Employee engagement. The holy grail that every company strives for. Yet this term doesn’t have a universal definition that everyone agrees on. Here at Blink, we define employee engagement as a combination of two parts:
- Attitude — the commitment a worker feels towards the company
- Behavior — the effort that an employee is willing to invest in their job
Both are equally important for employee engagement. In fact, one is meaningless without the other. You can’t exhibit loyalty, for instance, when you don’t feel it inside. And the feeling itself doesn’t count if it doesn’t lead to loyal actions.
But how do you build a workplace that aligns the commitment and behavior of workers with the goals of the organization? And how can you protect your business from factors that diminish employee engagement?
By starting with the fundamental drivers of employee engagement. There are certain conditions that, if present in the workplace, can lead to happy, engaged, and more productive employees. And in this post, we’ll take a look at what these are.
With millennials rising into leadership roles, workplaces are changing fast. If you want to engage your employees, it’s important to ditch traditional processes in favor of modern employee engagement drivers. Here are three major categories, along with the factors under them, that you need to keep an eye on.
Physical employee engagement drivers correspond to the materialistic, tangible conditions that surround employees on a daily basis. These include:
58% of high-performance workers have voiced the need for a quieter workplace, and 54% say their office environment is distracting.
Noise is not the only factor. Environmental conditions like temperature and lighting also impact productivity and engagement.
So if you want to influence your employees’ willingness to engage, your working environment should take the following into account:
- Basic facilities and amenities
- Hygiene and safety
- Temperature, lighting, and sound
Also, when making decisions related to these drivers, don’t fall back on guesswork. You can conduct surveys or short polls to ask workers about the workplace changes that could boost their performance. And these could be as simple as setting quiet hours, taking the air conditioning down a notch, or dimming the lights.
Do your workers have the support and resources they need to do their jobs? Or do they have bottlenecks, red tape, and distractions getting in their way?
If you have security protocols in the workplace, for example, your employees may be having a hard time moving across different parts of the office. And they’ll be wasting precious time getting security clearances from the concerned department.
Without the right software, equipment, and support, workers can’t effectively connect with peers or customers, driving down engagement. Not to mention the anxiety and frustration they would feel thinking that their company doesn’t value them.
So you need to make sure the tools and processes you put in place for them are simplifying their work. The training you provide, the work policies, the technology, and everything else should be in sync to properly enable employees to do their best work.
Mental employee engagement drivers are the psychological factors that determine how workers feel towards their organization. These include:
How comfortable do your employees feel with their work? A global survey found that only a few business leaders have been demonstrating behaviors that instill a sense of psychological safety in their workers.
In the absence of psychological safety, employees often have no choice but to get entangled in managing office politics, which limits their contribution to real business outcomes.
In contrast, when this employee engagement driver is in place, workers feel confident to put physical, emotional, and intellectual energy into their tasks. Because they have faith that they can carry out their responsibilities without any fear of damage to their status or career progression.
The best way to build psychological safety into your workplace is to create a culture that focuses on solutions.
For example, when things go awry, don’t look for someone to blame. Just solve the problem and see how it can be prevented in the future. Ask yourself, “How can we ensure this doesn’t happen again?”
Notice how the question says “we,” not “you” or “I.” We want to use collaborative language that puts the responsibility on the group as a whole, instead of accusing any one individual of the mistake.
This employee engagement driver comes into the picture when workers feel they are being treated fairly. The justified treatment makes them more likely to be engaged at work.
A great example of this is when employees receive frequent recognition, appreciation, and compensation for jobs well done. In fact, 22% of workers say that they would start hunting for a new job if they don’t feel valued at work.
When was the last time your employees got a genuine and heartfelt “thank you.” These two words said often and at the right times can go a long way in integrating fairness as one of your employee engagement drivers.
We bet you still remember the exact moment when a senior team member appreciated you with a proper thank you. This is because we connect with recognition on a deeply personal level.
It’s time to extend the same courtesy of fairness and respect to other staff members. You can also take things up a notch with professional growth opportunities and financial rewards for your star performers.
Another crucial driver of employee engagement is how empowered your teams are to take responsibility for their projects.
