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10 Employee Engagement Ideas to Improve Teamwork

10 Employee Engagement Ideas to Improve Teamwork
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The expectations of jobs have shifted towards a more personal approach. In the past, high pay and health benefits were the motivating factors for workers –as long as they were paid well, it didn’t matter what kind of job they were doing. However, the needs of employees have changed, and workers are now looking at engagement and fulfillment as significant factors when considering job opportunities.

So, what is engagement? Simply put, engagement in the workplace comes from having the right conditions that allow employees to maximize their potential.

The difference between an engaged employee and an unengaged one is quite visible. An unengaged employee is not invested in the company; they do the bare minimum and work just enough to get paid. However, an engaged employee goes above and beyond for the company because they are invested. They see potential in their work and the impact it can have on the company. In other words, an engaged employee sees value in the company and is willing to invest their effort and time beyond what is expected of them.

Having engaged employees could mean the difference between being an average company and an exceptional company. According to Forbes, companies with high engagement outperform those without by 202%.[1] Knowing this, it’s no wonder why employers have suddenly started paying attention to employee engagement.

Like diversity, engagement can be challenging to include in the workplace, despite the consensus agreeing on its benefits. For those looking to increase engagement in the workplace, consider these 10 ideas:

1. Set Expectations and Provide Orientation for New Hires

A study done by Jobvite stated that 33 percent of new employees quit in the first 90 days of working.[2] Of those employees, 43 percent left because the role wasn’t what they expected or led to believe. Having an engaged workforce requires actual workers; and if your new hires keep leaving, you won’t have a workforce.

Here is how Alden Tseng from Wayfindr, a software company focused on streamlining the job application process, describes this issue in his latest article on how to remedy it:[3]

“Sometimes, job descriptions fail to convey key information or are unable to describe the full scope of certain job openings. Before posting a job listing, make sure you are describing the position in detail. Include essential information like what an average day looks like, key skills that are required, and what you expect your employees to learn while on the job. Offer a new hire orientation that enables individuals to acclimate to the company culture and their peers.”

It is vital to ensure that an employee’s first impression of the company is favorable. A study done by the Wynhurst Group reported that employees were 58 percent more likely to be with an organization after three years if there were on-boarding (orientation) programs.[4]

2. Constantly Communicate with Employees

Feedback is crucial in encouraging worker engagement. Employees want their opinions to be heard, especially when it is directly impacting how they work. Opening channels for employees to provide feedback creates chances for management to re-evaluate their decisions and allows them to improve the workplace.

However, it isn’t just about receiving feedback from employees. Feedback goes both ways, and it is important for managers to provide feedback to employees.15Five’s research into employee engagement yielded these staggering statistics:[5]

  • 98% of employees who received little to no feedback are disengaged
  • Employees who received feedback on their weaknesses were 20x more likely to be engaged
  • Employees who received feedback on their strengths were 30x more likely to be engaged

Feedback between the two parties is a sign that each party is invested in the other’s success. For employees, giving and receiving feedback means they are part of the team –not just another invisible worker that has no voice in the company. For employers, it shows that employees are invested in the company’s wellbeing and want to share their opinions on how to better the workplace.

The other part is of course the type of language you use with your employees. The funny part is that the way you communicate with your customers often translates into how you communicate with your employees.

Jeremy Boudinet, a Marketing Manager at Nextiva, a VOIP phone system, CRM, chat and all inclusive communication suite for businesses puts it the following way:

“We see a TON of overlap in how a company communicates with its’ employees and how it communicates with their team. The language that you use, the frequency of communication, the type of communication – a ton similarities here. I’ll say even more – an influx of new angry customers usually correlate with employees leaving from a company.”

3. Highlight Employee Achievements

Workers now want to work for a place where they matter. Research done by Penna concluded that 43% of workers cited having an opportunity to contribute to the success of the company created a positive work environment.[6]

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Employees want to know their work is impactful to the company. One of the factors causing disengagement comes from when a worker feels like their work is meaningless. They may see their job as more of a chore than a chance to improve the company. Employee recognition can be anything from a simple thank you letter to a feature on the company website.

Adam Legas, founder of Nanohydr8, a fitness drinks company, spends 1-2 hours per week making sure his employees are properly recognized, here is how he describes it:

“Recognizing an employee’s achievements shows them that their work is crucial towards company success –it gives their work meaning.”

4. Incorporate On the Job Training

While the requirements of a job may have many similarities, each company has its own procedure and expectations. New employees need to be trained in order to perform the functions of their jobs correctly and in a way that is in line with the company. Without training, it would be impossible for new hires to produce quality work.

