The (People Officer's) Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement

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What are the differences between employee engagement and employee recognition?

As reported by Gallup, only ⅓ of US employees would “strongly agree” that they were recognized or given praise in the last seven days. Employee recognition is one way to remedy that. When we talk about recognition, we are literally talking about the ways in which you recognize your employees.

A direct way to motivate your employees is by using an Employee Recognition and Rewards Program like Power2Motivate. With this platform, you can build a program that’s tailored to match your company size and culture. Then, you can directly inspire positive behaviour and achievement with tangible, attractive rewards.

Employee engagement, however, refers to the ways in which you actively engage your employees. How do you open the door for them to be able to take action? Have you enabled them to engage in recognizing their peers, earning rewards, and taking an active part in their own growth? Doing so makes a difference!

What results can I expect to see from improved employee engagement?

Turn-over rates and resignations are a reality that all businesses have to face. Waiting and watching good employees leave, however, doesn’t have to be your only option. In fact, proactively increasing employee engagement can help create positive results by increasing retention. And the employees who stay will have a stronger, healthier environment to excel within, and be more motivated to succeed.

The reality is, there are things you can do to prevent employees from leaving.

Better still, less churn means less replacement recruitment — a tedious, time-consuming, and costly process. Beyond the time and money lost, there are also the negative impacts that turnover has on staff morale and productivity.

Employee engagement results include higher retention, employees who report being more satisfied and productive, stronger teams, increased collaboration and higher morale. 

What are the challenges of employee engagement?

Disengaged employees often feel like an anonymous cog in an unrelenting machine. You can imagine that feeling small, invisible, and unimportant doesn’t result in highly engaged employees that are passionate or productive.

The challenge, of course, is finding ways to acknowledge individual contributions, qualities and skills. If that hasn’t been something you or your management teams have been accustomed to doing, it can be difficult to get started. In addition, many employees have seen engagement or rewards programs come and go across the years, and in various organizations. They tend to hold back a bit, waiting to see if this “new” one will “stick”. Be prepared to be consistent to overcome the challenge of employee skepticism!

Your commitment and consistency will go a long way towards motivating greater performance and commitment in your employees. That starts with reminding yourself that your organization hired an employee because of their unique mix of qualifications, talents and abilities. Each individual employee is on the team because they make the team stronger. 

Employee engagement and rewards programs give you valuable engagement results and a way to communicate that acknowledgement back to the employee on a regular basis. They shouldn’t have to wait for their annual review to get recognized for all that they offer!

How do I overcome the challenges of employee engagement?

The number one way to overcome the challenges of managing your employee engagement is to create a cohesive plan, communicate that plan, and consistently implement the plan. Many employees have experienced a managerial phase of rewards programs, recognitions, and other incentives. To overcome those challenges, commit to following through!

Another difference maker? Evaluating your current employee situation, and looking for ways to match your employee’s interests and preferences with elements of their position. That’s an easy way to help foster more engagement and rekindle engagement within the organization. 

For example, if an employee loves travel, languages or different cultures, direct them towards a position that has an international aspect. Get them engaged in dealing with overseas clients, or working with clients or team members from different cultures. If an employee is interested in photography, writing, or learning a second language -- look for ways to let them tap into that during the workday!

Here are a few more tips to better understand and motivate your team:

  • Dig deeper and discover what your employees find most personally rewarding
  • Search for opportunities to allow them to explore their interests in ways that align with their job requirements
  • Encourage job sharing and role shadowing, so employees can unearth new interests via your organization

When can I expect to see results from my employee engagement program? 

Seeing tangible results may take time if you go about everything on your own, you can expect a slower start on the front end. But if you work with an organization that offers a full suite of employee engagement and rewards programs, you can expect things to move a little more quickly.

One way to get a jumpstart on seeing results from your employee engagement program is to pair your new program with a few other techniques for breaking everyone out of their comfort zone. After all, our brains are hardwired to notice and react to differences, and to zone out predictable occurrences. 

Elevator dings, coffeepot gurgling, co-worker phone calls….all literally fade into the background of our attention. Approaching sabre-tooth tiger? That jolts your full attention. Responding to novelty is hardwired into us, and without it, life can become a forgettable blur. Breaking this never-ending loop of sameness is easier than you think, and it’s all about introducing novelty. (We’ve got 4 tips for how you can do that right over here.)

