Imagine yourself playing a mobile game that you absolutely love.

You are just about to level up when your phone rings.

Do you take the call? Or…

Simply ignore the call and continue with the game, focussing on gaining that last power-up required to top the charts?

Why is the phone call (that may be important) suddenly not important enough to stop you mid-way like you do while working on something uninteresting and divert your attention?

It’s because you are engaged in the mobile game.

This engagement is what all organizations are trying so desperately to achieve in their workplace. With Generation Y fast approaching the frontline of the workforce, it’s time to understand what makes them tick and outperform in their work. How to keep them engaged and cash in on their advanced multi-tasking abilities?

recent survey by Gallup indicates that 60% of the millennials are open to new job opportunities, thus making them less loyal to organizations and biased towards the quality of work content.

Now more than ever before in the history of organized employment, employee engagement has become so critical that it has caught the attention of CEOs worldwide.

They believe Employee Engagement is the core driver behind employee-satisfaction, and hence, retention.

So, how do we keep employees from abandoning the ship or shifting decks?

Thankfully, there are proven strategies to keep employees engaged and make them willing contributors for the overall objective of a company.

At the end of this guide, you will get the Top 5 strategies that you can implement to achieve employee engagement & what’s more – these are absolutely FREE !!! So, without much ado, let’s jump in.

What is Employment Engagement?

Wikipedia defines employee engagement as a fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees.

Difficult to comprehend and makes you want to leave this topic for the next day, right?

Well, read this before taking a decision. Employee engagement is simply the emotional commitment the employee feels towards the organization and its goals.

In other words, the personal involvement that makes work matter to the employee.

How is Engagement different from Employee Satisfaction?

Did you know according to a survey by the Society of Human Resources, more than 85% of the employees are satisfied with their work but their engagement is at moderate levels?

On a scale to 1 to 10, the average engagement is 3.8 compared to an all-time high in job satisfaction.

While the terms satisfaction and employment are used synonymously, but are, however, very different. It’s true that all engaged employees are happy, but all happy employees are not engaged. The difference between the two lies in their performance. The paradoxical numbers can prove to be a nightmare for any manager, but don’t worry at the end of this guide I will help you with five strategies to not only achieve employee engagement but ensure that it lasts.

So, what is the difference between the two?

Think about an employee who ticks the box very satisfied in the survey, he is the employee who comes in late, takes an additional hour off for lunch, completes half his targets, takes the full paycheck and exhausts all his paid leaves. He is a very happy employee but is he engaged?

Well no, he isn’t an engaged employee for his efforts and performance are not leading to any advancement in the company. The efforts of an engaged employee go beyond the mere contentedness of their job, their objective is to help with the advancement of the company. The two concepts are related, as employee satisfaction provides the basis for employee engagement to come about. Satisfaction in the job can be viewed as the minimum entry ticket requirements to achieve engagement. The survey suggests that the top contributors to achieving satisfied employees are benefits provided and the treatment received, however, the ones contributing to engagement are opportunities to use skills and relationship with co-workers.

Why is Employee Engagement important?

All conversations have highlighted the concept of engagement and what it means to the employee. But why is it so central for an organization to engage the employees?

Undoubtedly engaged employees are an asset to the company. For, highly engaged employees are:

  • More customer-centric, creative with their work and take less time off sick;
  • Inclined towards the realization of future goals and put in greater efforts for achieving them;
  • Inspired to do their best, and this motivation helps fulfill objectives and reach goals.

These characteristics definitely help create a workforce, full of happy and productive people. What does this engaged workforce then contribute to the company?

Employee engagement helps you minimize speed brakes on your drive to succeed. They may contribute as score boosters and power-ups in the following ways:

  • Loyalty Booster:

A thriving environment with a vibrant culture, enthusiastic and involved employees is more likely to retain people. Creating a workspace unique to your company culture will make employees want to spend their time there. Low engagement and turnover have been proven to be correlated time and again.

  • An energy drink for better performance:

Employee engagement can be seen as a power booster fuel for the engine of the company. Engagement affects every person inside your organization, and their individual performance affects the productivity of your organization. Research establishes a link between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee engagement.

  • Ultimate power-up for success:

The passion of employees about their work builds a company’s reputation. This passion comes from the feeling of engagement they feel. It serves as a proof for the new talent joining the company that they will be respected and valued. It also reflects that the team of managers and culture of the company.

So, now you know, employee engagement is not just a trend, it’s the building blocks required to run a great business.

Why Should you Measure Employee Engagement?

It’s already established that happy and engaged employees lead to higher productivity. A study by Wyatt Watson found that companies that have highly engaged employees produce 26% higher revenue per employee. But what does highly engaged or disengaged mean? How are these levels defined? Why is the definition of these levels important? Why isn’t it enough to just ask your employee if he is engaged or not?

