A healthy workplace culture extends beyond cordial hellos, stocked break room refrigerators and the occasional foosball table in the lounge. While it may be difficult to detect negative work environments that aren’t blatantly toxic, measuring the level of employee engagement is a great indicator of where a company falls on the culture spectrum.
This is because higher levels of employee engagement signal that culture is where it needs to be, and companies with engaged employees are shown to outperform those without by 202 percent and show 21 percent greater profitability. On the other hand, low engagement leads to decreased morale and productivity within the organization.
In fact, Gallup found that only 35 percent of employees feel engaged at work, which unfortunately unravels into a larger workplace culture issue. With such a strong link between engagement and productivity, proactively boosting and maintaining a company culture of engaged employees has become a prime focal point of organizations across the country.
How to Encourage High Engagement
A team of engaged employees does not just simply happen. With the recent shift of people working from the comfort of their homes for over two years to suddenly returning to the office, it’s imperative that workplaces welcome more employee personalization and control over their environments to instill a true sense of comfort and familiarity. Only then can teams feel comfortable and ready to engage. From transforming sterile, static workspaces of the past into welcoming environments where employee-selected music is heard throughout the hallways, to creating shared brainstorming rooms where open conversation is encouraged, there are a few ways companies can empower workers to have a say in their workplaces to foster that engagement.
- Listen and Act on Employee Feedback:
- Just as listening improves our personal relationships, it improves our working ones as well. The opposite can also have an alarming effect in the workplace. According to reports, lack of communication actually hurts a business’s bottom line. For instance, the overall cost of productivity losses resulting from communications problems reaches approximately $26,041 per employee per year.
Employers must take action to ensure communication is effective in the workplace before any problems arise. Rather than collecting feedback in an exit interview, keep an open line of communication to learn of challenges before they snowball into something insurmountable. Consider conducting anonymous surveys at intervals throughout the year or coordinating groups where employees are free to share thoughts and ideas openly, or use elements, such as music, on a routine basis to subtly create a comfortable, approachable environment where conversation will naturally flow.
- Find Creative Ways to Get to Know Employees: Workers who feel that their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. What better way to be heard than being able to express likes and dislikes? Rather than having a manager decide where to host happy hour or teamwork exercises, try voting on a location or taking turns to decide.
This allows all employees the opportunity to share their favorite local spots. In addition, music fosters engagement in a subtle yet powerful way. Employers can welcome the diverse voices, backgrounds, cultures, and tastes of all employees by inviting them to engage in collaborative music by actively selecting songs and playlists through an interactive music solution throughout the workplace. Not to mention, it’s a great conversation starter that doesn’t revolve around the usual work topics.
- Reward Teams and Hard-Working Individuals:
According to research, recognition is a crucial predictor of positive workplace outcomes, such as employee retention and productivity. Implementing a rigorous points system that allows employees to “choose” their reward is a great way to encourage high engagement. This method might also help companies gain a competitive edge when it comes to attracting new talent.
Another option is to reward workers in creative ways that speak to them personally. Play one of their favorite jams for the entire office to join in the celebration, take the group to that employee’s favorite restaurant or give a special shout-out on the corporate social media channels.
- Create a Fearless Work Environment: Fear has no place in an office that values productivity, and organizations should do their part in encouraging fearless engagement. Recent research found that employees are likely to speak up if they’re confident their ideas will have an impact on an organization, especially a positive outcome for themselves and their team. If someone is silent, it is likely because they are not confident enough to take risks at work or fear they’ll be shunned for speaking up.
With that in mind, it’s important to foster a safe space of engagement. Collaboration and speaking up should be encouraged, with regular chances to share an anonymous opinion as well. Fearless environments are a sign of healthy cultures and high engagement.
With positive culture and productivity being directly linked to employee engagement, it’s imperative to foster workplaces that cultivate enjoyable, diverse, and safe spaces that naturally breed high levels of engagement. By actively listening to feedback, getting to know team members, rewarding efforts and cultivating a fearless environment, organizations are well on their way to creating a healthy culture that workers want to be a part of – and want to engage in.
Written by W. Ross Honey.
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