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Employee Engagement   | 8 Min Read

7 Insanely Actionable Strategies to Drive Employee Engagement

Written By Harsh Tripathy

Employee engagement is an agenda that keeps HR teams, and business owners awake most of the time. As factors crucial to organizational interest such as employee productivity and attrition directly depend on employee engagement, it’s important to carve an engagement plan to keep employees on track intricately and happy. Before you throw a party and think that to conform to employee engagement, let’s break the news. Most people think job satisfaction and employee engagement to be an exact replica, which isn’t the case. In fact, job satisfaction is only a subset of employee engagement. In actual terms, employee engagement is a measure of how well the personal goals of an employee are connected to their job oriented goals.

Consider this for an example: If people can relate business success to personal success, that’s positive employee engagement. However, if your employees work only for the sake of a paycheck and show little to no interest in business success and endeavors; it’s negative employee engagement. Even if your employees are doing good at their jobs, there is a likelihood of disengagement. Research firm Gallup claims that 68 percent of employees in the US find no sense of connecting in their current roles. Staggering, isn’t it? But don’t worry. Starting small can make a huge difference in striking a positive employee engagement in your organization, looking for a starting point? Keep reading.

Employee Engagement: Mini Steps for Mega Results

Employee engagement is omnipresent in an organization and isn’t restricted to the board rooms where everyone nods “Yes,” when asked about how their job is. If you want to create a culture of positive employee engagement, you have to strike the cords on a personal and emotional level. Only then, the results can translate into a positive workplace experience. That’s when true change happens as employees no longer feel chained to their job roles. Instead, they take pride in doing and declaring what they do without any qualms about it. Here’s what to do on an initial level:

1. Tickle their Funny Bone

“Laughter is the best medicine”

-Kim Kim

When I am bogged down under stress wrestling with a truckload of challenges, a laughter therapy helps me go alive again. Laughing your heart out shifts your focus from what’s bothering you at the moment while giving room to celebrate the “delightful moments.” Even if the laughter session allows a temporary escape, employees can regather the strength to battle the situation at hands. Conduct stand-up comedy sessions every once in a while to ensure your workforce get some quick jaw exercise that can also uplift their spirits. Apart from that, conduct activities that trigger the secretion of happy hormones or feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.

2. Invoke Job Satisfaction

Although job satisfaction in the US continues following an upward trend, it’s quite subjective when you ask employees. When I compared a job satisfaction survey versus inviting one-on-one responses at Mettl, I noticed a landslide difference in the nature of responses. After brainstorming the reasons for disparities in a weekly HR meeting,

I found that employees feel highly intimidated to disclose their concerns in-person as they fear a pay cut or worse, a pink slip.

So, instead of nagging employees to do something that isn’t in line with their areas of interest or expertise, be empathetic and ask a few questions like:

  • Do you need some kind of support in implementing this?
  • Are you comfortable leading the initiative?
  • What can all be done to ensure a role transition?
  • Can you suggest a comfortable timeline (not deadline) to achieve the targets?

Once you shift your instructions from “DO IT” to “LET’S DO IT,” employees get a sense of belonging that someone is there for the hand-holding and there’s cushion if something backfires. Aside from this, ask employees to volunteer for specific job roles rather than delegating them. Allegations such as “You don’t have the skills” and “You don’t have the qualifications” only add up to an employee’s emotional turmoil and depletes their mental health.

3. Offer Job Rotations

Nothing cripples employee morale than a sense of monotony. Consider the example of a door that allows entry and exit to a building:

A door opens and closes all day, but remains stagnant at its place at the end of the day.

Employees stop feeling the juice in their roles, count it meaningless and crave for a change even when their role continues adding value to the organization (Just like a door does. Imagine what happens if a fire breaks out and the door gets jammed)

There comes a time in the life of every employee when progress seems like taking a step backward. Just like I find a deep sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in heading Mettl and its operations; employees should also be able to find that connect in their regular deliverables. Rather than pushing employees for what they “SHOULD” do, ask what they “WOULD” do while considering a job rotation. Identify their strengths and leverage them for business success, for the mutual good.

4. Introduce Mental Health Counseling

Emotional sickness is avoiding reality at any cost. Emotional health is facing reality at any cost.

-M. Scott Peck

When employees juggle between personal and professional commitments, their mental health takes a backseat. Looming deadlines, endless discussions, and targets are only a few factors that contribute to poor mental health.

The depression epidemic has become widespread, as leading reports suggest complain about worsening mental health in India and every 2 out of 3 Americans have gone through a depressive episode in their life. Although it’s quite normal to feel anxious, stressed, or depressed at times; frequent bouts are a red flag and must be addressed on time. Conducting mental health workshops and employing mental health coaches is a step that can ease out the everyday frustrations that bog down your employees.

