Top 10 Tips to Boost Employee Engagement

Mind-blowing fact: the happier your employees are, the more successful your company is.

Happy employees are more creative, innovative, and dedicated than their unhappy counterparts. They’re also more likely to stick around longer.

Sound too good to be true? Many studies and workplace reports find that employee happiness has a direct correlation to your business’s bottom line.

In particular, a study cited by Harvard Business Review is part of a growing body of research about the benefits of a positive organizational environment on employers, employees, and the bottom line.

Consider, too, the cost of disengagement. HBR explains that employee “engagement in work—which is associated with feeling valued, secure, supported, and respected—is generally negatively associated with a high-stress, cutthroat culture.”

Going further, the research explains that disengaged workers had…

  • 37% higher absenteeism
  • 49% more accidents
  • 60% more errors and defects

Now that sounds like it could get expensive.

When you couple the benefits of having a happy workplace with the overall improvement to your coworkers’ lives, making conscious upgrades to your culture is a no-brainer. And having a positive work culture only supplements your company’s employer brand.

I’ve laid out the Top 10 tips for taking your workplace vibes to soaring heights.

1. Greet your team

A little hello goes a long way in the workplace. Your team members want to feel happy, so give them a little nudge in the morning with a big smile that says, “I’m happy you are here, and I want you to love your job.”

Pop around the office periodically and see how everyone is doing. Ask your team how their weekend was, and check in to see whether anyone needs assistance with ongoing projects.

Creating an environment that makes everyone feel comfortable translates to happy employees. A positive workplace atmosphere is crucial for both workplace happiness and team members’ productivity and energy levels, and that all starts with your setting a cheerful tone.

Something as simple as a smile and a “Good morning!” can be enough to turn someone’s bad day right around. Being upbeat and genuine in your approach also boosts your team’s self-esteem, causing them to be more motivated and reminding them that working with you is pretty great.

As you make your peppy office debut a routine, you will find your team members begin mimicking your welcoming gestures with one another, putting everyone in a better mood and snowballing into a long-term positive environment that boosts employee engagement.

2. Deliver praise and recognition often to boost employee engagement

Were you aware that feeling underappreciated at work is the No. 1 reason Americans leave their jobs? It beats low salary, limited vacation days, and not enough flexibility for life outside of work.

A statistic as powerful as that one needs to be front of mind for managers and leaders.

By offering consistent praise and recognition, your team will be excited and eager to contribute to companywide initiatives.

Ask team members how they want to be recognized for a job well done. Send out a quick email or commence a team huddle to get their feedback on how they prefer to be recognized or complimented when and where credit is due. For some, it may be a quick “You did it!” shout-out during a meeting. For others, it might be a one-on-one positive feedback session.

You can learn about 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace in Gary Chapman and Paul White’s book or online here.

The key is to be consistent. If a team member deserves to be recognized for outstanding work, tell them right away: Don’t wait for their “review.” Annual reviews are ancient history.

3. Make work fulfilling

People want to feel like what they’re doing at work matters.

To feel good about the work they are producing, they need to fully understand the company’s mission and purpose, so make sure they know what that looks like.

Give a rundown of what each department does and why they do it. When employees see the inner workings of the organization from various angles and perspectives, they feel better connected to the business and therefore more committed to making it a success.

“The greater access to inner happiness, the greater your experience of success throughout your life,” says happiness expert Shawn Achor in an interview with Forbes. Translation: Finding new ways to access happiness on an ongoing basis generates more success in our lives. Success does not breed happiness: It’s the other way around.

Heed Shawn’s advice and develop a habit of expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Thank employees for coming in early to make a deadline. Let them know their diligence with a difficult client is not going unnoticed.

Another way to make work fulfilling is to get your team members involved in the company’s work with a local charity. At SnackNation, we partner with Feeding America to donate 10 meals to a hungry family in the United States. You might do something similar by checking out places and programs near you that cater to children in need (such as No Kid Hungry, which provides meals for children in need).

4. Make work/life balance a priority

The concept of work/life balance has become a priority for many workplaces. Team members should have a clear understanding that you value each of them as a loyal employee and as a person who has a life outside of work.

Make it known that work/life balance is a priority by offering work-from-home Fridays, unlimited vacation days, discounts on surrounding health and wellness programs, or childcare options.

Offering incentives that improve team members’ quality of life shows that you care about their well-being.

If you’re struggling with how to instill the importance of work/life balance, think about what makes you happy outside of work and what perks you personally would want. Your team members probably want the same things.

5. Encourage workplace wellness

Because the concept of wellness has become integrated into people’s daily lives, working professionals expect their employers to provide wellness practices in the workplace—whether through food, physical exercise, or mindfulness tactics.

Many new recruitment strategies have been developed specifically to improve the work environment so that it’s easier for employees to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. Examples include WellSteps, Exos, and Accenture.