No, because by committing to measure and improve engagement, you’re showing employees that you are truly concerned.It shows that you are making efforts to ensure their well being.

Measurement is the first step of the ladder to reach employee engagement. You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. Measuring engagement and understanding the levels will help you analyze the factors working in favor or against your efforts to achieve happy and invested employees.

The surveys and methods utilized to measure employee engagement highlights and bring to limelight the human side of the organizations. This is a reason why it has become an essential part of a manager’s toolkit. It allows drawing insights into the employee’s head, the same people who create the magic inside any company.

With this is the detailed breakdown of data in terms of division, location, manager, or team will enable to remove hurdles causing a slowdown in performances of employees and identify drivers of employee engagement.

What are the Ways to Measure Employee Engagement?

1. Absenteeism and Turnover:

A student who likes attending school has good attendance records and better grades. The attendance percentage and overall performance are directly related to his involvement in school.

Unsurprisingly, the same hold trues for employee engagement. A study suggests that you should aim for 10% or lower for employee turnover.

2. Pulse surveys:

As the name suggests, pulse surveys are quick surveys designed to understand the health of the company. It’s super easy to administer and score. The number of questions ranges from 5-10, asking employees about how they feel working in the company. The frequency of the survey should depend on the effectiveness of the company to act on the feedback gathered.

3. One on One Discussions:

One on one meetings is a great way to foster better employer-employee relations. It proves as a great measure for measuring employee engagement. For these meetings are safe and more details. Allowing you to get a real sense of what’s going on with them. The key is to remove fear so that the employees can open up. This step by step guide will help you crack the code.

4. eNPS

eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) is a snapshot of employee loyalty and engagement within their company. By asking a simple question “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely is it that you would recommend this company as a place to work?” you are able to classify employees. The ones who score, 9-10 are “Ambassadors”, 7-8 are “Passives” and 0-6 are “Detractors”.

5. Stay Interviews:

It’s important to know what you can do to improve employee engagement, but it’s equally helpful to know what you’re already doing correctly. Conduct interviews with your already engaged employees, to answer the question of why they stay? Exit interviews are great to collect formal feedback, but it is too late for you to do anything for the outgoing employee. On the other hand, having a casual conversation to understand the motivation of your employees helps.

Employee Engagement Myths

You read a dozen articles, came up with numerous strategies to try, but still, you calculate that the employee engagement in your office has not increased?

Nothing can be more frustrating than not achieving desired results.

So what did you do wrong? Maybe nothing or everything

The myths of employee engagement are a common reason why Managers despite all efforts, and researchers cannot crack the code to employee engagement.

Here, are pins of myths to break your bubble:

1) Providing space flexibility to employees improves engagement:

While providing opportunities to employees to work from home on their discretion, may benefit them for a short time. Ultimately, this leisure backfires as they are not connected with the day to day activities with the company. It sure does avoid hassles of traffic, and neat code, it also results in missed opportunities and low motivation. Research shows that remote workers with flex time schedules receive less coaching and mentoring. This results in less institutional knowledge and in turn, low productivity.

2) Money equals Engagement:

Money is a strong incentive for people to work, but it is not the only initiative. Also, it should be understood that fair and equal pay is not a bonus, but a necessity to maintain good work culture. For years, managers have tried to increase the economic incentives to solve problems of retention and engagement. But, this may work for a handful of people. Most organizations are finding that employees are looking for more than just good pay for their jobs.

For people want a workplace which rewards them in terms of more educational opportunities, challenging projects, and a sense that their career path is growing.

3) Providing Freedom to Employees is a necessity:

“With great freedom, comes great responsibility”. This dialogue, from Spider-man, holds true. It’s true that some amount of space should be given to each employee, to showcase their individual strengths and innovations in their work, but complete hands-off management will leave them directionless, and prove to be de-motivators.

Also, it should be realized that not everyone prefers autonomy. For some employees it may turn out to be a true benefit, for some a nightmare, making them feel that their work is a burden. Um, confused?

Well, it’s simple, get to know your employees, and what works for them before you decide to give them complete freedom.

4) Assuming a Job is just Work:

I have already emphasized the importance of value creation and personal growth the Millennials are looking for in their jobs today. An employee spends around 10-12 hours of his 24 hours daily in office, if he feels it’s just a job he will never evolve. This feeling of stagnation is the worst nightmare of the workforce today. The work has to add meaning and purpose to their lives. This is the mantra which should be followed by engaging employees.

