Did you know that employee engagement levels in the UK are among the worst in Europe? Fewer than one in 10 UK employees feel enthusiastic about their job. According to Gallup’s latest report, just 9% of UK workers felt engaged with their work and their workplace in 2022, which is well below the European average of 14%. In fact, we rank a miserable 33 out of 38 European countries. And to make matters worse, we suffered a two-point drop in score compared with last year’s survey.
So what can we do to improve the situation? How to engage employees in a way that makes an active difference? The answer lies in a solid employee engagement strategy tailored to fit your company and the current climate. The pandemic-driven transformation of the workplace has created a brand-new landscape. We need to adapt our strategy to make the most of this new model. Getting the basics of employee engagement right is a crucial first step in building an organisation that enthuses and motivates its workers.
In this blog, we take a look at the four basic building blocks of employee engagement. These core elements will help to guide your plans and underpin your employee engagement initiatives as we aim to improve our national standing in workplace satisfaction.
How to engage employees?
When exploring ways to engage employees, the role of internal communications is too often perceived as an afterthought. As a result, it is rarely allocated as a high priority in employee engagement plans. However, poor internal communications can have extensive and far-reaching consequences, which is why establishing a strong communications strategy should be at the heart of your employee engagement activities.
Internal communication is more than simply providing your employees with a platform for conversation. It’s about explaining the bigger picture and facilitating open two-way communication across the entirety of your organisation.
The aim of internal communications should be to make employees feel that they know and understand the inner workings of your organisation, can easily communicate with the greater team and that they are a true insider. Creative ways to engage employees can be achieved through sharing company performance, providing collaboration tools, translating strategies, and facilitating a two-way conversation. Free-flowing information should be at the heart of every employee engagement model.
The impact of internal communications on employee engagement is far-reaching. According to a recent study, 60% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communications strategy, with just 12% taking the time to measure its success. The study also found that only 17% of employees believe their line managers are effective communicators, with 51% reporting their line manager’s poor communication skills as a barrier to success. This type of poor communication combines to create a workforce who feel uninformed and detached from their employer. It becomes even more of an issue when you have a dispersed hybrid workforce, with employees meeting up with their managers on an infrequent basis.
The good news is that management appears to have stepped up to the plate as a result of the changes over the last few years. According to Gallup, employees report that they are getting more feedback from their managers, with 45% saying they get feedback either daily or a few times a week. Perhaps the new workplace scenario is delivering more effectively, or maybe managers have been asked to put in extra effort. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that management feedback should be one of employee engagement best practices.
To achieve excellent internal communications, managers should strive to foster open, two-way interaction between employees and leadership teams, share important information and show employees that they are valued. Internal communications should be clear, concise and transparent, and employees should feel willing and able to approach management with any problems, questions or ideas that they might have. The employee voice is an essential element of any strategy.
This type of openly communicative environment works to create a culture of collaboration and inclusivity that shows employees how much they mean to a company and that their voices are valued. Nourishing a culture that focuses on transparent communication will support your employee engagement programs.
Ways to engage employees: four building blocks
The role of internal communications as one of the key drivers of employee engagement is clear. Without open two-way communication between management and employees, it is all but impossible to increase employee engagement. To help you achieve this open communication, utilise the four building blocks below to guide your employee engagement strategy.
Building Block #1: Communicate performance
Providing your team with an insight into how the company is performing as a whole is key to your engagement efforts. Making a conscious effort to share these insights and explain exactly how they impact the company is a great way to show employees that they are part of an inner circle and provide them with a better understanding of the running of a business as a whole. Employee engagement and motivation are grounded in knowledge and understanding.
This is particularly essential during times of uncertainty and change. It is hardly surprising that employees are looking for reassurance that their company, and therefore their job, is secure in the current climate. Research from Trade Press Services revealed that 85% of employees felt motivated when their management team offered regular updates on company news. It’s one of the key ways to engage employees in the business culture.
These internal communications can be delivered across a range of media, from organisation-wide meetings to email. It can also help to utilise solutions, such as an employee engagement app, to provide company-wide updates in one place where all employees can access and interact with the information. In the current hybrid working environment, offering an easy-access platform is crucial to ensuring important updates reach every single employee.
