Employee engagement is the corporate buzzword of the decade. Studies often differentiate between employees who are engaged, “not engaged,” and actively disengaged. Such terms are often used in an attempt to scare CEOs into thinking that 71% of their workforce has one foot out the door at all times.
The truth is, we’re living in an employee-first market. Unemployment numbers are astonishingly low going into 2020, which means employers have to settle for less passionate candidates with lower-level qualifications. Wages have to be raised in order to keep up with market value and play a considerable role in employee engagement. However, wage increases rarely affect all employees simultaneously and may lose their efficacy in retaining employees over time. Companies have to get creative and provide additional value in order to attract, motivate, and retain their best talent.
High-dollar benefits packages, incentive travel programs, and cash rewards have all failed to reduce turnover costs and produce a high enough ROI for most companies. If you’re feeling the pressure to come up with new employee engagement ideas that work, consider the following proven options.
Employee Engagement Ideas That Actually Work
1. Establishing Meaningful Metrics
Standard employee incentive programs often miss the mark because they’re incentivizing the wrong behavior. For example, call centers often reward employees for the total number of calls completed in an 8-hour shift—but that incentivizes employees to creatively rush through each customer interaction. First call resolutions or customer satisfaction scores are metrics that actually incentivize the behavior you want. By establishing meaningful company-wide metrics, you ensure alignment between your ultimate business goals and your incentive system.
2. Setting Specific Employee-First Goals
Company-wide metrics are only effective at motivating employees when they’re explicitly tied to meaningful individualized goals. Most goal-setting activities happen from the top down. CEOs set metrics, managers set team goals, and impose individual quotas in an attempt to reach those goals. Nothing about this process inspires employee engagement. If you’ve never experimented with employee-led goal-setting, there’s never been a better time in corporate history to try. Let your employees see the metrics and set their own goals in response. You might be surprised—some employees will set goals for themselves that far outshine the goals you might have envisioned for them.
3. Providing Branded Rewards
Successful incentive programs usually involve multiple levels of achievement. Branded reward items could be the first of many levels of rewards that you offer in accordance with your team-wide metrics and individual goals. It may sound surprising, but branded items like stainless steel water bottles, tote bags, and pop sockets are cost-effective rewards that actually increase employee engagement—not because of the items themselves, but because of the recognition that comes with them. Recognition is the highest value social currency in a corporate environment. Any item you provide is basically just a bonus.
4. Offering Custom Uniforms
Apparel is a rewards category that deserves its own strategy—particularly because branded apparel items are some of the most powerful and popular reward items we’ve ever offered to our clients. Custom uniforms awarded to achievers send a loud and clear message to peers and customers alike: these individuals are outstanding and create immense value for the team. As the achievers in Comcast’s Pyramid of Excellence program discovered, they feel immense pride to wear their rewards gear. These custom uniform items represent their work ethic and dedication and carry a surprisingly high value as social currency among their colleagues.
5. Launching a Peer Recognition Program
Top-down recognition is important, as is intrinsic satisfaction for meeting your personal goals—but peer recognition might an even more powerful tool for increasing motivation, productivity, and engagement. Most great employee incentive programs involve some element of peer recognition. Whether that means inviting employees to write public “kudos” on a recognition platform, or offering “you did well” tickets for peers to award amongst themselves, it’s important to offer your staff the opportunity to recognize and appreciate each other in a public forum.
6. Creating a Culture of Appreciation
We encourage every corporation to implement an employee recognition program because this is a surefire way to synthesize a culture of appreciation. Employees may think about leaving their jobs for more money—but what actually attracts employees to new positions is the promise of a better company culture. Helping employees at all levels to feel appreciated, respected, valued, and recognized is the single most powerful weapon in your arsenal to fight turnover.
These engagement ideas all offer something that corporate trips and cash rewards don’t: they reward 100% of all-level employees. Not just the rockstars, the team leads, and the field reps. With a well-designed employee incentive program, every employee has the opportunity to achieve meaningful goals and receive high-value rewards on a regular basis. This creates a powerful culture within your community and makes leaving the company a far less appealing option. To really engage employees in today’s market, each company has to do their part to create opportunities for all employees to feel incentivized, recognized, and rewarded.
At Inproma, we’re experts at finding employee engagement ideas that work. If you’re looking to change up your benefits package in order to produce higher retention, productivity, and engagement rates, consider investing in higher-quality employee incentives. We’re here to help you decide on a custom program specifically designed to meet those goals. Let’s talk.