Over the last decade, there have been monumental changes in the workplace. Technology is now an integral part of virtually everything we do. Our workforce is no longer comprised of one generation, but rather four very unique and different generations. Competition is at an all-time high. To earn their spot as an industry leader, key decision makers must be innovative and flexible.
Mountains of data and research now point towards employee engagement as a key contributor for organizational success. While there is a growing buzz surrounding this topic, companies, both big and small, are still struggling to understand engagement and how it can work for them. For many, they struggle with the grey areas regarding what drives it, how to foster it, and what procedures should be implemented to build this positive and productive workplace environment.
U.S. companies spent over $1 billion on employee engagement in 2017, with another $100 billion spent on career development and training. Despite this hefty investment, a recent Gallup poll revealed that only 5% of employees are highly engaged, believe their job is the right fit, and have spent more than ten years within the same organization. Overall, only 34% of the American workforce reports being engaged.
The question is fairly simple; What factors motivate people? What workplace strategies can be implemented to boost performance, employee loyalty, and productivity? While it’s true that the business world is in a constant state of evolution, there are a number of key factors that remain consistent. It is, therefore, the workplace leaders’ jobs to talk about it, take action, and adapt to evolve with the workforce.
Employee Engagement Starts at the Top
Data now points towards senior leadership as a top driver for employee engagement. Managers must lead by example. It is no longer enough to provide workers with training and send them to their desk to work. They must create a culture that is transparent. The organization’s goals and vision for the future should be clearly outlined. Each employee’s input towards this vision should be clarified, with strategic goals in place.
Transparency, however, is only part of the equation. It is critical that workplace leaders recognize employee engagement has a branching effect. To build it up, it must first be demonstrated. Workers should have access to the most effective workplace tools. Leaders must carefully consider prospective employees during the hiring process. Go beyond the individual’s professional experience and skills. Does this person possess the qualities necessary to enrich an engaged culture? Will he/she meld with the rest of the team? Are they driven to continuously learn and grow? How important is loyalty to them, both personally and professionally?
Trust is the Cornerstone of Engagement
A Deloitte study revealed that 62% of polled employees cite trust in leadership as their reason for remaining loyal to the organization. Conversely, 26% of those planning to leave pointed to lack of trust as the primary factor for their departure. Key stakeholders who maintain an open and honest line of communication with their employees lay the framework for an engaging environment. To lay this foundation, leaders must prove they are trustworthy through actions such as: asking for feedback and following through, communicating the enterprise’s mission, the vision, and values in an inspiring way, and direction and delegation.
Encourage Employee Feedback and Implement Ideas
Effective leaders recognize communication is a two-way street. Encouraging employee feedback and implementing their new ideas sends the message that the workforce is valued. Remember, they are on the frontline day in and day out. They are affected most by organizational processes and workplace tools. Just because something looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient way of doing things.
A sound communication plan begins with leadership. Managers must create a culture of transparency and consistency. Regular feedback, regarding employee performance, their contribution towards organizational goals, and what is expected of them moving forward, should be an integral part of an organization’s communication strategy.
Real Estate and Technology Define Workplace Culture
The more we learn about what drives our workforce, the more we’re understanding the impact technology and the workspace itself has on employee engagement. Enterprises are encouraged to utilize real estate to communicate the company brand while delivering a positive and productive environment. Office design, technological tools, and flexibility should be implemented with the workforce’s needs in mind. Careful consideration of employee health and wellness, values, and work preferences should be taken. When considering the workplace design and strategy, stakeholder input is critical. Data analysis will provide the big picture, offering insight into current design demands and forecasting future needs.
You don’t have to be Amazon or Google to create an engaging and productive workplace culture. Through communication, the right leadership, and effective business tools, every business can deliver a positive employee engagement experience. The effects will be far-reaching and prosperous, ensuring everyone comes out on top.