Yes, a company-wide scavenger hunt may get employees working together, whether in person or virtually. Yes, you may have received five-star reviews from employees in the past, who hurriedly filled out their feedback surveys after a team-building event so they could end their workday an hour early. And yes, some people genuinely enjoy company scavenger hunts or dance parties or game days.
The thing is, different times call for different measures, and we’re all living through different times right now. Some are finding it hard to stay focused, working from home as their kids play at their feet and a growing pile of laundry collects outside their office door, or missing the camaraderie of working next to an actual person. Those who have returned to the workplace might have a hard time adjusting after such a long while being at home, and then there’s the weight of worrying about keeping yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy.
It’s a lot for employees to deal with and a lot for employers to manage. It’s no wonder employee engagement has decreased over the last two years and landed at just 20% recently, according to a Gallup study.
Employees who are engaged in their work are happier and more productive. Their mental health improves, as does their job satisfaction and in turn, customer satisfaction.
Employee engagement also has a direct impact on employee retention, and retention impacts both your company culture and your bottom line. A Deloitte report found that the average cost to replace an employee is around $7,000, which adds up quickly if your company has high turnover.
That’s why it’s important to reach the other 80% of employees who are struggling to engage with their work. Traditional team-building activities will engage employees temporarily, but they don’t address the root of engagement—they merely scratch the surface. It takes meaningful and ongoing effort to create authentic employee engagement.
Here are five ways you can improve employee engagement for the long run, no cheesy games required:
1. Survey your employees
We’re not talking the kind of survey you hand your employees after a company-wide game of musical chairs, or whatever team-building activity is on the agenda. We’re talking about a survey that measures job satisfaction and pinpoints areas of concern. Surveys are the most accurate way to measure employee engagement, and if you’ve already taken steps to improve employee engagement, a survey will give honest feedback as to whether it’s working. If not, you’ll get an idea of what could be done differently.
2. Communicate clearly
Employees want to know what’s expected of them. A breakdown in communication can lead to the opposite—feelings of confusion, apathy and even resentment. Communication is especially important in a remote work situation, where employees don’t get the face time they would if they were in the same building. Transparency is extremely important to build trust, set expectations and show your employees you care. So do yourself, your employees, and your company a favour and keep lines of communication open, and you just might see those engagement rates rising.
3. Recruit a diverse workforce
The more diverse your workforce, the more diverse the ideas, opinions, and knowledge shared. Let applicants know that you are an equal-rights employer. Ensure hiring managers are aware of the benefits applicants of varying backgrounds can bring to the company to allow for a fair hiring process. What better way to build a team and foster engagement than to create a team that learns from the others within it?
4. Care about employee wellbeing
When employees are at their best, they give their best. Health benefits and an employee assistance program (EAP) go a long way to improving employees’ mental and physical health. Even compassion and understanding around sick days and family leave can make a world of difference. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution—doing what works for your employees and your company is better than a blanket policy any day.
5. Offer learning opportunities
Whether it’s a lunch-and-learn or a virtual event, learning opportunities give employees a chance to engage with each other and topics that interest them. It’s a more productive, and probably appreciated, use of their time than a team-building event that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
For our full list of non-cringeworthy ways to boost morale, download our Employee Engagement Checklist.