According to some estimates, the cost of disengaged employees can be as much as $550 billion a year. It’s no wonder, therefore, that U.S. businesses are urgently committed to finding ways to get employees to buy into their jobs and to reap the benefits of full-on employee engagement.
If your company or government agency is seeing a dip in employee engagement and productivity, the answer isn’t abandoning your current workforce and replacing them across the board. The key is finding ways to instill more meaning in their daily routine and creating other systems and policies that make each employee feel a stronger tie with your organization.
Here are tried-and-true strategies to boost employee engagement.
Build teams of engaged employees. One source of disengagement is a sense among employees that they’re “out there on their own.” Coming together as a team builds new purpose and energy among such individuals — both because teamwork often gets more accomplished and because employees then feel a stronger connection with co-workers. This deepens their sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.
Meet with employees (other than for annual performance reviews). How often do any members of your leadership team meet one-on-one with employees? Scheduling an occasional meeting, in order to answer employee questions or address any work-related concerns, signals how much you value their contributions.
Sponsor activities internally and beyond. Hosting off-site employee activities (picnic lunches, forays to bowling alleys or sporting events, etc.) also strengthens relationships among co-workers. And, for those employees wishing to contribute more to their communities, it may be a good idea to get actively involved in local charitable causes.
Look for nonprofits and other charitable groups whose purpose aligns with your business. Find ways to get your employees involved — at their personal choice, of course, and if possible, with some available time off from work. Remember, playing an active role in your community is an excellent brand-building strategy, too.
Invest in learning opportunities. Disengaged employees feel “stuck” in their jobs and careers. Help those who want to grow and expand their skills by offering learning opportunities — from in-house webinars and training sessions to tuition assistance at a local community college where they can enroll in work-related classes. Expanding the range of their knowledge and skills boosts a sense of gratitude toward their employers and fuels a sense of ambition and willingness to advance upward in the organization.
Recognize individual and team achievements. Few things are as discouraging as completing a project or achieving some organizational milestone … only to be met with silence within the business. Employees value recognition for their hard work, and their employers have every reason to publicly acknowledge these efforts. For major sales or breakthroughs, host an all-staff meeting to salute those involved and/or take the team to lunch. Publicize accomplishments in your internal newsletters, on social media (as appropriate) and even in a personalized message from the CEO. This builds pride among employees and rejuvenates their feelings of purpose and engagement.
Strategies for getting employees to buy into their jobs don’t have to involve “rocket science.” Treat your workforce with respect. Offer them the resources they need to get the job done. Recognize and reward their achievements. These strategies should sharply boost levels of engagement within your business and aid significantly in your future recruitment and retention efforts.