5 Golden Rules for establishing a Culture of Employee Engagement

Published on 06-09-2018

High employee engagement rates are supposed to have a diverse range of positive effects on an organisation’s performance. In our new series, we will look behind the curtain of this buzz term and resolve pressing questions and issues, discussing culture, strategy, and future trends. In the second part of the series, we will focus on how to establish a culture that promotes employee engagement.

In our last post, we established the meaning of ‘Employee Engagement’, its relevance and the role of corporate culture. It led us to the following conclusions:

High employee engagement…

  • decreases the risk of turnover
  • increases customer satisfaction
  • boosts employee performance and satisfaction
  • increases overall business success and profit

Employee engagement is a factor every business, small or large, should strive for. Without it, employees feel disconnected to company goals and are more likely to pursue other opportunities. However, it is extremely difficult to implement and measure a factor that intangible. So, how can we create a culture that encourages engagement?

1. Encourage internal communication

Golden rule #1: Express, share, discuss – too much information is better than too little.

Good internal communication can be one of the most crucial elements in a culture that fosters engaged employees. As Aron Ain, CEO of Krosos, says in an interview with Forbes, high engagement levels start with communication:

It starts with asking our people what’s motivating them, and what’s upsetting them. Then it’s to take that information we get, and do something about it

In other words, it isn’t enough to just ask employees for their opinions. Employers need to take the received feedback and actively implement it into their processes. It creates a motivating environment if employees see that their voice and opinions matter.

In addition, employees spend a good portion of their lives at work. It should therefore not come as a surprise that they have a desire of knowing that is going on within the company. They want to know what the financial situation of their organisation looks like, how corporate goals are being accomplished and what they do contributes to achieving those objectives. Honest communication, transparency and mutual trusts are the cornerstones of every successful company culture.

2. Define a clear vision and realistic company goals

Golden rule #2: General vs. Specific – divide goals into realistic chunks to make them achievable and relevant for every employee.

Strong cultures of engaged employees have a clearly defined and communicated vision and goals. It is the leadership’s responsibility to communicate this vision as well as actively involve employees in shaping and working toward company goals. According to an IBM study, 80% of employees felt more engaged when their work was consistent with the core values and mission of their organization.

Reaching a goal motivates employees. It engages them. That’s why you should not only communicate your long-term vision but also set annual, semi-annual, quarterly, and monthly goals. This way employees have something to work toward to and develop an emotional attachment to the company, making them less likely to pursue other career opportunities.

Ideally, you should set general company goals as well as goals for each department. This way, employees understand the big picture as well as see how their work is impacting the departmental and overall success.

employee engagement culture

Interpersonal relations among colleagues promote employee engagement.

3. Don’t underestimate Onboarding and Training

Golden rule #3: Onboarding goes social – Create a welcoming atmosphere among employees from the beginning on.

Picture the following situation: You start a new job and no one tells you how to handle certain tasks and responsibilities. You are being thrown in at the deep end. Often, this results in being frustrated, overwhelmed and overall dissatisfied. All this leads diectly to feeling disengaged with the new employer.

A successful onboarding, thus, should be part of every company culture that strives for engaged employees. Over half (53%) of participating HR professionals of the 2017 Silkroad study say that employee engagement rises when onboarding and training of new hires is improved. And it makes sense. Employees that master their responsibilities are more likely to be proud of what they have accomplished. And employees that are eager to fulfill their tasks are engaged.

Onboarding is the time where employees

  • ask questions
  • express ideas
  • voice concerns
  • bond with co-workers
  • develop a connection with their company

Especially the last two points are crucial for increasing employee engagement. Studies have shown that only 28% of employees with no work friends were engaged, versus 69% with 25 or more friends. Successful onboarding establishes relationships among colleagues and therefore directly leads to higher engagement. More about onboarding techniques and strategies here.

4. Put Emphasis on Employee Development

Golden rule #4: Live to learn – a culture that promotes personal growth creates the foundation for long-term engagement.

This point goes hand in hand with the previous one. Many job seekers apply for and accept a position because of the initial benefits such as perks and salary. However, most of the employees also strive for growth and personal development within a job. A Gallup Poll illustrates this: 87% of millennials (and 69% of non-millennials) perceive personal development as an important part of their career. Offering employee development programs plays therefore a crucial role in retaining top talent.

Engaged employees constantly strive for personal growth. Simply because they want to do better – for themselves and their company. Employee development can be executed in different ways:

  • add new duties to employees positions to prevent boredom
  • provide space to grow within a position
  • offer a job rotation program that enables employees to do different tasks from now and then
  • provide educational assistance (pay for all or parts of an employee’s education)

All of those measures, show that you care about your employee’s personal development. It makes them feel valued and appreciated as well as helps you to add new skills to your business. A win-win situation!

5. Freedom over details

Golden rule #5: Don’t micromanage – look at the big picture and leave the details up to your employees.

Telling your employees precisely how to do their job – micromanaging them – decreases their moral and productivity. According to a Forbes study, 68% of employees say that their morale was dampened and 55% say micromanaging led to a decrease in productivity. A culture that encourages employees to solve problems and fulfill tasks freely fosters employee engagement.

Mike Kapple, CEO of Patriot Software, summarises it as follows:

Instead of micromanaging, I let each employee make decisions about how to accomplish their work. This leads to higher levels of engagement. And, employees know they can reach out to their managers (or me) if they ever have any questions.

This approach leads to happier workers that are motivated to put their own ideas and methods into action.

How does leadership affect culture? And why should we redefine our leadership approach? CompanyMatch recently published a white paper on this topic. Just fill out the attached form to start the download. For free!