By William B. Horne, President and CEO of Truist
In recent years, the concept of employee engagement has become an increasingly bigger part of managing a workforce. Business leaders have acknowledged that aligning company goals with employee interests can benefit the organization in many ways; engaged employees are happier, more productive, and have a higher retention rate than employees who feel that the company does not share the same values as they do. Simply put, an organization that focuses its resources on employee engagement will be stronger in the long run and have greater success in achieving its core business objectives.
Happy Employees are Creative Employees
Companies that provide a framework for increased engagement are much more likely to attract top talent to the company ranks. These employees will bring creative ideas to the table, which in turn will provide a wide range of benefits to your business. Give your employees opportunities to engage with what’s important to them and your company. Provide plenty of team opportunities for them to engage in groups as well; group activities are a great way for companies to come up with fresh and creative solutions to challenging problems or for breaking through the status quo.
Focus on Your Most Engaged Staff
Chances are, your most engaged employees are the ones who are making a difference in helping your company get better results. Listen to your overachievers and give them the tools they need to be successful, such as opportunities for increased creativity and engagement on a broader level within your business. Give them plenty of freedom, let them experiment, appreciate their efforts (even when they fail), and reward them with praise. Capitalize on the excitement that these employees have for your company and use it to turn them into leaders.
Offer Workplace CSR or Sustainability Campaigns
Workplace campaigns that focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability can build employee alignment and friendships that drive continued commitment. When employees get together and creatively think through ways for the company to act more responsibly, that commitment and alignment naturally will tie back to the company’s goals. The creative process increases employee satisfaction and retention rates, and employees are much more likely to involve other constituents (such as customers or industry experts) in pursuing these kinds of goals.
Younger Employees are Heavily Influenced by Engagement
When it comes to career decisions among the Millennial generation, studies have shown that having a sense of purpose is a significant driver. In many cases, working for a company that shares the same values as them is even more important than working for a company that pays a higher salary. Millennials are more engaged with and informed about the causes they support, and they expect more in regard to the act of giving back or doing good. Capture their energy and drive to spark additional enthusiasm and creativity across the company.
Encourage Responsible Social Media Use
Some companies think of social media as an unnecessary distraction and try to block employees from using it on company computers. This usually builds resentment, as the employees simply turn to their smartphones in order to use Facebook and Twitter. Understand that social media has become an integral part of modern life that can also be a powerful tool for strengthening employee engagement. Give employees space and credit for creating, and encourage them to share what they’ve done. With this empowerment, employees will be much more inclined to use their own personal social media accounts to generate enthusiasm for the great things they’ve done in the workplace.
Don’t Expect Perfection
While perfection may be an impossible goal, you can expect continuous improvement for your employee engagement initiatives. You obviously can’t keep everyone happy all of the time, so keep your sights on the bigger picture. Building a broad plan for increasing employee engagement through CSR and sustainability programs yields obvious benefits for increased employee creativity, happiness, and general welfare for the entire company. Focus on measurable, achievable goals so you can track your progress. Promote your success—and others may step up to be a part of the creative process that drives further engagement companywide.