Shaping company culture is like developing any relationship; it requires commitment, trust, communication, and a common goal. A positive team culture has been proven to increase employee engagement and generate more positive business outcomes. Gallup cites organizations with high engagement levels experience 43% less employee turnover, 18% more productivity, 23% more profitability, and a whopping 66% increase in employee wellbeing. The payoff is enormous!
So, managers and leadership listen up: here are 25 employee engagement strategies to help you improve the culture within your organization without spending a dime.
Employee Engagement Strategies To Help You Improve Company Culture
1. Encourage collaboration
Encourage peer-to-peer collaboration, support, and recognition in your organization. Employees need to own their challenges and be accountable, but working with peers towards a common goal will strengthen team culture and champion an environment of WE not ME.
2. Conduct reviews
Every employee deserves feedback on their performance. Formal or informal, schedule time at least once a year for a performance review. This validates their important contributions to the organization and gives them a clear path for improvement or growth.
3. Advocate psychological safety
Promoting a psychologically safe culture within your organization can proactively bring issues out into the open and ensure that employees know what resources are available to them. This starts at the top: when senior leaders freely share their own personal concerns, — e.g., the stress and anxiety they may be feeling during the pandemic, and how they deal with that stress in healthy ways — they pave the way for employees to join in those conversations and start their own.
4. Launch group forums
Create ways for employees to contribute, feel heard, and be seen. Examples of this could be a DEI taskforce, a book club, a wellness cohort, or parents support group. Allow time for employee participation and join in to show your support as often as possible.
5. Help fulfill purpose
Help your employees discover and perform their passions, and to align their sense of purpose with the work that needs to be done. Ask your employees what kind of work they find meaningful and help them to do the work they find most fulfilling through mentoring, upskilling, re-skilling, volunteerism and more.
6. Step back and trust
Eliminate micromanagement and empower your employees to do the work they are tasked to do. Micromanagement stifles growth, innovation, and freedom. Give employees clear direction and the autonomy to fly, and you’ll see positive results and innovation you might have never imagined!
7. Promote continuous improvement
Ask for, accept, and thank employees for their feedback. When employees feel the freedom to give feedback to their manager, it empowers them to be a part of change and feel included, which helps fulfill their purpose. However, it’s very important to then acknowledge what you will or won't do in response to that feedback!
8. Listen with empathy
Listening fully to another person demonstrates the highest level of respect towards them. But listening is just the first step; now you need to understand. Mastering the ability to put yourself in your employees’ shoes, to really understand where they’re coming from, makes them feel validated, important, and understood.
9. Initiate conversations
There’s nothing like one-on-one conversations with employees, especially if they start with genuine concern: “How are you doing?” Build in “psychological safety” mechanisms to help employees be honest about what their feeling and what they need in order to perform optimally.
10. Demonstrate compassion
In a time when COVID-19 fatigue is at an all-time high, striking a balance between compassion and performance is no easy feat. Look at your overall business data, decide what really matters, and then prioritize. Communicate your decisions with transparency to your entire workforce. Rinse and repeat. Often.
11. Develop relationships
Get to know your workforce! Take an interest in them by asking them questions and listening. Find out who they are, what they care about, what's important to them. This attention makes them feel valued and valuable, and costs absolutely nothing.
12. Organize Training
“Reskilling” and “Upskilling” will keep valued employees from leaving and empower employees to contribute in new and different ways. “Reskilling” gives your employees the chance to learn new skills they can use to move into different, lateral roles within the company, while “upskilling” provides a higher level of education and training so employees can gain advanced skills to further their careers. Both can be done internally using subject matter experts and mentors.
13. Encourage mentoring
Set up programs for mentoring and reverse mentoring. Organizations can use mentoring as a no-cost means to develop the careers of their employees and it provides a variety of benefits from on-boarding new hires to improving collaboration to promoting inclusion.
14. Say “Thank you”
Acknowledging employee contributions and accomplishments fuels employee motivation and satisfaction. Send a personal note of thanks or congratulations when an employee successfully finishes a large project, collaborates with other departments toward a shared goal, or achieves a personal or professional goal. Employee appreciation like this motivates them to continue this behavior and encourage their peers to emulate it, to receive the same result.
15. Acknowledge milestones
If you already have a program in place to honor the service anniversary of every employee — one year, five years, etc. – bravo! Now take it a step further and acknowledge other milestones that occur in their employee journey: promotions, awards, even personal milestones like marriage, having a baby and buying a house. This tell the employee you are paying attention to what’s important to them and that you share in their joy.
16. Exercise transparency
Normalize conversations that keep employees in the loop and supports their need to contribute positively to something greater than themselves. Town halls via Zoom, internal communication on an existing employee engagement platform or simple 'water cooler' talk can all work — it’s not the location, it’s the mindset.
17. Communicate consistently
Keep employees up-to-date and informed about company goals and objectives, health and safety practices, opportunities for employee development, work-life balance, and more. This removes much of the fear and uncertainty associated with the unknown, reduces stress and increases employee satisfaction.
18. Embrace diversity
Focus on making diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) part of the fabric of your organization’s culture. This is an ongoing process, not an event or policy. It starts at the top with senior leaders modeling the behaviors they wish to see and ensuring an open, inclusive culture for all.
19. Be respectful of time
Be mindful of scheduling meetings during lunch, at 8 a.m. or at 5 p.m. Intentional or not, it sends a signal that you do not value your employees’ time. Also, be considerate of time zones. 9 a.m. for you, may be 7 a.m. for someone else.
20. Incorporate total wellness
The pandemic has shown us that mental health needs to be incorporated into wellness strategies. While adding in mental health benefits into the total benefit package does come with a price tag, providing support groups, mental health days off, and demonstrating compassion are all no-cost ways to start elevating mental health to the same plane as physical health.
21. Support volunteerism
Allow paid time off for employees to volunteer in their community. Giving back allows your employees to make a difference, support a cause, meet new people, fulfill their purpose, learn new skills, and just plain have fun!
22. Give free days off
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is a proverb with much truth to it. It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. Allowing an occasional free day off gives employees a much-needed break – mental or physical – and reenergizes them, especially after completing a tough project.
23. Allow flexible schedules
With remote work being preferred by 68% of the workforce, embracing flexible schedules that allow employees to get their work done while balancing their personal lives is critical. Responsible employees will put in their time, and then some. If an employee is exhibiting signs of flexibility abuse, have a conversation with them to assess their challenges, then take an appropriate course of action.
24. Have fun
Inject some fun into your meetings, and your workday. Humor creates a relaxed, fun environment, which decreases stress, and increases creativity. No cost ways to inject fun: hold a meeting outdoors, deem it ‘crazy hat day’, institute a monthly bring your pet to work day, or start a travel wall where employees are encouraged to post pics of their travels and adventures.
25. Create traditions
Inspirus has first-hand experience with this, and we’re happy to share what we do! From Inspirus Summer School to Team Building Week to the annual Habitat for Humanity Day, establishing traditions creates stability and gives employees something fun to look forward to. Traditions don’t have to be formal — maybe it’s just a cake to celebrate the birthdays that month, or a Monday morning pancake breakfast to start the week off right, or an impromptu lunch celebration that incorporates diverse traditions. Make it fun, and it will be memorable.
All these are simple, actionable steps that can help you start elevating the team culture within your organization. Once you see progress in this area, you'll understand how employee engagement plays a vital role in company culture, and you'll be ready to support an employee engagement program like Inspirus® Connects.