Disengaged employees are more than just those who watch YouTube videos during working hours and occasionally miss deadlines. Disengaged employees are actually expensive. From the human capital perspective, high turnover rates negatively impact organisational performance because they cause a loss of organisational memory, along with the loss of knowledge, skills and abilities that the employees have developed through experience and training.
Lack of engagement is one of the main reasons that employees leave. Therefore, in addition to encouraging growth and productivity in the workplace, you should also put more focus on employee retention strategies that would incentivise employee loyalty and long service. Like many of today’s large corporations, your company relies on the intellectual capital of your employees. Your team members are not easily replaceable, therefore, employee engagement as a form of investment for your company.
To get you started, here are five strategies to effectively engage employees in your organisation:
1. Offer flexibility
Before COVID-19, working from home was one of those luxuries that employees everywhere crave the most. It makes sense as working from home eliminates the unnecessary time-waste of commuting from home to the workplace. It also eliminates other factors that come with having to commute to work such as having to find parking, spend money on petrol and paying for parking tickets. In the age of technology, almost every home has an internet connection. Therefore, your employees should be allowed the flexibility of working from home, just as long as they stay available and reachable throughout their working hours.
Beyond, working from home, flexibility needs to also apply to working hours, as opposed to the typical 9 to 5 arrangement. Many committed employees want to advance in their careers. But they also want a little flexibility to drop off their kids, pick them up from school, and spend time with their families. And this should be made available. If your employee goes out for an hour at 3pm for a kid’s doctor’s appointment only to log back in at 5 and work until midnight, they deserve that flexibility. Many employers — especially in professional services — are recognizing the value of flexible work arrangements.
2. Consult your team on possible changes and big decisions
Most employees start to become disengaged when they feel that their opinions don’t matter and that they’re just another replaceable staff in the organisation. A key part of employee engagement is making sure your employees don’t feel like cogs in a wheel. People like to feel like they’re a valuable member of the workforce, that management views them as more than numbers on a page and that opinion matters.
Perhaps, you’re about to decide on a company logo, or the destination for the next company outing, or even what to eat for the next lunch meeting. Don’t just make a decision alone. Engage your team members and ask for their feedback!
3. Add a sense of purpose and meaning to your team members’ work
Good companies create a culture where employees know that they’re not just another worker. Good companies let their team members know that their career goals, personal aspirations, health and wellness all matter to the company. When companies participate in activities or support causes for the greater good, employees will feel like they’re working for a company that serves a greater purpose than to make a profit.
For example, when a company pledges a percentage of its profits to supporting a charity or a local community development project, their employees will know that the work they do indirectly supports these initiatives.
Today’s workers, especially millennials, want to work for companies that are making a positive contribution to society. Therefore, this strategy isn’t just charitable — it’s also a good recruitment and employee engagement strategy.
4. Incentivise good work
Unsurprisingly, 66% of employees would quit a job when they feel underappreciated. In order to keep your team members feeling motivated and inspired, introduce employee incentive programs at regular intervals, such as the ‘Employee of the Month’ incentive or a quarterly bonus for team members based on their (quantifiable) performance.
If your organisation is a small one without a lot of budget for incentives, you can always start small by introducing mini perks like ‘Free Lunch Fridays’ or a monthly book budget, which would encourage your team members to educate themselves and enjoy their working environment more.
5. Develop career progression plans and offer mentorship opportunities
Employees prefer to stay at companies that invest in their professional development. In fact, one survey found that 94% of employees would stick around for a company that offers great advancement opportunities.
Of course, this is easier said than done, as some companies promise to give promotions as a reward, but don’t award them consistently. Others are vague about performance targets or keep moving the goalposts, which reflects badly on the company’s integrity and exacerbates employees’ disengagement.
A study showed that companies that sit in the top 10% for employee engagement and development opportunities had profit gains of 26% during the last recession, compared to companies that experienced a 14% decrease. Think about the skills that are most important for your organization and create training programs that give ambitious employees an opportunity to make a greater contribution.
Start by designing clear career progression plans for all employees, and ensure your managers and HR departments take them seriously. Finally, prioritize hiring internally. Not only will this reward your employees for improving their skills within your company, but it will also give them a shorter-term target to work towards and keep their morale high.
The average millennial — who makes up a growing number of today’s workforce — change jobs three times more than an employee in the previous generations. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same. Gallup estimates that millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.
Their reason for the constant job-hopping? Disengagement. Your employees are valuable human capitals, whom, just like business capitals that you work hard to build, also deserve to be built and nurtured by effective engagement. Take a critical and honest look at your company culture, identify opportunities to improve employee engagement, and use these strategies to get started.