Employee engagement continues to be top of mind for business leaders, and for good reason.
Actively disengaged employees are not as productive or happy as their engaged counterparts. If they’re not feeling motivated or willing to give 100%, that’s not good for your bottom line. Checked-out employees aren’t great for company morale or recruiting talent, either.
What’s the solution? It’s clear that when you work to develop a highly engaged workforce, they’ll be happier, healthier and more dedicated to making your business thrive.
But did you know that the link between employee engagement and your bottom line starts long before an employee begins their first day at your company?
The way you handle hiring and onboarding – from interviews, to the offer, to their first day – sets the tone for how engaged employees may be down the road.
In other words: engage them from the start and keep them engaged by creating a culture of learning, development, purpose and high performance.
1. Show job candidates their value
It’s easy to feel like just a number in a sea of job candidates, especially at a large organization. But no one wants to be an anonymous cog in a machine.
In particular, millennials and Gen-Z workers, perhaps more so than preceding generations, crave purpose in their work.
Show them how they can make a meaningful contribution to your company’s mission. Tell them about the ways your company supports employee development, such as trainings and leadership pathways.
Plant the seeds of employee engagement early.
2. Guide them step by step
A lot of time may pass between that first interview and the first day at work.
Don’t leave your job candidates hanging and wondering what’s going on – that’s a recipe for anxiety and may give future employees the impression that your company doesn’t care much about them as individuals.
Communicate often to keep them in the loop about the process. For example:
- The status of a background check
- Next steps in the hiring process
- When to expect a job offer
Once hired, greet new employees on their first day, in person or on the phone if they’re working remotely, and guide them step-by-step through the transition.
It pays to take the onboarding process seriously. When you show job candidates you value their time and are looking out for them, they’re likely to carry those feelings on with them into employment.
3. Keep it going with a high-engagement work culture
Once candidates successfully make the transition to employee, it’s important to keep up the momentum.
A growing body of research shows that organizations that engage their employees have:
- Better customer engagement
- Higher productivity
- Better retention
- Fewer accidents
- Higher profitability
- Healthier employees
General tips to improve employee engagement
Employee engagement is a moving target. You’ll want to reassess your efforts on a continual basis to accommodate new workplace trends. Use these tips to get started.
1. Zero in on your employees’ interests.
Where do they see themselves in the next year, two years, five years? What skills do they need to hone in on or develop to get there? Work to understand their vision and do what you can to get them there.
2. Create opportunities for engagement in everything you do.
It’s in your one-on-ones with employees. It’s in your monthly team meetings. It’s in the quarterly company meetings you hold to discuss the company’s goals, and how employees contribute to them.
3. Be open to new ways to engage.
With the rise of remote work, rewarding and recognizing employees in person might not always be possible. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the kudos.
Giving out recognition and rewards are a vital part of employee engagement. Two-thirds of HR professionals agree that employee recognition helps with retention, according to a 2018 Society of Human Resource Management survey.
Consider connecting via video conferencing, group email or messaging, or offering congratulations one-on-one. An old-school thank you note, or small gift, might even do the trick.
4. Promote work-life balance.
Policies that help employees manage their non-work responsibilities and have a rich home life are likely to increase employee engaged.
These aspects consistently top workers’ wish list:
- Competitive compensation and benefits
- Flexible hours
- The option to work remotely
- Ample vacation time
5. Launch an employee referral program.
Some of the most engaged employees with the highest retention rates come from employee referrals.
They’re often a better cultural fit for companies, because employees usually refer like-minded people from similar backgrounds.
Plus, when referred employees join the company, they have built in connections, easing their transition.
The bottom line
It’s easy to see how employee engagement and your bottom line are linked. Highly engaged employees are more productive, they stick around, they represent the company better, they deliver more to the customer and, ultimately, they provide a greater return on investment.
So stop thinking about employee engagement, and start engaging in it.
Learn more about how to develop highly engaged and productive employees. Download our complimentary magazine: The Insperity guide to employee engagement.