5 initiatives you should include in your employee engagement strategy

There is no shortage of statistics linking employee engagement with productivity. And yet, according to a 2013 state of the American workplace report from Gallup, active disengagement continues to cost companies up to $550 billion in lost productivity each year – and that’s in the US alone.

So how do organisations remedy dwindling productivity?

What employee engagement strategies can they put in place to improve workplace culture, productivity and wellbeing?

Take a look at five of the best ones you can start implementing today.

1. Look beyond performance-driven management

Acknowledging a lack of employee engagement can be difficult, as it may reflect poorly on your previous decisions. This is especially true if you’re an HR leader, or an executive responsible for hiring or promoting managers.

However, the Gallup data doesn’t shy away from facts when it comes to poor management. A whopping 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units has to do with disagreements with managers.

It could be pinned on the manager’s style or personality. Whatever the reason, evaluation and assessment of management success has to go beyond performance.

It should also include employee engagement as a clear metric, paving the road for two-way communication and a bottom-up flow of ideas.

2. Promote personal development

A 2016 Gallop report ('How Millenials Want to Live and Work') found that 87% of millennials and 69% of other age groups believe opportunities for career growth are as important as salary and benefits. In short, they want challenges and ways to grow.

In terms of development programmes, you could therefore look at job rotations, growth plans, or mentoring programmes. But investment in educational employee training programmes tend to tick the most boxes, allowing employees to develop new skills that are just as valuable for themselves as for the organisation.

Learning a new language, for instance, is often at the top of employee’s wish list.

A language training and development programme also makes them more competitive in the global marketplace, boosts productivity, and improves company culture – especially when it comes to cross-cultural efforts.

Busuu for Business has proven that online language learning is the perfect way to encourage productivity and innovation amongst employees.

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3. Implement group learning programmes

Continuing with the Gallup research, it finds that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%. Employees with a best friend at work are also seven times more likely to be fully engaged.

You can do your part to promote social interactions with great communal areas or out-of-office activities. Still, nothing beats a group learning session to break the ice and push co-workers to bond. These programmes can cover a wide range of upskilling opportunities, from computer programs to language learning.

4. Enable passion projects

It’s not news that, as an L&D professional, it’s often hard to justify spending and prove ROI. Which is why it’s so surprising that one of the best policies can simply be to give employees more free time.

Not that they’ll be using their free time to twiddle their thumbs: Google employees, for instance, are encouraged to spend 20% of their time on passion projects. That means they dedicate one day per week to executing ideas that are outside of their core job responsibilities.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the policy has paid off for the tech giant. The now-famous “20% time” initiative has led to some of their employees spearheading some of the company’s most popular products – Gmail, AdSense and Google Maps, amongst others.

5. Create long-term roadmaps

“Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” It’s one of recruiters’ all-time favourite questions to ask candidates in an interview.

But employees have every right to ask that same question. In fact, company goals, values and culture are becoming increasingly important factors to top talent. Because, in the long term, it’s important that company and each employee’s individual goals should align.

Transparency around these goals is paramount, which is why managers and employees should take the time to write them down, in order to give everyone a sense of purpose and direction.

The key message?

Putting time and money into your employee engagement strategy can be the key to numerous benefits for your organisation.

It increases productivity, improves retention, and even boosts company morale.

But not all engagement initiatives will succeed – especially if employees see through them as cynical attempts to give them company-worthy skills.

For best results, the engagement programme you choose needs to meet the needs of both each individual employee and the wider business. You may also have another approach for supporting a global team with employee engagement initiatives.

At Busuu for Business, we believe language learning is one of those ideal programmes, and one of the most efficient ways of increasing employee engagement – both in the short and long term.

To see how Busuu’s language courses can improve employee satisfaction, engagement and company culture:

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