5 Ways To Win At Employee Engagement
(Whatever your work model is today or in the future)
Without doubt our world of work has seen extraordinary change. Few of us now have the environment, working patterns or overall employee experience we had become accustomed to before the Covid pandemic.
While researchers try to determine the pros and cons and optimum models for remote & hybrid working arrangements, and the benefits and deficits from the point of view of bosses and employees are being debated, we’d like to provide some pointers for meeting the on-going challenge of employee engagement – how to keep employees engaged within a strong and positive work culture, no matter what!
Wherever your employees are, and however your world of work takes shape, you can win at employee engagement and get your work culture to thrive by leveraging these sound strategies. And combined with an employee communication solution such as Eloops, which offers 100% reach and a vast range of pre-made content items designed to meet every communication goal, your culture can still live and breathe and your employee engagement rate can soar.
1. Help people feel part of the whole – the importance of fit and belonging
Whether the employee behavior we witnessed recently was a great resignation or in fact a great re-alignment, the powerful need for a sense of belonging and fit with our work ‘place’ was very much at its heart.
What has always been true for workforces distributed nationally or globally by nature of their industry or sector is now true for many more of us. And the challenge to create a sense of belonging, which has always faced those with a workforce composed wholly or even partially of ‘frontline’ workers, is now in many ways in front of us all.
- Facts about your company or organization’s history and development are relevant for everyone.
- Learning who key members of your leadership team are ‘as people’ builds connection and mitigates the sense that a group of remote individuals are in charge.
- Stats about the composition of your workforce instantly provide personal reference points – am I the only vegetarian single mom who likes to run and owns 2 cats?
As well as helping with sense of fit and belonging, communicating ALL of this creates a feeling for every employee that they are ‘in the loop’ and in possession of ‘inside information’. Furthermore, sharing it in a fun way, through the use of gamification tools and mechanics built-in to your communication platform, ensures that acquiring the knowledge is enjoyed, and the information is much more likely to be retained.
Technology can greatly assist when the natural acquisition and absorption of such information by a workforce has been disrupted by different working arrangements. The Eloops Marketplace contains forms & templates that make it easy to customize a variety of quizzes, surveys and challenges to help build a sense of truly being part of somewhere for every employee.
2. Encourage workmate bonds to grow – the importance of connection
How do all relationships build and grow stronger? Fundamentally it happens through sharing. Over time we reveal more of ourselves to others and it is or is not reciprocated. We then either continue with deeper sharing, stay at a superficial level, or simply move on.
A model of how we approach sharing (what we are willing and able to share about ourselves) was created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955 and is called The Johari Window. It is a technique designed to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others, and has been utilized in organizational settings for many years to help build work relationships.
Today’s workforce has significantly fewer opportunities for sharing through the numerous natural & casual interactions that used to take place between colleagues ‘at work’. The right employee communication solution can simulate these interactions and is, therefore, not only a smart approach, but a rather vital one; 70% of employees say having friends at work is the key to a happy work-life and simply put: happy employees work better!
The Johari Window opens (and relationships grow) when the ‘open self’ area enlarges through telling and asking. It helps us when thinking about what kinds of sharing are most fruitful to promote & at the same time will feel ‘safe’ and appropriate for your employees in their work context. In our experience of creating workmate-bond-building content for Eloops customers, pets, food & awe-inspiring views win!
We have realized on closer analysis that what works, in terms of willingness to share AND powerful bond-building, tend to share the characteristics of personal pride, warm affection and a degree of inspiration. So invite your employees to share their family food traditions, the sunsets they caught, their new puppies & they happily will. It will make those being shared-with happy too – and we must never underestimate the importance of experiencing positive emotions in the context of our work world.
A rich, culture-strengthening environment can be nurtured within an employee-exclusive social feed that is part of your communication platform.
Interestingly, the right kind of invitations for your employees to share who they are outside of their work roles is also going to meet the need posed in strategy 1 above. We all have a fundamental need to be known, understood & accepted for who we are by those we are thrown together with in all kinds of contexts, and our work world is a crucially important one.
3. Integrate ‘play’ – the importance of fun at work
When it comes to the factors that most impact employee happiness & motivation at work, it turns out that fun wins over recognition and opportunities for growth, (and these two are hugely important). 90% of employees find a fun work environment very/extremely motivating.
How come? We are considering work environments after all, wherever the work is being done these days. Isn’t having fun at work a contradiction, a distraction, an irrelevance? Actually, while it may seem contradictory, play in the context of work has never been more important to get right! Giving your people the opportunity to lighten-up not only lifts their mood and spirits, it shows that you as an organization appreciate they are ‘people’ not just workers.
