Employee engagement is an uphill battle for many organizations. In a 2017 Human Capital Trends study, Deloitte polled workers around the globe regarding the value they place on employee experience. Every country involved in the study showed that more than half of the respondents rated employee experience as important. India was No. 2 in the results with 93% of participants rating this trend as important. How can you creatively design benefits and curate a corporate culture that will keep your workforce engaged? Here we’ll go over five methods to foster employee engagement.
An easy way to create a work environment that boosts employee engagement is to first focus on the environment itself. This can be done by giving employees a say in their individual workspace. Not only will this empower each employee with the ability to choose their surroundings, but also allow them to select the space in which they feel most effective. Harvard Business Review found that when employees are able to select their workspace, they score higher on tests for innovation, overall performance, as well as both job and workplace satisfaction. For instance, when onboarding a new employee, allow them to choose between; a traditional desk or a sit-stand option; a yoga ball or a desk chair. Even simple policies can make a difference, such as letting employees individualize workspace with personal effects. However, with that, you might want to set parameters to ensure a desk doesn’t get too cluttered or outlandish, as that might affect neighboring staff.
Beyond individual workstations, it is important to offer a variety of spaces for employees to choose from, based on their projects and needs. Many companies are turning to open-concept office spaces, which encourage collaboration. Yet with open offices, there must also be private and noise-controlled spaces available, for when employees require quiet individual focus.
2. Student Loan Repayment Assistance
Millennials and Generation Z are saddled with an average of $30,000 in educational debt. In a new trend, companies are providing programs to help tackle student loan debt, in order to attract top talent. Depending on an organization’s budget, it may be difficult to offer student loan repayment in addition to other financial programs (401k contributions or matching). You could offer both and give employees the option between the two. A US-based firm that consults on administering education debt benefits has 350 companies enrolled, with continuous growth. This is still an innovative avenue for employee benefit programs, if you can offer this perk, your organization will stand out from the crowd.
3. Work-Life Balance - Flexible Schedules
As the workforce becomes increasingly digital, the traditional nine-to-five, clock-in/clock-out model becomes more and more outdated. Promoting work-life balance is key to employee engagement and work schedule is the foundation of that balance. Depending on your industry, there are a few ways to create flexible schedules that will not only show employees you care about their personal balance but make them more productive when they are in the office.
- Summer Fridays- Friday afternoons in the summer are typically the least effective time in the office environment. Employees are checked out and ready for their weekend plans. To counteract this, as many as 42% of organizations practiced an iteration of Summer Fridays this past year. This is the practice of abbreviated workdays each Friday of the summer season. If your company needs to make up that time, you can tack on an extra hour each day Monday - Thursday. Or if you can afford to give that time as a bonus, even better! You’ll find employees are more engaged and productive during those 4.5 days. Of course- it's always important to clearly lay out set time frames and ground rules.
- Unlimited Vacation- Many companies have experienced great success with unlimited PTO policies; it cuts costs, improves morale, and aides in recruiting new talent. However on the other side of the coin- it is imperative that you enforce employees actually taking a proper vacation, where they are completely unplugged. Unlimited vaca policies can have an adverse effect on employees taking less time off, or taking working-vacations. Marketing automation company Salesfusion recommends establishing an FAQ to make employees feel more confident in how to best utilize the policy.
4. Wellness Programs with a Focus on Mental Health
Health & wellness are definitely not new concepts when it comes to employee engagement. However, that no longer means just focusing on physical health via offering a gym discount, or bringing in a yoga instructor every month. Mental health should be a top priority for your company as well. Establish an HR mentality that emphasizes both mind & body awareness. This can be as simple as encouraging open discusses mental health to stipulating the allowance of PTO days for mental health issues. Fostering awareness and inclusivity for employees struggling with issues such as anxiety or depression will establish a positive and supportive environment
5. Establish your Culture, and Live it!
All engagement principles begin with your corporate culture - it is the foundation of your brand, and your management team and HR representatives need to be your best brand ambassadors. Starting from the top down, your organization should know your culture, embrace it, and hire for it.
It isn’t just enough to establish your cultural principles, you also need to make sure that it is evangelized through your staff. Keep this in mind with recruiting and hiring; be open and honest about the environment you have and make sure potential new staff can embody and advance your culture and beliefs. It is especially important that your management and HR teams set the example. Unlimited vacation is useless if the boss never takes time off, just as an inclusive nature surrounding mental health will not catch on unless your HR team propagates the conversation.
How can your organization implement these strategies to keep your current and future employees engaged?