The phrase “employee engagement” can be far-reaching; workflow communication tools (think Slack, Yammer or Lync), internal social networks (Facebook at Work, Chatter, Voice Storm or Gaggle), newsletters and training programs could all qualify as employee engagement tactics. Some organizations employ a host of these tools, deploying them in tandem to build an internal community that exists outside the formalities of e-mail. While an engaged employee doesn’t necessarily create a happier employee, it’s certainly a start.
Recalibrating an entire corporate communication framework won’t be easy, and it’ll probably takes months (if not longer) before it feels like you’ve reached the new normal.
Take baby steps (H/T to Dr. Leo Marvin), and start with what you know.
- Be critical. Map your way to a solution by being open and honest about what your company needs. Outline organizational weaknesses and strengths. Gathering this feedback and insight directly from employees will only make your engagement more effective.
- Understand the difference between engagement and retention. Don’t confuse retention efforts like in-office perks, discount programs, etc. as engagement efforts; let’s be honest, free snacks and drinks make us more tired than they do motivated and empowered.
- Build functional focus groups. Bring groups of employees (at all levels!) together to hear from them — what would they use? How do they communicate offline? What would they not see value in? In addition to help shaping the suite of tools used by an organization, listening to employees will also help shape the way you serve content for sharing, informing everything from word choice and format to frequency and calls to action.
- Set realistic goals. Having a strong employee engagement strategy won’t necessarily help put a stop to turnover and cross-office drama, but it will help build a more informed, transparent organization-wide communication system. Know what you expect from employees, and what they expect from you. Over time, you can use metrics from your tools to refine and optimize your approach.
- Remember to recognize and reward. Tools aren’t cheap, but recognition is. The time it takes to publish a motivational, congratulatory or other such shout out on an internal communication channel is negligible, but the recognition of a small win could have long-term productivity benefits.
- Create guidelines that encourage participation. Inviting employees to contribute to company-wide channels might seem harmless, but fear of censorship and moderation might be roadblocks. Establishing clear community guidelines (no profanity, bullying, etc.) will help set clear, non-intrusive boundaries without hindering contributions. Employee engagement tools also tie in nicely to broader corporate incentive programs. Have a company store? Encourage shares and submissions for credit toward a purchase.
I’ve encountered managers who feel that recognizing someone “for doing their job” has a net negative effect. As though they’re rewarding folks for what they should already be doing. And, to clarify, said managers have mentioned that “going above and beyond IS doing your job.” Thoughts on that? I’m personally in the generous praise category and wonder if I’m doing something wrong. :/
Even if a particular function falls within an employee’s respective job description, recognition of a job well done is proof that you’re tuned in. I think the “going above and beyond” mindset is relative, and in some ways generational. Sometimes the scope of a job description evolves, but there are certain things that I choose to manage and handle for my team because it’s simply not something that someone junior to me would have had the experience to manage. Over time, as the employee demonstrates a capacity to handle more and a desire to learn about other elements of the job, that’s my signal to see if they’re up for a performance review, promotion, etc. If your generous praise is a genuine reflection of work that was done well, keep on keeping on!
Maybe it’s just my personality, but I do tend to be enthusiastic about things. It’s genuine enthusiasm. It’s just such a stark contrast versus others I have seen. And, I think you’re onto something in saying it may be generational.
Personally, I think that we could all use a few more personal victories each day. I’m happy to contribute to them if I can.
Thanks so much for replying!