When you’re looking for results, we’d encourage you to consider both tangible and intangible. Your managers may report an increase in productivity at the end of the quarter...but they may also notice an increase in morale and general connectedness within a few days or weeks. Those are both valuable outcomes that are worth noticing.

Setting Your Organization's Expectations for Employee Engagement Program Results

Low morale, stagnating productivity, or high turn-over rates are all problems that didn’t happen overnight. Turning them around won’t happen overnight either.

Sometimes, however, management teams want to see virtually immediate employee engagement results. That’s often what leads to the introduction - and then abandonment - of programs, and never reaping results.

Our advice is to create SMART goals (we’ll talk about that below), have both short- and long-term benchmarks, and prepare your team for consistent implementation. 

A recent analysis from Robert Half suggests that honest and open communication between employees and their bosses is a big step. "If you have bosses who are willing to listen to their employees, that should help engagement." Communication should be happening at the highest levels, amongst the management team, and between management and employees in order to achieve the best results.

How do companies measure employee engagement?

Employee Rewards Programs allow you to track how your staff perform over time. For example, online points systems let you track metrics pertaining to engagement and productivity. Using simple Reporting features, program managers can keep track of the goals that their team achieves. You can also monitor your employee’s feedback (and collect their feelings) on your programs with useful Surveying tools.

Another way of measuring employee engagement is using immediate recognition with Power2Motivate's reward and goal achievement program. You can extend recognition in real-time using our points system, and you’ll be sent a notification when one of your staff achieves a pre-set goal. As you can see, the system helps you measure and engage quickly, rather than forcing your management team to do more manual work.

With these helpful measurements, you can instantly be aware of who is succeeding for your business and respond appropriately.

The (People Officer's) Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement

What tools help manage employee engagement?

Our software allows employees to set a 'Wish List' of prizes they'd like, giving them a firm target to work towards. This also provides them with autonomy -- they can manage their own engagement levels, and set the rewards they want to earn. Then, they can redeem their points from our massive Global Rewards Gallery. Employees want to know that if they achieve a set goal for your business, the reward they receive will be personal to them. Our employee engagement reward programs can be personalized to your employees.

In addition, although vocalising your praise is a great way to encourage a happier workplace, it’s not always possible (or timely). Try taking engagement a step further by implementing an employee rewards and recognition program like Power2Motivate. 

This offers a fun and collaborative peer-to-peer employee rewards program that allows your staff to choose their own rewards and recognise other team members. With a social news feed and some fun gamification elements, the recognition process becomes happiness-inducing as well

We’ve worked hard to make sure our tools incorporate the best of automation and employee autonomy. We want your management team to feel they are being supported and that we’re making their lives easier, not that we’re adding more work to their plates.

With our online incentive platform, you can add a social element to your Rewards Program as well. Power2Motivate's online system offers users a number of features to increase social engagement with goal achievement, including the Wizard Nomination and Social Recognition tool. This form of engagement comes directly from your employees, not your management team. That’s good for everyone!

Your employees can nominate users for qualitative prizes not linked to KPIs. They can also recognise and share the achievements of their colleagues in a similar way to a social media app. These two features contribute to a happier and more engaged team.

Establishing an Employee Engagement Advisory Council

Here’s what you need to know: A lack of employee engagement is one of the biggest challenges companies around the globe are facing. In fact, Gallup 2017 State of the Global Workplace Report indicated that 71% of employees worldwide aren't engaged at work. We truly have an employee engagement crisis!

One way to push back against that crisis is to establish an employee engagement advisory council. This group of employees can offer on-the-ground feedback on morale, engagement needs, and ways to engage on a deeper level.

After all, fighting back against this global epidemic of disengagement requires figuring out what motivates employees on a daily basis. Who would know that better than your actual employees?

Setting Yourself up for Success: How to Identify a Problem that Can Be Solved with Employee Engagement

Employee perceptions of value and appreciation are highly important. The reality is, however, almost two-thirds of workers who are not happy at their job report that they don't feel valued. That’s a problem that can be solved with employee engagement!

Recognising exemplary contributions is an important way to reinforce the good work that people do. However, to ensure that it doesn't backfire, your tactics need to be honest and personalised. Not every employee will be over the moon when their face is framed as the employee of the month, and not every worker is going to be satisfied with just a pat on the back. 

In fact, every single person has different preferences as to the type of rewards they prefer, and the way they want to be recognised.

