I’ve heard the saying “Productivity is the breakfast of champions”, and I do believe this to be true. But being in the People Operations space for over 10 years, I live by the mantra that “Employee engagement eats productivity for breakfast”, and I’m not alone in this way of thinking. In the last few years, organizations have become increasingly aware of how having engaged employees can affect their overall business outcomes and productivity levels.
Employee engagement is the connection that an employee has with the company, with their manager, and with their peers. It signifies the level of interest, drive, and dedication they have to the work that they are doing and their readiness to go above and beyond their scope of work to help the company succeed. The employee’s experience, how they feel about a company, will be a motivating (or demotivating) factor when they decide on the effort level they will put in on a project or if they will take the call when a recruiter reaches out on Linkedin with an amazing job opportunity.
If you need anything to light a fire under you to convince you that you should spend more time investing in your employee engagement I would take a look at Gallup’s US. Employee Engagement 2023 survey. The level of employees who are engaged has gone down rapidly since 2020 for US companies but there are some organizations (best-practice) who are prioritizing employee engagement and are seeing highly engaged employees, lower turnover, better customer service, and higher levels of creativity which all directly contribute to improved productivity.
I cannot say that I have found a silver bullet for employee engagement, but I can share some key factors that I have found to play a big part in increasing the level of engagement at a company.
Communication is at the core of a company’s success. Effective communication leads to stronger decision-making, clear alignment on goals and progress toward those goals, and can foster a safe environment to express innovative ideas. However, in this digital age and working with onsite, hybrid, and remote teams, communication can come in many forms such as verbal, non-verbal, written and visual, and synchronous vs. asynchronous. This can make it a challenge for teams to find the best way to properly communicate with one another. Not only that but employees will be more effective and productive in their roles if they have easier ways to find the information they need. This is where companies can develop communication strategies and strong leadership to help teams discern the most effective way to leverage both synchronous and asynchronous communication.
*JP Guru’s Knowledge Fest presentation
Growth and development
Employee growth and development play a significant role in increasing an employee’s productivity level. When an employee learns a new skill, they can not only complete new tasks quicker but have improved confidence in their abilities to contribute to the company in new ways and are more likely to continue to take on challenges and push themselves to continuously improve.
Companies can help employees achieve this by adopting a continuous feedback model where everyone at the company is encouraged to provide critical and positive feedback in order to increase the overall quality of work. This feedback model will also increase the level of collaboration where members of the team can share their newly acquired knowledge and work cross-functionally to solve problems.
Another thing companies can do to foster growth and development at a company is to provide opportunities for employees to progress within the company by leading projects and/or taking on greater responsibility for a project or by moving across departments (either permanently or on a rotation schedule) where they can interface with different teams and acquire new skills and knowledge.
Recognition and appreciation
“Thank you” is one of the most powerful phrases and, I’ve gotta be honest, it can feel so good to say and even better to hear. No matter how small the task, when you hear someone say “thank you” it acknowledges the work that you put in and lets you know that you are appreciated. Recognition is a great motivating factor for employee happiness. It communicates to an employee that they are valued and the work that they are doing is being seen.
“Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.” -Gallup Workplace
Companies can develop company-wide recognition programs to showcase an individual’s and a team’s achievements. This could be taking time in a company-wide meeting to mention the hard work an individual or a team put in on a project or through a tool like 15Five where you can “shout out” someone to thank them for their work. I have also seen companies put together small bonuses or gifts given to an employee whom the company wanted to recognize for their accomplishments. At Privy, we had a bobblehead of our CEO Ben that got passed around every month to an employee who went above and beyond for their team or another department.
*Ben Jabbawy celebrating Jess Fishman with the Ben bobblehead
I’ve seen a few companies falling back into bad habits because they think that if an employee isn’t doing well, it will be very easy to replace them in their employer-driven market. To me this isn’t just the wrong way of thinking, but will have a direct influence in the long run of their overall business success. Even if talent is readily available you need to continue to invest in your employee experience not only because it is the right thing to do on a human level, but because it will increase the productivity of your team. If you are looking to build a great place to work and put the time and effort into your employee engagement, the three factors that influence employee engagement I have listed above are a great place to start.
Learn more about our Author: With a master’s degree in Opera, Jen Paxton didn’t think she would have a career in Talent Acquisition or PeopleOps, however, she fell in love with helping candidates find the right role. She started her career at JobSpring Partners placing technical professionals then moved on to Robert Half before deciding to move to an in-house recruiting team. She has grown teams at later-stage startups like Fiksu and LevelUp and built Recruiting and PeopleOps strategies from scratch at small startups like Logentries, TrueMotion, Privy, and Smile. She took a slight detour from her usual Head of People roles to Co-Found a video content platform called Jamyr which was recently acquired by Recruitics. She has been a part of four successful acquisitions and almost all of her companies have won “Best Place to Work” awards at least once while she was there. She loves coaching managers, fostering a feedback culture, and building programs that will help develop a sense of belonging. In addition to her career, Jen is a mom of two girls, loves being outdoors, eating tacos, and drinking her weight in loose-leaf teas.
*Disclaimer: This post was not generated by A.I. It is indeed written by a real life human. A pretty cool human in fact.