15 employee engagement strategies employers need to know

Employee engagement strategies
  • Financial wellbeing
  • 6 minute read

If you’re looking for effective ways to boost levels of employee engagement, we have 15 employee engagement strategies you need to consider implementing today.

We’ve written a lot about our approach to financial education for employees, as well as how financial worries can seriously affect performance at work. But how does financial wellness impact employee engagement? And what other factors come into play when it comes to improving levels of employee engagement?

Did you know that 64% of employees might leave their jobs this year? With unemployment rates at such lows and with the war for talent a hot-button topic for employers, organisations are doing all they can to attract (and, importantly, retain) top performers. In order to do this, companies need to look at their employee engagement strategies. They need to invest the time and money to ensure their workforce is dedicated, driven and eager to see their business succeed.

Below, we’ll explore 15 tried-and-tested employee engagement strategies to help retain your valued employees for years to come.

Employee engagement strategy #1: Offer financial education

Employee engagement is a complicated area. When we consider employee engagement, many different factors spring to mind… but have you thought about the financial wellness of your employees and how that has an impact? It can be hard to maintain high levels of employee engagement when your employees are distracted and frustrated by money worries.

In the UK, 25 million employees are affected by money worries when they're at work. This has a knock-on effect on employee performance, productivity and, ultimately, employee engagement. Refusing to acknowledge financial wellness and an employer’s role in this area demonstrates to employees that they are, at best, apathetic to this aspect of their lives.

Thankfully, there are a number of effective ways that employers can improve financial wellbeing for employees.

Employee engagement strategy #2: Provide opportunities for progression

If you’ve hired right, you’ve recruited dedicated, ambitious employees who are eager to challenge themselves. They want to climb the corporate ladder and experience new sides of your business. Top performers, ones who are engaged and motivated, won’t be happy to stagnate in the same position for years-on-end. This is a huge consideration when discussing employee engagement strategies.

If you want to retain your employees for the long-term and keep them engaged all the while, you need to give them a clearly-defined route for progression. Work with them so they know exactly what they need to do (and in what time frame) in order to advance. Without this strategy, employees will grow disengaged, seeing themselves in a dead-end position with no prospects.

Employee engagement strategy #3: Make development and learning a priority

Engagement at work is about so much more than money. Engaged employees look at their careers as learning opportunities. And if your organisation isn’t catering to this thirst for knowledge, learning and development, they’ll start to look elsewhere. According to one source, 58% of young workers are ready to change jobs for more training and development. Another suggests that an incredible 94% of employees would remain at their jobs for longer if they felt their employer was genuinely invested in their careers.

Work with your employees to develop individual personal development plans. Discuss what skills are important to them, where they feel they need to improve and what skills they need to become more proficient in their role. Remember to do more than pay lip service to this employee engagement tool. Regularly revisit these personal development plans to ensure employees are on track and engaged.

Employee engagement strategy #4: Remember to recognise, reward and acknowledge employees

To keep employee engagement levels where they need to be, you need to put serious thought into your reward and recognition. When was the last time you congratulated your employees for their hard work and their efforts? Do you deliver positive feedback instantly, on the same day, or months later during your annual review? Employees like to know that their work and efforts are appreciated and valued, but according to Gallup research, two out of 3 employees feel their hard work goes unrecognised.

Employee recognition doesn’t have to cost a lot. It also doesn’t necessitate a lot of planning. Simply be timely and genuine with your positive feedback. Sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ will be enough to keep employees motivated. Remember to be specific, and where possible, be public with your feedback, to encourage an atmosphere and culture of recognition and appreciation.

Employee engagement strategy #5: Keep communication ongoing

Ongoing communication is increasingly important in this day and age. Most employees today have grown up with the internet and real-time feedback. They, understandably, look for this same level of interaction and dialogue at work.

This is one of the biggest reasons that organisations all over the world are moving toward a system of agile performance management. Using this system, rather than a single annual review, employees have the opportunity to regularly meet with their managers. They are able to discuss pressing issues with them, revisit their goals and exchange feedback. This helps to develop a trusting relationship, which is not only conducive to great performance, but also to extremely high levels of employee engagement.

Employee engagement strategy #6: Show your employees why their work matters

Employees don’t just want to be proficient at what they do. They also want to know that what they do matters and that they’re contributing to the organisation as a whole. Give your employees meaning, and help them remain engaged with their work, by explaining how their everyday work and efforts contribute to overall organisational objectives and toward your company purpose. This will help them feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves, which will contribute a sense of belonging and productivity.

Explore how Close Brothers can help improve financial wellbeing at your organisation through our range of education services, tailored to your employees' financial needs.

