Employee Engagement Strategies

Top 5 Employee Engagement Strategies

Employee engagement strategies have become central to businesses big and small in the last few years, and even more so in our current environment when employees may be currently working remotely. Unlike corporate jargon and fads (we’re looking at you, “synergy”), employee engagement can have a real impact on productivity. Engagement affects employees’ emotional connection to their work, their relationships with co-workers and how they feel about their place in the organization. Engagement strategies help organizations retain employees, increases productivity and inspires loyalty. 

Over the years, we’ve become rather astute in regard to employee engagement. Here at GDC, our culture is part of the reason we have been recognized by the Wallstreet Journal as one of the best small businesses in the nation to work for. It’s also part of the reason many regional and national clients have sought us out to improve their employee-facing development strategies and create a more engaged workplace.

There are many ways to go about creating and implementing different engagement strategies.  We’ve found that these five strategies are some of the best ways to improve the office environment and make an ongoing impact, regardless of whether employees are working remotely or in the office.

  1. Know your company values

 Workers feel more connected to the company when they know what it stands for. All the employee lunches, birthdays, and parties in the world won’t mean much if employees don’t understand why they are working. That’s where having a shortlist of company values comes in very handy.

 When creating your company’s values, remember to be specific, and make them actionable. It’s not enough to say, for example, that you want employees to be respectful. Map out what “respect” looks like in your organization. 

 Once you’ve created your specific and actionable values, make sure all of your employees know what those are and know how to implement them.

At GDC, our five core values are posted on boards throughout our buildings. These boards include an example of what employees who exhibit these values do and do not do. 

Employees who want to “Foster Respectful Relationships”, for example, listen to other’s opinions. They do not spread gossip about their co-workers.

  1. Onboarding and Training

The difference between an effective employee and a less effective employee often comes down to his or her initial training and onboarding. It’s difficult to feel engaged in your job when you don’t know all the details about what that job entails. This is especially true if your new hires are coming in during a remote work schedule. Constant communication and regular check-ins will help prevent employees from feeling disconnected from their teams or supervisors. 

Even seasoned professionals will need time, guidance and reassurance to adjust to a new office environment and a different way of doing their work. That is why a proper onboarding and training system is essential for any business.

Having a training and onboarding period will not only help new employees understand the ins and outs of their new job, but it can also help them understand the company culture and what’s expected of them. Onboarding is when they’ll be introduced to the company values we discussed above. It’s also when they’ll get to know your company’s history and future objectives.  

This is an area we have particular experience in. Through that experience, we’ve found that one of the best ways to create a good onboarding process is to create a clear, engaging employee training manual. A solid training manual clearly and succinctly outlines the company history and culture as well as expectations for specific roles.

Many of our clients were able to improve the effectiveness and productivity of their new employees when we created a manual for them. Once the process is streamlined, it becomes much easier for managers and employees to understand their new work environment and how their roles play a part in it. 

  1. Develop Goals for Employees, Leadership and Your Business

Goals are important. Not just for employees but for businesses as well. That’s why it’s a good idea to have employees develop goals for themselves, as well as for you and your leadership team to determine goals for yourselves and your business. Once those are determined, share those goals with everyone in your organization. 

 Individual goals will give employees something to strive for. Team goals will help to make sure everyone is on the same page. Sharing your goals as a leader will set an example for your employees. It also shows that you hold yourself to a high standard. 

At GDC, we hold company retreats at least once every six months. During these retreats we examine the goals we’ve set for our agency and our leaders share their individual goals and progress. We’ve discovered that when employees know what their leaders are working toward improving, it motivates them to go the extra mile. We’ve held our retreats at the office, public venues and even our partner’s homes. We are currently working on a plan to have a virtual retreat if the times require it.  

  1. Have a System for Employee Evaluations

As an employee, there are few things more frustrating than not knowing whether or not you are meeting the standards your company requires. That’s why it is essential to have a system for employee evaluations. 

The way these evaluations are done can vary based on your company’s culture and values. They can be as formal as a typed form of achievements and areas of opportunity combined with an employee engagement survey. Or, they can be as informal as a scheduled chat over coffee, or via a video chat between an employee and their director. They can be done every three months or every year. The point is to make sure you take time out to discuss career development with individual members of your team. 

 As long as you are taking time for your employees and helping them reach the goals they’ve set, you will be well on your way to having a happy and engaged workforce.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Have fun.

So far, we’ve talked a lot about how to increase your employee’s productivity in the workplace. But what about work/life balance? How do you ensure your employees feel seen and appreciated by their leaders and co-workers? That’s where the fun comes in. 

To make sure your office isn’t all work and no play, plan special events for your employees. We’ve seen these events boost morale firsthand both for us and for our clients. 

One client saw a significant increase in employee satisfaction after GDC threw their workers a beach-themed Christmas party. And we know that our GDC employees look forward to our special office events every year, including our annual Fiesta party.

Even when businesses don’t have the infrastructure or manpower to put together large gatherings, small gestures are equally appreciated. Employees also enjoy getting free breakfast tacos on Fridays or homemade cookies to celebrate an office accomplishment. Currently, while most GDC employees are working remotely, the partners have continued to show their appreciation by mailing treats to everyone on Fridays. Those gestures can go a long way for employee morale, especially in these times of social distancing. 

Take time to celebrate things like employee birthdays and work anniversaries to make them feel appreciated. Special events and celebrations tell your employees that you care about them as people and you don’t just see them as a means of improving your profits.

There you have it. Five of the best ways we at GDC have discovered to help employees feel good about the company they work for. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are many ways to ensure your business has high levels of employee engagement either at the office or while working remotely. No matter what, it’s always important to make sure your employees are onboard for your company’s mission and feel appreciated by company leadership.