Wednesday, 18 January 2023 06:00

How to use employee engagement to build loyalty among your staff

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Do you feel like you're swimming in plans? Maybe drowning? Recently, I finished planning out plans – it felt slightly meta. As we finished up, I had this sense of acceptance about where we are as a business. Coming out of a period of uncertainty, we wanted to take back some control while seizing an opportunity to change our work environment for the better. 

In order to achieve that, there is a lot to do when we have high expectations, feelings of being overwhelmed, and a desire to enact our vision of a better future. Some plans are mandated but, more often, leaders initiate them because they see a need for culture change. 

People plans such as workforce plans, DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility) plans, and my personal favorite, employee engagement plans are at the top of the list across all types of organizations.

You've likely been thinking about employee engagement plans too if you're struggling with turnover or looking to solidify what's currently working within your business. The news constantly talks about attrition and quiet quitting, making them important topics to address.

You need an employee engagement plan, one that resonates with all employees. But what should that look like? And, with your limited time and resources, is it possible to put together a program that doesn't drain you or your team?

Too often employee engagement initiatives are a muddled attempt to address a mix of human resources challenges. Engagement is separate from compensation policies, rewards and appreciation efforts, like parties and gifts. 

These efforts are a piece of the puzzle but don't lead to a more engaged workforce. With engagement and trust low right now, these efforts can backfire and lead to more cynicism.

The most effective employee engagement programs consist of a series of conversations where all employees – leaders and staff – are included. They discuss four topics that matter most within the workforce: purpose, communication, workplace environment or culture, and relationships.

These four engagement pillars form an essential structure you need to truly connect with and empower your employees. Typically, with human resources leading, businesses can create employee engagement programs around these pillars with as much or as little formality as desired. 

With a moderate approach, you can host a series of open-ended discussions focusing on one pillar at a time.

A more formal program includes the same topics but offers more structure and content as the discussion's foundation. You have specific outcomes in mind and a commitment to act on the group's recommendations.

Based on my experience, you don't need a meeting longer than one or two hours to achieve two important outcomes. The first outcome is employee appreciation: employees value being a part of helping shape their workplace. 

The second outcome is an action plan informed by your employees' recommendations. Having a plan removes the guesswork and enables HR and leadership to avoid stalling and trying things that aren't as meaningful for team engagement.

We work best when we're invited to contribute solutions for our day-to-day struggles, which gives us the ability to reach our company's goals. This four-part employee engagement series helps connect the team and build understanding. 

You can demonstrate leadership and inspire employees to contribute, furthering their commitment to each other and the business.



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