5) Limiting the positions and roles for employees:

It’s absolutely true, that the employees should know their roles and duties for better connection and productivity. But, if this job profile stays the same and doesn’t get any additions, in the long run, their performance will start going down. Imagine you go to the gym daily and do the same set of exercises for more than a year, your body will eventually stop transforming because it is used to the work given to it. The same happens with the employees

When employees feel that a company is invested in their growth, they are more committed to their role and more connected to how they impact the success of the company.

6) Too much emphasis on the Company’s Brand:

The final bubble which I want to pop is that a brand name is not enough to keep and engage employees. Sure, if tomorrow you go and purchase a Jimmy Choo heel, you will be inclined to use it or gift it to your partner. But, imagine, if the leather chips off? Or the heels break?

Will you still continue buying from Jimmy Choo? Well, I hope not.

It’s essential for the brand to live up to its name, ALL the time. Otherwise, employees will shift loyalty. After all, employees are your first customers.

A well thought out, employee engagement program considers the individual strengths and weaknesses of the employees, tries to customize work assignment accordingly and build the employee’s career while building their Company’s castle of dreams.

What can Start-ups do to Achieve Employee Engagement?

Let’s be honest, hiring an HR professional may not be a top priority now. It may seem like hiring a maintenance crew when the rocket is not ready to launch. Developers, marketers, and coders are the ones getting the appointment letters as of now.

But at the same time, you are aware of the importance of a driven team, and its ability to make or break your hot business idea.

You may be falling short or funds to spend on employee relations now, but you know you need to convince your talented crew to work at their best possible front.

Fuelling them becomes all the more important, because of their lower salary and uncertainty of the company’s future. It will be easier in the initial months, for they share your vision, but the challenge will be to keep this flame from burning out.

So, What can you do?

Here is a list you can choose from:

Build Your Team

The priority is to make your employees feel they belong. In order to achieve this, building teams are the foremost thing to do. Encourage teams to have their own values, assign group projects and take those team photos.

Make Work Fun

Create an environment, where employees can use work and fun in the same sentence. Have board games stacked up in the canteen so that people can bond over those Taboo words, and Poker faces?

Another fun way would be to have theme office days. For instance, have a pot-luck luncheon at your office once a month.

Celebrate All-Big and Small Achievements

Recognition is one of the primary driving forces of employee engagement. Recognize efforts of your employees and acknowledge them. Address these achievements in your morning meetings, make them feel like they are making a difference. Or, have a green board put up so that these efforts can be rewarded.

Make Your Office More Quirky

Nothing can be more demotivating than seeing old office spaces, with no color around. Add color to your office space. It can be small changes like colored coffee mugs instead of the boring white ones. Or, simply adding colored post-its and papers for jotting down discussion points.

Give Your Employees Space

Expecting employees to give you all their time is unrealistic. Make sure you encourage their individualities and support them to work on their personal projects and hobbies. This makes them feel cared for. Another great way to create a win-win situation would be to make employees discuss their personal projects with others. This will help them discuss new ideas, which may benefit them to brainstorm ideas for your company.

Ensure, however, that these ideas are implemented in addition to work done. It cannot only be about coming to the office to win a round of your favorite game. A balance has to be struck between duty and fun to keep them engaged.

5 Key Employee Engagement Strategies to implement today?

Without much further Ado let me share with you the five strategies you can use. What’s the bonus, you must be wondering, these are cost-free.

#1) Be the No.1 Fan of Your Company

You may already feel you’re one, if you do, you are halfway there. The next step is to know how to show it.

Let your excitement be contagious so that people catch on with it. Whether you are the sole member or a team of co-founders. You have got to promote your company and skyrocket your idea to your employees in your own unique way.

When you do this, however, keep your expectations a reality. It’s not possible to make your employees feel the same amount of drive you feel towards your company. View it like having a baby, you feel the need to obsess over it because it is yours, others will find it adorable and attaching but can never reach your pedestal. The key here is to find people, who already feel 50-60% attached to your company so that you can cultivate that to a 70-80%.

Here are a couple ways which you can try:

  • Do-Not Micromanage but Do get Actively Involved:

The idea is to show you care and are there to offer inputs when needed. Take time out and find what’s motivating your employees to work, and why they perform better in one task and not the other. If you think it is too time-consuming, let me assure you it is worth it.

  • Don’t Flatter but Do Compliment:

The best way to make an employee recognized is to notice their efforts and boost it by appreciating them. You could install an Employee Shout-Out board, to track their big and small achievements. But do ensure you don’t over-do to an extent that the employees don’t feel the need to improve.

  • Don’t nit-pick but Do Assess Critically:

Reiterate your position as a leader, by focusing on team building, don’t be a bully or an annoying professor, who finds flaws for the sake of it. Do critically evaluate business meetings and ventures, encouraging inputs from all employees along with suggestions.

