The best way to get the most out of your workforce may be to make sure they’re engaged. A 2015 study by the Temkin Group, a customer research and engagement firm, revealed that 91 percent of highly engaged employees always or almost always try their hardest at work (among disengaged employees, only 67 percent say the same).
But employee engagement is such a complex topic, how do you know where to start? To top it off, how do you pinpoint exactly what makes employees more enthusiastic, invested and inspired?
After mining through 200,000 employee responses for research from my company, TINYpulse’s 2014 Employee Engagement Survey, we were able to distinguish the top workplace factors that match up with high levels of happiness:
This list may be the perfect starting point for finding ways to motivate employees and increase employee engagement. And one of the best things may be that you can actually work on these areas without spending any money. Consider starting with these three strategies:
1. Build a top-notch culture.
Organizational culture and team usually go hand in hand. Your company’s culture is ever changing and can be built every day by the various actions and attitudes of everyone in your workforce. If you have even just one toxic employee, they may bring down the atmosphere around them. I’ve seen this happen at various companies that had a stellar culture to begin with, but brought on an employee who was a bad fit with the culture. Their negativity plagued the work environment and made its way into other departments. But once that person was let go, their remaining employees were engaged once again.
So decide what kind of culture you want your organization to have—innovative, agile, collaborative, focused on customer service, etc. Some of the greatest cultures have started off with employees who complemented each other and the culture. Remember that skills can be taught, but personality is typically much harder to change.
2. Focus on leadership qualities.
Engaged employees are likely looking for two specific qualities in their leaders: strong performance and transparency. To get the former, you might consider focusing on leadership skills—not just general job skills—when promoting an employee or hiring someone for a leadership position.
And when it comes to transparency, being open about communication may be valuable to employees while costing you nothing. Establishing multiple channels for communicating information may help, such as all-hands meetings, one-on-ones between direct managers and employees, and perhaps a company-wide newsletter. Use these outlets as ways to share important company information such as performance, goals and upcoming changes. You might use them to announce major decisions and explain the context and reasoning behind them. When employees feel like they’re in the loop, they’ll also feel more invested in their organization.
3. Help employees develop.
Finally, you might guide your employees on their path of professional growth. This means focusing beyond their current job duties and day-to-day expectations. Consider finding out what their interests are, and help them pursue those interests by giving them additional responsibilities at work. Keeping their interests piqued at work may not only keep them on their toes, but also potentially help them develop new skills.
If your employees want to move up in the ranks, it’s often helpful to make the promotion process clear, and to make sure you’ve supported their professional development so they’re prepared for the new role.
These steps don’t take much in the way of resources—just effort. But that effort may benefit your company by helping you get a stronger team, a more positive work environment, a more invested workforce and all the other benefits of high employee engagement.
For more tips on planning for business growth, access our exclusive guide from LegalZoom CEO John Suh, Move Your Business Forward.
Read more articles about motivating employees.
A version of this article was originally published on September 4, 2015.