Best Practices

5 Low-Cost Employee Engagement Practices to Implement Today!

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Happy employees make for a better workplace

Let’s face it. Articles on employee engagement can often be vague and lacking real substance. Let’s get passed the mantra of “engaged employees make better employees”. We must all know by now that we need to be listened to, cared for, recognized, and valued for the important contributions we make to our companies, right?

But what of employee engagement strategies in practice and in real life?  How do you actually implement, measure, and maintain an efficient employee engagement program? It’s true that hardly anyone is able to explain, with clarity, the ins-and-outs of an employee engagement program without sounding facile, or like a sales pitch for a product.

Where should I start? How much will it cost? Can I truly engage my workforce even if I don’t have a sufficient budget allocated to it? How do I measure results?

These are all important questions which absolutely must be addressed before you begin investing time, money, and effort into your employee engagement initiatives.

The employee engagement race

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that having the best, most engaged, workforce is a competitive advantage that can have you winning the race to profitability and market share against your fiercest competitors. Oftentimes, it’s only larger corporations which have the financial means to offer high incentives and exceptional perks to their staff, along with dedicated managers running their day-to-day employee engagement efforts.  

Small to medium-sized businesses just cannot compete based on resources alone. So, how then does a small and growing upstart with big dreams attract and retain the best workforce in 2018 with the likes of Google and Apple in their rearview? Sometimes it’s just not possible to offer your staff high-tech “smart” toilets, free smartphones, a fully-stocked snack bar, or unlimited vacations.

Costing anywhere between 10 000$ to 50 000$ for installation and configuration alone, most employee engagement software is priced way out of the bracket of affordability for most businesses.

If you’re a company whose just opened its doors, you simply don’t have that kind of money to spend on such human resources initiatives. To be fair, free employee recognition software does exist, however. We’ve already introduced you to Applauz, no need to go over charted territory here, just remember that Applauz is the only FREE employee recognition software specifically developed for small and medium-sized companies and we’re good!

But as useful as Applauz is, relying on software alone to meaningfully engage your team is simply not enough. Leaders must also consider their role in the employee engagement chain. That is to say, nothing should, or even can replace meaningful acts of human kindness and praise in the workplace. Before being an employee, we are human – humans who appreciate real human connections.

One way to thwart employee disengagement is to offer out-of-the-ordinary (read: creative) professional/social activities.

Much like your weekly diet: if you’re fed a dull salad every single day of the week, it will only be a matter of time before you can’t stand the sight of greens anymore, right?  For most of us, we’d probably be sick of that dull green salad after only a couple of days.

5 meaningful (and low-cost) employee engagement tactics

Here are five proven ideas that your organization can implement in a heartbeat without having to spend an exorbitant amount of your cash-strapped dollars. What’s more, it has you asking none of the questions we mentioned above. Phew!

Lunch and Learn

Offering employees the opportunity to discuss a book, a movie, or whatever has recently caught their interest, while also having a delicious meal, is a great way to take a break from the everyday and encourage human connections during office hours. What’s more, it allows employees and their managers to learn more about each other’s personal interests, tastes, and opinions, unrelated to work tasks. This can serve to truly humanize your workforce.

Celebrate important events

Consider for a moment the birthday messages you receive from 2nd or 3rd degree connections on Facebook. Even if you hardly know these folks we may call “friends”, you’re still feeling the fuzzies, no? Now imagine how much more impactful it would be if, for instance, your colleagues and managers remembered to wish you a happy birthday on your special day? Taking the time to write, or say, a little something personal and meaningful to the birthday girl or guy, live and in person goes a long way. While you’re at it, why not take a second or two to praise their good work and contribution to the organization? You’ll surely get bonus engagement points for that! 

Movie night at the office

Why not organize a movie night at the office? Having fun at work outside office hours is a good way to reappropriate the space and associate it with pleasure/leisure. All you really need is maybe a few couches, a TV set, and Netflix. This activity allows employees and managers to relax together and have a good time away from business conversations.

Start a book of the month club

Offering employees the possibility to read a book which develops their professional acumen can expand their intellectual boundaries, and inspire them to develop new skills that directly benefit your business. It can also help groom them for possible future promotions. It’s a win-win situation. Have employees choose a book, read it, and present the lessons they’ve drawn from it to whomever they feel comfortable with. As much as we think we’ve exhausted a subject, there’s always something more to learn.

Throw an office party

I know what you’re thinking here… Parties are expensive and difficult to organize. Besides, what’s in it for the company exactly? There’s no need to make it the party of the century by spending lavishly on a famous DJ and providing an endless fountain of champagne.  A fun and engaging office party can be super simple to pull off, really. Get your team together in an open environment, provide refreshments and some fun activities and you’re already on the right track.

The takeaway

There’s no need for expensive employee engagement strategies. Motivating your workforce is ultimately about how people engage with each other on a personal level at work and how you support it as a professional.

Engagement is about fostering genuine human connections that motivate and energize your workforce. No employee engagement software will work if leaders don’t invest a minimum of personal time and care in their employees’ well-being and happiness. The only cost we’re suggesting you consider here is time and effort.

One last tidbit to consider…

If you’re still sitting on the fence with this whole employee engagement “thing”, why not listen to this recent study?  It shows unequivocally that on 78% of the companies providing a documented employee engagement strategy, a full 50% have benefited from measurable and irrefutable improvements to their bottom-line.

Another survey from not that long ago found that, employees who have fun at work are less likely to take sick days, and more likely to report feeling creative and more committed to their organization.

There’s no disputing those numbers. Employee engagement is the secret sauce to employee happiness. Happy employees make for a better workplace but we’ve mentioned that already!

So there you go.