By Twine on

In their 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, Gallup reported that just 33% of employees surveyed considered themselves engaged in their jobs. This low rate of engagement is disheartening, but with the right employee engagement program in place at your company, it’s something you can change.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss what this program is, why it matters, and how you can get started creating your own employee engagement program.

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What Is an Employee Engagement Program?

An engaged employee is one who cares about their organization's success and manifests that care in their daily work. An employee engagement program is a set of practices that proactively work to reinforce this behavior. When implemented properly, an employee engagement program is holistic, starting from hiring and recruiting and extending to all aspects of an employee’s experience at your company.

To be clear, it’s not just the responsibility of human resources, either. While many of the activities required to boost employee engagement require the close involvement of HR, an effective employee engagement program involves the coordination of senior management, supervisors, and employees across your company.  Employee engagement is so fundamental to your company’s long-term success that you hesitate to move forward with implementation of such a program before achieving full buy-in from all of the key players.

Why You Need an Employee Engagement Program

You may think that your firm's level of employee engagement is excellent, or that low employee engagement is a problem that other companies have, but you are probably wrong. Even if you’re not, this attitude prevents you from seizing the opportunity to boost your team members’ overall productivity and create a sustainable company culture. Even if your employees are already more engaged than average, there’s always room for improvement.

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How to Create an Employee Engagement Program

There is no one-size-fits-all employee engagement program, but all employee engagement programs follow the same framework, consisting of five steps. Remember that the specific program you create will be both custom to your organization’s needs and a work in progress, evolving as you test what works and what doesn’t. Here are the general guidelines on how to start creating the employee engagement program your company needs.

1. Assess Your Current Level of Employee Engagement

In order to improve your company’s employee engagement, you need to know where it currently stands. Conducting the proper employee survey will give you key insights into both the current level of engagement and the steps you should take to improve it.

You can create your own employee engagement survey and administer it yourself, or you can work with a third party vendor that produces and administers the surveys. Whatever approach you decide to take, make it clear to your employees that these surveys will not have an effect on their compensation or promotion. Rather, show them that you want them to be partners in improving their job experience and the company as a whole.

2. Set Improvement Goals

Once you’ve received an employee engagement report based on your survey, examine it carefully. Look for trends, not just the raw numbers. Resist the urge to fixate on the positive results, and instead, consider the negative results a valuable insight into how you can improve. What would make your people more engaged? What would create a company culture of going the extra mile?

Once you’ve begun to answer that question (we say "begun" because answering it will be an ongoing process), you must set clear goals for what you want to improve. We suggest starting with one area and focusing exclusively, rather than trying to improve many areas at once.

For example, if your survey reveals that employees think your company’s work-life balance is poor, then you can decide to focus on this problem area. Remember though, in order to see a meaningful difference in future survey results, you’ll have to set other employee engagement goals aside for the time being.

3. Pick Engagement Tactics

Now that you’ve set your goal, you need to define the steps you’ll take to achieve it. For example, if people say that work-life balance is poor, then you could consider increasing the amount of paid vacation employees receive, or allowing them to work from home one day per week.

Here are some specific employee engagement ideas for you to consider implementing across your firm:

  • Offer increased (or more flexible) vacation

  • Ensure that your company vision is clear (and that employees understand it)

  • Provide employees opportunities to work from home

  • Create more opportunities for employees to give feedback

  • Evaluate your management practices

  • Change the way you do performance reviews (or eliminate them all together)

  • Institute an internal hiring program

  • Give employees a stipend to take classes and further their professional development

  • Host a company retreat

  • Assess the effectiveness of your onboarding and training program

  • Expand your health care and other benefits to improve employee well-being

4. Obtain Buy-In from Your Organization

The tactics we discussed above aren’t ones you can implement alone. You’ll need the buy-in of your company’s C-suite, middle management, and every employee from the new hires to the veterans. Explain to executives that more engaged employees are key to your company’s larger strategic vision, and to its longevity, and assure employees that the engagement initiative is intended to result in greater job satisfaction for them in the long run.

Furthermore, make it clear that this is a collaborative process and that you want employee feedback and input. If an employee engagement tactic isn’t helping (or is making things worse), you need your people to be willing and able to tell you as soon as possible. In the same vein, if someone has a new idea that would improve engagement, then it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to share it.

5. Test and Iterate

We can’t emphasize enough that improving your employee engagement is a process. It won’t happen instantly, and it will evolve over time. This is why it’s so important to just focus on one goal at at time. Trying too many at once will confound the results of your surveys and make your efforts less effective overall.

Don’t be too quick to abandon a tactic; give it time to see if it’s working. At the same time, don’t stick with tactics that are clearly not working; move on and try something else.

Engaged Employees Are Retained Employees

An effective employee engagement program will go a long way toward boosting customer satisfaction and creating an organization that will last. One key characteristic of engaged employees is a focus on developing their careers.

This is where Twine Labs can help. The number one reason your best employees leave is a lack of internal opportunities. With our internal company network, you’ll be able to match existing employees with open positions, boosting retention by as much as 30%. Book a demo call today to learn more.