In Employee Engagement

We’ve all seen the stats: only 13% of employees are engaged at work, and those numbers aren’t budging no matter how many millions of dollars we spend on the problem.

Those of us working actively to improve or sustain employee engagement find that most recommendations fall into a few general categories.

All of these tactics have advantages, and all have a role to play. But without a underlying culture shift, they will  fall flat.

  1. Salaries and benefits: Of course we have to pay our employees well–that’s a given. Fair and equitable salaries and competitive benefits are required, not a way to improve engagement. Paying people more can lead to increased job satisfaction, but it doesn’t always work. Salary is an important piece of the puzzle, but only a piece.
  2. Employee Recognition: Anyone who has ever gotten recognition at work, either formally or informally, knows that it can be a powerful motivator. In fact, 40% of Americans say they’d put more effort and energy into their work if they were acknowledged for their worth. However, recognition is hard to mandate, manage, standardize, and implement leading 82% of employees to report that they don’t feel recognized by their managers.
  3. Teambuilding and extracurricular activities: According to Gemini, rafting, paintball and go-karting on company outings do not improve interactions at work. Strangely enough, these activities can make things worse because they tend to alienate a certain kind of worker (some people may enjoy adventure, others may enjoy art). Teambuilding activities run the risk of embarrassing or patronizing employees. These kinds of activities also tend to reinforce established connections rather than forge new ones. In other words, colleagues who are friendly before going bowling will hang out together rather than meet new people. At worse (and especially when outings involve alcohol), these efforts can create uncomfortable or unfortunate situations that then infiltrate the workplace and work day.
  4. Employee wellness programs: Companies spend an estimated $6 billion per year on employee wellness programs–that’s $50 to $150 per employee per year (source: Rand Corporation). However, a recent Gallup poll showed that only 24% of American workers participate in such a program (source: Gallup). Wellness programs can be great for employees who are interested, but it can be a challenge to publicize them effectively. Moreover, only 12% of employees strongly agree that they have substantially higher overall well-being because of their employer.
  5. Employee incentives or rewards: Most companies have a program in place intended to motivate employees through incentives, bonuses, or rewards. In the bestseller Drive, Daniel Pink argues that a reward-and-punishment system can work very well to motivate people to do simple tasks, but it’s less effective when it comes to get getting people to do complex, long-term work. Employee incentives can also be tough to standardize, subjective, and difficult to manage.
  6. Employee engagement or satisfaction surveys: Surveys are a great place to start (anyone who knows me knows I am a big believer in this kind of measurement), but a study by AON revealed that almost 80% of managers either didn’t view, or didn’t  act on the data. Moreover, 80% of employees who participated in an engagement survey said it made no difference in their job or workplace.
  7. Manager training: A good relationship between manager and employee is critical to engagement. In fact, Gallup found that high-quality managers can account for up to 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Sadly, managers themselves are often disengaged and relying on managers as the main engine of engagement is problematic: half of American adults have left a job at some point in their career to get away from a manager.

All of these methods can play an important role in boosting employee engagement, but they are tactical. What leaders need is a blueprint for creating a culture of trust and reciprocity that will support all of these individual methods and make them more successful.

To learn more, download our free ebook: How to Build True Employee Engagement.

Join Givitas for Women in the Workplace

Givitas can help. Givitas is software that reduces the stigma of asking for help and makes it easy to be a giver on less than five minutes a day. Using Givitas creates an environment of trust and collaboration that will lay the foundation for the tools and techniques described above.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Givitas can improve employe engagement, schedule a demo today.

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