There are many ways HR can help to improve employee engagement within a business. Many of the strategies are low cost or free and will also improve productivity and employee happiness.
1) Internal networking
With so many social networks and tools available for free, there’s really no excuse for any business not to be utilising them.
Enabling better communication and collaboration will allow all employees to interact and work together as one team, rather than disparate groups of employees working towards their own goals.
A cohesive workforce will be more engaged with each other and business leaders, as well as being more productive, efficient and happy.
Being able to communicate with their colleagues and, in particular, those who are working on the same projects, is just as important to an employee as any other business tool provided by their employer.
With flexible working and telecommuting now a normal way of working for many people, communication and collaboration tools are now a necessity. Whether this be through an established social network, such as Facebook, or a tailor-made internal tool such as CIPHR Net.
Remote teams are reliant upon the tools provided by the business to allow them access to materials and people who will get the task done.
With 24 hour access to such tools, those employees who work flexible hours can always be in touch with the business from wherever they are and at whatever time they’re working, increasing productivity and efficiency.
2) Organise social events
Whether it’s a BBQ, day trip or dinner, organising social events where employees can get to know one another outside of work is great to help people learn more about each other.
Employees who are familiar with their colleagues are more likely to approach others for their assistance or opinion, and also provide their own in an open and honest way.
Social events will strengthen bonds between employees and bring teams even closer than they may already be, as well as helping to reduce stress among the workforce, improving wellness and potentially reducing absence and its associated costs as a result.
Another great reason to organise social events is that some employees may attend who would otherwise have never tried that activity. Exposing individuals to new experiences will encourage discussion and interaction.
Business leaders who are seen to actively encourage social gatherings (and attend these events themselves) will improve their personal brand, as well as the overall employer brand, and be seen to care about and interact with all employees. This is great for talent attraction and social interaction online.
3) Wellness schemes
Wellness programs allow a business to take care of its employees in any number of ways, from gym membership to rewarding car sharing or riding a bike to work. Not only is offering these types of benefits great for your employer brand and engagement, it’s also commercially beneficial too.
Below is an excerpt from PriceWaterhouseCoopers “Building the case for wellness” Executive Summary:
“Workplace wellness makes commercial sense.
Workplace wellness makes commercial sense. Evidence from a review of the available literature and case studies provided by the Health Work Wellbeing Executive supports the idea that wellness programs have a positive impact on intermediate and bottom-line benefits. The intermediate business benefits that the firms in the 55 UK case studies reviewed directly or indirectly linked to their wellness programmes, and the number of reporting organisations making these links are illustrated in the figure to the right.
The available literature suggests that programme costs can quickly be translated into financial benefits, either through cost savings or additional revenue generation, as a consequence of the improvement in a wide range of intermediate business measures.
Quantifiable and significant financial consequences of organisations’ wellness interventions were made available in a number of cases. Most of the financial benefits take the form of cost savings rather than increased income or revenue flows.”
If such schemes can provide commercial benefits, as well as improved employee engagement, then they’re worth investing time and money into.
By showing that you’re investing in your employee’s health and wellness, you’ll earn respect and engagement from those employees who take advantage of your schemes. Those who may not immediately be interested may well be encouraged by their colleagues, increasing engagement and wellbeing within the workforce at the same time.
One reason certain individuals (or even departments) may not be engaged could be a lack of understanding as to what the other does and their role within the business.
Encouraging clarity and transparency from every team in the business as to what they’re working on, what challenges they face and their achievements will give a greater internal understanding as well as more communication and interaction.
Regular updates from different areas of the business will improve awareness and also allow questions and suggestions to flow between departments and the individuals within them.
Opinions on new product ideas can be asked for, HR can let employees know of the latest initiatives and individuals can be acknowledged for their achievements.
5) Celebrate every new starter to encourage engagement
Encouraging a culture of engagement and interaction early is key to embedding it within your employee base. Your onboarding process should be all about engagement and making the new starter feel very welcome.
If your onboarding process encourages feedback and interaction from the very beginning, then engagement will become natural to the culture throughout the business, as more and more new starters join. The general mentality of these newer staff will also have a positive effect on those employees who may have been with the business for a longer period and help them to adopt the new values.
New employees should be encouraged to interact with department leaders to gain an understanding of their roles. This will make them more at ease when approaching different areas of the business for support.
Social events can be publicised as part of the culture during the process (and before using social media to engage with passive candidates) and new employees encouraged to attend to get to know their colleagues and peers in a relaxed environment.
6) Culture of acknowledgement
As mentioned previously, one benefit of an internal social network is transparency, and it can also be used to acknowledge employees for a job well done. Creating a culture where individuals know that they’re respected and appreciated will encourage them to give 100% and be happy in the knowledge that their achievements won’t go unnoticed.
Holding honest and open discussions with the entire workforce about key business challenges or strategies will allow everyone to have their say and encourage your employees to give their opinion. The people on the ‘shop floor’ have the experience to know what works and what doesn’t, tapping into this is great for the business strategy as well as engagement.
Be seen to act on advice from employees; the knowledge that the business listened and did something will not only encourage people to provide feedback in the future, but they’ll be happier with the actions being taken.
This in turn will improve employee productivity and engagement.
7) Enable employees
Simply allowing employees to engage with each other may sound like an obvious strategy, but unless they’re aware of, and educated about, the various ways in which they can interact with their colleagues and the business, engagement will plateau. Introducing new communication and collaboration tools is a project that should not be taken lightly, certain steps should be followed.
Whichever option you choose from the above list or whatever you find on the internet, make sure you tell your employees about it. Promote new schemes and the benefits they bring. Share tips and tricks about the new company social network.