Company Culture

Overcoming Employee Engagement Challenges

Over the past few years, employee engagement has become increasingly trendy. Why? Because low employee engagement is a company killer, and organizations are increasingly aware that in order to retain talent, they need to think beyond compensation and benefits.

According to Bersin and associates, companies around the globe were already spending $720 million a year on improving their engagement levels in 2015. Yet, Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace report found that a startling 85% of people are not engaged at work. Why such a disconnect?

Perhaps because a lot of focus has been top down, looking at what managers can do to improve engagement within their teams. But really, it’s everyone’s responsibility. Companies should do their part to empower individuals at all levels of the organization, and create an environment in which people’s engagement efforts can actually have an impact.

Here are 3 ways you could approach the challenge of engagement at your company:

1. Inspire with purpose

Engagement starts with the company founders, or senior leadership. When it comes to stronger engagement, their role is to live and breathe the company values, so they become a common truth everyone lives by, and something everyone should aspire to.

In particular nowadays when people are increasingly looking for a sense of purpose in their jobs, clearly articulated company values will help anchor people’s sense of belonging with a company, and give them greater clarity when it comes to their roles. It will also give them greater motivation to support the company’s success.

Leaders who are truly inspiring, drive the company toward success by connecting their work to the bigger picture. One such inspiring leader was the former co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs. With the help of his team, he created a legacy that changed the way the world viewed computers forever. Jobs always thought of himself as an artist, and actively encouraged his design team to think of themselves in this way too. The vision he fostered was, “never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money, but rather do the greatest thing possible”. With this belief, his team of “artists” created more than just a product.

2. Develop a community

People naturally want to feel part of a larger community, and establishing a common sense of purpose is the first step. The second is creating a culture that connects and celebrates its people.

Did you know that according to a study by Gallup, having a best friend at work leads to higher levels of engagement? In fact, women who strongly agreed they had a best friend at work were 63% more likely to be engaged.

Of course friendships in the workplace are not something that can be engineered, but you can create and reinforce a culture where people feel accepted, supported and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be complicated either: encouraging colleagues to go for coffees to get to know each other, regularly hosting team lunches, or finding moments to celebrate as a team are all ways in which to encourage good relationships.

You can also develop stronger relationships between colleagues by encouraging them to give each other positive feedback about their work. In our own experiment, we found that this type of positive influence can be infectious. Studies show that receiving praise results in a natural dopamine hit to our brains. This motivates people to go that extra mile to feel great about their work.

According to Gallup, people who receive praise regularly are more likely to be both engaged and productive, with a 10%-20% difference in revenue. We started an experiment within our team to see if we could use this natural feel good response to turn positive feedback into a habit. To do this, we created a Slack integration and a dedicated channel for sharing positive recognition across the company.

We saw that the more people received notifications on Slack, the more likely they were to share praise with others. This helped us to increase the sharing of positive feedback exponentially throughout the company.

For more tips on how to evolve your company’s culture check out our white paper.

3. Create people driven processes

One of the biggest pitfalls of practically all organizations, is not spending enough time developing processes that actually fit them. It can often seem so much easier to simply adopt the most common strategies, but at some point these may begin to hinder rather than help people, especially if they’re not aligned with the overall company values and direction.

Many companies have therefore started redesigning processes, thinking of the employee experience holistically, looking more closely at the different touchpoints people experience throughout their employment. It allows them to take a step back and assess how the processes and technology for each critical stage could be improved.

The annual performance review is one of the best examples of this. Originally, it was conceived as a way for companies to measure people’s performance and identify high and low performers. Yet study after study has shown that over half of managers feel they’re an unproductive use of time and over half of people experience little to no improvement in their performance.

However, Deloitte found that companies that redesigned their performance management processes saw a 90% increase in employee engagement. In our own study, we found that 72% of people who receive more continuous developmental feedback experience improvements in their workplace performance. To truly engage people, you have to create processes that actually work for them. Check out our guide: 3 Steps to design performance reviews that develop, engage and drive performance for more tips.

Engagement doesn’t have to be complicated. By addressing these three points, companies will be taking steps in the right direction to create an environment people want to be in, and a purpose they can get behind.

Are you ready to strengthen your company culture by creating clarity and alignment in the workplace? Find out how the People Enablement Platform can help.


Photo Credit: Helloquence