Create a culture of wellness by implementing the following strategies:

  • Prepare and distribute a list of healthy dining options within a two-mile radius of your office so your team isn’t wasting time googling “healthy lunch near me.”
  • Arrange for bike racks and provide “bike to work” promotional materials.
  • Negotiate corporate discounts for health club memberships.
  • Hire a yoga instructor or mindfulness specialist to come into the office once a week or month to reduce team members’ stress.

Showing your team you want them to live happy, healthy lifestyles is another way of showing them how important they are to your company.

For even more wellness program ideas, check out this article.

6. Hire upbeat personalities

A stressful environment will destroy your company culture. A happy work environment attracts positive people and in turn promotes a culture of productivity and accountability.

Create a happy workplace by getting a person that brings a sense of humor to the office. A happy, optimistic outlook is contagious, and it will improve productivity and motivation in the entire office.

Happy people create a happy company culture, so it’s important to study facial expressions, responses, and genuineness when interviewing potential candidates. Those are the people who will make your workplace happier.

7. Refrain from micromanaging

Employees who feel trusted and supported—without being hovered over—are statistically more relaxed and confident in the job they do.

No one likes to be micromanaged. If employees feel they are constantly on their boss’s radar, they are not going to perform the way they normally would, and they will begin to resent their job.

Give your team the trust and creative freedom they deserve by setting clear expectations and fair boundaries. It doesn’t help anyone if half the day is spent recording and reporting which tasks were checked off and which ones weren’t.

You are the one who hired your irreplaceable team members. Remember why you hired them and trust that they will make the right decisions. Your trust in them will keep their confidence high, further contributing to the success of your business.

Let a team member lead the next marketing meeting, for example, and give team members the go-ahead to make executive decisions when you aren’t around.

8. Launch an individual development plan

An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to assist employees in their career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short- and long-term goals and to improve job performance. You can use an IDP to develop a better understanding of your team’s professional and personal goals, including their strengths and areas they want to improve on.

Launch a companywide IDP and have employees come up with four personal and four professional goals that they want to achieve by the end of the year. Doing so shows your team that you are serious about investing in them as real people and puts everyone on an even playing field of individually customized goals.

You can learn all about training and development of IDPs in this article.

9. Use feedback as a mini mentoring tool

Effective leaders understand the power of feedback. Using it to offer constructive criticism and positive recognition clears the air of confusion and communicates how an employee’s behavior aligns with company results.

Senior partner at Partners in Leadership Brad Starr offers five tips to help you give impactful feedback that cultivates more engaged, empowered employees. When offering feedback from a place of respect, a leader can “move an employee away from undesirable behavior and cement the thinking and behavior that lead to personal and professional excellence,” Starr writes.

By incorporating Starr’s tips, you can treat your feedback sessions as two-way conversations and invite team members to ask questions. If team members feel afraid to ask a question, that is a big problem. Be transparent and open in your approach so both of you get the most out of your mini mentoring session.

The key to effective feedback? Communicate it at regular intervals (weekly or monthly) rather than all at once (semi-yearly or yearly).

10. Get out of your work routine (occasionally)

Sitting at a desk all day or conversing with customers for long periods of time, day in and day out, can become mind-numbing.

Surprise your team by holding your next meeting outside or at their favorite lunch spot. Tell them that instead of coming into the office on Monday they have to do one thing that brings them joy: writing, getting a jump start on their side hustle, or playing with their kids. It will make team members ultra-productive during the ensuing workdays because they should be well rested, refreshed, and more than ready to tackle projects.

And here are some bonus tips

1. Have meaningful conversations with team members

This one should come naturally, but many managers don’t see the value because they are afraid of “crossing the line” into unprofessional territory.

It’s not unprofessional. Getting to know your team is one of the best things to do to create a happy culture and a happy workplace.

Make a point to learn something new about your team members every week. Finding out that a team member is a wedding singer may give you a new respect and appreciation for her, in addition to her professional skills.

To ensure the implementations are long-lived, practice them daily and remind your team often that they are an integral part of the company.

2. Promote meditation to minimize stress

Most offices have a fast-paced work environment filled with distractions that make it difficult to concentrate. Promoting mindfulness and meditation at work can help minimize stress levels and increase concentration at work. Meditation has both mental and physical benefits that enable employees to cut out distractions and be more productive daily.

3. Use employee surveys to increase employee engagement levels

I saved the best tip for last!

One of the most effective ways to increase engagement levels in a company is by using the right employee engagement survey. It should be specific, engaging, and relevant to elicit actionable insights.

When businesses seek employee opinions and act on that data, it has a substantial effect on employee engagement levels. And engaged employees deliver better performance that ultimately boosts the bottom line of your business.

More Resources on Employee Engagement

Before Implementing an Employee Advocacy Program, Do These Three Things

The Road to Stellar Customer Experience Is Lined With Engaged Employees

Employee Retention: How to Keep Your Top Talent [Infographic]

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