10 Ways to make employee engagement a priority at your company

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5 mins, 49 secs read time

Retain your talent and increase productivity

Sesame Mish is Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. She is also pursuing an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. Besides a love for marketing and the written word, she enjoys playing volleyball, doing volunteer work, and rooting for her favorite team, the San Francisco Giants. Connect with Sesame on Twitter and LinkedIn.

At a time when competition for top talent is skyrocketing, companies are refocusing internal efforts on employee engagement. Why? According to Gallup, high engagement results in higher employee retention, not to mention 21% higher productivity and 22% higher profitability!

But, engaging employees is not as simple as you may think.

It takes thoughtful, deliberate effort to create an environment that fosters engagement for every person from every angle, from their first call with a recruiter, to their onboarding as a new hire, to their effective tenure as an employee. This is the best approach to engaging people from the beginning and never letting the momentum drop. Because if you do let the momentum drop, your employees will feel it – and they may leave as a result because they know they can get it elsewhere.

Don’t let this happen to you. Remember: companies are only as strong as their employees. So you want to give your employees every reason to be satisfied, motivated, and engaged and ultimately, stay put and perform at their best.

Here are 10 strategies for you to create a highly engaging atmosphere and increase retention and productivity as a result:

1. Seek out candidates who are more apt to engage

Building a team of engaged employees begins in the recruiting process. There is a link between people who are the right fit for your company and their ability and willingness to be engaged in your company’s particular environment. So in your initial phone screens with candidates, ask questions that pinpoint whether the candidates align with your company’s mission and values, work processes, and overall culture. This will set a solid foundation to achieve a higher level of engagement once they become employees.

2. Make onboarding more than just orientation

When done right, onboarding can work to engage employees from day one. At Greenhouse, we make onboarding a week-long process, full of “getting to know you” sessions, buddy lunches, team outings, meet-n-greets with the founders, and in-depth trainings on the company’s mission, values, brand, and product. Make sure new hires know how excited everyone is to have them on board, whether it’s through decking out their desk in colorful company swag or simply telling them “I’m glad you’re here.”

3. Encourage employees to recommend their peers

Employee referral programs not only bring in strong talent, but they also empower current employees to refer candidates and make decisions as to whom they think would be a great addition to the team, giving them purpose and a voice. To further propel engagement, be sure to recognize employees for their participation.

4. Give employees opportunities to grow

Today’s professionals are eager to be challenged, acquire new skills, and work their way up. So, take active measures to support their ongoing development by setting up specialized in-house training sessions, informing them of online classes of interest, or even organizing an employee shadow program where they can work with and learn from those who they wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance. The more effort you put into their growth, the more engaged they will be with various aspects of the business.

5. Clearly map out career ladders

At a time when moving jobs every couple of years has become the norm, you should be transparent with employees by explaining the career path they could achieve by remaining with the company. Here at Greenhouse, managers sit down with employees to go over their department’s specific career ladders and the exact steps needed to advance to each rung accordingly. This keeps employees engaged since the path to success is clear and documented.

6. Give employees a voice through pulse surveys

Pushing out pulse surveys – short, targeted questionnaires – will empower your team to speak up about what’s working and what’s not, making them active participants in shaping company processes and culture. To be successful, send surveys out on a regular basis, perhaps monthly or weekly, and don’t just ask for employee feedback – show employees their input truly matters by taking quick action to address problems and make change.

7. Provide recognition for a job well done

Saying “thank you” and “great job!” go a long way. When employees are recognized for their contributions, whether closing a deal, completing a big project, or even helping out another colleague, they will feel appreciated and valued and are more likely to stick around longer. Through Greenhouse Onboarding and at Greenhouse all-hands meetings, we make a point to congratulate people who are hired, promoted, or hit a personal milestone, like running a marathon or graduating from a master’s program. These meetings also serve as an opportunity for employees to get up in front of everyone and present their work projects and other team successes. Shining the spotlight on employees who are making waves does wonders for engagement.

8. Encourage everyone to break routine

If your particular workspace screams “sit and stare at your computer screen all day,” your engagement levels will likely be low. One way to mix things up is to hold team meetings off site, such as at a coffee shop or park (rather than in the typical humdrum conference room). In addition, at Greenhouse, we like to infuse our team meetings with a “not what are you doing, but how are you doing” segment, where we take a step back from the work conversation for a moment and talk like real people who care about one another.

9. Host events outside of work

Move past the confines of the workday by planning social gatherings and volunteer opportunities for your team to bond and interact without work being the topic of discussion. Make sure that senior leadership is actively involved, too, so that employees can get to know them as real people, beyond the suit and tie. To increase engagement at Greenhouse, we hold collaborative brainstorming sessions where everyone comes together to decide what we’ll do on our next Fun Day.

10. Create opportunities for employees to engage one another

At Greenhouse, we recognize employees who exemplify one principle of the Greenhouse culture credo by placing a colorful gnome figurine on the individual’s desk. The next week, they choose a fellow co-worker to pass the gnome onto. When employees see other employees excited about the company, it inclines them to want to engage, too.

All in all, the best way to achieve better engagement is by asking your employees for their input on how to best engage them! Not only will implementing their suggestions increase engagement, but the mere act of asking for their opinion will make them feel valued and integral to the process.