamz Gamification platform translates behaviours that will improve productivity into badges, quests and challenges for individuals and teams. Datagamz Analytics offers four new powerful techniques to help uncover and leverage insights into productivity and performance.

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