Why It's Time To Redefine Employee Engagement

By Carlton One Engagement

Employee engagement has always been crucial to the success of any business. How can you expect to deliver stellar products or services without a team that is giving 100 percent? The proof is in the numbers.

According to Bersin and Associates, businesses in the US spend over $720 million annually on employee engagement efforts.

High levels of employee engagement are tied to a variety of considerable benefits. From higher productivity levels to lower attrition rates, businesses are hyper-focused on this area for a reason. Yet, despite this attention, over the past few years employee engagement levels have remained mostly stagnant. This suggests that businesses are putting their focus in the wrong areas.

The annual employee engagement survey

When businesses choose to redirect their focus on employee engagement, there is often one major tool used to do the job: the yearly employee engagement survey. Leaders pool together to create a comprehensive questionnaire that is then sent around to the entire staff.

Data is collected, numbers are mapped out on fancy graphs and a few new ideas float around. The problem is these surveys rarely result in lasting change. According to Talent Culture, this stems from three main problems:

  1. A feelings-focus: Employees' emotions and attitudes toward given workplace policies and processes are important, but a lot of these are tied to personal preferences that are very hard to measure objectively. Businesses should seek to understand the connection between feelings and professional action, but also understand that they are not always connected, explained Talent Culture.
  2. A lack of employee involvement: Leaders understandably want to solve employee engagement problems, but they can't champion these initiatives on their own. In fact, getting employees involved is critical for driving long-lasting change. You want your team to be invested in the changes being made, and the best way to do that is to involve them in the processes.
  3. A lack of timeliness: Once you have collected all of the information, mapped it out and used it to inform an actual strategy change, months have passed. The bottom line: the data is no longer timely. While these surveys are created with the best of intentions, the information is often irrelevant once change is enacted.

How can we redefine employee engagement efforts?

So, if an annual employee engagement survey isn't the answer, what is? There are some critical steps that any employer can take to more effectively respond to low engagement rates internally. Let's take a look at three key approaches.

  1. Create a more consistent feedback process: Soliciting feedback from your team once a year simply isn't enough. If you really want to monitor engagement levels and areas that need improvement, you need to commit to a more regular channel for employee input. Technology can be hugely helpful here. 

    Set up a channel dedicated to staff feedback and encourage your team to use it frequently. By opening up a more accessible and consistent platform you can have a more immediate understanding of where your business stands, explains Forbes contributor Chris Cancialosi.
  2. Have some fun: It's no secret that the key to employee engagement is understanding what motivates your staff members. However, getting them to divulge this information can be difficult. Few people want to take time out of their day to fill out a run-of-the-mill employee engagement survey. Your team needs to be incentivised a bit.

    Make it fun. Organize social gatherings where employees can chat about how to improve things internally. Reward your team members for providing feedback on current engagement practices with little gifts. Encouraging a more fun atmosphere when it comes to these discussions can help motivate your team to provide you with the information you need to make things better.

  3. Remember the little things: Employee engagement, at its core, is more about making your employees feel valued in the workplace than anything else. When your team members feel appreciated they perform better. Over 90 percent of employees that feel valued at work are motivated to do their best work, and 88 percent of those same respondents claim to be engaged in the workplace, a study by the American Psychological Association reports.

    Ensure you make recognition a priority in your office, celebrate team wins and recognize major accomplishments. These little acts can go a long way in terms of engagement.

Here at the Incentive Marketing Association, we know just how important employee rewards can be to increasing engagement. Contact us today to find out more about how to implement a successful benefits program.