What Can You Do to Boost Employee Engagement?
For all the thought (and words) put into understanding and trying to solve the problem of employee engagement, one would think that today’s workers should be the most engaged in all of human history.
But despite the many books, webinars and best practices out there, studies are still finding that employee engagement is low, as the Economist Intelligence Unit reported.
Gallup describes engaged workers as those who “willingly go the extra mile, work with passion, and feel a profound connection to their company. They are the people who will drive innovation and move your business forward.” But unfortunately, Gallup has also found that these kinds of employees are still a distinct minority in the workplace.
What’s hindering employee engagement?
Many employees are simply overworked. When companies must lay people off for financial reasons it frequently leaves the remaining employees with lower morale yet higher responsibilities than before. Pressure to be more efficient is constant, creating additional stress for workers as they try to figure out the proper balance between quality and speed.
Changes in the nature of employment are making a significant difference, too. An increasing number of workers are freelancing or contracting, which may mean they don’t have many of the typical employee benefits (e.g., health insurance, vacation and sick days, retirement) that offer peace of mind. Flexible working arrangements, like spending days working from home to help attend to an ill child or parent, while beneficial in some ways, could also potentially contribute to employees feeling distracted and less engaged.
Unpleasant aspects of the work environment, a negative company culture, or bad policies could also be lowering engagement and souring the employee experience. And employers themselves may be spending so much attention on fiscal or operational matters that they are taking too little time to consider the well-being of the workforce.
Though executives and managers are undoubtedly dealing with their own intense pressures, putting a focus on improving the employee experience is well worth the effort because it’s better for the business in the long run. Engaged employees have been found to be 43% more productive.
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Global job finder Monster advises employers to counter a lack of engagement by providing workers with a sense of “being part of something bigger than themselves, being on a meaningful journey, and knowing that their contributions make an impact.”
Practically speaking, this may include creating initiatives that reward employee success, giving employees opportunities to have their ideas heard and implemented, and providing needed resources. Proving seriousness of purpose also means that team leaders need to be trained on employee engagement and have accountability measures put into place.
Technology is one of the most critical resources to engage workers to help in doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. Of course, this is nothing new. From the invention of the wheel to the development of the computer, technology has been providing workers with clever ways to work faster and smarter for centuries. Today’s most transformative employee technologies are often software or cloud-based tools that offer convenient ways for co-workers to collaborate, communicate, and organize workflows.
Ironically, the proliferation of these platforms and programs may now be overwhelming professionals, creating yet another stress point. This concern is already giving rise to the concept of workspace intelligence, which is designed to organize and guide work in a centralized way, inclusive of the various applications and tools that employers use most regularly. An intelligent workspace may also incorporate in-process documents, messages, current tasks, upcoming meetings, and other important items that need to be kept top-of-mind.
Optimizing the employee experience
At a time when most companies are eager to innovate so that they can stay competitive, it is crucial that they nurture their most passionate, driven, and forward-thinking employees. To that end, it is important that all employees feel respected, appreciated, and heard. And it can’t just be lip service—they need to be supported with real, tangible resources that help them do their jobs better, whether it’s a functioning office copier, security policies that protect data and privacy, or vital network applications with reliable mobile access.
Engaged employees are among a business’s most valuable assets. Make it a priority to improve the employee experience, and expect to see better engagement and a better bottom line.
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