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4 Ways to Encourage Employee Engagement in Your Company

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Employee churn is a growing problem for U.S. employers.

40% of U.S. retailers have seen an increase in employee turnover since the beginning of 2016. The turnover rate for hourly employees is 65%, up from 57% last year.

Across all industries, employee turnover rates stood at 16.7% in 2015, including 11.6% voluntary turnover. That’s the highest turnover rate since 2009! These stats show a growing employee retention problem that’s gotten worse every year since 2011.

High employee turnover is terrible for an organization. You end up wasting money to recruit new workers and hurting productivity for existing workers. Luckily, creating a culture of employee engagement can also create a ripple effect within an organization, boosting productivity and reducing recruitment costs.

Employee engagement

As an employer, it’s important to recognize that your own level of engagement should be obvious if you want to see the same in your employees. Here are four steps employers can take to cultivate higher employee engagement.

1. Connect employees to company core values

Employers can become engaged themselves by taking some proactive actions. “The first thing employers can do to promote higher engagement is connecting employees to company core values. Effective efforts often include daily practices to reinforce values, supported by planning, administration and monitoring,” recommend Dr. Alison Whybrow and Alan Williams.

You can teach introductions to company values through orientation videos and workshops.

To heighten employee awareness of values, you can nominate employees for company awards, and track their successes with talent management software, like a gamified performance management software or a Winning employees can receive recognition and opportunities to win monthly awards. Winners can then take part in the next month’s nominations, building a legacy of values champions. Ongoing feedback with daily input from employees will help boost engagement over the long term.

2. Put in programs and policies for a positive workplace culture

Start implementing programs and policies that create a positive workplace culture! Building a positive workplace culture begins with branding policy. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ research shows that workers under 31 focus on corporate responsibility. Employers who build a reputation as a responsible brand will position themselves as more attractive to young workers.

For example, Google has made its brand attractive to young workers.

How?

By building a reputation as a company that values its employees as people and not cogs in a machine. Google communicates this partly by offering benefits packages that have earned the company consistent rankings atop Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

You can also communicate positivity through the recruitment process. Like Starbucks! They offer a customized benefit package called Your Special Blend that allows employees to select from a range of personalized options. These include a college achievement plan where the company offers to pay tuition reimbursement. College-related benefits are especially appealing to younger workers concerned about career advancement potential.

Following the onboarding process, employee recognition programs can help foster positivity. 94% of HR professionals believe recognition programs help boost employee engagement. Tenure, performance, life celebrations, retirement and wellness initiatives all present opportunities for employee recognition.

The best programs for engagement help to build up employees’ sense of self.

3. Encourage fluid conversation

An effective way to foster positive communication is implementing an open-door policy. An open-door policy invites employees to take any concerns they may have to any manager in the company. Mention the existence of the policy in your employee handbook and during training.

Any policy of open communication should build relationships between employees and their immediate supervisors. Train employees to go to their supervisors first before taking issues to higher management.

When open-door conversations turn to complaints, managers should ask employees if they have discussed the issue with their own supervisor. Managers should then follow up with a course of action to verify that the employee has actually had the discussion with their supervisor

One way to do this is to set up a follow-up meeting between the employee and their supervisor. A meeting will ease conversation between employees and supervisors. At the same time, meetings give employees an outlet when they need to discuss an issue with someone other than their immediate supervisor.

You can handle complaints about fellow employees the same way. Encourage employees to communicate with each other before taking problems to supervisors. That said, never stop giving employees chances to talk to supervisors when needed. Inter-employee communication will help build teamwork as well as confidence in management.

4. Bridge the culture gap

One reason turnover rates are so high is the culture gap that exists between older employers and younger employees. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ survey showed that workers under 31 already make up 25% of the U.S. workforce, and by 2020, they will account for 50%. Workers in this age group differ culturally from previous generations, having grown up with different economic, tech, and social concerns.

For example:

  • 41% of those surveyed prefer electronic to face-to-face communication. 78% feel access to technology allows them to work more efficiently.
  • Three-quarters also feel they have compromised to get into their present positions. Almost 40% are looking for new jobs. One-quarter expect to have six or more employers during their lifetime.
  • 52% say that opportunity for career advancement was the main draw to their employer. A competitive salary was the second draw, at 44%.
  • 56% say they would leave an employer whose sense of corporate responsibility did not match their expectations.
  • 38% feel older senior management does not relate well to them. 34% feel that their personal drive is intimidating to older workers.

These factors help define a culture gap between younger and older coworkers and supervisors. It explains why Gallup found that only 29% of Millennials feel engaged at work.

Employers can boost engagement and reach across this cultural divide by addressing some of the generational issues that split workers. Starting a Bring Your Own Device policy can help younger workers feel more comfortable with their workplace environment. Building a brand with a sense of corporate responsibility can make workers feel more connected to company values. Small steps will help promote employee engagement.

How do you boost employee engagement?

Employee engagement has been on a downturn in the U.S. over the last five years. But proactive employers can take steps to keep their workers diligent. Promote a positive workplace culture, communicate company core values, encourage open conversation between employees and supervisors and reach across generational divides. It’s not hard for employers to let workers know their team values their contribution.

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About the Author

Ty Kiisel

Ty  Kiisel  is a contributing author focusing on small business financing at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business’s biggest challenge: access to capital. With over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, Ty shares personal experiences and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible. OnDeck can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments

I like that you mentioned the importance of having an open-door policy. I think that allows for better communication between all the levels in a business. My sister works for a company that often has workshops for employee engagement and it’s something that everyone in the company participates in. She said that it is a great way for everyone to be motivated and connect.

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