Employee Engagement For Dummies book cover

Employee Engagement For Dummies

By: Bob Kelleher Published: 12-24-2013

The easy way to boost employee engagement

Today more than ever, companies and leaders need a road map to help them boost employee engagement levels. Employee Engagement For Dummies helps employers implement the necessary plans to create and sustain an engaging culture, allowing them to attract and retain the best people while boosting their productivity and creativity.

Employee Engagement For Dummies helps you foster employee engagement, a concept that furthers an organization's interests through ensuring that employees remain involved in, committed to, and fulfilled by their work. It covers: practical steps to boost employee engagement with your company or team; how to engage different generations of employees; the keys to reduce voluntary employee turnover; practical tools to help retain and engage your employees; processes that will boost employee retention and productivity; hiring the best fits from the start; and much more.

  • Helps you recognize and understand the impact of positive employee engagement
  • Helps you attract and retain the best employees

Employee Engagement For Dummies is for business leaders at all levels who are looking to better engage their employees and increase morale and productivity.

Articles From Employee Engagement For Dummies

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108 results
Employee Engagement For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

When you’re trying to engage your workforce, it helps to know how engaged they already are, and you can do this by conducting an employee engagement survey and acting on the results. A key way to build momentum following your survey is to draw on your engagement ambassadors — employees who are already fully engaged and committed to your company. No employee is an island — many employees have families, and you can boost employee engagement by engaging their families.

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How to Use an Employee Development Plan

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

An EDP (employee development plan) is one good way to encourage engagement in your workforce. So, how do you use an EDP? Here's a breakdown:

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Corporate U: Establishing a Corporate University

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A great way to share best practices among employees is to create a "corporate university" — in other words, create learning materials and make them accessible to employees. Creating a corporate university doesn't have to be a huge investment. In fact, you can launch yours simply by collecting and branding all the training, development, conferences, seminars, and other materials and opportunities you already have in place. You don't have to increase your budget — just improve your means of capturing and communicating everything related to learning. As an added bonus, a corporate university serves to "brand" all your firm's efforts to provide staff with development and training, which can serve to boost your internal employment brand as well. For example, part of your corporate university effort may involve simply creating a calendar on your intranet that lists key meetings, training opportunities, and conferences, whether they're related to business development, project management, administration, or actual project work. Any employee can open the calendar and see what's happening across the company, regardless of whether it relates to his or her position or discipline. At the same time, you may want to distribute a weekly communication about opportunities that are available and how employees are making use of them. These programs aren't necessarily new; they may already available. The difference? Now you're branding them and publicizing them (in other words, marketing them to employees). Without spending any more money, you foster the perception among employees that your firm cares about cultivating the staff. Down the road, you can formalize your corporate university with enhanced and targeted training and development offerings, which you should make sure to publicize as well. All companies have resources that can help their employees grow! Finding them, gathering them into one branded framework, and then publicizing them like heck is like kitty litter on snow. It gives you more traction in your engagement efforts — particularly those relating to training and development — than you can imagine!

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10 Quick Recognition Ideas to Boost Employee Engagement

