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Weekly10 Top 10: How to boost employee engagement in 2020 (and beyond)

‘How to improve employee engagement’ is arguably the HR conundrum of the 2010’s, or certainly the latter half. It has been the focus of many a research report, seminar, Op-ed or blog (such as this one I prepared earlier!). And no wonder with its strong correlation to a host of business metrics including:

  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Increased discretionary effort
  • Lower levels of absenteeism

With studies from the likes of Gallup and ADP putting the global hit to productivity from poor levels of employee engagement at between £650 billion and £900 billion, it’s no surprise to see ‘how to improve employee engagement’ being focussed on so much over the past few years.

Whether you’re a business owner, department manager or team member we all share the same dream when it comes to work; for our employees, team members or colleagues to share our passion and drive for the business we give our time to.

So how to tackle employee engagement? Well, we’re here with some handy top tips on how to improve employee engagement at your organisation.

#1. Build A Better Culture

The “workplace” is becoming harder than ever to define, what with the ever-changing face of work and the rise in popularity of remote and flexible working practices.

You may have staff working across offices, cities or even countries, at different times of day or days of the week and though difficult, crafting a workplace culture that encourages, supports and nurtures your people is key to great employee engagement.

Focus on openness, inclusivity and fun in order to build a workplace culture that appeals and develops. Regularly take note of where the company culture is, and where it needs to be in order for you and your people to succeed.  

#2. Do it more often. Feedback that is…

Regular, open, two-way communication in the shape of official feedback loops need to be central to all you do around employee engagement.

Waiting for annual or quarterly reviews to give feedback and allow employees to share their thoughts is not an effective nor efficient approach to harnessing the power of employee engagement. Constructive feedback isn’t timely, meaning the impact it can have is greatly diminished. Details of events are forgotten meaning they either don’t get shared or are over-embellished. Issues are left to fester and turn into bigger, more serious challenges.

Research has shown that in line with the instant-gratification of digital life in the 21st century, younger generations expect feedback more frequently, with millennials preferring, on the whole, to have formal feedback in work at least once a week!

Adopting a clear process and channels for feedback (be they free solutions such as diarised email sessions or a more professional solution such as Weekly10), means feedback becomes habitual and something all areas of a business can engage positively with.

#3. Empower staff and managers to recognise the great work you might miss

If you’re a business owner, you probably know better than anyone that you can’t keep an eye on every part of your business at all times (no matter how hard you likely try to). The same goes for your managers, who more than likely have multiple team members working at different times of day on different projects potentially with staff from other areas of the business.

What this can mean, is sometimes, often through no fault of any one individual, the good work and additional efforts of staff can go unnoticed. We all know how demoralising it can be when our hard work is missed and the hit our motivation takes. Conversely, research has shown that 76% of employees find peer praise extremely or very motivating!

With motivation being a key cornerstone of employee engagement, we need to guard as best we can against any such reduction.

Setting up a process whereby employee efforts can be highlighted, clear lines of visibility can be built across a company and success stories shared and rewarded, is a fantastically effective way to get a real view of all the good work being carried out at your company.

#4. Instil a sense of purpose

Underpinning all we do is the ‘why’ we do it. Yet often in work, we’re not always that clear on exactly why we are being asked to complete a given task. Employees want purposeful which matters and makes a difference.

Not knowing why we are completing a task or how it will positively impact the businesses we work for can be hugely demoralising leading to decreased engagement.

Ensure your staff understand the company’s goals and motivations, not only at a high-level but also at department and team levels of the organisation.

OKR’s are one great way of doing this.

#5. Leverage the power of ‘skin in the game’

Studies in behavioural economics by the likes of Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman, have shown that the more ownership we have over something, the more we value and care for it.

Whilst not always an option for established businesses, staff equity programmes are a hugely powerful motivator that very quickly boosts employee engagement across a business. If possible, consider looking at how you can offer up some level of ownership to staff in your company.

#6. Develop in order to develop engagement

Career progression opportunities are one of the key things on the radar of workers, with 65% of employees citing career growth and training as their key workplace motivators.

In order to engage employees, you, therefore, need to offer up these opportunities, or staff will start to look elsewhere for them. Personalised training programmes and development should make up a frequent part of your staff’s time at work. Developing staff skills and knowledge provides a boost in their own expertise, confidence, productivity and engagement levels, so a win-win for your organisation and people.

#7. Focus on work-life balance

Remote and flexible work options provide freedom to employees to work from anywhere at any time. This allows the flexibility to fit work around all the other stresses and trappings of life.

Research and real-world experience from businesses (such as creators of WordPress, Automattic) has shown that whilst sometimes challenging to implement, providing these facilities will result in more engaged employees, and often additional boosts to productivity!

#8. Take time to get to know your people

We all like to feel valued, not just for how good at our work we are, but for who we are. Unsurprisingly research has shown that employees are no different, with 83% of engaged staff stating “my supervisor cares about me as a person” compared to just 3% of disengaged workers.

So, if you want staff who care about their work you must show you care about them. Spend time getting to know them – learn the names of partners and children, get to know their hobbies and likes or where they are going on holiday next year. It’s a small thing to ask someone about themselves, but it can have significant impacts on employee performance.

#9. Have fun

We are all at work to be productive and help push forward the organisations we call home. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun whilst doing it.

Occupational psychology studies have shown that up to 90% of staff say a fun-focussed working environment is very or extremely motivating and can help boost employee engagement levels.

#10. Focus on wellbeing

Long working hours, high levels of pressure and looming deadlines can very easily build stress among employees. Add to this, external stresses from home life, and it’s easy to see why stress is the number one cause for workplace absences in the UK.

Organisations need to lead the charge on tackling stress and keeping staff mentally healthy with a robust wellness strategy. Offer up services such as mental health first aiders and mindfulness causes and workplace changes (such as flexible working) to help stave off stress and keep your employees happy, motivated and engaged.

So, there you have it, a quick run-through of our top 10 tips for boosting employee engagement, and generally looking after your people, better.

Feel free to get in touch with us anytime to discuss any of the content here in more detail, we love hearing from our readers.

Merry Christmas from the team here at Weekly10!

Head of People Science