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by Leah Collins | December 08, 2020

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Employee engagement is a measure of how emotionally attached employees are to their employers. Typically, the more engaged employees are, the greater effort they’ll put into pushing their employers’ agendas and the more resilience they’ll show when their employers face operational or economic challenges. This is why company success is strongly correlated with employee engagement. As a result, all employers and managers need to strive to increase engagement for all employees.

The good news is research has shown that employees in secure and respectable working environments—employees that are highly engaged—aren’t all that concerned about monetary rewards. In other words, you don’t have to allocate bonuses or hand out gifts to increase employee engagement. Instead, you just have to address the main employee engagement pain points: appreciation, trust, and communication. And here are five ways to do that on a budget.

1. Grant workers a voice

Employees feel valued when their suggestions are heard and implemented. Being heard makes them more engaged and productive. They feel empowered to do their optimal best in everything they do. One way of opening up communication lines in the workplace is having suggestion systems in place where employees can share their thoughts and opinions on various official and unofficial matters. They should be able do this anonymously to minimize the chances of systemic bias and victimization from their managers. Another idea is to ask them directly to weigh in on ideas for growth and development during staff meetings and other corporate events.

2. Recognize employees’ contributions

In fast-paced organizations, it can seem like there’s little time and money to go around to recognize individual employee efforts and achievements. But that’s a myth. Employers and managers don’t need much time to do this; it just takes a little extra effort to recognize exceptional work. And they don’t need money, either. Managers can recognize outstanding effort by issuing thank-you cards, sending thank-you emails, giving them a few extra days off, or just offering some extra praise on the next Zoom team meeting—anything to make employees feel seen and appreciated will go a long way to increasing engagement.

3. Promote teamwork

It’s easier to engage employees who work as a single, cohesive unit as opposed to individual glory-hunting workers. That’s because people from different backgrounds and with diverse skill sets get the best out of each other when they collaborate. Besides, when people work harmoniously, workplace conflicts become rare and much easier to resolve. So how can you promote teamwork in your office?

One way is by investing in team-building activities, such as sports days, karaoke or entertainment nights, and corporate cooking competitions. These activities build employee engagement and rapport organically. Of course, now that the pandemic has pushed employees into working remotely, team-building has become particularly hard. However, virtual team-building methods are not to be underestimated. And, post-pandemic, if your office ends up reducing permanent office space, consider coworking spaces to hold your in-person team-building activities.

4. Leverage technology

Managers can now automate many time-consuming, reducing employees’ workload, productivity, and efficiency. Certain tools and software that enable employees to share, download, and extract large essential files with ease can be great time savers. Employees can then use that time to engage in more meaningful work.

Managers might also invest in certain employee engagement tools. These tools can help determine what motivates individual employees as well as what obstacles they need to overcome to boost their engagement. In a nutshell, companies with digital transformation strategies are bound to boost employee productivity, efficiency, and engagement.

5. Offer training and development

Formal and informal training and development offerings give junior employees the purpose and incentive to keep working for their organizations. That’s why regular career development programs are recommended for younger employees. Of course, meaningful training comes at a cost, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. For instance, instead of paying for a costly external career training program for a new employee, you can pair the new employee with a seasoned, skillful, and resourceful employee for an entire year. The new employee will learn the ropes under the senior employee’s guidance, without costing you a dime.

6. Focus on safety and wellness

Employee safety and wellness should be among the core responsibilities of any employer. It's the job of all employers and managers to make sure their employees feel safe from both internal and external biases and discrimination. This is especially important for employees from minority groups (with respect to gender, race, religion, and sexuality). In the same spirit, yit's important to ensure that working areas and conditions don’t put workers under any mental or physical risk—especially important now in the age of Covid-19.

In regards to employee wellness, it’s essential to help employees achieve work/life balance and stay fit and healthy. That can be simply and inexpensively done by adopting remote and flexible working arrangements for employees who don’t necessarily have to work from the office. You can also encourage employees to disconnect from email when they can, exercise, and adopt healthy eating habits.

A final note

There are too many risks of not investing in employee engagement. Disengaged employees are unhappy, unmotivated, and unproductive, and all of that reflects negatively on managers and employers, not to mention negatively impacts employers' bottom lines.

Leah Collins is an experienced security engineer, with eight years of experience, as well as a part-time writer. She is young and ambitious, and hopes to share her knowledge and experience with anyone willing to learn something new.

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