For years, employers and HR pros have been searching for the elusive perfect employee engagement strategy. Organizations tried new benefit packages, overhauling company culture, and supporting career development. And while none of those initiatives were bad for employees, they all turned out to be snake oil cures when it came to employee engagement.
What if I told you the answers were right in front of our faces all along?
Recently my company, Quantum Workplace, released its State of Employee Feedback report, which surveyed nearly 300 businesses about their top HR priorities and their employee engagement strategy. Only 12 percent of responding companies considered themselves as "highly engaged." But those unicorn organizations had some interesting things in common.
Here are three ways companies have been successful in completing the employee engagement circle:
1. Have a year-round employee engagement strategy
One of the biggest differences the report revealed was how engaged and disengaged organizations approach the subject differently. Nearly 78 percent of highly engaged companies focus on engagement initiatives all year long, but only 30 percent of disengaged do.
In fact, 50 percent of disengaged workplaces admit to focusing on engagement for only a short period of time, as if it didn't even matter the rest of the year.
You wouldn't expect to learn a new language just by speaking a few foreign words every so often. The same goes for employee engagement; unless organizations focus on improving everyday, it'll never get better.
An effective, year-round employee engagement strategy means measuring and tracking metrics constantly. And then making the appropriate adjustments. It's a much more hands-on approach, but it's also the best one.
2. Follow up on employee surveys
Employee surveys are only worthwhile if there is follow up. And that means more than creating a graph that shows what percentage of employees feel motivated and giving it to the C-suite. True follow up involves analyzing the data, identifying problem areas, and developing a plan of action.
Engagement survey results will only tell you how employees are feeling about their job. It's up to you to take the next step and find a way of making things better. The extra effort is worth it: the State of Employee Engagement report found that when a manager follows up with employees after surveys, those employees are 12 times more likely to be engaged the next year.
And don't be afraid to share your action plan with employees. Acknowledging that you're working to improve an issue will help keep everyone accountable for the part they play in creating the solution.
3. Ditch the annual review
Slowly but surely, business leaders are realizing how terrible the annual performance review is. But it's highly engaged organizations that figured that out a while ago.
In our Quantum Workplace survey, 54.6 percent of engaged companies made sure managers had one-on-one performance conversations with their employees every one to three months. On the other hand, 77.8 percent of disengaged companies relied on annual reviews.
When it comes to telling employees how they're meeting expectations, it's time to stop leaving them hanging. Take the time to talk to them regularly so problems can be addressed sooner and success doesn't go unacknowledged.
While you're at it, encourage your workforce to ask for your feedback whenever they want or need it. After all, employees know best when they need help or support.
In the end, employee engagement comes down to one thing: being more involved in the process. You need to be talking to employees more, processing what they say, and following up with actions each and every day.
What are some other ways an organization can improve their employee engagement strategy? Share in the comments below!
Greg Harris is the president and CEO of Quantum Workplace, a company dedicated to providing every organization with quality engagement tools that guide their next step in making work better every day. You can connect with Greg and the Quantum Workplace team on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.