Jumping on the “Employee Engagement” Bandwagon: Part 2
In Part 1, we talked about first getting to know what your employees would like to see. Here in Part 2, we will talk about some general ideas to consider integrating into your workplace. While there are plenty of different options available, sometimes its best to start with some simple ideas and let the company build upon it once you see how welcoming the employees are to these new “perks.”
Today’s employees want to know and feel that their work matters…regardless of what generation they fall into. They want to be known as a vital member of the team and not just overhead getting a paycheck. If a company isn’t meeting their other “needs” (respect, growth, recognition, etc), then employee “disengagement” leads to low morale and a focus on …money. And here is where a company can start spiraling downward.
So, how can an Employee Engagement plan help?
We heard all about “work life balance” these past couple of years, but the truth is its all about work-life integration now. Smartphones keep us in contact 24/7 not just with voice and text but now emails and social media. We’re not just “connected” to close friends and family because we now have co-workers, acquaintances, mentors, etc. as part of our life “circle” thanks to social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. We can’t honestly expect a true separation anymore between work and home life.
So, engaging your employees is more than just finding ways to make them “happy” at work…its about finding ways to incorporate their passion and creativity into the workplace. While the hope is that these different programs will increase work performance, employer loyalty and even generate profitable ideas, don’t make decisions based solely on that. When employees feel “heard,” their talents used and recognized and a sense of teamwork returns, you will shift the work environment to where performance will naturally increase.
What are some ideas to consider?
There are so many different articles out there that talk about different engagement programs that you may feel a bit overwhelmed reading them over and thinking how to make them work at your workplace. When I looked many of them over, I looked for things that were simple but would have the quickest return:
- Look for resources already available to you…for free!
Many Healthcare providers also provide free workshops and seminars on a variety of topics, not just health. Take a look at see how often they will provide one to your company and what other topics they offer. Some offer programs such as: Stress Management, Debt Reduction, Wellness Coaching, etc.
- Review (or Create) Work-Life Options
Does your company have a work-from-home option available for certain circumstances? How about Flex Hours? These ideas don’t have to be limited to just salary employees anymore and employees knowing they can ask when faced with family/personal circumstances goes a long way to showing yours is a company that cares.
- Don’t leave family out!
When you start planning Company activities, such as Holiday Parties, include family members…and yes, children as well. Employees generally spend more time at work than at home so it is important for family to feel that they matter as well. That will help them be more understanding when your employee has to travel or work long hours.
- Tap into the talents of your employees…do you know what they are?
How many of your employees are writers or aspiring photographers? Let them share their talents with their co-workers! Not only does it create a sense of pride but you also uncover a whole other skill set aside from their job that may help the company.
> Let your employees lead a “Learning Club”…be it before work, during the lunch break or after hours.
Employees have talents and interests outside their job – why not let them share it. Have someone who is financially savvy at playing the stock market and you want to boost your 401k participation? How about instead of having a seminar to explain to employees why to join you ask that employee to lead an Investment Club, where he/she has share tips and ideas with the employees.
> Set up an internal newsletter for employees-only.
Communication, even in the world of technology and “apps,” is still an area of struggle for most companies. Enlist those aspiring writers and photographers to publish a monthly company newsletter that highlights events, recaps of projects, quotes from customers, pictures of completed projects/events, etc. Lets employees see what is going on in the company aside from the people they interact with everyday and shows the company has pride in what their employees do.
> Create a TEDx type of event!
If you aren’t familiar with TEDx, it is an event that basically allows people to speak about a topic they are passionate about in the hopes of educating others. So why not setup a monthly event at your company to allow your employees to do the same thing.
Did they attend a training session recently? Let them get up and talk about the experience: what they learned, how they are applying it now, what they hope to do next – it may generate additional interest from other employees.
Is there an outside organization or event they are a member of? Let your employee share that with their colleagues. Shows interests they have outside of work and, again, may get others to want to join or find their own outside interests. These side projects are a great stress relief and sense of pride – which helps employees find balance and happiness in their own lives…so encourage it.
> Give Back and encourage Volunteering
Its not just the Millennials (as you may have read) that are interested in volunteering or giving back to their community! Donating their time makes employees feel that they are helping make a difference. Sponsor charity events – such as a fun 5K – and encourage employees to participate. Give them paid time off to attend the events and acknowledge their participation on social media. It supports “social responsibility” while also boosting morale…and giving your company some free, positive press.
- Promote perks that boost mental and physical well-being.
To quote Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!”
> Have an onsite work-out activity: could be a morning yoga class, fitness class or even organize a daily employee walk.
> Have “themed days” at work: pick a day a month or every Friday. During football season, for example, have a Team Pride Day and let them where their team’s gear or colors. Have a “Flashback Day” and tell employees to dress up from the 80s and play only 80s music that day. Let them have a little fun at work!
> Create a Scavenger Hunt! Want to get your employees out interacting with other departments? Challenge them to take photographs of certain things in each department that you will hide and be the first to find them all.
> Bring back the “Bring Your _____ to Work” Days. What ever happened to the “bring your child to work” days? Its most appreciated during Winter and Spring breaks when its hard for parents to find someone to watch them when there aren’t activities or camps to join, as in the summer.
What about “bring your dog to work”? Studies show that petting your dogs naturally brings down stress levels and invokes happiness – hence why dogs are used as therapy companions. Let your employees show off their 4-legged kids!
> Host a company luncheon or BBQ. Sometimes, a company just needs to shut down and relax as a whole, especially after a busy season.
Coming in Part 3…Best Practices for Employee Engagement
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.