Beyond Checking a Box: How to Create a Real Employee Engagement Program

May 11, 2016

There is a direct link between employee engagement and organizational performance. Highly engaged employees are vital to creating a quality customer experience and, thus, contribute directly to your company’s success. Engaged employees love what they do and are enthusiastic and inspired by their work.  Engaged employees add value, inspiration and enthusiasm, which is contagious to the organization, customers and community. Positivity and creative thinking are a way of life for engaged employees.

More than checking a box on a to-do list
Employee engagement must be more than something you do once and then write it off. If organizations want to retain talent, grow and succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace, then engagement must be an active, ongoing system. If your company approaches employee engagement as a box to check off a to-do list, you are limiting engagement to a one-time measurement, rather than an opportunity for continuous growth and development.

Start with looking in the mirror
Organizations that want to move beyond “checking a box” to having a highly engaged workforce start by looking inward for feedback that they can use to create a plan to keep their workforce engaged. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What words best describe who we are as an organization? How do we differentiate ourselves from the competition?
  • How are results and goals achieved and measured?
  • Where is the company heading in the next 10 years? 15 years? Beyond?
  • What is our strategy for moving forward?
  • What do I need from my employees to make all this happen?
  • What do my employees need from me in order to be successful?

The answers to these questions will provide a clear purpose for your employee engagement program and a framework for how to move forward. Organizations that have successfully sustained and improved employee engagement have focused on what drives the desired behaviors of their employees.  They then are more easily able to transform the organization through their employees. 

Take the pulse of your workforce
Before your employee engagement program is implemented – and at regular intervals (quarterly or yearly, for instance), you should survey your employees to assure yourself that your employee engagement plan is on track. Make certain your survey questions are designed to solicit meaningful and useful feedback. Ask open-ended questions and encourage employees to respond thoroughly. Keeping the survey confidential (tools such as Survey Monkey allow you to do this easily), will help in soliciting honest feedback. 

Additionally, it is important, as part of employee engagement, to report back to employees on the findings of the survey – including what is and isn’t working in your current engagement program. It is also important that the company makes moves to change what isn’t working – or at least explain to employees why their suggestions may not be implemented. Employees need to know their feedback is valued and that leadership is listening if they are to stay engaged with your organization. 

Organizations that actively seek and act on impactful feedback from employees on an ongoing basis tend to rise above their competition. Highly engaged employees tend to believe they have the power to  positively impact their company. When employees know they can have a positive effect, they tend to want to stick around longer and do better work.

In addition, employees should know they are welcome to give their thoughts and suggestions on your engagement program throughout the year. Ask for volunteers to form an an employee engagement committee or nominate a point person to collect ongoing feedback is a great idea for keeping everyone involved.

Opportunity equals engagement
Successful engagement programs create opportunities for employees to learn and grow.  An engaged workforce has access to at least a few of the following:

  • A budget for professional development, including classes, conferences and continuing education.
  • Training in areas of the company outside of their immediate discipline.
  • Projects that challenge them professionally.
  • Mentorship opportunities from more experienced professionals within the company.
  • The ability to contribute directly to company goals and strategy – and to see how their contributions affect the organization.

How to know when your engagement program is working
Employees who feel they can make a difference, trust their leaders and have confidence in the abilities of themselves and others tend to be engaged.  The bottom line is that engaged employees are committed to success. Much like The Three Musketeers, an engaged workforce is a culture of all for one and one for all. Creating a successful employee engagement program means creating a culture that aligns people with your organizational priorities and your human capital strategy. It means not just looking at employee engagement once a year but implementing the impactful changes your employees want to see that drive their desired behavior and create a job they love.

TriNet clients have access to HR experts who can answer questions about creating an employee engagement program for their business. 
 
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

This post may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties other than TriNet. Such hyperlinks are provided for reference only. TriNet does not control such web sites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of such hyperlinks on TriNet.com does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or association with their operators.

By Darby Starnes

Darby Starnes is a learning program manager at TriNet.

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