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Improve Employee Engagement
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What Are 9 Innovative Ideas That Actually Improve Employee Engagement?

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Adam Weber

“The most innovative or unique idea my company implemented in the last year that actually improved engagement for our employees is __________?”

Every month, we ask members of our HR Superstars Community an “icebreaker question” like this one around a different topic. Just like our first question (What keeps HR leaders up at night?) the responses to this question were phenomenal.

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It’s fascinating that higher engagement isn’t always sourced via streamlining productivity or creating clear goals and communication channels. Often times, what increases engagement is far more basic.

The power of connection 

Improving engagement is often counter-intuitive. One might think pulling away from work to connect with other team-members is going to hurt the bottom line but really, it’s the other way around.

One of our community hosts, Priscilla, shared that there is something special that happens when you meaningfully connect with teammates who you don’t work with regularly. There is a cohesiveness that gets added to the culture and the business.

Two of our community members shared these great responses about the power of connection at work:

1. “Our Organizational Development Program. We brought groups together remotely across the entire business to explore behavior, self awareness, teamwork, and collaboration. Employees  appreciated connecting with others that they don’t work with regularly. People felt that we were investing in them with this exercise, which improved employee engagement and motivation.” 

2. “We have team members from different business units sit in other teams sessions with the specific intention that they get a deeper understanding of those team’s challenges, accountabilities, dependencies, and how/if they can contribute meaningfully to this when back in their own teams. They’re also invited to share what their teams do differently that may be meaningful/helpful to the teams that they’re visiting.The increase in trust, transparency, communication, innovation, efficiency and effectiveness, and overall engagement has been extremely noticeable.”

Self-care? Bingo!

Like connection with others, personal time to get outside, meditate, or exercise can help people rest and recharge. When they return to work they can focus and get into a state of flow:

3. “Self Care BINGO! Every employee received a bingo card with ways to relax and reconnect. Winners enjoyed a gift card from Starbucks.”

4. “Company-wide reset and recharge days! The entire company had a day off to reset and recharge. No internal emails, video calls, or emails piling up in your inbox to worry about. Employees shared fun things they did while they were off and we celebrated them internally and externally on our social media pages.”

5. “Not really innovative but as part of the social unrest that began in May 2020, my organization started ‘Midweek Mindfulness’ sessions which are one hour discussions that any employee (hourly or salaried) can attend during work time. There is a weekly theme, agenda with guest speakers (internal and external), and small group breakouts where we discuss difficult topics and share our perspectives.

As a result, several affinity groups have formed (mental health, minority groups, remote work, etc.) and each is sponsored by a c-suite leader. It has been a great way to connect employees in different business units and countries, and has been an invaluable learning experience for all.”

Ask and ye shall receive (data)

Of course, it’s helpful to know how engaged people are with hard data so that you can understand where the opportunities lie and take appropriate action:

6. “Adding an engagement tool, gives leadership recommendations on ways to positively impact engagement, and extends coaching opportunities to those that need it. This has been, by far, the most innovative step our organization has taken.”

7. “We are a private equity owned pharmaceutical consulting firm that is growing rapidly both organically and through acquisitions. Trying to determine culture fit during due diligence has been a challenge for us in the past.  With the most recent acquisition, we conducted the Emplify survey during due diligence prior to the acquisition. By doing this, we are better able to assure culture fit – the most important element of a successful acquisition/integration.”

8. “We implemented regular 1-on-1 check-in meetings and Stay Interviews.”

Stay interviews are so underutilized yet so powerful! Here are some stay interview question from Love ’em or Lose ’em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans:

  • What will keep you here?
  • What might entice you away?
  • What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
  • What makes you hit the snooze button?
  • What one change in your current role would make you consider leaving this job?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about this department, team, organization?
  • As your manager, what could I do a little more of or a little less of?
  • If you had to go back to a position in your past and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?

I’ll end with this creative response that brings together self-care, data, and connection:

9. “Monthly all-company challenges that are totally gamified activities in app. These are not just step challenges, but community and volunteerism, meditation, gardening, learning, art, etc. Plus we included a rewards and recognition piece to it, reimbursements like lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) or a wallet for activities, and a weekly company-wide meeting to discuss nothing related to work. Often times these are employee-led to speak or teach about something they are passionate about. Engagement is over 98%.”

What’s your innovative idea for improving employee engagement? Let us know by joining the HR Superstars Community!

Image Credit: Ying Ge