Before I became a business owner, I worked for a variety of companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 enterprises. I was what managers call a “good” employee – dedicated and dependable. I’d start every position fully engaged, but over time I often found myself disconnected from the company and felt like I had no choice but to leave. As an employee, I never considered why I felt left out. Now as a business owner and CEO of women+ brand studio Tote + Pears, I evaluate employee retention daily.
Employees go through stages before they leave a company, and disengagement can often be the first phase. Employee engagement strategies can help you identify the challenges before your employees leave.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is a metric – usually expressed as a score based on surveys – that can help you understand how your employees feel about their jobs and your company. Employees who feel connected and valued at work tend to be more committed and dependable. When you’re in the middle of the holiday rush, you likely need dependable and committed workers. But keeping your employees engaged year-round can be a growing challenge in today’s work environment.
According to Gallup, employee engagement in the U.S. is at an all-time low. In a 2021 survey of 57,022 full- and part-time U.S. employees, only 34% of the employees said they were engaged at their company, and 16% noted they were not engaged.
Employee engagement campaigns can help you get the most out of your employees by boosting engagement throughout the year.
Tips to Keep Your Employees Engaged
1. Build policies and schedules around their needs and interests.
How do your employees feel about your company? Are they happy in their jobs? Do they enjoy their work? Do they believe in the company mission? Is their work interfering with or supporting their goals?
Before you can resolve employee engagement challenges within your organization, an employee engagement survey can give you the data you need to understand them.
For example, one of our clients noticed they were losing a stream of employees at different times of the year and wanted to understand why. We created an anonymous employee engagement survey that included questions about their employees’ priorities and personal lives.
By acknowledging, motivating, and supporting your employees’ feelings throughout the year, they’ll respond by being there when you need them – even during hectic times such as the holiday rush.
We asked questions like: Do you have any children? What’s the most stressful time of the year for you? How can we make your life at work easier?
The results were astonishing. A significant number of employees indicated they had children and that the conflict between kids at home during the summer and staffing issues at work were stressors. Based on these results, we recommended the company adjust staffing levels during these times to reduce stress. When they did, employee engagement immediately increased.
2. Offer a variety of incentives.
As business owners, we tend to see the big picture and the direct correlation between our efforts and results. Our employees don’t always have that vantage point. That’s why employee incentives, especially during peak seasons like the holidays, can be helpful.
When your employees understand what you’re trying to accomplish and see a direct path between those goals, their effort, and the reward, they are more likely to get excited. The more excited your employees are, the more likely they are to stay engaged.
There are a number of ways you can incentivize your employees – monetary being one of the most popular, but food, time off, private or company trips, awards, and new equipment are just a few other ways you can motivate your employees. It can be important to mix it up, as everyone’s motivation is different.
3. Celebrate them year-round.
It can be common for business owners to create employee experiences around the holidays, but why stop there? If your goal is to get the best out of your employees year-round, then consider celebrating them and their accomplishments all year long.
One of our clients, the award-winning advertising agency Baldwin&, reminds its employees they’re valued by ensuring there is a three-day weekend every month. It’s a nod to the hard work they’ve put in and a reminder to reinvest in themselves. In the advertising industry, there can be a culture of your life revolving around your work, and for parents and caregivers, that’s not always possible or healthy.
Baldwin&’s monthly three-day weekends are one way the company reminds its employees they’re top of mind. They also make daily coffee runs, close the agency for the holidays, choose work that inspires their team and aligns with their values, and celebrate their wins (personally and professionally) on their social media pages. This helps their employees show up every day eager and ready to work.
Employee engagement can be a window that displays your employees’ feelings about your organization and their work. By acknowledging, motivating, and supporting your employees’ feelings throughout the year, they’re more likely to respond by being there when you need them – even during hectic times like the holiday rush.
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