With the days of extravagant team-building & all-company social events long gone for many due to budget constraints and extended Covid restrictions, it makes sense to explore how an employee experience platform (such as Eloops) can serve you in delivering your employees a regular dose of fun. Whether your workplace is today wholly actual or virtual, or ‘hybrid’, a technology that includes gamification features can make it easy for you to :
- Provide just a few minutes of ‘lighten-up’ time as often as you wish, to show you understand your employees need this yet is NOT a distraction
- Build & enhance connection & bonding between workmates through healthy competition & sharing, no matter their physical location
- Preserve & grow your work culture through ‘fun’ that is in alignment with your values, so IS relevant rather than random & left to chance
- Offer ‘asynchronous’ participation, so that employees can engage in fun activities when it suits them, as well as (or even in preference to) being required to show-up to mandated virtual or in-person Happy Hours
Fun can truly be a secret sauce – a culture that values and incorporates some levity into the inherent seriousness of work is proven to lead to better outcomes. Many of the phenomena crucial to team success – authenticity, psychological safety, connection – all happen naturally in times of lightness and joy. Experiencing fun together (even remotely) bonds us, lightens our cognitive load, and helps us understand each other better. Consider too that laughter itself increases the feel-good hormone dopamine and delivers a hit of bond-building oxytocin. Whatever shape your work environment takes, fun can make it feel safe, happy and motivating.
4. Listen – the importance of employee voice
We all love being asked what we think. Knowing we have a voice is important but more important still is that our voice is being heard. Most organizations have always mounted satisfaction surveys of some kind, yet a fresh approach to giving employees a voice is now called for. Why?
It has been shown that the very action of surveying boosts employee engagement scores! As establishing an honest and open means of communication through surveys to facilitate a flow of employee feedback is such a critical engagement opportunity, here’s what’s most important to consider:
- How frequently should you survey? In many ways this should be as frequently as you have something you want to know! While some may worry about survey ‘fatigue’, Ben Matthews, Executive Communications at Google asserts that there is no such thing. And Paul Wolcott, President Of Great Place To Work, equally believes that it is simply a bad excuse. The challenge is to create a feedback loop that is enjoyable & engaging to participate in and that delivers news you can use.
- Which topics can employee surveys tackle? Just about anything, and there are of course some essentials. Pulse surveys get their name from their ability to represent your workforce’s ‘vital signs’ – its state of health in terms of happiness, retention & recommendation. Thinking beyond here, if a definition of optimal engagement is capturing the hearts & minds of employees, it makes sense both to monitor their wellbeing AND how well your organization is perceived to be supporting it. And knowing that lack of opportunities for growth or advancement is cited as a main reason people leave their jobs, learning how your employees would like to grow/advance, equips you with valuable guidance on the most relevant ways to deliver it.
- What kind of surveys work best? Surveys that engage. Surveys that employees enjoy and feel comfortable participating in. Surveys that are interesting! Why do the experts mentioned earlier say there is no such thing as survey fatigue and that it is just an excuse? Because employees will not tire of surveys if:
- You offer a variety of ways to answer
- They offer anonymity when appropriate
- They clearly demonstrate the company wants & cares about their opinions
- You eventually share findings & results back to them to complete the loop
It is incumbent on leaders to design employee listening tools that employees actively want to engage with. Eloops has a powerful survey feature containing a range of question/answer types specifically designed for engagement. The Eloops Marketplace contains ranges of pre-made survey templates on the key topics we know employees need and want to be addressed, and organizations need and want to know about. We also know that ‘listening’ does not end with ‘asking’. Remember how important it is for your employees to feel heard? There is nothing worse than being asked and then realizing no one paid attention to your input! Employees need reassurance that their participation is worthwhile. Feeding back results and then taking obvious action based on them is as important a part of getting this right as your initial survey design, if you want participation to continue.
5. Recognize we’re only human after all!
In conclusion, there is, thankfully, a simple way to stay on track with the Employee Engagement mission, in spite of the seemingly constant change in our work context. Review the strategies laid out above and you will realize they are based on fundamental truths about our human needs. These needs remain true and continue to need to be met, no matter what. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs is as relevant for our thinking about employee experience today as it was in its first iteration in 1943 & throughout its revisions since.
Do we, as Eloops, feel there is a paradox in referencing such ideas as those of Maslow & Johari from so long ago? We are after all an HR Tech company providing a powerful employee experience solution through the smart use of technology and gamification tools and features that are very much of today. Not at all! Rather we believe it is the unbeatable recipe for success and the surest way to win at employee engagement, however the game changes.
With 47.8 million people having quit their jobs last year, it is clear both employees and organizations are suffering. We have aimed to illustrate here how respect for what it is to be human, as captured by solid thinking that has stood the test of time, can be embraced, integrated and combined with the best technological advances, to create the kind of employee experience that is a ‘win’ for both employees and their employers in equal measure.