Employee engagement strategy #7: Make your company purpose clear and unifying

From recruitment right through to an employees’ last day, your company’s purpose should be clear and motivational. It should be what’s driving every single business decision. To ensure employees become, and remain, engaged with the company and their work, make your company purpose specific and well-articulated. Company purpose should be easily delivered in one sentence. When employees engage with your company purpose, they are continually driven by something important and something that connects them to their colleagues.

Employee engagement strategy #8: Make your goal-setting process fair

Goal-setting is a huge priority when discussing employee engagement strategies. Engaged employees care about their goals and they are driven to achieve them. However, there’s nothing more disengaging and demotivating for any employee than unrealistic, unfair and ill-thought-out goals. An easy way to overwhelm your employees and get them to shut off is to set them a large number of goals they don’t feel are achievable or relevant to their position.

You can work with your employees to create short-and-long-term SMART goals. These goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Make the process a collaborative one, but consider giving your employees ownership over their goals by putting them in the driver’s seat. When they have more ownership over their goals, they will be much more likely to achieve them.

Employee engagement strategy #9: Provide opportunities for socialisation and interaction

An important aspect of employee engagement is that of social connections. Employees spend eight hours a day at work. They want to feel connected to those around them. Give your employees an opportunity to develop relationships by allowing them to spend some time at the watercooler, or by introducing a channel in a team collaboration tool (such as Slack) where employees can discuss non-work-related topics. You might even want to consider introducing after-work socials or regular outings.

Developing these connections will help your workforce feel engaged with their team. In fact, Gallup has shown that employees having a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged, when compared to employees who say otherwise.

Employee engagement strategy #10: Stop rewarding the ‘first to arrive, last to leave’ mentality

Employee burnout is a very real danger. In fact, it was brought into the spotlight in 2019, when the World Health Organisation recognised it as an organisational phenomenon. There are a lot of contributors to employee burnout, but a huge contributing factor is when work-life balance is thrown out of the window.

Some companies inadvertently encourage poor work-life balance by looking favourably on employees who are the first in and the last out of the office. The problem is, hours at work doesn’t automatically equate to increased productivity. If you are working 50-hour weeks, but for ten of them you are frustrated, exhausted and desperate to get home, how productive do you think you’d be? And how engaged do you think you’d be, especially over the long term?

Companies should put an end to this mentality by encouraging employees to take their full annual leave allowance, stepping in when they realise employees are overworking and by having firm rules against eating at desks. Managers must remember to walk the walk in this area if they want their employees to follow suit.

Learn about the seven steps to financial wellbeing

Employee engagement strategy #11: Give them a dedicated down-time area

Speaking of eating at desks … do your employees have a staff room where they can relax and unwind? You don’t need to have anything spectacular in place, but a dedicated room where employees can mentally escape work can do a world of good for employee engagement levels. It’s all about balance, mental wellbeing and a respect for the reality that your employees are human beings, not robots.

Employee engagement strategy #12: Provide employees with autonomy and ownership

We have already discussed the importance of ownership with regards to objectives and goals. There are other ways in which employers can give employees autonomy in their roles, which will encourage high levels of employee engagement. You might consider introducing flexible working hours, or the ability to work from home certain days, within reason. It’s important for employees to find a way of working that is best for them. Any degree of micromanagement is likely to disengage and frustrate employees.

Employee engagement strategy #13: Show your employees you’re listening

A great way of engaging employees is to show them their opinions and insights matter. This can be done through one-on-one meetings, focus groups or tailored employee surveys. A great way of disengaging employees is to receive this feedback and do nothing with it. Show employees that you care about their valuable ideas by implementing them where appropriate. Once employees see change in action, they’ll begin to wake up to the fact that they can make a real difference.

Employee engagement strategy #14: Show employees they are trusted

This goes back to our point about autonomy and micromanagement. Employees want to be, and deserve to be, treated like serious adults. To improve levels of employee engagement, show your employees they are trusted. Take a step back and let them get on with their work without constantly questioning their methods. By all means, step in when you notice performance issues, or competence issues, but you’ll never know what approaches really work unless you let your employees experiment and you trust them.

Employee engagement strategy #15: Leaders need to be authentic, transparent and trustworthy

Lastly, managers need to be aware of their hugely important role with regards to employee engagement. In fact, managers account for up to 70% variance in employee engagement levels. If leaders and managers want their employees to be engaged with them, their company and their work, they need to be transparent and authentic. When problems crop up that affect the company, refrain from keeping employees on a need-to-know basis. Don’t withhold information that makes a difference to them, their goals and their place in your company. Employees will see that you’re withholding information, which isn’t conducive to trust and engagement. By prioritising transparency and authenticity, you show employees you respect them and that they’re a valued member of your team.

Are you looking to improve levels of financial wellbeing in your organisation? Get in touch with us today to see how our financial education team can help you.

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