Employee engagement is largely at the root of retention, productivity, customer satisfaction and even a company’s bottom line.
As we approach year end, it behooves leaders to take a close look at the current state of their employee culture and participation, and use the opportunity to enact a plan for boosting engagement in the coming year — especially as companies operate in such a competitive talent environment. Here are some ways you can measure and drive positive results through internal communication:
1. Be human. We’ve seen some organizations make the mistake of talking “at” their employees when distributing information, rather than creating a conversation.
Two-way discussions and collaboration can help you get a pulse on the current state of affairs. Encourage feedback during annual employee review discussions and through end-of-year workforce surveys. These are prime opportunities to understand what is working and what is not – directly from those on the front lines – as well as to solidify trust and a two-way commitment between an employer and their employees.
Include your employees in the creation of goals and the vision for the future by actively listening to their feedback. Involving employees in setting the course makes them feel valued and more vested in achieving desired outcomes.
2. Focus on employee development. Also during end-of-year meetings and reviews, be sure to discuss employees’ interests, goals and career paths. Communicate clear trajectories on how employees can actively work toward their personal goals and continually advance within the company.
Recognize employees when they’ve accomplished something great or moved the needle for the company. Consider an employee spotlight, a gift or reward, or even a spot bonus. When employees see their efforts being noticed and appreciated, it lights a fire for both them and others to continue on the same course, working hard toward company goals.
3. Provide regular updates. Once goals have been set and areas of focus identified, make sure employees are kept in-the-know on current status, progress and next steps. Let them know what you’ve heard from them, and the specific priorities the company is committed to.
Keep employees informed of progress and milestones, and keep the lines of communication open along the way. Do this through a dedicated email address to which employees can send suggestions, an intranet page or form or even an anonymous suggestion box.
4. Increase visibility of leadership. Senior leadership and managers have the ability to set the tone for workplace culture, energizing teams to work together toward a common mission. Increasing leaders’ visibility and engagement with the larger employee base can greatly improve engagement.
Executive emails, video messages and town halls/round tables (virtual or in-person) can be excellent tools for increasing visibility. If your company has returned to work in a traditional office setting, simply walking around and chatting with employees can go a long way. People look to their leaders to set the tone, clarify priorities and address questions — giving leadership an ideal platform for communicating top initiatives and defining what success will look like.
5. Equip management with tools. Committing to employee engagement requires mid-level management support. Ensure managers have the tools they need to be successful.
Provide materials managers can use during weekly team and one-on-one meetings. These can include a message from the CEO, a list of relevant, timely items for discussion and FAQ documents for addressing questions about current tasks and initiatives. Coach managers on working these items into team conversations, and encourage them to ask for feedback (and ensure there is an avenue for managers to get answers to employee questions).
6. Don’t ignore exit interviews. Exit interviews are a key way to gather constructive feedback on areas where the company is potentially contributing to low engagement.
Ask thoughtful questions that can help you understand why the employee left, and what can be done to prevent more employees from leaving. Did the employee feel they were given the training and tools needed to do their job? Did they feel they had management support? Did they feel valued in their role? How did they view the company’s culture? Try to pinpoint the impetus for leaving, and think critically about how any lacking areas can be turned around.
Evaluating and measuring engagement not only provides a baseline for determining compensation and budgeting in the coming year. It also sheds light on critical areas where the company should focus communication efforts. Through internal communication, employers have a unique opportunity to drive engagement through facilitating collaboration and boosting motivation.