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5 Essential Employee-Engagement Strategies to Increase Retention

employee engagement

Employee turnover is one of your biggest yet most underrated threats. As a business owner, you’re necessarily focused on the big-picture moves happening in your industry and your strategic plans to stay ahead. Evolving your business is necessary to keep that pace, but it’s all too easy to allow employee engagement and satisfaction to slip through your list of priorities.

You don’t want to be in the position of needing to change your business and not having the employee engagement to make that possible.

It’s better to be proactive, both for the ethical sake of treating your employees well and for the financial sake of keeping your employees engaged in the business you’re creating with them. In this article, we’re sharing five employee-engagement strategies that you can use to keep employee satisfaction up, and employee turnover down.

How to implement employee-engagement strategies

As much as you want and believe your new employee-engagement strategies will make your employees happier, there’s a good chance they’ll resist your efforts. When it comes down to it, change is scary. If you want to implement any or all of these strategies, you should be deliberate about the change management models you’ll be using.

A change that’s too big and too sudden will be stressful. If you’re not careful, an employee-engagement strategy can actually cause disengagement if it requires undue effort. Without human resources on board, for example, new programs can easily become a maze of paperwork due to compliance or legal problems.

Effective employee-engagement strategies also need the support of company leadership, so be sure to prioritize executive hiring so you have the top-down effort to follow through on your changes.

Be transparent. Explain to your employees why you’re implementing whichever programs and perks you choose. Use an engagement survey to measure employee satisfaction before and after, and don’t be afraid to cut programs that don’t work.

1. Start an employee recognition program.

If you haven’t taken the time to individually recognize your employees, they may feel like you’re taking them for granted.

Your employees put in a lot of effort day to day, so now is a great time to implement an employee-recognition program. If you’re a small business with just a few employees, you can simply call out a few great things your employees do every week or month, and praise their accomplishments in a company-wide email.

If you run a larger business, you may want to consider starting an Employee of the Month initiative or offering monthly or yearly awards. You can also distribute recognition responsibilities to your employees, empowering them to recognize their coworkers for the work they do. If you have an intranet like Honey, you can even create recognition programs that celebrate sales wins alongside other wins.

Employee-recognition programs also help other employees recognize what will earn them rewards. When it comes to encouraging engagement, there is little better than having clear, well-defined goals.

2. Offer a unique perk.

It’s likely that you already offer your employees some standard perks, such as Summer Fridays or free snacks. But can you think of a perk they won’t get anywhere else?

For example, if you’re a business that sells pet food and treats, then maybe you can offer your employees free pet daycare for a designated number of hours every month. This perk is both unique and on brand.

If you develop software or hardware, you might want to have a hack day that gives employees time to explore their creativity. By offering employees company time to pursue their interests, at best you might uncover all sorts of innovations; at worst you will increase employee engagement. Some offices go so far as to bring in a 3D printer so employees can design and iterate on their ideas within the span of that hack day.

Google offers perks like on-site haircuts, and Zappos allows their employees to retreat into nap rooms when feeling drowsy. The sky’s the limit when it comes to perks!

3. Be more flexible.

Are all of your employees required to report to the office from 9-5 every weekday?

This schedule doesn’t work for everyone, for a number of reasons: Some people have childcare or family responsibilities, some people need to go to doctor’s appointments or run other important errands, some people hate sitting in rush hour traffic, and other people simply don’t function effectively on a traditional 9-5 schedule.

Instead, consider one day a week when employees can work from home or make their own hours, as long as they get their work done. If you have success with this approach, then you can become even more flexible in the future.

You might even consider developing a fully remote workplace. Remote workplaces don’t need offices and can employ people all over the world. Employee engagement can still be an issue, but you can use virtual team-building activities to keep your employees active—even when they’re hundreds of miles away.

4. Get to know your employees.

When was the last time you took a moment to really get to know your employees and ask them about their challenges, ambitions, and goals?

You may be surprised to discover that your most disengaged employee is simply craving more autonomy and responsibility. Your instinct to micromanage and encourage their interest might be producing the opposite effect. If you take the time to listen to your employees and invite open dialogue, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Some of these conversations should focus on work, and some shouldn’t. You definitely want to talk to your employees about their career development inside and outside the company, but you should also take an interest in their hobbies and personal lives. Your employees have the right to keep these topics private, but you can still demonstrate your interest in their lives after work.

5. Reduce tedious work.

Be honest: How much of the work you ask your employees to do in a given day is truly engaging?

You might assign your sales team an ambitious, exciting goal, thinking they’ll be happy to follow through on it. And they might be—at first. But what you imagined as an exciting sales process might involve hours of entering data, recording each call and its result, and tabulating all of that information in a clunky enterprise resource planning system.

One of the best ways to make employees more engaged is to make their work more engaging. Identify—with your employees’ help—some of the tasks they least like. Eliminating or reducing those tasks could be as complex as using robotic process automation to automate repetitive tasks or using services like Rev to free people from having to transcribe videos and calls.

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