855-462-4249

10 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement in Small Businesses

Posted: July 15, 2019
Category: Uncategorized

Employee engagement directly impacts an organization’s turnover and retention rate. Low levels of employee engagement can cost an organization more than it costs to simply hire and onboard a replacement. From employee morale to customer service and beyond, employee turnover impacts an organization at all levels. It’s no wonder why organizations spend billions of dollars annually on employee turnover.

The more engaged employees are, the less likely they are to be dissatisfied and leave their employers. How do you keep employees engaged? Below is a list of ten easy-to-implement ways to engage your employees on a consistent basis.

Interested in employee engagement topics? Check out our related article: 3 Facts About Small Business Employee Turnover

  1. Encourage Creativity

Creativity serves two critical functions when it comes to employee engagement. First, employees who are encouraged to be creative and develop novel ideas and solutions to problems experienced within their jobs are more likely to feel valued by their employers. Employees feel valued more when their employers encourage creativity because it provides them with a meaningful voice and a megaphone within their organization. They are encouraged to contribute to the organization as a whole, no matter how small or large their actual assignment is, in a way that is meaningful to them.

Encouraging creativity within employees provides those employees with an extended license to be themselves. Oftentimes, employees are faced with boring procedures through which they must approach their daily activities. Although encouraging creativity won’t necessarily remove such formalities from employees’ daily lives, it’ll provide them with the opportunity to be themselves and contribute more meaningfully to their employers.

  1. Promote Positivity

Employees are consistently overworked and underappreciated by their employers. If they’re not overworked or underappreciated, they still might feel like they’re carrying the weight of their departments while their efforts go unnoticed. When this happens, employees are surely going to become gradually disengaged from their roles, which will cost their employers. Additionally, such disengagement will lead to a decrease in employee morale as others must step in to carry the weight that the now disgruntled employee once carried.

Promoting positivity within your organization costs very little and comes with a huge payoff. In fact, there are several benefits to promoting positivity. First, employee morale will improve. It’s human nature to mirror the feelings of those around them. Promoting positivity and happiness throughout your organization will lead to employees enjoying their workplaces more, also resulting in increased productivity. Second, customer service will improve. Increased employee morale will result in happier employees, which will, in turn, trickle down to your organization’s customers. Third, promoting positivity throughout your organization will result in lower employee turnover and higher retention.

  1. Recognize Employee Achievements

No matter what industry you’re in, human capital is the backbone of your organization. Your employees, whether you have many or few, are what keep your organization operational. Too often, employees make incredible achievements and their employers approach such achievements with the wrong mindset. Although employees are compensated by their employers to perform certain functions and achieve particular goals, such achievements should not go unnoticed. It is important to remember that employees are people and people need recognition. While it is unnecessary to break out the bright lights and trumpets when recognizing your employees’ achievements, it is unwise to overlook them. Although they’re compensated for their actions, employee morale begins to decline as more and more of their achievements are overlooked.

Recognizing employee achievements doesn’t require too much effort. The importance of recognition is in the act itself, not the form with which it is implemented. A simple meeting with an employee to recognize an achievement or a company-wide email can have the same impact on an employee’s morale. It doesn’t stop there, though. Recognizing employee achievements also improves morale within those employees who have not accomplished recognition-worthy achievements. It feeds into promoting positivity within the workplace and improves every part of the organization.

  1. Continuously Train Employees

Most employees aspire to grow and develop overtime. Whether their motives are to be able to afford a better home one day, put their children through college, or change the world, they are valid and important. Employee development should be taken very seriously by organizations as it critically impacts many parts of an organization over time. Continuous employee training results in increased employee engagement and retention, reducing their employer’s overhead exponentially over time. Ongoing training activities not only improve employees’ job performance, but also signal that the employer is invested in the success of its employees.

Too often employees are hired, onboarded, and left to fend for themselves. Their direct supervisors slowly overextend them with work that goes beyond their skills. In the beginning, it’s okay. Over time, however, the level of work beyond employees’ known skills becomes a burden and morale begins to decline. In addition to improving employee morale on an ongoing basis, ongoing training also helps to attract quality candidates when looking to onboard new employees.

  1. Engage in Team Activities

Team activities in the workplace help to build a sense of community within an organization. Whether your organization is made up of 5 people or 500 people, team activities enable employees to bond and grow with their colleagues in a manner that’s less formal than they would otherwise while they’re fulfilling the functions of their job. Team activities don’t have to be purely recreational. In fact, some of the best team activities can include several colleagues working together in a more relaxed manner with the objective of producing a piece of high-quality work for their employer.

  1. Implement Volunteering Initiatives

Often overlooked in smaller businesses, volunteering initiatives are an excellent way to improve employee engagement levels throughout your organization. People are generally good. However, not all good people have the time or are willing to find the time to volunteer for different causes they are passionate about. Studies have shown that employees are becoming more and more willing to leave an employer if the employer does not offer meaningful opportunities to give back.

Volunteering initiatives should be meaningful but don’t need to consume too much of your organization’s resources. Don’t implement a volunteer initiative to simply retain employees, that won’t work. The key here is to have employees engage in some meaningful form of giving that adds value to the intended beneficiaries of such efforts. Effective volunteer initiatives are generally done on the clock and together as a team.

  1. Add Plants

Plants improve office aesthetics, which often decrease employee morale. Research shows that offices with no plants exhibit productivity levels that are 15% lower than those that have a few simple houseplants in them. Plants add a lively burst of energy to the spaces within which they are located and increase employee morale and productivity, leading to increased engagement and reduced turnover rates. They offer wins all around.

  1. Give Employees Individual Attention

A critical mistake that many organizations make, especially small businesses, is failing to provide each employee with individual attention. Although employees are part of a team while they’re at work, each still has individual goals. While one employee is simply working to pay rent, another employee aspires to be a manager. Employees have their own goals and identities, and it is critical for organizations to not only understand their unique identities, but also embrace them.

Providing employees with individual attention requires a bit of time and finesse, but proper execution can yield huge dividends for your organization. When providing individual attention, make sure it’s individual and about the employee specifically. Don’t approach providing individual attention in a group setting as it will reduce the impact of the attention given. Additionally, don’t focus exclusively on the individual within the context of the team on which the employee sits. This, too, will reduce how meaningful the attention is perceived. Focus on the employee as a person and how this employee can improve his or her career within your organization.

  1. Provide the Right Tools

There’s nothing worse for an employee than being tasked and not having the appropriate tools to do the job. Could you imagine cutting a tree with a Swiss army knife? It’s certainly possible, but it’ll take a painstaking number of hours and you’ll likely be frustrated along the way. This is what it’s like for an employee who’s tasked without the proper tools. This is especially the case when other members within their organization are relying on them for deliverables.

Not having the correct tools to perform the functions of one’s job leads to increased stress, anxiety, and decreased morale. In fact, morale can plummet due to an inability to perform a job well because of factors that are beyond the employee’s control. Providing employees with the right tools for their jobs increases productivity and engagement, resulting in increased morale and retention.

  1. Listen to Employees’ Concerns

Employees are the backbone of every organization. Oftentimes, employees express concerns that go unheard and unaddressed. They either don’t have a forum to speak or their supervisors don’t take the time to listen. Listening to employees’ concerns serves several important functions within an organization. First, and most importantly, it provides employees with a meaningful voice. As noted earlier, this is critical to employee engagement because employees are human and want to be heard. Second, it provides organizations with critical feedback on potentially larger issues within the organization. Third, it provides the organization with the opportunity to get ahead of potential liabilities while simultaneously improving employees’ experiences in the workplace.