7 Employee Engagement Strategies Every HR Manager Needs To Know

According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, 71% of managers feel employee engagement is one of the most important factors to their company success, and the value of having a strategy to keep your staff engagement levels as high as they possibly can be has never been more crucial. At SmartSurvey we understand how important it is, and the key role that HR plays in keeping employees engaged.

So why is employee engagement so important? In a nutshell, what you need to know is that an engaged employee is much more likely to go that extra mile and work outside their comfort zone, and that engaged employees lead to business success.

So where does HR come into the picture, how can they roll out effective employee engagement strategies and what needs to be in these HR strategies for employee engagement?

Start or improve your employee engagement strategy

Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or are a seasoned veteran, there are always new studies and fresh ideas you can incorporate into your strategy to further improve relationships, workplace happiness, staff engagement and productivity.

However, it’s important to have an employee engagement strategy in place, so you know where you are right now, where you want to get to, and how you will measure success to see whether you’re achieving positive change. HR is uniquely positioned within an organisation for getting this going and making sure it’s a long term strategy and not just a few one-off workshops.

If you’re new to your role or employee engagement as a concept, a great place to start is to understand the current landscape and use an employee engagement survey to take the pulse of your workforce, which can provide a solid foundation from which you can build your strategy. With a clearer picture, you can then look to realise the benefits improved engagement can bring, such as greater productivity, efficiency, reductions in staff turnover and an improved customer retention rate, while knowing what you need to do to achieve them.

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Strategies to improve employee engagement

Here we’ll run through a number of HR initiatives and employee engagement activities to help you create strategies to build trust and improve employee engagement. Remember, improving employee engagement isn’t a one size fits all solution, and it can be different for every business or individual. For now though, here are seven HR lead employee engagement strategies to raise the level of employee engagement:

1. Measure where you are currently at, to build strong foundations

Any employee engagement strategy needs to start from the bottom up. You can’t just focus on your leadership team, although they will be crucial in activating the strategy once it gets going. You need to start out by measuring engagement to understand current levels within your organisation. The easiest way to do this is by rolling out an employee engagement survey.

An effective survey, with the right employee engagement questions, can help you benchmark your current position. Asking key questions in your surveys about your workplace, development program, managers, job satisfaction, work-life balance and other aspects can help you work out the main areas you need to work on. It also gives you something tangible that you can track as you go along.

2. Create a clear communication plan, and stick to it

Communication is one of the most important parts of any successful business and it plays an important part in effective employee engagement strategies. There are all kinds of different ways you can communicate with your employees too, from a company newsletter through to regular open-door meetings with managers or an engagement committee. What is important though, is that the plan you create is stuck to. A couple of weeks of open communication before slipping back into bad habits won’t get you anywhere.

You want to create a plan that promotes transparency, gives a window into your business strategy and builds trust. A clear communication plan will involve the HR team, communications team, and leadership team. It shouldn’t just focus on talking directly at your team members though. You want to get them involved where you can, whether it’s giving feedback, providing content for a newsletter or running their own meetings or workshops.

In a time where remote workers are on the rise, you need to create a clear plan for keeping them in the loop and communication both to them and with them.

3. Make your employee’s wellbeing a priority

Wellbeing may feel like a bit of a buzzword for some, a box that needs to be ticked. The reality is though, that investing in your team’s wellbeing can improve productivity, as well as their own health. If you have a team with high engagement but low wellbeing, there’s a risk of burnout.

You need to create a clear roadmap for improving your employee’s wellbeing and make it a company mission to make it a reality. It’s more than a couple of yoga classes or a link to some mental health resources. As with communication, you need to look at the long term.

You need to look at promoting a good work-life balance, workshops for people who want them, the sick pay and annual leave package you offer, and provide resources for mental health. There’s a lot to do, and once you get started with this, it’s not something you just set up and leave. You need to keep touching base with your team members, organise more workshops and sessions and look at other ways to improve wellbeing throughout the business.

4. Invest in development, for everyone

Your employees need to know what the next step is for them. While each employee should have a bespoke development plan, that will only be a small part of an overarching employee development strategy.

HR needs to spend time identifying where the gaps are across the business in terms of development. Do you need to introduce lunch and learn, workshops or group learning? Does anyone have a particular passion they are keen to pass on? Do all the people in your business know what the next step in their career is or the jobs they could work towards? There are a number of employee engagement ideas that you could consider including in your wider strategy.

Look at revamping your development strategy and where it needs the most investment. Is it as simple as providing money for training courses, or is development time during work hours a better place for your funds to go? Whatever you choose to do, be clear about it and encourage your staff to take advantage. You don’t want people feeling envious of co-workers who get opportunities they weren’t offered.

5. Define a clear company culture

This goes hand in hand with wellbeing. You need to define your company culture, from the workplace itself through to the type of people you hire and your tone of voice. You want to be seen as somewhere that your employees are proud to work for. This means looking at your diversity and inclusivity programs, your transparency, what your organisation stands for and a number of other things. Your managers will be key for helping to roll out any messaging you have around your culture and they should show how they work by it.

Are you encouraging people to work long hours, do you turn a blind eye to complaints or make people feel uncomfortable? Are you currently encouraging volunteering or charity work? What about your office space or workspace itself? It’s worth finding out the best type of workspace for individuals and teams, as it won’t be the same for everyone.

6. Consider introducing perks, social plans and incentives, to improve employee satisfaction

A satisfied employee isn’t always an engaged employee, but it’s a great place to start. An employee experience strategy goes hand in hand with your engagement strategy and can help employees feel valued.

Different things will work better for different organisations, teams and individuals. Not everyone wants to be forced into socialising or drinking, for instance, but building a strong workplace community is key to increasing engagement. Rewards and perks can be as small as free coffee delivered or snacks, through to bigger things like workshops, discounts or bonuses. Something as small as recognising birthdays can go a long way.

Consider incentivising success too. Reward people in your team for their good work, completing a training course or simply working hard. Not everyone has targets to hit, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard, so recognise the invisible hard work too.

Look at different ways you can encourage socialising across your teams. Whether it’s during work hours or elsewhere. You want to make this inclusive and varied so that everyone feels like there’s a social that’s right for them.

7. Encourage feedback, and use it to update your strategy

Finally, no strategy to raise the level of employee engagement means anything if you aren’t seeking feedback. Feedback will be part of any surveys you’re running (see our guide on how to set up an engagement survey), but there are other ways you can go about getting this too.

You can introduce an employee voice program, run forums for your team or give chances for anonymous feedback. You want to hear from your employees outside of your surveys, so you can hear what problems they have and what they want to improve. Once they’ve given this feedback, you should be clear in how you’re going to address it. Communicate what it means for your engagement strategy and provide a clear roadmap for how you’re going to act on it.

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