Employee engagement strategies are often met with eye-rolls and hushed groans as people lament the ensuing awkward team-building activities and overused metaphors. However, despite these common stereotypes, employee engagement is vital to a company's success. Employees who feel valued and invested in their company are more apt to work harder and more likely to stay.
In today's business world, employees are now more inclined to job-hop than ever before. According to NY Daily News, employees in the 55–64 age range have a median tenure of more than 10 years, while millennials notch a median job tenure of just three years. With 75.4 million millennials now in the workforce, according to Pew Research, organizations are starting to see the growing importance of employee engagement. With that in mind, here are five ways that engagement may be lacking in the workplace and corresponding strategies to right those wrongs:
1. Maintain Effective Communication
Few things in life make a person feel more disconnected than a lack of communication. Unfortunately, in today's business world of telecommuting, flex hours, and digital correspondence, it's never been easier to feel like you're working on a secluded island — without the perks of sand, sun, and sangria. All too often, communication is left at a basic level of email or instant messages. While these methods are surprisingly efficient, they lack the robust, personal touch of a genuine, in-person conversation.
To solve this issue, all that's needed is a little more planning and some unified communications technology. A move to the cloud introduces a host of collaboration tools to help businesses keep their employees connected. Instead of relying on the typical email chains and chat windows to discuss important group ideas, add a dash of agility and personality with a more full-featured meeting. Schedule regular "catch-all" meetings in which remote users join via video conference and onsite folks pile into the same room for an old-fashioned get-together. Take it a step further and share your screen or desktop to make the in-person experience that much closer to reality. Doing so will boost engagement by bringing a personal touch to the often cold online communication you're used to.
2. Keep Things Professionally Chill
Want to know why people look forward to clocking out at the end of the day? It's because they simply have more fun at home than they do in the office. While you may never be able to make the office as enjoyable as a Saturday-night "Game of Thrones" binge, there are a few things that will help reduce the sometimes stark difference.
The idea is to create an office atmosphere that is less "Walking Dead" and more "SpongeBob Squarepants." Okay, maybe not that bubbly, but you get the picture. When employees know that it's okay to have fun at the office — be it shooting the breeze over a game of pingpong or simply playing a game of poker at lunch — they'll instantly feel more at home and, as a result, more deeply engaged.
3. Encourage Feedback
While the first entry in these employee engagement strategies dealt directly with office communication, there's still some work to be done by taking that communication to the next level. In general, humans feel more engaged with a community — work, in this instance — when they feel like they have a voice. In other words, people want to know they can influence change.
For this reason, feedback should be encouraged and accessible, and the results should be made known to all. We're not talking about the "Place questions or comments here" sign above the wastebasket, either. Honest, intentional dialogue with employees about their thoughts on the workplace will encourage participation and a sense of ownership.
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4. Invest in Relationships
If feeling like you don't have a voice is a quick way to nurture discontent, feeling like no one is there to listen will surely sink any hopes of engagement. At its core, the need for relationships is one of humankind's most basic desires. It's no different in the workplace.
As such, take the time to get to know your employees on a deeper level than their first name and number of kids. There are few things more engaging than knowing the people you work with genuinely care about your well-being both inside and outside the office.
5. Shift Your Focus
It's surprisingly easy to disengage when the only thing driving your daily office life is the number at the end of the annual budget report. Fortunately, this one's easy to fix. By simply shifting the focus from project or budget success to people success, employees will stop believing the work they do is the only important thing they bring to the table.
In the end, employee engagement is all about making it easier for an employee to get motivated to come to work every morning. By increasing communication with new technologies or a culture change, injecting a little fun into otherwise mundane aspects of office life, and creating an atmosphere more focused on people than products, you can begin to turn the tide on waning employee engagement.
Contact a Vonage Business representative to learn more about keeping your team engaged.