6 Best Practices for Employee Engagement

Creating best practices for a positive employee experience isn't something that happens overnight. It takes time for a business to instill its values and take on a holistic approach to employee engagement that creates a harmonious working environment. 

Factors such as people's role within a business {HR Exec vs CEO}, or even the age or size of the business will influence which of these best practices in employee engagement are most critical to the company at a given time. 

These 6 best practices for employee engagement will help you build an engaged workforce that drives productivity and increases revenue.

  1. Career Development 
  2. Mentorship 
  3. Communication & Feedback
  4. Social Wellbeing 
  5. Encourage progressive ideas 
  6. Reward success

Career development is vital for employee well-being at any stage of a company's growth. Unlike a salary, career development isn't a given at a company, so companies that go the extra mile to provide career development and employee mentorship opportunities, and promote those values through their online marketing and branding, have a competitive edge in recruiting new employees. 

How do you lay a path for career development? 

Method A - The classic ladder model.

 'Stay in this role for three years, Jessica, and you'll be where Jimmy is soon’. Old habits die hard, and sometimes, that's the way hierarchy works. Overtime if a high performing employee feels they can’t get promoted, they may leave or get complacent. 

It can also reduce morale. If people believe they have to move sideways into another role to move upwards then, due to a 'glass ceiling' being present (usually in the form of a long-serving employee), people can start to take a peek over the hedges and see if there is some greener grass just next-door! Or in Bermuda, with the 2022 nomad lifestyle right at your fingertips. 

So what other options are there for showing divergent career paths on the horizon?

Method B - Role creation

Businesses should constantly be innovating and evolving. They should always do what they do well and aim to do it as best as possible until it's no longer fruitful. Finding other avenues of growth potential that complement its current operations should always be priority number two. 

These projects are an excellent catalyst for role creation and creating renewed engagement in the direction of the business within the workforce. 

Here's an example. A marketing agency has a tremendous Think-Tank of fantastic writers. They have every type of writer, from technical and medical backgrounds to scripting, PR, and Branding. They've been selling their writing and brand guideline services globally, but they've hit a wall regarding their CAC and ability to constantly vet and hire more writers. 

An employee tables an idea that they should build a videography department within the company. Utilize their writing and branding skills and sell high-production value videos to big businesses. NYC possesses a market both for employee recruitment/product development and wealthy local companies willing to spend money on video marketing. 

Whether it's an employee with an eye for a role that you know the business needs or the CEO positioning to the board, a starting template {link to the template with article easy KD} on justifying a new department or role is vital. 

Someone seeking to create a new opportunity should seek to find inefficiencies they can eradicate or minimize. Whether that's improving the quality in production, support, and service, or reducing costs, all of these improvements have the potential to deliver more growth. These are called the mechanics of revenue {link to Matteo article} and great examples of creating new roles.

How do I encourage mentorship? 

Set up a top-down approach. As a CEO, leading from the front is a great start. Open workshop sessions can be based on anything from the 'technical aspects of the 'roles' within the business you know to more general business/finance practices that could be universally beneficial. Create other opportunities for senior leaders to lead workshops or bring team members together to attend events. 

If the burden of running programs or the growth of the business means that, over time, you need to step away from such duties, hiring an HR manager for a tech company can help manage and develop workshop programs and instill those best practices for employee engagement. 

An HR manager can utilize tools such as Together to build employee mentorship programs that streamline communications between mentors, mentees, and program leaders.

Feedback & Communication 

Qualitative and Quantitative data - what has the most weight 

Once a company becomes so large {think Ford, Apple, Amazon}, there is no feasible way anybody could expect the CEO to have any 1on1 knowledge about how every employee feels about their role within the business. 

Companies use tools such as OfficeVibe to collect quantitative data on regular occurrences. HR and leaders get a 'pulse' on company morale, notice trends, or identify departments that may be underperforming due to low morale. 

