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12 Ways to Ramp Up Employee Engagement Without Breaking the Bank

No one needs to tell you why it’s so important for employees to be happy at work. When morale stinks, engagement inevitably suffers — which can do a real number on productivity, work quality, business growth, and retention.

And with 70 percent of people not engaged with their jobs, and employee disengagement costing the U.S. economy an estimated $500 billion a year, it’s something all organizations can no longer ignore.

But knowing it’s a problem isn’t the same as solving it, and many companies still struggle to find the right solution to their engagement woes. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way for better engaging staff, the following 12 strategies are often a good place to start:

1. Find a purpose

People want to work for a company with a purpose greater than profits. And if your purpose and mission is clearly communicated and authentic, it can inspire your employees to work toward achieving your business objectives. In fact, 73 percent of people employed by a purpose-driven company report being engaged at work — compared to just 23 percent of those who don’t.

2. Listen to staff

Most companies conduct employee satisfaction surveys, which is a step in the right direction. But surveys usually happen just once a year and are often too broad to get a pulse on engagement. Give staff a greater voice by seeking continual feedback. Ask questions about morale, career progression, and growth opportunities — and then act on your findings.

3. Hold brainstorming sessions

Sometimes, the seed of an idea is all it takes to spark true innovation. The only problem: No one ever knows where that seed will come from. But if you hold regular brainstorming sessions, you get those ideas flowing. And with nearly 40 percent of workers believing their employers don’t collaborate enough, your efforts could actually help retain, attract, and engage talent.

4. Allow for flexibility

Of all the benefits available, workplace flexibility topped the list for 75 percent of employees. After starting a flex program, companies often experience greater employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Instead of enforcing a rigid schedule, consider allowing employees to make their own schedules — with a stipulation, of course. They must put in the required hours.  

5. Focus on fun

Work and fun don’t need to be mutually exclusive, and there are a number of ways to incorporate fun into the workday without disrupting work itself. Hold contests, scavenger hunts, and after-work events. Celebrate “national” days; March alone has Banana Cream Pie Day, Pound Cake Day, Oreo Cookie Day, Write Your Story Day, etc. Just make the office an enjoyable environment for staff.

6. Ditch the dress code

There’s still some debate over whether dress code has a real impact on professionalism and attitude in the workplace. While it’s always important for the attire of staff to match that of the company’s image, there’s also something to be said for feeling comfortable throughout the day. If you’re open to it, ask employees how they’d like to dress for work. Regardless, you should be able to trust people to dress appropriately — with or without a formal dress code.  

7. Offer more than money

Most people wouldn’t turn down a bump in pay, but there are other ways to show your appreciation and improve engagement among staff. When someone gets a big win, give extra time-off or a prime parking spot. You could also go with tickets to a sporting event, concert, or movie. And who doesn’t like a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop? Any one of these options shows you care.

8. Celebrate your staff

Recognizing staff contributions should be a no brainer. If an employee lands a sale or advances your business interests, it’s an obvious reason to celebrate. But you should also celebrate employees for just being part of the team. While how you do this is entirely up to you, I suggest you look for specific occasions to take time out of the day for a little revelry, like birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc.

9. Make philanthropy a priority

Philanthropy and volunteerism have become core tenants in building employee engagement initiatives. Why? Research has shown that 67 percent of people would rather work for a company supporting a social cause. But don’t just pick any charity. To drive deeper engagement, your choice of nonprofit must align to both corporate and employee interests.

10. Provide time for development

If you want to improve engagement levels, you’ll want to offer employees the opportunity to reach their professional goals — even if those goals will eventually lead them to another company. Allow staff to attend workshops, classes, and conferences during the workday to show you care about their careers. 

11. Buy a jar

How mysterious, right? Well, what I’m suggesting you do is buy a jar and label it whatever you want to give employees a more active role in your organization. You may decide to start a suggestion jar or “vent” jar. One company started a distraction jar and filled it with jokes, activities and other things to distract staff for minute or two before getting back to work.

12. Experiment with initiatives

What works for one team won’t always work for another, so play around with different engagement activities to determine which ones most resonate with staff. Given time, you’ll find a variety of options that will improve engagement levels.

If you’d like additional tactics and strategies for improving employee engagement, contact us!