5. Breed Meaningful Connections

Workplace politics pulls down any organization as it creates a toxic culture where no employee grows or see a future. Most employees spend their tea breaks or leisure time cursing their workplace, cracking demeaning jokes on people in authority positions to reduce resentment. Many a time, when job dissatisfaction doesn’t exist, it’s propagated. Even Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, and Motivational Speaker quotes:

 

quote-you-are-the-average-of-five-people-you-spend-the-most-time-with

 

Now, imagine people bad mouthing your company policies, procedures, or work cultures as they usually do. And then, people who were all good a moment ago start replicating and walking on the same thoughts. Psychology suggests you list of five behavioral traits as dark personality traits that lead to a venomous work environment, thereby sabotaging the mental health of employees:

emotional-wellness-narcissism-machiavellianism-psychopathy

That said, your hiring decisions directly influence the emotional well-being of your employees. If you hire people exhibiting dark personality traits, your work culture can become toxic in no time. So, how can you avoid such a situation? Here’s a possible way:

Conduct In-Depth Personality Assessments Pre-Hiring

Rather than getting flabbergasted by education, experience, and charisma; recruiters must focus on the quality of answers and the body language. Don’t go for mundane questions such as,

  • Tell me something about yourself
  • Why should we hire you
  • Where do you see yourself after five years

Instead, ask questions to judge their response in real-life crisis situations such as:

  • What will you do if you fall short of resources and a $100 million deal is impending?
  • How would you react if you have to stretch for two straight shifts?

From every answer, try to get inferences to get an idea of whether the candidate is a suitable fit or not.

A Gentle Pat on the Back

Words of appreciation and motivation can go a long way in fostering a meaningful and tranquil work environment. For every win, whether small or large, appreciate across teams to instill a sense of accomplishment in the employee. Remember that self-esteem and the desire to be recognized as an integral part of Maslow’s Hierarchy Theory of Needs.

 

 

maslow-triangle-of-needs

 6. Encourage Effective Communication

Create a Channel to Voice Concerns and Opinions

As mentioned before, employees are quite reluctant in opening-up about their concerns. To counteract this problem, assign a “Wellness Guru” or “Personal Coach” for employees. Design a discreet portal assuring employees that their identity will remain anonymous with zero impact on their employment, no matter how grave the concern is. This way, you will be able to collect a large database of problems that keeps employees from achieving their desired emotional wellness and then,

Start fixing the problems in the background without making any noise. Once employees are comfortable, they would certainly reach out to their immediate supervisors with concerns. You must also assure your employees that you take their concerns seriously and not asking just for the sake of it. This approach takes time to deliver results, but it’s quite stable.

Fuel their Spiritual Journey

Sounds stupid, Right? But, every employee deserves their “ME” time, considering their contribution to your business. If you want to stay on top of your employees’ mental health, offer a 15-day leave to your employees every six or seven months. A brief period of disconnection can help them connect with their inner-self, perform some soul searching, and recharge their drained batteries. You can also conduct regular yoga and mindfulness sessions to help employees stay in the present, rather than obsessing over the past that’s gone or the future that’s about to come.

7. Create a Sense of Belonging

An employee should feel like home if you are to improve their mental health and foster a sense of belonging to their mind. For that to happen, give them the leeway to experiment. When I say leeway or leverage, it means that your employees must be able to decide:

  • Working hours (If not a shift bound process)
  • Location (remote working)
  • Projects directly serving their interests
  • Workspace (Couches, beanbags, Sit-Stand Desks)

Don’t encourage long-sitting hours as it can hamper them on both a physical or emotional level. Even a leading study also suggests that “Sitting is the New Smoking.” Just like family members do, throw surprises on their birthdays, marriage anniversaries, or work anniversaries to enhance the feeling of accomplishment. Until your employees find no difference between work and workplace, the odds of their mental health plummeting is quite low. Apart from these, you can also explore a few indirect avenues to improve the mental health of your employees:

Freedom to Experiment

Instead of saying, “We have been doing XYZ this way,” ask, “How can we do it better.” Invite people to come up with their unique take on challenges and ideas for better implementation. If you factor age and experience in this step, you might miss out on many suggestions that have the potential to transform your business. Create “Open to All” forums wherein people can contribute both raw and refined ideas and then, you can decide what all to keep and what to drop. Even Sir Albert Einstein quoted,

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So, invite a fresh perspective to enhance the sense of belonging in employees and watch their mental health improve by leaps and bounds.

A Mouthpiece for Ideas

Although it goes without saying, every big venture starts with an idea popping in your mind. Personally, I call it the “Entrepreneurial Employee Mindset,” a situation wherein an employee lives on the ground and shoots for the sky. Take an example of Google, Tesla, or Facebook; it all started with an idea and took shape later. And, the results don’t need a mention! You never know when someone suggests that Million Dollar Idea that pumps up your venture to scale new heights.

Let’s Hit the Road to Employee Engagement

Employees expect a continuous momentum in their lives to keep up the good work and continue meeting the organizational goals. Once they go through a phase of burnout, stagnation, or get an impression that they are doing nothing but trading their soul for dollars; they simply leave for better opportunities. And, it happens quite frequently with the millennials and the Gen Z workforce as they prefer freedom and emotional wellness over the economic perks that you offer. Start creating a workplace that matters for your employees, and that’s possible only with holistic changes in how well you meet employee expectations. The key is to start small and assess progress.

Topics: Employee Engagement

Originally published June 20 2019,updated June 29 2019

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