Every business leader wants to make 2023 a year to remember for the right reasons. A good first step is to prioritize employee engagement. Since 2020, workers have reported feeling less connected to their companies. Now is the perfect time to focus on re-engaging them.
Just how low has engagement become? Over the years, Gallup has become a go-to source for quantifying engagement rates. As of early 2022, Gallup’s researchers said engagement was around 32%. In other words, approximately two out of every three team members feel disengaged. That’s bad for any organization trying to retain top talent and remain competitive.
As you might suspect, building engagement doesn’t happen overnight. However, it can happen at your company — even if you’re unable to hand out big raises this year. According to Gallup, employees don’t necessarily disengage because of their salaries. What makes most employees untether is not having access to needed resources, not being supported to do their best work, and feeling no connection with their brand’s purpose.
Given these insights, you may want to try the following strategies to boost engagement levels at your business.
1. Keep your tech stack strong.
Working without the right tools is more than just repetitive and slow. It’s frustrating, especially for employees who know there are better systems and solutions on the market. Unless your tech stack is top-shelf, consider investing in software or third-party partners that will help your team collaborate and work more seamlessly.
Where should you begin? Trey Campbell, CEO of OneSource Virtual, suggests asking employees what they need. Campbell explains that you can only help if you understand your workers’ tasks. By giving them necessary resources, you enable them to showcase their best abilities.
“Without fit-for-purpose technologies and well-defined business processes, it’s hard for employees to find meaning in their day-to-day, particularly if they have a task-oriented role,” says Campbell. “Technologies have made a real difference in eliminating tactical and repeatable process work that is frankly boring and rife with the potential for errors.”
Once you’ve gathered information, you can look for the right outsourced or co-sourced tech options. To make sure you get early buy-in, keep employees in the loop. The more involved they are from the beginning, the more likely they’ll be to use and appreciate the tech you bring to the table.
2. Hit “refresh” on your office spaces.
Unless your workforce is fully remote, you probably have employees working at the office at least part of the time. The layout that worked a few years ago probably isn’t going to inspire people like it did in the past. This may mean a complete design overhaul or at least a few thoughtful upgrades.
Kate Heinz, product marketing manager for Built In, writes about the role that office space plays in engagement. She points out that cubicles decrease the ability for colleagues to freely share ideas and communicate. Explains Heinz, “Siloing employees doesn’t quite allow for communication or collaboration, two important factors of business success. Rework your floor plan to encourage more cross-communication between employees.”
Are you worried that you can’t afford to pay for new furnishings? Once again, bring your workers into the mix. Ask for their creative ideas. They may come up with some budget-conscious concepts that help them stay connected to their coworkers that you would never have considered.
3. Spread some empowerment.
It can be hard to engage with work when you never get the chance to try anything out of the ordinary. High performers crave challenges. If you’re not accustomed to empowering your team members to push beyond their comfort zones, make 2023 the year you start.
Wendy Fong, founder of Chief Gigs, recommends that managers and executives look for ways to give employees a chance to shine.
“Just as we want our employees to provide us with feedback on how the company can improve, we need to do the same for them,” advises Fong. “Is a new project starting up that will give them visibility into an area they have not yet mastered? Many employees view lateral moves that provide them with experience as valuable career growth.”
A secondary benefit to encouraging employees to jump into the deep end occasionally is that you may spot some talent you weren’t aware of. For instance, you might realize that a worker is supervisor material or could be an asset in a different department.
4. Pick your leaders with care.
There’s an old saying that many people who make it to the top don’t belong there. Sadly, everyone has had “that boss.” Unless you’re 100% sure that none of your leaders are undermining engagement, consider their performance.
As Gallup notes, strong, unselfish, coachable managers can be hard to find. And even if you have some terrific people in supervisory positions, you still need to train them. In fact, you may want to set up a whole system of management that works for your organization. That way, you can be sure that expectations for your leaders are explicitly set from the start.
An example of this might be to ask all managers to follow the same one-on-one meeting cadence with the people under them. These one-on-one meetings may even have a specific format to ensure that your entire company works purposefully. Having all managers operating from the same playbook lessens the chance of a “rogue boss” who undermines the engaged culture you’re trying to build.
Every year is a chance for corporate reinvention. Whether 2022 has been one for the record books or one to file away under the “good riddance” category, you have the opportunity to do great things in 2023. First, you need great people to help your brand come out on top.