The importance of employee engagement is not new and everyone in HR is aware that happy employees positively impact a company’s bottom line. But making the business to ensure engagement is top of mind for your culture when it’s difficult to track culture initiatives and engagement spend can be a challenge.
As Lisa Whealon, a contributor to the Forbes Human Resources Council, points out in her recent article, engagement matters because:
- It can cost roughly $150,000 to replace an employee after you take into account recruiting costs, time to hire, training time and resources new staff need to get up to speed.
- Research suggests that organizations with engaged employees are much more successful than those without.
- Disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion annually.
- Engaged employees take fewer sick days.
But the question becomes, how do you provide employee engagement programs that don’t take significant profits away from the company? In her article, Whealon offers five morale boosters that won’t break the bank to aid in maintaining an engaged workforce.
- Send birthday/anniversary cards to all employees. Leaders or senior leaders should sign the cards. Employees appreciate feeling special on their special day. Bonus points for mailing this card to their home — feeling like someone cares enough to send you a card sends a strong message.
- Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. Every year on the first Friday in March employers across the country celebrate this national day of observance. If you aren’t celebrating, your employees are sure to know someone in their life who works at a place that does. In the world of social media, that message spreads quickly. Nothing makes an employee feel less appreciated and valued by their boss or company than watching others celebrate the day and not being invited to the party.
- Allow employees to make an impact on business activities Encourage employees to create committees based on their interests that tie in with the business. Then, let them lead these groups. By giving employees the autonomy to weave their interests into their day-to-day and partner with their co-workers who have similar interests, you build a sense of community and support. This leads to a more productive and safe environment. When employees feel safe and like they have a friend at work, they are more engaged in the work they are doing.
- Encourage employee surveys. Asking for feedback is critical in developing a culture of engaged people. How will you know if the initiatives you are putting in place are working or not? You get feedback to help steer efforts in the right direction. The simple act of asking for feedback goes a long way. Employees feel valued and heard when you ask them to weigh in on something or give suggestions for improvement. You will build positive momentum by having a process in place where employees can expect to share what is working and what isn’t. You should also ensure that there is a system for follow-up in place so you don’t send the wrong message. If you ask for feedback, there should be a system in place to acknowledge that you heard it and the plan is moving forward.
- Talk about it. Employee training should include discussions of why engagement is important to you as a business. Set the tone for how you expect them to behave and act as an employee. Share core values, hire employees who meet the core values expectations and make culture part of the conversation during review time. When employees feel leaders are invested, they will rise to the occasion.
As Whealon points out, you can put programs in place that focus on your culture and improve the odds of future business success.