The New Rules of Employee Engagement

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Only 48% of UK workers say they feel engaged at work. No wonder that employee engagement is the top HR challenge for 2019.

Why is it important? Engagement translates into 41% fewer days off and a 59% reduction in staff turnover. It means engaged teams are more productive. And they provide better customer service, too.

Lots of companies want to improve employee engagement. But it can be hard to make it 'stick'. Awards, socials, celebrations. It's easy for engagement to feel like an event. A flash in the pan, a temporary bounce before things go back to 'normal'. So how can you make engagement sustainable and long-term? In other words, how can you embed it in your company culture?

The ingredients for a culture of engagement haven't changed much. But a millennial workforce is putting a new spotlight on what a good employee experience looks like.

Want to get started? Here's our recipe for sustained employee engagement:

All the values
Employees of all ages put meaningful work at the top of their priority lists. But only 42% think their companies are effective at providing it. Not all jobs save lives or cure cancer, but companies must help their team see the purpose of their work. Communicate your vision clearly. And bear in mind that millennials invest emotionally in brands with shared values.

What else do employees value? A study from Mercer highlighted flexible working and a commitment to wellbeing as key trends.

Active listening
There's a wide gap between companies' stated strategies and employee surveys. So listening openly is a no-brainer. Give your employees a variety of ways to feed back on employee engagement- one size most definitely doesn't fit all. Annual surveys, pulse checks, suggestion boxes, workshops and chats over coffee. Different things will appeal to different personalities. Experiment and find out what works for your team. Then keep it up on a regular schedule.

Improving employee engagement
Where's your team at?

Recognition
Appetite for recognition is growing. Particularly among millennial employees. So it makes sense to think about how to ingrain recognition into day-to-day work. Celebrate performance targets and big wins. But think about work anniversaries and birthdays too. Half-hearted efforts won't work the magic though. If recognition comes too late or doesn't happen consistently, cynicism can set in. Feedback too vague? Team members won't know what behaviours you want them to repeat.

Technology can help bring necessary transparency to the process. Not only can systems like OneUp Sales bring all your data together in one place for easy analysis, they add some fun to proceedings too. Complete action, get feedback, feel good. It's the basic psychology of gamification. 95% of employees enjoy using gamified systems. As long as they're implemented correctly and not overused, of course.

Get organised
Launching a new strategy is fun. Drumming up excitement, seeing the immediate effect on your team. Sustaining the effect is much harder, so organisation is key. Create a calendar of events and stick to it. Get the team involved – lots of brains are better than one. And you'll have some ready-made allies to make sure it's a success.

Staff turnover costs money. Lots of it. The UK average is £12,000 per person. Estimates for senior positions are higher still. This means that discussions around social companies and employee engagement are here to stay. What do you think?

Photos by Priscilla Du Preez and Lance Grandahl on Unsplash.