As a Human Resources professional, we know the value and long-term positive effects of employee engagement in the workplace. In organizations with connected employees: productivity improves by 20-25%, they experience an average 3-year revenue growth 2.3 times greater than companies whose employees were only engaged at an average level, and companies outperform those without engaged employees by 202%. These statistics are just a few of many, but clearly illustrate that it's important for an organization to recognize the importance of and consider the steps they need to take to get a more engaged workforce.
Keeping employees engaged is no easy feat. Not only do you need buy-in from your executive team to implement your strategies, but you also have to choose initiatives that will actually keep your employees interested. You need clarity on your employee engagement measures to prove to your management team that the investment is worth the cost. As a Human Resources professional at a privately held, family-owned global logistics provider, part of my job is to work with a team to implement employee engagement programs in our organization. We have had a lot of success with these engagement programs, and here's an example of some of the most successful ideas we have implemented.
1. Health and Wellness focus with a Running Club
My company promotes health and wellness throughout various avenues, including biometric screenings, blood drives, flu clinics, etc. but we had an employee approach the HR department about having a running club after work. The administration of this program is extremely low since we simply send out emails periodically to promote participation. Since this is not an organizationally sponsored event (it occurs after business hours, and outside of the office) the liability is low, and the approval process was as simple as the idea. We also inform employees who are visiting from other offices, as the club loves meeting new faces from other offices, and the visitors love being able to stick with their running routines!
2. Giving Back to the Community with a Volunteer Day
One of the cornerstones of our company mission is to give back to the community. We believe that our organization is an integral part of the community fabric. Therefore, we recently championed a policy that allows employees to take one day a year and donate their time to a local charity. Because this is so closely aligned with our overall company philosophy, we were able to get approvals fairly easily. A key component to the success of this program is that we have opted to still compensate employees, as if they worked a normal day and it does not require them to use a vacation or personal day. Many individuals use this to accompany their children on school volunteer events, but we also organize and facilitate these events for employees throughout the year. Participation is shown to be drastically increased when we have C-Suite or Upper Management representation at the event but employees also love the flexibility to choose their own event and donate their time to a cause they are passionate about.
3. Getting the Employees Involved with Engagement Planning
We have a committee dedicated solely to creating and facilitating engagement events. This committee is comprised of volunteers throughout all levels of our organization and is overseen by the HR department. Together, we create business proposals for events and the designated event leader has the opportunity to present the proposal for approval. This is a unique opportunity, since the chances to interact in this capacity with stakeholders and c-suites is limited otherwise. We have hosted events from toy drives, to Halloween costume contests to game days. Because these are employee-driven events, they spread the word and promote participation within their teams. HR guides the event to ensure it fits with our culture and remove obstacles, but overall, this is a ‘for the people, by the people’ type of program. By the employees generating the ideas and facilitating them, it ensures the events are relevant and interesting to our workforce.
As with any employee engagement initiatives, these programs may continue to evolve and change based on interests or needs of the company. The main hurdle we have achieved here is getting an active understanding from the top that focuses on employee engagement as it not only helps productivity, but can save major dollars in employee turnover costs by producing a loyal, happier workforce.
About the Author: Noel Ridlon received her undergrad degree at Northern Illinois University and her MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from West Chester University. Noel has been working in Human Resources for almost 10 years, and has held a variety of positions in both non-profit and for-profit organizations. She also serves as an HR consultant for several non-profits in the Philadelphia area.