In the new year, it will be essential for organizations to ensure their team members feel a sense of purpose in their work. Don't miss these practical employee engagement ideas.

Why is coming up with effective employee engagement ideas so important?

Well, employee disengagement is a costly business problem — in more ways than one. Lost productivity, worsening mental health and morale issues are just a few items on a laundry list of workforce-critical problems that arise when employee engagement — the emotional precursor to extraordinary work — is neglected.

Actively disengaged employees cost businesses an estimated $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity annually and are nearly twice as likely as engaged employees to report being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. In addition, because disengaged employees are more likely to be absent from work, present employees must often take on any residual workloads, resulting in burnout and decreased morale.

In 2022, employee engagement is predicted to become even more critical to organizations as employees seek a greater sense of purpose and connection against the backdrop of a changing world of work. Considering the immense impact that engagement has on employee performance, HR and business leaders should start thinking about employee engagement ideas that can help them increase engagement and stay ahead of this trend.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional state of mind that causes people to do their best work, sustainably. Engagement doesn't happen top-down; it occurs locally at the team level and starts with team leaders, who have the most immediate insight into what and how their teams are doing.

According to the ADP Research Institute® (ADPRI), employee engagement:

• Strongly depends on the engagement of the team leader.

• Drives performance and retention. Highly engaged employees sell more and are more likely to stay with an organization.

• Starts with trust. Employees who trust their team leader are 14 times more likely to be fully engaged.

Why is employee engagement important?

Employee engagement is important because workers who feel a strong sense of engagement can do their best work in a sustainable manner. It's a crucial metric for leaders looking to retain and get the best performance out of their people long-term, two increasingly important goals amid the Great Resignation and remote work revolution. But a key point to remember is that employee engagement occurs locally within teams. As such, leaders looking to level up their employee engagement activities in 2022 and beyond will need to take an active interest in building engagement locally, but to do that, they first have to know how to improve employee engagement.

Here are three employee engagement ideas leaders can use to increase employee engagement at their organizations:

  1. Start having frequent one-on-one check-ins.

Frequently checking in with your people can help them feel more engaged at work quickly, and it has the added benefit of building trust. To make check-ins as systematic as possible, explore automated processes that allow employees to regularly complete a brief survey about how their week is going. Questions about what they like and dislike at work and whether they need help or additional resources to do their jobs effectively are most helpful. Then, you can set up a one-on-one meeting with them and use their responses to have a genuine, authentic conversation to better understand their experiences in your workplace.

Check-ins should be real and straightforward. Avoid leading with negatives or any work that needs to be done. Instead, lead with experiential questions: 'How are you doing right now? What's going on in your world?' Begin to talk about their survey responses and gently segue into conversations about tasks, priorities and strategies that are or aren't working. This check-in is also an excellent time to give them praise, talk about any growth areas they're interested in, ask about any skills they want to learn or develop and remind them that, no matter what, you're there to help them succeed.

  1. Commit to workplace inclusion through connection.

In employee performance research, the psychological construct of connection, a vital aspect of the "I" in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), measures people's feelings of being seen, heard and valued for their uniqueness. Connection and employee engagement have a direct relationship, meaning as one increases, so does the other.

According to an ADPRI research report, strongly connected employees — again, those who feel they are seen, heard and valued for their uniqueness — are 75 times more likely to be fully engaged than their non-connected counterparts. In addition, strongly connected employees are three times more likely to be fully engaged than employees who say their sense of connection is neutral.

Measuring connection can give you the insights you need to understand your people's sense of being heard, seen and valued. You can use this information to improve both connection and employee engagement, which can be leveraged to bring about real change in workplace inclusion as well. Check out The ConnectionXPS & Key Findings for more information about reliably measuring connection.

  1. Foster a strengths-based mindset.

Employees who regularly leverage their strengths feel more engaged and perform better. Every person in your organization has unique strengths waiting to be unlocked, realized, nourished and maximized. Once they know them, they can begin understanding themselves as workplace contributors, how their strengths impact others, what does and doesn't work for them throughout their workday and how to apply their best qualities to their work. Even better, your knowledge of their strengths can help you align your people's day-to-day work priorities to their strengths, allowing them to utilize their unique abilities as much as possible.

For the best results, look for a strengths assessment that gauges your employees' automatic responses to real-world situations and delivers a simple strengths overview that explains their strengths and how they relate to the strengths of others. The strengths assessment should ideally be built into an employee engagement platform that provides you, the leader, with guidance on nourishing those strengths. Ultimately, your people's strengths are where they'll get the most bang for their buck in terms of performance and where you can open the door to improvements in their engagement.

Conclusion

Frequent one-on-one check-ins at the local level, committing to inclusion through connection and fostering a strengths-based mindset are critical to improving employee engagement. If you're interested in stepping up your employee engagement activities next year, you should focus on these growth areas. Consider enlisting the help of an experienced employee engagement expert to get the best results.

Discover better employee engagement today with StandOut, a user-friendly platform that helps build engaged, high-performing teams and improve local team connectivity with strengths-based assessments, frequent team check-ins and personalized coaching for leaders.

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