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10 High Impact Low-Cost Ways to Drive Employee Engagement

We all get it. Engaged employees perform at a higher level. The organizations that get their strategy right in this area, provide a superior customer experience, have lower levels of employee churn, higher morale, and ultimately much higher financial performance. So what are some things you can easily implement that can will give you big lift in your levels of employee engagement with the lowest investment?

First, hire right. While this is not the focus of this post, hiring right is well over half the battle when it comes to engagement levels. Hire people who believe what you believe, and have the attitude you want! Get that right, and the following 10 ideas will help them thrive!

  1. Embrace and Adopt a Strengths Focused Culture. People excel in their areas of natural talent and strength. You can find many assessments to help you in this area, but the key is focusing on people’s strengths first. Identify them, and then figure out how you can stretch them in those areas. Once it takes hold, it impacts decision making in all areas. Take for example who should get what assignment, how to best structure project teams, and which talents best align with specific high-profile projects? (Strategic Thinkers, Execution orientation, Relationship/Consensus building, etc.) It does not mean you ignore weaknesses, but your people become more engaged when doing what they naturally do best.

  2. Volunteerism and Company Support from the Top Down. You cannot underestimate the impact of allowing your people to volunteer (yes, even on company time). It is beyond giving back, it is team building, networking, and uniting around a common problem to overcome obstacles and make it happen! Who does not want more of that at work??? I am very proud of the organization where I work for consistently leading in this area, but this is not a plug for them. In regards to engagement levels, this is one of the highest rated items on our Employee Engagement surveys, and it is a multiplier in terms of return on happier and more satisfied employees!

  3. Make Friends at Work. Some of you may be skeptical, but according to the 2017 Gallup Study State of the American Workplace, having a best friend at work has a high correlation with engagement and higher productivity. So how can your organizations help support this? Formally, you can embrace deeper mentoring programs and relationships. This should be aligned in initial onboarding so the mentor can assist and facilitate introductions, networking, and group activities. Informally, the more in and out of work activities that you can schedule the more bonding, networking, and ultimately friendships will occur.

  4. Establish “Fun” Committees! While I formally lead our company’s engagement team, we are driving even higher levels of employee engagement through sub-committees that they have branded “Operation Motivation”! Whatever you call it, give it to the people who are passionate, and let them run. Our team crushes it, and I can see from the survey results how much people appreciate their efforts in facilitating increased activities such as happy hours, food trucks, bowling and support multiple activities around getting to know each other better on a personal level.

  5. Be Flexible. This will not be a piece on work life balance, or working from home policies, but wherever possible, err on the side of more flexibility for you people. You hired them so hopefully you trust them, and if you don’t you probably should not keep paying them. It is about the “job to be done” and not from where or how it gets done. Working from home a day or 2 a week, or extending flex time goes a long way in helping people better balance their lives.

  6. Interact with Sr. Management. I learned the importance of this from the President of my current organization, and most of his Sr. Staff. Leadership by simply walking around is a really big deal. Have them pop in on random staff just to see what they’re most excited about working on. Our engagement survey results consistently show that access and informality with Sr. Staff drives employees to feel more comfortable and enjoy their work more.

  7. Really celebrate successes and wins! When someone does something awesome, find ways to recognize and reward the behavior you want. It is amazing how many employees still only get feedback primarily when they have done something wrong. So many leaders simply expect great performance, and then think they are providing fantastic coaching and leadership when they rip apart someone’s performance that screwed up. That management style is already going the way of the dinosaur if you are really looking to attract and retain the top employees of tomorrow.

  8. Extend Trust to Get Trust. Play the “What Rule or Outdated Process can we kill?” game once a quarter, and include “Keep it, or Kill it” as an exercise in regular scheduled meetings. Employees get to nominate rules or processes they believe do not add value. Leadership still have veto authority, but the goal should be able to kill at least one. (And you can’t add one to replace it) There are so many areas you can see this have impact. Often times, entire rules and procedures are put in place to avoid a few exceptions. Again, if you trusted your employees enough to hire them…

  9. Extend Trust to Get Trust (Part 2). Your people are on social media. While I will accept that there are some specific instances of needed prohibition of access to some sites and/or personal devices, the best companies are moving towards the understanding that people are increasingly not separating their work and personal lives. Embrace this! Regarding Social specifically, encourage and help your people to be brand ambassadors on all platforms, not just the ones you think are for business.

  10. Let your people be authentic, and they will be their best you for you! I will close with one that I know will be more controversial, but can have huge impact if your organization can embrace. We have finally reached a tipping point where the vast majority of organizations understand the value of diversity in their teams. They not only get it, they strive to leverage it for competitive advantage. But for the most part, we still only value diversity in accepting the things people are born as (Race, gender) or what they make as a choice. (Choice of religion, choice of politics, or sexual preferences) What about people who choose to have tattoos, facial hair, body piercings, and/or dress a little differently than you prefer? While I personally don’t care about any of those things, there are tons of potentially talented people that do. I know there are some of you in organizations where the brand has to be carefully maintained, but exceptions are allowed for religious choices, why not for personal choices, especially if they are not customer facing? You are still getting the awesome employee you want. The theme in point 10 is, where possible, allow your people to be themselves. The key is getting and keeping the best talent, not the talent we think looks the best. (Unless that’s your goal) We should all want employees who are passionate, talented and believe in what we believe. Those are the ones who become truly engaged and deliver the ultimate customer experience.

Please do share which low cost high impact Engagement idea has worked for you, and please share any you would add to the list!

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