Engaged Employees: What are Other Companies Doing?

Have you seen the latest Gallup poll on employee engagement? The overall statistic in their findings is staggering – 70% of US workers are actively disengaged in their jobs. This means that employees may be showing up for work but aren’t feeling compelled to give 100% to their employers because they don’t feel their employers are giving 100% to them. For example, Gallup reports that–in any workplace–the top 25% of teams engaged in their work, versus the bottom 25% have nearly 50% fewer accidents and 41% fewer quality defects.

How are the “most engaged” employers engaging their teams?

There are many companies that have implemented engagement programs that work. Here are a few examples and tips for creating an effective engagement program in your organization:

  • Actively engaged employers pay attention to their employee healthcare needs. They think through the benefit plans that are most applicable to their internal demographic and worry less about industry standards or competitive offerings down the street. While it's important to know the competitive landscape, it shouldn’t be the primary decision driver on what is offered. Teams in the top 25% versus the bottom 25% incur far less in healthcare costs-just another reason to ensure your benefit plan is working for you.
  • Actively engaged employers pay attention to work-life balance. A study recently profiled in Inc. magazine reported that the #1 reason employees are leaving their organizations is due to lack of work-life balance. What does balance mean in your organization? In some organizations, people are still working long hours but know they have the flexibility to control when they work. Flexibility allows them to attend their kids’ school functions, attend to personal matters, or volunteer, without their employer penalizing them for not being at their desk. The concept of work-life balance may differ among employers and employees of different generations. Ask your employees about what plan resonates with them, while at the same time crafting the plan to the brand image you want to project. 
  • Compensation and cash incentive plans are continuing to rise in popularity and when tied to a specific outcome can help increase productivity, teamwork and business results. Currently, the average pay increase is just below 3% nationwide and in some cases employers are holding base salaries steady. By offering incentives that focuses the team on a goal that benefits the company as a whole, employees are given another way to be compensated while also having a clear line of sight on how their actions directly impact the organization – which can be gratifying and drive engagement.
  • Money is not the only thing that talks when it comes to engaging employees. There are also non-cash incentives and employee appreciation ideas that will help keep employees engaged and motivated including recognition, and skill and advancement opportunities. When it comes to employee recognition it is extremely important to understand employee’s preferred way of recognition and to be creative (while some may like to be recognized in a meeting, others may shy away from the limelight and want to be recognized in another way). 

The overarching theme when it comes to engagement is that it is important to take the time to think through your employee engagement plan and to develop one in the first place. Make it a priority to determine the appropriate mix of each of these ideas based on employee input, company culture, profitability, business goals and budget requirements. What you think employees want may be different than what they want, which could result in your organization wasting money on motivation and not getting the outcome you are seeking.

Jennifer Olsen is the president of Resourceful HR, which provides outsourced human resource and recruiting services to small and growing companies as well as HR project support. She holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification, a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) certification and is trained in AIRS recruiting methodologies. She has been quoted in Forbes, hosts the NW HR Best Practices Roundtable, co-chairs the HR Group for the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA), serves as Board President of AHOPE for Children and on the Board of Directors for Seraph Capital Forum. In 2012 she was honored by the Puget Sound Business Journal with the ’40 Under 40’ award, which recognizes influential Seattle-area business leaders who demonstrate dynamic leadership and excel in their industry and in their community. Jennifer was recently recognized as the UW Bothell 2013 Distinguished MBA Alumni.

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