Singapore has shown the lowest levels of employee engagement in Asia. But what exactly does that mean?
Employee engagement happens when employees wholeheartedly buy into the company’s mission and vision, clearly understand their job scope, and consistently contribute positively to the company. They must feel that their daily efforts contribute to the company, accept the rewards available to them as reasonable, and be satisfied with their career and personal development.
Employee engagement sounds like a panacea for all corporate ills, but while there are tried and tested strategies to improve employee engagement, there is no formula that guarantees success.
It is imperative to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your existing programmes, and work with the culture of your organisation. Here’s what you can do.
1. Ask the important questions
Think about your reasons for starting an employee engagement strategy and what you hope to achieve. In order for your strategy to succeed, it should be principle-guided rather than a random compilation of elements.
2. Be clear on what your company needs
Decide what employee engagement looks like in your company. This varies depending on company culture and demographics. Add elements to your strategy depending on what changes you want to see.
3. Survey your employees
If you want to know what works (and what doesn’t), just ask your employees! Send out an anonymous survey during your planning stage, and keep gathering feedback every quarter. You’ll get honest responses and demonstrate care and respect for your employees.
4. Have a “vent” box
Sometimes a “suggestion box” doesn’t really gain traction because it takes too much effort to come up with constructive criticism. An anonymous “vent box” could get more responses about things employees are dissatisfied with.
5. Take feedback seriously
At the end of the day, employee engagement is highly subjective. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, so it’s important to listen to feedback from the employees you’re trying to engage.
6. Get specialist help
You don’t have to start from scratch all on your own steam! There are a plethora of employee engagement tools and services available for you to tap on. External help also minimises the influence of biases and blind spots that you may have from knowing the team too well or for too long.
7. Power to the people
Give your employees a stake in the whole process. Don’t confine your employee engagement team to just HR and managers; anyone can have bright ideas and a passion for moving the company forward. You can even set up a rotating roster so that everyone gets a chance to plan and execute an event or activity.
8. Motivate your team
Bring in a motivational speaker once in a while to inspire and galvanise your team. But you should also incorporate motivation into your company culture, so start the day or week right with some quotes to keep everyone going.
9. Do good
Your employees will be proud to dedicate their effort to a good cause. It’s important to align your company to a purpose other than profit to attract and retain the most progressive talent and keep them engaged.
10. Give your employees purpose
Go one step further and show your employees how the work they do contributes to the company. Whether your company is small or big, employees will feel accomplished and motivated if they believe that their effort has made a difference.
11. Show your employees their real impact
Beyond showing your employees performance metrics, it can really help to let them know the real impact they’ve made on people. Gather and share glowing feedback from clients, business partners, and even other team members!
Let your employees know what’s going on. Transparency means trust, and employees will feel more involved in and integrated into the company when they get updates straight from the C-suite or their managers. Don’t let your employees feel disconnected from the “ivory tower”; get your leaders to host Q&As and hold office hours.
13. Consistent communication
Consistent communication minimises wasted effort and feelings of frustration. Foster a culture where employees work with their managers, communicating their needs and difficulties, as well as explaining roadblocks. Keep the whole team aware of each others’ progress and the reasons for any setbacks.
14. Continue mentorships
Once the on-boarding period is over, don’t let training and coaching lapse. Continually refresh your employees about company processes and strategies to perform their job roles more efficiently.
15. Give your employees more responsibility
This doesn’t mean giving them more tasks and deliverables. Instead, make sure that your employees are doing important work that has significant impacts on the company. When they know that their work is important, they’ll be motivated to do their best.
16. Don’t micromanage
While it seems counterintuitive, constantly checking in on your employees won’t make them more engaged. Instead, trust them to communicate and complete their tasks satisfactorily. This may even encourage them to take initiative and go beyond what is required of them.
17. Negotiable goal-setting
Allow your employees to set their own goals for the month or quarter because they’ll be inherently more motivated to achieve targets set by themselves. Of course, these goals are still liable to changes from their managers, but the feeling of trust and independence remains.
18. Help your employees achieve their goals
If you want to retain talent and keep them engaged, you need to help them in their professional development. Get managers to work with their teams to create roadmaps to mid-term and long-term goals like promotions and pay-raises.
19. Gamify and incentivise
Don’t be afraid to make things fun. Use elements of gamification to tap on everyone’s competitive spirit, as well as instantly show results and reward success. Provide incentives like vouchers and sabbaticals for big projects that are completed well.
20. Job shadowing opportunities
Maybe your employees haven’t found what they’re passionate about or best at doing, especially the young fresh graduates. Let them take a day to shadow another team member to understand their job role a bit better. If nothing else, this develops a sense of empathy between team members and a better understanding of the company.