You may think of a dozen criticisms while the presentation is on, but hold on to it, structure your feedback and deliver it in a holistic manner. This makes the employees feel that you listen and are not trying to undermine their efforts.

#2) Have Fun with Your Employees

Don’t be the boring boss, who pushes employees into activities where they attend a seminar half-asleep. Be the fun boss, who caters to their interests and well-being.

How do you know but what your employees want?

Simple, ask them.

Arrange activities according to their interests and not your own.

A tip: Be impulsive, don’t make it a Friday evening ritual.

Find fun activities which all your employees will love, how about a game of poker over lunch? Or maybe plan a day-out to the gaming centers?

Team up and build teams in the process.

Regardless of what activity you choose, ensure that a good engagement will take place, if:

  • It appeals to employees interests
  • It makes employees interact with each other
  • It’s sheer fun and not a sugar-coated way to make them work.

#3) Don’t be a Hero, Do Delegate

It’s important for you to be in contact with the development and happenings of your baby’s life, but it’s equally important for to you to pick the right person and delegate the responsibility. The people you hire should be mature to handle situations of conflicts and crisis.

Hence, for this having the morning meeting, I spoke about earlier may prove to be the most noteworthy of approaches.

Afterall, you only have two hands.

#4) Don’t Pamper, Do Care

It’s emphasized again and again to treat employees as people first, but go a step ahead and treat them as your own people. Remember their birthdays, give them sick leaves, add bonuses if they impress you. These small things and efforts go a long way to make your employee feel social and cared for.

Another strategy would be to celebrate cultural festivals and give them small gift hampers. This will not show your cultural intelligence, but also create a culturally competent environment.

#5) Don’t Be Greedy, Do Share the Limelight

Who doesn’t like being recognized for their efforts?

Being a manager and the driver of your company engine, it’s up to you to make sure everyone gets their chance to be on stage and feel indispensable. Small rewards will create huge impacts. Put in place a reward system for “employee-of-the-month”, you could award this individual with a small trophy or medal to commemorate his success. Or, ensuring a fair system where hard workers are identified and promoted will also help motivate others to perform.

Employee Engagement Trends to look out in 2019

Being trendy is synonymous with being up to date and informed about the world around. So, what is the talk of the town on employee engagement? What new strategies have been brought to light? And more importantly, which ones have become outdated?

Spotlight on Career Paths

Not having a clear career path, makes employees apprehensive about their growth and like I mentioned, stagnation is a nightmare. Companies are finding out that the workforce which senses that there are no more opportunities to grow in the company are more likely to leave.

Focusing on this line of thought this year can help you not only retain, but create a symbiotic situation for both your company and your employee.

Make an effort to talk to employees about their dream careers? Their dream work-spaces? And accordingly, facilitate whatever opportunity you can.

Old Is Gold

Research suggests that re-engaging old employees is 25% cheaper than to create new engaged employees. What’s more? The old employees are experienced and are already an asset to your company. It’s equivalent, to rediscovering your old savings account and finding that you have a bonus interest payment from your bank.

The older employees with their expertise can make excellent mentors and role models for other employees. With the new age realization of investing in one’s health, this year rediscovering the magic of old is gold, can help create value for your company.

Balance of Work-Life

I know it’s not a new concept- then why is it a trend?

It’s rediscovering its importance, not in form of table tennis tables, and break rooms, but in form of actually incentivizing work-life. More and more employees want the flexibility of working from their area of comfort, to not be too engrossed in work, and to catch up with their lives outside the office.

And a new trend of applying for consultancy jobs or freelancing is to achieve this flexibility. The Millennial, I guess, want to be in control of their time and life always.

The Burial of Annual Surveys

Being more engaged requires effective and regular communication. In this year, where people turn to new fads and influences every day relying on one annual survey, will not break any deals. Another factor adding to the death of these surveys is that with social media, employees are more involved in each other’s lives, and the need to fill out a formal survey just for the sake of an H activity, let’s face it, is not appealing nor honest.

Talking about feelings of employees in one to one meetings, and collecting constant feedback in a non-judgemental culture, is the way to move forward.

So get your pulse surveys in place, and purchase more open signs for your CEO’s office!

What did you learn? Summing it up

So, that’s it. Now, you know the ABC’s of Employee Engagement.

Engagement is more than Satisfaction-Measure employee engagement to improve it-Use your Office Space cleverly-Balance it out in payments-Take care of your employees-Identify Inspiring Leader-Learning from the giants can never go wrong-Knowing is not enough-Act on it!

You can start by selecting small ideas, and see their effect on your employees. Make sure you measure before you draw conclusions. Ask your employees what they want, and start working with them!

Let us know if you have innovative strategies for engaging your employees, and how you came up with the ideas?

Originally published at GroSum.