Creative ways to engage employees:
Celebrate company successes, both individual and collective, with a recognition programme. Sharing success stories and thanking those who go over and above to deliver help create a positive company culture.
Building Block #2: Encourage collaboration
Collaboration is key to realising a high-performing and engaged workforce. How to engage employees and encourage this type of behaviour? It is essential that you provide employees with the facilities to communicate with other individuals and teams within your organisation.
In a hybrid working environment, with some employees in the office and others working remotely, promoting collaboration can be a significant challenge. It’s no longer possible to call everyone into the meeting room for a quick brainstorm. However, collaboration remains one of the key dimensions of employee engagement, so it’s vital not to let it slip by the wayside.
This is when a virtual approach is required. It might mean investing in new software to provide employees with a shared space to communicate, organise meetings and share knowledge. An employee engagement platform provides employees with a simple and effective way to better communicate with the wider team and will underpin your employee engagement strategy.
Creative ways to engage employees:
Collaboration often leads to innovation. Help to encourage new ideas and approaches by implementing an innovation strategy. Enable employees to put forward ideas that address business challenges, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Building Block #3: Translate strategies
Communicating strategies isn’t always the simplest of tasks; the language used is often complex and difficult to understand. Therefore, it is essential that you translate your company strategies into easily digestible ideas that make sense to your team. This is a surefire route to success when considering ideas to engage employees.
When you’re unable to explain your strategies face-to-face, you need to find another way to clarify your thinking. However, beware of relying too heavily on virtual meetings as a replacement activity. A recent report revealed that a full week of virtual meetings leaves 30% of employees feeling stressed and 38% feeling exhausted. It’s time to consider other approaches.
If a company-wide meeting is no longer a viable plan, you’ll need to explore other avenues. An alternative option is to open up discussion and exploration of the company strategies via employee engagement software. An employee engagement app offers an ideal platform for in-depth exchanges, ensuring employees have a clear and extensive understanding of the company's direction.
Creative ways to engage employees:
One downside of the hybrid workplace is that employees can no longer pass on knowledge organically. Encourage active sharing of understanding and skills by creating social spaces online where employees can meet, chat and share.
Building Block #4: Facilitate conversation
Employees need to understand that their voices matter and that communication doesn’t just flow from management down, with no possibility of a two-way conversation. It’s vital that employees feel their voices and opinion are valued and considered when it comes to decision-making and company direction.
Without the office as a natural base to facilitate these conversations, there is a danger that remote workers will feel left out of the loop. This feeling of being isolated from the organisation is one of the most significant barriers to employee engagement. However, it’s clear that companies are actively addressing this issue, making successful efforts to reach out to all remote workers, even the hard-to-reach. The aim is to create a sense of belonging.
How are they managing this? Many companies have found that the introduction of employee engagement tools help creates a dialogue between employees and management. A successful app will provide employees with several communication channels, from a social space to surveys, allowing management to obtain a clear picture of their team’s engagement levels and identify any key ideas or constructive criticism. These must be taken into consideration, and action should be taken where relevant to show that it is not simply an empty initiative put in place to tick a box but a genuine strategy to improve communications.
Creative ways to engage employees:
It’s crucial to find out what your employees are really thinking. How? Just ask them. Scheduling regular surveys and polls asking how they feel about job roles, company policies and work conditions will give you the insight you need.
Ideas to engage employees
With UK engagement levels amongst the lowest in Europe, it’s time to take a stand. The truth is that if you don’t communicate with your staff and give them a voice, you simply won’t engage them.
The improved strategies and solutions that have come into play during the last few years have helped to highlight the importance of work engagement. The strong focus on communications is fostering a more committed and productive workforce. This is true whether your employees are office-based, home-based or on the move. You need to communicate with every single one of them. So when you’re exploring how to engage employees in the hybrid workplace, the simple answer is internal communications.
Industry leaders are increasingly turning to employee engagement platforms to improve their company’s internal communications. Implementing software that actively supports and encourages your team to communicate directly affects engagement levels. Of all the ideas to engage employees, a simple software solution could be the answer you’re looking for.