21. Shuffle responsibilities
Sometimes there are just one or two tasks in someone’s workload that are major stumbling blocks in performance and motivation. Allow your teams to shuffle responsibilities, so that employees can ditch tasks they hate and take on tasks that they prefer from others.
22. Allow lateral movements
Let your employees move to completely different roles or even departments. If they really want to be doing something else and you don’t give them that opportunity, they’ll leave the company altogether. If it isn’t possible to switch over immediately, help them plan a path to get to where they want to be.
23. Give your employees long-term projects
Create teams with employees from different departments and give them long-term projects to work on. When employees with different backgrounds and skillsets collaborate, everyone benefits. They get to interact with a wider group of people, and the fresh outlook can help solve issues in their original departments as well.
24. Support professional development
In Singapore, there are many frameworks to get grants to send your employees for skills upgrading courses. But beyond that, your employees have interests beyond their job scopes. Reward them if they can apply what they’ve learnt in their personal development to the company.
25. Employee sharing
Your team has something to learn from each member. Give your employees platforms to share their past experiences, both with the company and elsewhere, as well as propose ideas for growth and development. Even if the impact seems minimal, they’ll appreciate the chance to contribute.
26. Office design
The design of your office matters. There are pros and cons to the traditional cubicle and the increasingly popular open concept, so decide what makes more sense for your team. However, consider mixing it up and letting employees from different departments mingle! You can also form an office design committee from employees who are interested and willing to help.
27. Company wide problem-solving brainstorming
Open up your problem-solving brainstorming sessions to include everyone who wants to join in. Sometimes you’ll get great ideas from unexpected places. No matter what, having different perspectives and fresh minds will benefit the discussion.
28. EQ code of conduct
When you’re trying to increase collaboration, you’ll also need to set some ground rules for positive interaction. Encourage a culture of affirmation and building on existing ideas, and discourage mockery and close-mindedness.
29. Respect and preserve company culture
New employees that don’t fit in can throw a major spanner in the works and disrupt the flow, causing tension that can have very tangible effects on your bottom line. Try to hire in line with your company culture – there’ll always be someone equally qualified who will work better with the existing team.
30. Fully integrate new hires
Make sure new hires get to know the entire team, at least by face. They’ll feel more at ease in the company, and your existing employees will be able to accept the changes. Aim to create an office culture that makes people want to join you and stay.
31. Team time
Let your team spend time with each other beyond the context of work. Encourage them to lunch or even walk to the bus stop or train station together. When your employees are at ease with each other, they’ll be able to collaborate more effectively and feel more comfortable in the office overall.
32. Find out what your team is passionate about
Try to integrate what your team is interested in into the workplace. This can be directly into working processes or as part of the wellness programme. This makes work more fun and lets employees feel engaged at work.
33. Care, genuinely
Cultivate genuine care between managers and their direct reports. Employees are likely to stay when they respect their managers and feel like their managers are invested in their wellbeing. If you want your employees to care about the company, make sure the company cares about them too.
34. Share the spotlight
If you really want to boost engagement, don’t be afraid to take a backseat once in a while. Employees will appreciate getting a chance to lead meetings and hear others talk.
35. Celebrate achievements
When your employees hit their monthly or quarterly goals, announce it to the rest of the team and have a big celebration.
36. Cultivate a culture of acknowledgement
Foster a culture among your employees. When teams are constantly looking out for each others’ strengths and achievements, it creates an all-around positive atmosphere. Who wouldn’t want that kind of experience everyday?
37. Recognition from the C-suite
Give employees meaningful recognition from the C-suite. When they’ve accomplished something really big or hit an important milestone, make sure it’s acknowledged. Consider going beyond an email and giving them a handwritten note that they can frame and display.
38. Emphasise work-life balance
If you want your employees to give their all at work, make sure they getting enough recharging outside of work. Work-life balance looks different for everyone, so talk to your team and see how you can support them.
39. Allow some schedule flexibility to maximise productivity
Different people work best at different times of day. Let the early birds start earlier, let the night owls work later, let people incorporate a long afternoon break to take a nap or spend some time with their children.
40. Take care of employee wellness
We’ve compiled a really comprehensive list of 100 employee wellness ideas that you can check out right here!
41. Provide healthier food options
Food is fuel, and eating right really makes a difference. Boxgreen offers a one-stop pantry management service, so we can help you provide the best for your team even if you don’t know where to start. We offer not just snacks, but also cold pressed juices, fresh fruits, and vending machine services. Contact us now to get started!