Why is employee engagement so important? Engaged employees are more productive, enthusiastic and positive, create better work, and are less likely to quit, all of which improves the bottom line.

Engagement comes when employees are happy.

So what really makes employees happy? Put simply, pride in the employee’s organization, a healthy work environment that matches the company’s culture, a sense of accomplishment, and being treated with appreciation and respect usually does the trick. Doesn’t sound too difficult to achieve, does it? Let’s take a closer look.

Pride

Employees want to work for a company they can be proud of and want to produce work they can stand behind. As stated in an earlier post, 6 Ways to Attract and Retain Millennial Talent, “The 21st-century worker wants more. They don’t want a career—they want an experience.”

As important as the products or services your company provides, is the meaningful things the company is doing in the community. It is becoming increasingly important, dare say, an expectation of today’s employees that volunteering be part of their professional careers.

Additionally, exposure to new challenges through volunteerism allows employees to develop other skills while away from the office. According to  2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey, 91 percent of Fortune 500 HR managers said that “volunteering knowledge and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to cultivate critical business and leadership skills.” Giving back to the community is its own reward, but there are benefits for business, too. It’s a win-win!

Work-Life Integration

Work-life balance is quickly being replaced by work-life integration, meaning that work and life should mesh well together since the dividing line between the two is so blurry in this constantly connected culture.   As such, your office needs to align with your company culture and be both functional and inspirational—a place where employees actually want to spend time and where they also feel at home.

In 2015, Calypso had the opportunity to build a brand new space and design around what matters most—collaboration between our writers, PR professionals, and designers. We purposely created an open work area complete with painted whiteboard surfaces and plenty of communal spaces to encourage interaction and teamwork.

We complemented the open layouts with office spaces for focus and concentration and added a dedicated quiet room for solitude. The new office space reflects our company culture and values.

You don’t need a big budget to create a space to impact the employee experience. Start by designating areas for focus, collaboration, socialization and/or learning. It could be as simple as creating a multi-desk hub for collaboration or small, private rooms to allow team members to focus free from distractions. Treat your physical space like software by constantly allowing for changes and upgrades by testing out experimenting with new office layouts.

As important as the space are the people that fill it. A Gallup survey reports that having a close friend at work has a direct impact on productivity and retention. And those with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage in their job.

It is only natural for employees to seek out genuine friendships with coworkers and managers. It’s no wonder, across all generations; there no longer exists a separation of work and personal life. People are rarely separated from their phones, leaving everyone connected to work long after they go home.

To help foster a sense of community and friendship, routinely arrange for social events, team volunteer opportunities, or other group gatherings. It’s fun, lends to building relationships across the firm, and quite frankly, gives your company a competitive edge.

Accomplishment

A company’s success is made up of hundreds of little wins that its employees experience each day. Provide an environment where your team will be challenged and motivated to show their talents. Let’s face it, employees are eager to learn and remain relevant and they want to understand how their skills elevate the company. Try these three easy practices to improve the feeling of accomplishment among your team:

  • Write accurate job descriptions, with clear achievable goals and reward and recognition.
  • Clarify company objectives and make sure each employee understands how his or her role fits into the company’s overall mission.
  • Celebrate milestones, both organizational and employee-orientated (instrumental to engagement and talent retention).

Employees want to feel that their career is on an upward trajectory. Conduct regular reviews and evaluations, create talent management plans, and incorporate stay interviews to clearly map out the professional progression opportunities and a prescription of skills and attributes necessary to achieve success.

Respect

Productivity and profits are essential to an organization, but remember your employees are people with feelings and aspirations. Respect and appreciation are important ingredients of the happiness mix.

Authentic recognition can’t be over-rated. Employees want a leader who pays attention and genuinely cares about them. A successful leader inspires her team to want to give more and allows her team opportunities to have a voice and be heard. In turn, truly listen to and recognize employees for their ideas.

By creating a culture of appreciation and providing an environment for employees to express their thoughts, you naturally create an environment of mutual respect and admiration.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to earn trust, build loyalty, and stimulate team and employee performance. Maximize the tools you have. Incorporate accolades to begin routine staff meetings, host a coffee or breakfast with junior and mid-level talent to provide a forum for them to ask questions, pair the forum with the opportunity for continuous feedback, and you have a winning combination for engagement.

Culture is about relationships. It can’t be faked. Engagement is a result of good culture. Be transparent. Be supportive. Be in it for the long-haul.

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