And its implementation starts from the top. When workers are part of the decision-making process, they’ll have a personal stake in the success of a project or change initiative.
The more control you give to the front-line staff and bridges you build between top management and employees, the more they’ll own what they do. This level of ownership will motivate them to build new skills, gain experience on tasks they’ve never done before, and go beyond their comfort zones.
There are many ways to put this into practice. For example, a company launched an online ‘idea’ box and asked workers to submit suggestions for improving customer experience.
Shortlisted suggestions were turned into projects. When the company formed teams to champion and carry out the suggestions, it picked the people who contributed those ideas. So the workers who submitted the idea got the chance to own and deliver on them.
Among all the drivers of employee engagement, autonomy has amazing potential to inspire workers to perform at their peak levels.
Micromanagement has no place in autonomy. Giving employees autonomy at work means that you trust them to make many big and small decisions on how they carry out their work.
When workers have the freedom to determine how they manage their time and where to apply their energy, they are more likely to feel committed to your business mission. 80% say that their loyalty towards a company increases when it offers flexible work options.
To implement this employee engagement driver, you can start by allowing flexible schedules, and measuring performance based on clear and concrete KPIs instead of counting the hours workers put in.
87% of millennials rate professional development opportunities as a crucial factor in a job. Setting simple career roadmaps can engage your workforce and help attract even more talented employees in the future.
When employees are frequently being challenged at work, their drive to learn and develop makes them more alert and engaged. The result is improvement in deliverables and better productivity.
This employee engagement driver can be instilled through proactive career advancement strategies. You can conduct a skills gap assessment and create learning pathways based on areas such as leadership, data analysis, project management, assembly lines, and so on.
These measures will show workers that you are committed to investing in their success, which in turn leads to a highly engaged workforce.
Connecting with others is a basic human need. So no discussion of employee engagement drivers can be complete without talking about the social aspects that impact employee engagement. These are:
Sooner or later, every worker would want to know how they are doing, and whether they are meeting expectations at work. In fact, 89% of HR professionals say that regular feedback positively impacts their company.
Contrary to what you may think, annual, one-sided performance reviews have long been dead. In modern organizations, feedback works both ways.
Employees need to see that their employer listens to them and takes action on their inputs. And they need regular, constructive feedback from peers and senior team members.
So conducting regular communication and feedback sessions can go a long way in helping workers and keeping them engaged in their jobs. This is even more important for employers with diverse or dispersed teams.
Dedication towards work has a contagious effect. When employees see deeply committed peers surrounding them, it makes them want to pull their weight and contribute even more. So committed team members form another important employee engagement driver.
But how can you trigger this behavior in the workplace from the beginning? It starts with the recruitment process. By identifying workers who are passionate about what they do, you can sow the seed for a workplace culture focused on your organization’s mission, vision, and values.
Another great approach is to encourage workers to pursue experiments and passion projects. In doing so, they’ll get confident and comfortable with taking initiatives in their work and be more engaged.
82% of workers have at least one friend at work. Because strong relationships with peers at work also contribute to workplace engagement.
It’s obvious why. When team members have relationships based on mutual respect and trust, it gets easier to communicate and get things done. Plus, they get a sense of enjoyment from their work.
Ensuring that your workers feel welcome and comfortable at work is a no-brainer, especially in remote work environments.
Remote employees don’t get as many opportunities to socialize with peers as office-based workers. So it becomes even more important to engage them with virtual collaboration activities and social events.
Another thing you can do is implement workplace mentorship programs. These will not just help employees grow, but also bring them closer to each other.
51% of employees are not engaged at work. And this can lead to only two possibilities. Either they would leave soon, or stay for the easy paycheck but put in only as much effort that doesn’t get them fired.
Both these scenarios are unacceptable for a healthy and growing business. Human capital is your most important asset. So you must do all you can to assess and implement key employee engagement drivers in your company.
Once you get a sense of what areas need improvement, follow the steps we outlined above to shape your workplace culture for a bright future.
And remember, internal communication also plays a key role in supporting the drivers of employee engagement. So using an employee engagement app like Blink can take your initiatives to the next level. Request a free demo today.