Sometimes employees don’t feel engaged at work, leading to a less-than-positive work ethic and environment. That doesn’t mean employers should stream cat videos on a loop to keep workers alert, but engaged employees mean engaged customers.
According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, 32 percent of American employees feel engaged at work, while 50.8 percent of workers showed up, checked items off the to-do list and watched the time go by until clock-out time. The remaining 17.2 percent, termed actively disengaged, checked out totally on the job.
Employee engagement directly impacts profitability, productivity, absenteeism, retention and customer engagement. Here are five small hacks to make your employees happier and improve employee retention rates.
1. Provide Reviews Year-Round
Don’t wait for the annual review period to positively reinforce the work your employees are doing. Keep in mind that 60 percent of employees want regular feedback, daily or weekly, and for employees under 30, the number increases to 72 percent. Over 75 percent of respondents believe feedback is invaluable to success, and 45 percent prefer to also hear feedback from peers and clients, but less than 30 percent receive this level of feedback.
What about negative feedback? If constructive feedback is delivered appropriately, 92 percent agree such feedback effectively improves performance. Formal reviews rule the giving of annual feedback, but employees want more direct and intermediate interaction. Those annual performance reviews likely don’t reflect true and accurate employee contributions on a weekly or monthly basis. Offer year-round reviews to actively engage employees.
2. Get to Know Employees as Human Beings
Treat employees with dignity and respect, not like little worker bees. Human beings each have their talents, strengths and weaknesses, and they also have lives outside of work. How well they enjoy their free time impacts their ethic on the job and vice versa. Get to know employees as people.
Your employees contribute real people skills that are not directly measurable but valuable, nonetheless. Reward employees when they support one another and help each other solve conflicts. When opportunities and challenges arise, you’ll know which employees are best equipped on a deeper level to tackle various situations.
Also, let employees take personal time for an emergency or to recover from stress. Build trust on a personal and professional level.
3. Offer Proper Break Time
Give employees proper break time to maintain engagement and productivity. Outside of mandated breaks required by law, are your employees getting enough break time?
Small changes make big differences. Employees should move around every ten minutes on the hour instead of remaining in their chairs and experiencing eye strain from prolonged use of the computer. Ensure employees stretch their legs and have time away from the computer. Convertible sitting-to-standing desks prevents people from staying in one position all workday.
4. Don’t Favor Particular Employees Over Others
Nepotism and favoritism affect employees negatively, leading to employees feeling unrecognized and motivated to quit rather than seek success at work. Subtle signs of favoritism also contribute to negative work culture, such as bosses looking another way when one employee breaks the dress code or is consistently late but docking others. A culture of favoritism discourages professional growth, where fair feedback and rewards among all employees encourage success, retention and loyalty.
Smaller companies that create cultures of favoritism stand to lose more with a high turnover rate, since larger companies may more easily cover one or three people quitting. The loss of valuable workers due to unfair favoritism still impacts both small and large employers. Create a fair culture of respect in the place of favoritism. For example, set the same base salary for employees who work in the same position.
5. Develop a Mentorship Program
Give employees the opportunity to mentor youth or new recruits. Mentorship programs also apply to employees looking to gain skills in another department and to senior employees who want to help professionals interested in climbing the corporate ladder.
When you do good acts for others, you feel good, too. This chain reaction of positivity impacts work culture and productivity: 71 percent of Fortune 500 businesses offer professional mentoring programs to employees, from leadership to career development.
Real returns on investment may be made when employers focus on engaging employees. Just encouraging employees to stretch their legs once on the hour shows you care about their well-being. When an employee does well, speak up in the moment and avoid favoritism.
Small steps lead to big impacts on positive work culture, productivity, work-life balance, job satisfaction and loyalty. Retaining the talent you have speaks more about the well-being and success of the company in a recruit’s eyes than big moves it made in the market 10 years ago. Investing in your employees and helping them grow in their careers is a great way to boost morale and also grow your bottom line.