It is your manager and leadership team’s job to understand what makes each employee tick. You must use this knowledge to provide the right level of recognition and incentivisation to ensure that nobody feels under-appreciated or undermined. Getting this right can make a world of difference to your team's engagement and productivity levels. And the right employee engagement tool will make all the difference.

Setting SMART Goals for Employee Engagement

According to My Hub, developing SMART goals can be an important part of tracking employee engagement. SMART refers to setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. 

If you’re investing in an employee engagement and rewards program, you’ll want to be clear about what you’re seeking to gain, and how you’ll measure those gains. These goals can also be connected to your overall organization's vision and mission. Some SMART goals we’ve seen work well in the past have pertained to decreased retention, increased productivity, and increased cross-team collaborations.

Whatever your goals are, we recommend you employ a data driven approach. You’ll also want to be clear around who is accountable for the SMART goal, what your benchmarks are, and how you’ll make ongoing progress.

Must-Have Features in an Employee Engagement Platform

First off, you’ll definitely want to consider non-monetary rewards benefits. After all, it’s not practical to use money as an ongoing reward. However, a PwC report indicates that 41 per cent of millennials prefer to be rewarded or recognised for their work at least monthly. For that to work in a consistent, ongoing manner, you’ll need a system in place.

For example, with Power2Motivate's employee benefits programs, employees feel in control of their perks. Since 60% of millennials prefer to shop for their own benefits at the workplace (according to MetLife), it makes sense that they’d also like to choose their own rewards.

For those who want to travel, flight and accommodation discounts prove a great incentive as well. Other options could include an entertainment library, the ability to offer teammates recognition, the ability to save on travel and luxury goods, and more. Letting employees choose the benefits that suit them is key to better workplace engagement and satisfaction.

In addition, having an interactive online platform is a powerful employee engagement feature. At the end of the day, we believe that customisable staff employee programs are always more powerful. Whatever you use, remember that it becomes very difficult to track if you try to manage it without the aid of a fully integrated online platform. 

Why is employee engagement valuable?

The relationship you have with your employees is absolutely mission critical to your organisation's success. The reality is, if there are issues in this relationship, many workers won't be sticking around long. In fact, a recent survey from CareerBuilder found that three out of five workers who are dissatisfied with their job are looking elsewhere. By increasing employee engagement and strengthening that relationship, you can increase retention and productivity!

It’s also vital to keep in mind that 65% of employees share that they were not happy at their job because they didn't feel valued. Employee engagement is a way of communicating the value you have for your employees, which can increase job satisfaction as well.

At the end of the day, living up to your word and recognising the good work that others do are two ways to make people feel personally respected and professionally valued. Employee rewards and engagement programs allow you to design and implement a framework that ensures you hold on to key staff.

How expensive are employee engagement programs?

The costs vary, which is why we are committed to working with you to determine the best possible rewards structure for your business. We know how hard you work to maximize your profit margins, and we want to be sure we’re part of making your efforts count. 

Whether you have a small team, or an organization with thousands of employees, we can work with you to ensure you have an affordable program that meets your needs. We’ve worked with Lexmark, Bell, Ford, Goodyear, CoreLogic, Honda, Red Hat, and more! 

What's the ROI of the average employee engagement program?

Happiness is what our employees strive for. It's also the stuff of poems and songs and overused quotes, and it stands as a global indicator of a good life. Happiness has another thing going for it, as a 2014 U.K University of Warwick study reported that happy people are also more productive.

When you engage your employees, you increase their happiness, and possibly also their productivity. In fact, research participants who were subjected to happiness-inducing techniques saw a 12% rise in productivity levels. (See how you can tie those kind of numbers into SMART goals?)

Like SMART goals, your ultimate ROI depends on what your organization is seeking to achieve. We work with you to determine what your ideal return on investment would be, and what kinds of programs would help you achieve that.

How can you implement these employee engagement ideas?

The best implementation strategy is to ensure that your managers are given the flexibility and tools they need to correctly and effectively get an employee engagement program off the ground. 

That could include ensuring that training materials are readily accessible, as well as developing plans for integrating career development sessions into the work week and designing ways to reward managers for meeting employee training and upskilling goals. 

Even more importantly, however, implementation needs to rely on giving each individual employee the ability to chart their own path to personal success. Our targeted rewards and recognition systems give employees that chance. They can set their own goals, and even their own rewards. If you are looking to manage your employee engagement for programs and results, come to CarltonOne.

The (People Officer's) Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement

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