As the summer ends and everyone returns to the office (either in-person or virtually), it may take some effort to get your team’s mind off vacation and focused on the latter half of the year. But high employee engagement is vital to an organization’s bottom line. Studies show that engaged employees are 44% more productive. And not just more productive, more profitable. According to the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, happier employees worked faster and achieved 13% higher sales than their unhappy colleagues.
So, what is employee engagement and what strategies can you use to re-engage your team and get everyone looking ahead?
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is the relationship between the individual worker and their employer. Passionate, productive employees who are personally invested in the business’s overall mission and aligned with an organization’s values are typically highly engaged. Highly engaged individuals tend to be happier which yields better outcomes for an organization.
Here are four simple ways you can boost engagement with your team this fall!
Open the conversation and keep it going
According to findings from Gallup, the team leader or manager accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement. Furthermore, employees who received daily feedback from their managers were 3x more likely to be engaged than those who received feedback on a yearly basis or less. This means it’s crucial to ensure there are healthy and steady lines of communication among team leaders and employees.
However, you want to avoid micromanaging which can have an adverse effect. Forbes outlines some effective ways to avoid micromanaging while building trust which include delivering clear expectations, switching from executing to influencing, and keeping each of your individual employees’ uniqueness in mind.
Try weekly one-on-ones with your direct reports and keep in mind everyone's work style is different. Be available to those on your team and open to fresh ideas to make your team feel valued.
Provide the best, most practical office option. Try flexible hours or a hybrid office model.
Traditional offices and the conventional 9-5 working schedule were going out of style pre-pandemic, but if there was ever a time to re-examine how your office environment fits into the lives of everyone on your team it’s while many are feeling refreshed from summer breaks. A rigid, monotonous schedule or a long commute can leave anyone feeling burnt out, listless or disengaged from daily tasks. Especially as the price tag of living expenses continues to rise globally, eliminating extra costs – like gas and extra hours of childcare – can ease stress and improve motivation.
If your organization allows it, consider a hybrid work model. Many businesses worldwide have moved to this structure which allows either some or all their employees to work remotely some days and, in the office, others. Other hybrid models mix full-time remote with full-time on-site workers, voluntary in-office days for their entire staff or other arrangements. It’s important to find a model that works best for your individual business needs by opening an honest dialogue.
Additionally, not everyone can reach optimal focus at the same time every day. If it's conducive to your organization, consider having an earnest conversation with your team about their preferred schedule. Flexible schedules Many businesses have switched to fully remote or hybrid to better accommodate their teams’ varying lifestyles. Optimizing engagement might be as simple as considering everyone’s preferred office setup.
If you’re a team leader, one of the best ways to engage employees is to set clear expectations for each team member.
Gallup’s State of the American Manager report dives deeply into this topic, stating “that clarity of expectations is perhaps the most basic of employee needs and is vital to performance. Helping employees understand their responsibilities may seem like ‘Management 101,’ but employees need more than a written job description to fully grasp their role. They need to completely comprehend what they should be doing and how their work fits in with everyone else’s work — especially when circumstances change.”
Because employee engagement is heavily influenced by their managers and leaders, one of the best ways to re-engage workers this fall is to re-examine set expectations. Does every member of your team clearly know what’s expected of them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? Has this changed? This is the perfect time to re-evaluate and have conversations with your team members if needed.
Provide employees with the tools they need to succeed
Employees cannot be engaged unless they have all the tools they need to succeed. Along with one-on-ones, setting expectations and providing the best office solution for your team, you also need to consider the tools your team is using. Is everyone fully equipped to do their jobs in the most effective manner?
It’s a good time to take an audit of your employees’ existing tools to ensure everyone has what they need. Does your designer have the latest software? Is your assistant’s laptop on the fritz and it’s slowing him down on all his other tasks? The holidays and end of the year will be here before you know it, so take the time to look at your budget and evaluate what you can invest in now to deepen employee engagement.
One of the ways you can help employees feel engaged is to invest in tools that are specifically designed to boost team engagement. Decisions for Microsoft Teams enables users to run more productive and effective meetings, collaborate on meeting agendas and ideas with the entire team and organizes tasks assigned during the meeting. Not only does Decisions help set and manage expectations that come from meetings by its ability to assign tasks and due dates to team members, but you can also run your one-on-ones or team meetings using Decisions, which will add structure and enable more meaningful and actionable meetings and outcomes.
The bottom line?
It’s worth it to examine your organization’s engagement at an employee level. Increased engagement could mean higher profits, or at least not cut into your bottom line.
Overall, companies with higher levels of engagement saw a 22% increase in profitability for the entire business. On the flip side, unengaged workers will be lower performers, not produce as high quality or as much work and may increase the risk of costly turnover.
So, get your team engaged and happy this fall!