Quantitative data plays its part in aligning with company values and goals too. It's hard for a company to concentrate on helping one employee go from a 5 to a 7 in their quarterly morale score.  

That's where management comes in to help put in the personalized programs to ensure that the company goal of increasing employee morale is achieved collectively by improvements within specific departments such as Jen's.

Qualitative Data

Other tools, such as Small Improvements, extract more qualitative feedback, help coordinate one-on-ones and exit interviews, and enable employees to praise their peers, thus creating a positive workplace culture.

A more personalized CEO communication strategy would be for a CEO to take the initiative to collaborate on a project with employees. 

How feedback is collected can also impact the types of responses you receive. While digital platforms are great for collecting and recording the thoughts of employees, they can also be quite rigid or have leading questions that may not get to the real heart of what is troubling employee(s). 

1-on-1 lunches outside of the office can help a more natural conversation flow and lead to more ideas and discussion, not just statements. Spontaneous after-work activities to celebrate achievements can be a great way to get candid feedback and encourage activities that promote social-wellbeing within the team. 

Social Wellbeing 

Humans are social creatures. And if we are to spend X hours away from family, or worse, made to commute, then a workplace with a social environment helps fill that void. 

Not only that, but workforces with strong social bonds tend to perform at far greater levels than those without. Whilst it's unreasonable to expect everyone to be best buddies, a happy work environment can lead to improved performance. A study by Oxford University at British Telecom showed that more satisfied employees were 13% more productive than their less happy counterparts. 

But you've got a business to run and stuff to do! Conjuring up social activities for adults isn't your forte, but some simple office-based games can help remove the stiffness in the atmosphere. 

Also, some healthy competition never hurt anyone, which can be tied into future planned work-social events to get people pumped for 'this year's party.

Business is a competitive environment. Instilling a competitive mentality supported by teamwork in a less pressured environment helps the team pull together when the natural heat is on next time there is an impending product launch or a live event you're a little behind on.  

Encourage Innovation

Remember Blockbuster? Having now entered "in my days" idiom territory, Blockbuster was hyper-resistant to change. 

As new solutions for watching movies at home emerged, such as, 'mail and return' or the now here-to-stay 'streaming,' Blockbuster was always last to the party. Begrudgingly, turning up with a half-baked version of what somebody had spent years researching, developing, and scaling, with Blockbuster consequently wasting time and money, and getting less market share.

All businesses can be susceptible to a Blockbuster moment; sometimes, even following the herd can get you in trouble (think Lehman brothers), but both were guilty of complacency. 

As a senior leader, you might feel like you're about to wreak havoc once you open Pandora's box. This is why we've written an article on how to encourage innovation in the workplace and whilst maintaining focus on the business's immediate needs. 

Reward Success 

Identifying success - recognition 

Haribo's for everyone, and a plastic trophy! Unfortunately, these types of accolades only carry weight in the pee-wee league baseball regionals, and adults expect different kinds of rewards for great work, like cold-hard-cash and/or promotions. 

To reward success, you first have to be able to recognize it. Some types of exemplary employee performance are easier to monitor and measure; they even feel more tangible to the business. 

Sales is an example where if a Sales Representative delivers X above their goal for a prolonged period, the business feels the tangible impact of new revenue, and the knowledge of this performance increase can be seen amongst leaders and senior finance controllers - it is easier to recognize. 

Employees that reduce costs, improve efficiency, or improve product/service quality also need recognition, which is why employee KPIs and having the tools to measure them successfully is critical. But every department is different, and while there are universal employee KPIs, there are specific KPIs particular to IT Departments we've developed.

Types of Recognition 

Determining rewards based on output is entirely up to the business, but having a good grasp on the types of employee recognition available to a business can help create processes to ensure rewards are fair and that numerous successes should lead to good career development within the company. 

Also, recognition doesn't have to be methodical, just like the recommended spontaneous social outings; sometimes, an impromptu pat on the back can carry as much weight as winning the Gold Star employee award {recommended to not name your program as such}.

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