A recent survey found that 40 percent of new hires that receive poor job training leave within the first year.[7] It would be counter-productive to replace an employee if all it takes to help them succeed is training. Hiring a replacement is an expensive and time-consuming process –one that could be avoided by merely training the workers at hand.

5. Provide Support for Out of Office Learning

With the rise of automation, the future of the workforce depends on up-skilling and adapting to technology. A report done by McKinsey predicted that automation could destroy up to 73 million jobs in the United States by 2030.[8] Workers will need new skills and training to be successful in a post-automation world.

Investing in your employees’ learning and up-skilling is essential to keeping engagement up. By supporting their learning initiatives outside of work, it shows them that the company is actively supporting their individual growth.

As an employer, providing learning opportunities for workers also increases brand awareness and favorability among job-seekers. With 42 percent of millennials citing learning and development opportunities as a deciding factor when choosing jobs,[9] employers that encourage learning will have bigger talent pools to choose from.

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Employees want to work for companies that support their learning and development. It’s a widely held misconception that investment in employee training is riskier than it once was. In fact, since the 1980s, median job tenure has increased (from 3.5 to 4.6 years) and we are spending more time at work each year (1,638 to 1,811 hours per year).[10]

As labor markets tighten and the half-life of skills shrinks, more employer-funded training is a win-win. Employers increase their appeal to new employees, as well as the engagement and productivity of current staff, and individuals enhance their skills, value and future employability.

6. Be Open-Minded with Experimentation

Experimentation allows employees to flex their creative muscles and offers them an opportunity to try something new. Experimentation doesn’t always end in success, but it is an opportunity to consider alternatives and new forms of thinking.

Experimentation builds trust between employers and employees by showing employees it’s okay to fail. Employees are more willing to apply new ideas and try new things if they know the company is supporting them –opening the opportunity for innovation.

7. Venture Out of the Office

Workplace engagement, at its core, is about humanizing the workplace. Aside from the brief time during interviews and reviews, management rarely has time to get to know their workers. The workplace environment leaves very little time and room for employees and employers to form relationships. Increasing engagement at work may require an approach that doesn’t include the workplace at all –a company trip.

Company trips are the perfect medium where management and employees can learn more about each other. The more people know each other, the more invested they will be in each other’s success. For employees, this is an opportunity to see managers in a different light –as humans.

Furthermore, company trips reward employees for their service and increase morale. It shows employees that their contributions do matter, resulting in higher engagement.

8. Offer Flexible Working Conditions

Working remotely has long been attached to the stigma of a lazy, unmotivated worker. However, this idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Remote workers carry the same responsibilities on-site workers do.

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Working at a desk in an office every day isn’t ideal for productivity. Different people prefer different environments, and remote work fills that need. A study done by Stanford concluded that remote workers were 13.5 percent more productive than their peers working in an office and 50 percent more satisfied with their job.[11]

9. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Health is wealth, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the workplace. An engaged workforce must be healthy, both mentally and physically. It is important to encourage a healthier lifestyle because healthy workers are capable workers.

A survey done by Virgin Pulse found that 85% of companies say wellness programs support engagement.[12] Unhealthy factors such as the lack of sleep, poor diet, and stress all play a role in determining how successful a worker is in the workplace.

Healthy initiatives can range from providing healthy snacks to providing stress management classes. It is essential to keep these initiatives because high stress is one of the most significant factors in causing disengagement. Promoting healthy initiatives prevents workers from being overworked and overstressed at work, creating a more engaged workforce.

10. Make a Positive Impact

Employees want companies that are positively impacting the world. Volunteer options to better the community not only builds brand awareness but also increases engagement and worker empowerment. Working together as a team to bring good into the world can be a valuable team-building exercise and creates an atmosphere of positivity.

Volunteer initiatives and philanthropic work enable workers to get involved with the community. It makes them feel good knowing that their company is standing for something positive. A recent report stated that participation in corporate social responsibility initiatives increased productivity in the workplace by 13 percent.[13] In the same report, the authors also concluded that engaging in volunteer work reduces employee turnover rates by 50 percent.

Final Thoughts

Employee engagement is a glimpse into a more human side of the workplace. In the past, we saw employees just as workers and companies as faceless entities –and it worked for a long time. However, the new generation of workers and the future of the workplace is more human than that –they want to change the world.

Engaged employees happily go to work knowing they’re positively impacting the world. It isn’t about the money –it is about being human and providing a place where workers can grow and learn.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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Dmitry Dragilev

Single-handedly grew a startup from zero to 40 million page views, Dmitry is a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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