Employers and ops professionals across the world are focusing on employee engagement. It’s one of the hot phrases right now in the workforce world, and for good reason. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
According to a recent Gallup workplace study, “85 percent of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work.” The starker statistic from the study, though, is this lack of engagement is costing the global economy an estimated $7 trillion in lost productivity.
The effects of a not engaged workforce are very real, which is why so many people are taking the topic seriously. And it’s this not engaged workforce that is of particular concern. That Gallup study found 67 percent of the above classification of workers were actually labeled “not engaged,” as opposed to “actively
The study defined this cohort as the following:
“They are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organization. They give you their time, but not their best effort nor their best ideas. They likely come to work wanting to make a difference – but nobody has ever asked them to use their strengths to make the organization better.”
Sound familiar? It’s likely most companies have a number of employees who could be placed in a bucket described this way. The interesting part of Gallup’s description, though, is these people likely want to make a difference but haven’t been empowered to do so.
The answer to getting a more engaged workforce, then, isn’t to hire better employees; it’s to empower these employees to use their strengths to make the organization better.
Here are four of the top ways ops professionals are working to drive that employee engagement in 2019.
1. Providing Continuous and Ongoing Learning
There once was a time when organized learning in the workplace occurred only at two main points in time:
When a new employee was hired
When a change in application or policy was implemented
That one-time learning just doesn’t cut it today. IBM leaders are predicting that in the next couple of years, the volume of information available to humans will double every 11 hours. In fact, average human knowledge doubles every 13 months.
That’s why continuous and ongoing learning is so important for people to grow their skills and advance their careers. To help companies stand out – and grow and prosper as well – it’s important for the organization to be the one providing that continuous and ongoing learning.
A recent Deloitte study found one of the largest drivers of employee engagement was learning opportunities. This can be as simple as a quick on-site workshop to teach employees new skills, or as complex as employer-sponsored and paid-for full-day seminars or certification programs for specific skills.
These learning opportunities show employees their company is invested in not just their short-term success but also their long-term career, which helps foster a better workplace culture and makes employees engaged in wanting to perform for that company.
2. Providing Constant and Productive Feedback
There once was a time when employee feedback occurred only once a year as part of a standardized annual review. Employees and their managers would fill out forms that addressed three main categories:
Goals for the next year
This is traditionally when the conversation of annual salary increases would occur, although that formal, automatic practice has gone by the wayside recently as well.
In 2019, a key to driving employee engagement is for managers to provide constant and productive feedback to those who answer to them. Some HR pundits say the reason for this is because of millennials. This generation, which makes up the majority of the workforce now, grew up in the digital age that provides immediate response and unfettered access, as the Society for Human Resource Management says. This generation of workers expects that constant feedback to occur in the workplace, too. In fact, less than 10 percent of millennials think weekly communication and feedback is enough, as FranklinCovey consultant Haydn Shaw says.
But this isn’t a bad thing, and the benefits don’t just apply to millennials. Employees want to know they’re doing a good job. It keeps them motivated to continue working hard and validates that the work they are doing is important and recognized.
Employees don’t mind constructive criticism, either. They’d rather have flaws pointed out and be given the opportunity to fix them immediately than only be told about them once a year.
3. Making Work Fun
There once was a time when the workplace was strictly about work, and employees left the fun at the door. Those days are long gone, and ops professionals who recognize this will drive employee engagement even further.
Fun, in this sense, doesn’t mean companies have to turn their workplace environment into a raucous frat house. There are plenty of ways for employees to enjoy their work while still being professional about it.
Instead, the focus here should be on improving the overall employee experience. This can be done through:
Work- or non-work-related monthly challenges
Off-site employee nights out at a bowling alley
Themed office days
Company-sponsored charity or volunteer outings
An awards ceremony
There are plenty of other examples of ways companies can drive employee engagement by boosting the employee experience.
4. Building Employee Wellness
There was once was a time when an employee was seen more as a number and less like a person. In today’s workplace, this attitude just doesn’t cut it. Even at the largest corporations in the world, employees want to be treated like humans who matter.
In addition to understanding the rigors of work and life, one of the top ways companies can do this in 2019 is by providing wellness programs for their employees. These wellness programs shouldn’t just be rebates for attending a gym, either. They should be well-thought-out, employer-sponsored physical and mental wellness plans that help all employees stay physically and mentally healthy.
Employee wellness has a number of benefits, as Alexandra Black of The IHRSA Foundation wrote for Health.gov. Not only do wellness programs drive down the cost of health care, they inspire positive behavior changes and foster a general sense of happiness.
Happy and healthy are two key words to describe how most companies would love to see each of their employees, because those two things lead to a more productive employee.
These are just four of the top ways that ops professionals can drive employee engagement in 2019. By customizing these categories to your company, and by creating some unique benefits of your own, employees are sure to become more engaged and have more fun at work while becoming healthier human beings, both physically and mentally.