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Optimise employee engagement with these seven tips

employee engagement tips to increase retention

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is about how deeply your employees feel connected, included, and committed to your organisation. It boils down to whether your employees get up every morning wanting to come to work; how well they understand their job and how it connects to the company at large, and what their role is in contributing to company wins.

Why employee engagement matters

An organisation has a big part to play in how engaged an employee feels. It's linked to whether the company invests in the employee, from implementing employee-first benefits, to hosting team bonding events, and remembering everyone's birthdays.

Overall, engaged employees contribute to the culture of your organisation, and are the turnkey solution to keeping turnover rates low and recruitment costs reasonable. Engaged employees are likely to collaborate better together, and directly feed into high productivity levels. The bottom line is, an engaged employee is more likely to contribute to your company's success.

Yet very few employees actually feel engaged at work. Indeed, Gallup's State of the Global Workplace study reveals how only 15% of employees report feeling engaged at work. At Alva, we tie our onboarding process to asking people from the very beginning: What are your boundaries? We celebrate big and small wins, celebrate multicultural holidays and remember everybody's birthday.

Respecting employee boundaries and celebrating individuality

The question of whether to celebrate birthdays, births, or religious holidays can cause many HR managers to worry about causing offence and even risk being taken to court. As ever, when we’re clear on *why* we’re taking action can help guide our actions.

Employee engagement is also about recognising that employees sometimes have difficult circumstances; not just giving happy shout-outs on birthdays.

If your employer brand speaks to valuing people, or trust, but you have no policy around bereavement leave or how to access mental health support; you risk showing staff that your values are skin deep. It is when times get hard that your employees will truly evaluate you as an employer. Make sure to be prepared to helpBelow, we uncover our top tips for cultivating an employee engagement policy.

Seven employee engagement tips 

1. Create a standard process for celebrating birthdays. For example, people get an extra day off to celebrate their birthday or a gift card. Tip: Ask every new employee whether they want to celebrate their birthdays and try and avoid announcing a person's age at the time of celebrating.

2. Offer mental health support. Whether that's offering therapy sessions onsite, or providing discounts or reimbursements for employees accessing mental health support, make sure you have a framework in place that signals you are committed to your employees' full wellbeing.

3. Praise your co-workers and celebrate wins. This can be easy as recognising a team or an individual's efforts and hard work, and celebrating wins organisation-wide. Interestingly, peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on business results than manager-only recognition.

4. Invest in team bonding activities. Make sure that teams get plenty of opportunities to bond, connect, and ultimately, learn from each other. Set up team-bonding events like an escape room challenge, or Padel competition, and make sure you fly your remote team in to attend!

5. Create a policy on bereavement. Huddle up with your team, find the legalities in your jurisdiction, and work out what is appropriate and what is legal to offer when an employee is grieving. 

6. Host organisation-wide meetings. To make sure everyone stays updated on important updates, host company-wide meetings with the leadership team so employees can understand how their work fits into the bigger picture.

7. Ask for employee feedback. An easy way to ask how employees are faring is to use a feedback platform like Lattice that automatically asks employees to rate how they're feeling. Tip: create a culture around providing constructive feedback, and work on both the good and bad feedback to ultimately improve the employee experience..

How we define employee engagement at Alva

While we're not experts on employee engagement, we have carved out an effective policy that seems to be working just fine for us. Below we outline what we do (feel free to steal some of these ideas with pride!).

  • At Alva, we do regular engagement pulses and follow up on the results to make sure we're actioning change where needed. As data enthusiasts and nerds, we measure feedback on areas such as experienced workload, quality of leadership and collegiate support.
  • To help reduce stress and encourage physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, we have arranged mindfulness exercises and workshops, as well as psychological safety workshops. We have insurance that covers legal and financial advice for employees and, of course, sessions with health and wellness professionals.
  • We offer coaching sessions to our staff when needed (and then we have the lovely perk of having several licenced psychologists onboard! Never hurts, right?).
  • We've created a co-buddy system, where new employees get paired with their co-buddies and have opportunities to hang out, eat cake, drink coffee, and bond outside of work.

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Employee engagement starts with listening to your team's needs and making sure that they are recognised. It can also be about making sure there's a birthday card, an acknowledgment of family difficulty or company-wide wellness practices.