HR & New Work
6 min read
31 ways to improve employee engagement
Employee engagement. Everyone's talking about it, but finding the golden formula to achieve it remains a challenge. Even traditional companies now understand engagement's crucial role in boosting productivity, retaining employees, and improving the bottom line.
Encouraging people to adopt specific behaviors, such as waste separation, responsible driving, or healthier eating, isn't as simple as it seems. When it comes to employee engagement initiatives, the goal is to create a collective impact. However, achieving this impact can be challenging in complex work environments, given people's resistance to change and diverse individual needs.
Nevertheless, companies have little choice but to give it a try. Committed employees are key to driving productivity, fostering employee loyalty, cultivating a positive work atmosphere, and ultimately achieving greater success for the company.
Align employee engagement initiatives with proven models
You're not alone in exploring this subject. Numerous studies and statistics provide valuable insights into employee engagement from a scientific standpoint. In this article, we've summarized the most significant findings for you.
Renowned thought leader David Zinger, as well as companies like Gallup, Cisco, and Aon Hewitt, have developed models that effectively structure initiatives and actions to enhance employee engagement. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we will introduce these well-established models first. Understanding them will be a solid foundation for developing your employee engagement plan.
The pyramid of employee engagement actions - according to Zinger
David Zinger is a recognized employee engagement expert. On his website, he presents his Zinger Model of Employee Engagement. In it, actions are arranged in the form of a pyramid that managers can use as a guide:
Zinger's ideas can be categorized into:
- Strategic and results-oriented (e.g., maximizing performance, achieving results, creating meaning).
- Individual development (e.g., enhancing well-being, using strengths, making progress).
- Fostering community (e.g., building relationships, mastering shared moments)
A similar split is also found in other employee engagement models. This makes it clear that employee engagement activities must always consider different levels. Those who focus only on personal development and neglect the community aspect - or vice versa - are losing potential.
Deloitte's approach: 5 elements and 20 practices for employee engagement
Deloitte also divides employee engagement measures into categories. The company bases its model on three basic assumptions:
- Companies need to rethink engagement. There are 20 practices to guide leaders, and managers and supervisors should be held accountable for implementing them.
- Companies need tools and methods to measure, capture, and ultimately adjust employee feedback and sentiment in real-time and at the local level. These tools include employee feedback tools and data analysis systems.
- Business and HR leaders must transform employee engagement from an HR issue to a central part of the company's strategy.
Gallup: employee engagement based on the Q12
Gallup is the pioneer in employee motivation. The company conducts its own studies and, based on its years of experience in this field, has developed a compact and practical questionnaire that measures employee engagement - the Q12. You can determine the best measures to improve employee engagement by looking at the twelve questions in the Q12.
31 employee engagement ideas, as a list
What do all three models have in common? They break down the large and often overwhelming topic of employee engagement into individual actions.
Based on the models, we have created a list of 31 concrete actions you can implement immediately. The key to increasing employee engagement is tailoring these ideas to your company's needs and culture. That's why they are not a checklist, but should serve as inspiration.
Engagement actions category 1: individual growth
- Offer opportunities for professional development and training.
- Match experienced employees with less experienced ones through a mentoring program so that the latter can improve their skills in a targeted way.
- Implement a performance feedback system to encourage growth and improvement - e.g., a strategy for OKRs.
- Develop a system and resources to set personal development goals for managers and their team members.
- Establish a formal career development program with clear career paths.
- Hold regular one-to-one meetings between managers and staff to discuss career goals and growth opportunities, e.g., by setting recurring appointments (about every 3-6 months) in the calendar.
- Offer support or reimbursement for training and encourage employees to take advantage of it.
- Provide access to online learning platforms and resources. These can be professional resources or mental health programs (such as meditation apps or personal coaching).
Engagement actions category 2: community & working atmosphere
Establish a cross-functional committee to organize team-building activities and events.
- Organize team-building events and company outings such as offsites and after-work drinks.
- Create a virtual or physical idea box to collect ideas and feedback from employees.
- Implement a buddy system to foster relationships and togetherness - for example. This can connect employees from different locations or backgrounds.
- Celebrate personal milestones such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and achievements, for example, with a decorated workplace and/or small gifts.
- Create an internal social networking platform where employees can connect and share ideas.
- Organize team lunches or breakfasts to encourage socializing and relationship building.
- Reward employees who demonstrate teamwork. Establish a cross-functional committee to organize team-building activities and events.
Engagement actions category 3: mission & meaningful work
- Provide opportunities for employees to work on projects that match their passions and interests. You can even provide paid working time for "passion projects", e.g., one day per month or quarter.
- Implement a peer recognition program where staff can acknowledge significant contributions of their colleagues.
- Provide opportunities for feedback on how their work aligns with the purpose and mission of the organization.
- Share customer testimonials or stories that illustrate the impact of your teams' work and highlight notable individual achievements.
- Establish a program where employees can spend a day volunteering for causes related to the company's purpose.
- Establish a platform where employees can share their stories of where their work has made a difference - for example, within the intranet.
- Promote a culture of transparency and openness so that employees understand the company's purpose and how their individual roles contribute to it.
Engagement actions category 4: trust in governance
- Host regular "Ask me anything" (AMA) meetings with managers to encourage open communication.
- Establish clear and transparent communication channels for sharing updates and important information - for example, a mobile social intranet.
- Implement a 360-degree feedback system to collect feedback on managers' performance.
- Reward managers who show strong leadership skills and build trust within their teams.
- Provide managers with training targeted explicitly at effective communication and leadership skills.
- Suggest that managers with HR responsibilities regularly invite one team member at a time to a feedback lunch (at company expense, of course). In this setting, any concerns can be addressed openly and in a safe environment.
- Establish a formal process for handling employee complaints and concerns.
- Provide opportunities for staff to participate in decision-making processes that affect their work.
No employee engagement actions without communication
Employee engagement is difficult to influence by randomly selecting actions and individual ideas. Instead, a strategy is needed that spans all company dimensions and is supported and driven by the management.
And something else is essential: a mobile, simple, and well-functioning communication system that supports the exchange between managers, their teams, and colleagues. And this is where an employee platform like Flip comes into play.
With an "intranet for your pocket"...
- all employees can communicate with each other in a data-protection-compliant and uncomplicated manner,
- employees can give feedback to the management via surveys,
- frontline workers away are also informed via the newsfeed, for example, about company successes,
- all employees are informed equally, which prevents misunderstandings,
- tasks can be created and assigned, pictures shared, files integrated, and work progress documented,
- and much more!
The employee engagement benefits of a communication platform become clear when we take a look at specific companies. Namely, those who have successfully integrated an employee app into their everyday work.
A distinct culture of innovation has been established at Europart, for example, a mail-order company for commercial vehicle parts. How processes become simpler or more environmentally friendly is no longer determined solely by the boardroom. Instead, the ideas come from the entire workforce.
Kira Kebekus, Head of Innovations at Europart, is convinced of this: "We would never have come up with 50 to 60% of the ideas ourselves. We rely on those who work daily in the process or system concerned."
There are many other customers with different use cases who can no longer imagine a working life without a mobile communication platform. For example, logistics company GLS launched its "Partner Hub" with Flip.
The transport partners - those responsible for parcel delivery - can find all the important information at a glance, messages and posts are translated into the desired language, and external systems such as a map with charging stations are integrated into the app menu.
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