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Although recognizing your employees is easy to do, it's also one of the easiest things to forget. Don't let this happen! Recognition provides reinforcement and spurs motivation — both key components of engagement. The suggestions in this article are designed to get your creative juices flowing so you can provide timely, specific, and meaningful recognition. To quote cosmetics entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash, there are two things people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise. Recognition for a job well done is essential in the workplace. Your employees want to be recognized for their contributions, results, and above-and-beyond efforts! People never tire of hearing praise. They may respond, "Oh, it was nothing," but inside they're saying, "Yes! They noticed!" Bring morning coffee and muffins Did your team just complete a high-priority job, on time and under budget? Or maybe it landed a long sought-after contract. Whatever the reason, a great way to reward your team is to host a "Morning Coffee and Muffins" event. It doesn't cost a lot, and you can have some fun with it. After all, who wouldn't want her boss to bring in, set out — and clean up — breakfast? No one, that's who. Not only does it enable you to recognize the group for a job well done, but the social nature of the event will help build team cohesiveness, itself an engagement driver. Ask your employees what they like It's no good recognizing an employee's hard work by giving her a gift card to a local seafood restaurant if she's fatally allergic to shellfish. Similarly, it's silly to thank someone for his above-and-beyond efforts by presenting him a clock that will only collect dust on his desk. Recognition is impactful only when it means something to the person being recognized. So, how do you find out what's meaningful to your employees? Simple: Ask them. Create a simple survey — three to five questions, tops — to ask for their input. Questions might include the following: If you were to earn recognition or a reward, what would be meaningful to you (for less than $100)? What are your passions or hobbies? Do you prefer to receive recognition in public or in private? As your supervisor, what else should I know about your views on recognition? Armed with this information, you can ensure you don't dole out the wrong types of recognition! Create peer-recognition opportunities For some people, management recognition just isn't all that important. This is particularly true of people who don't respect their superiors. After all, a compliment from someone you think is a bozo won't mean that much! But even people who love their bosses also enjoy the occasional kudos from their peers. This is especially true for Gen Y workers, who need constant feedback, some of which can certainly come from their co-workers. When you create a culture of recognition, everyone can take part. If done right, it'll spread. All you have to do is encourage your team members to recognize the efforts of others in a private or public manner. To get the ball rolling, why not distribute a nominal amount of money to each employee — say, $100 in company "funny money" or a few fives and tens in actual legal tender — and instruct them to dole it out to deserving colleagues over the next 12 months as they see fit? (Of course, you may have to lay down some ground rules, the first being that they can't keep the money for themselves!) Take advantage of technology You aren't limited to recognition in the real world. You must also harness technology and social media to offer virtual kudos. This is particularly important for Gen Y and, to a lesser degree, Gen X employees. Not so sure? Consider these stats from a 2012 Cisco Connected Technology Report: Sixty percent of Gen Y compulsively check their smartphones for e-mails, texts, or social media updates. More than two out of five members of Gen Y report that they would feel "anxious" if they were unable to check their smartphones. Forty percent of Gen Y say that their company policy forbids the use of company-owned devices for personal activities. Of that group, 71 percent — almost three out of four — disregard said policies. Gen Y in particular is immersed in technology. They came of age with the Internet at their fingertips. In addition, they prefer instant feedback — and today's technology offers a great way to provide it, quickly and inexpensively. Giving a virtual "pat on the back" can be as simple as tweeting, sharing a message on the company's intranet, posting on your organization's Facebook page, texting your team, or sending a congratulatory e-mail. You aren't limited to using these traditional technological tools, however. One employee recognition solutions company, O.C. Tanner, offers a free mobile app, iappreciate, which enables you to nominate employees for awards and recognition, create thoughtful recognition presentations, set dates to recognize team members, invite people to recognize others, and even create certificates to save and print. Users can also use the app to send quick e-notes to team members for an "above and beyond" job. O.C. Tanner isn't the only company offering these types of tools, however. Other organizations such as Achievers, BI WORLDWIDE, Hinda Incentives, and Kudos have gotten in on the game. If you're still using a bulletin board in the break room to recognize your best and brightest, don't beat yourself up about it. But also consider using technology in your recognition efforts. It won't just appeal to your Gen Y staff; Gen Xers and Baby Boomers will like it, too. Issue "recognition tokens" Sometimes, a simple (read: inexpensive) token of your appreciation can go a long way. So, what should you use as a "recognition token"? Be creative! Think of things that convey "above and beyond." Here are a few ideas: Buy a giraffe (not a real one, obviously). Then, when someone on the team "sticks her neck out," let her keep the giraffe in her workspace. When that person sees another team member "sticking his neck out," she can pass along the giraffe along. It will become an identifiable recognition token among team members. Buy some Kudos candy bars and give them out to say "kudos" for a project well done. Buy some Life Savers candies. Then, the next time someone has a great "save" — for example, saving a deal for the company or saving time on a project, hand out the Life Savers. That says, "You're a lifesaver!" Print some fake million-dollar bills, write a thank-you note on the bill, date it, and post it on the person's office door or cube. That's your way of saying, "Thanks a million!" Arrange a call from the president Winners of the Super Bowl, World Series, and other major sporting events receive a celebratory call from the president of the United States. So why shouldn't employees who go "above and beyond" receive a call from the president of your organization? The experience can be both unexpected and exhilarating — and motivate them to work even harder. This form of recognition is long lasting — plus, it does wonders to build engagement. Of course, before making the call, the president needs to know what the recognition is for and some specific details behind it. That means you'll need to brief her ahead of time. But even then, this form of recognition takes only a few minutes — 15, tops — and best of all, it's free! Allow employees to call in "well" Every employer gets calls when employees have to miss work due to illness or personal issues. But you know what they'd like? To get a call from a deserving employee saying, "I feel great! I'm calling in well." Of course, these "well" days must be earned for above-and-beyond performance. Employees often work late into the night and on weekends. You may not witness that effort, but you should recognize the results. Many people who would bust their humps if they knew they'd get a day to do whatever they wanted! This perk is one that is treasured equally among Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Gen Y workers. Let employees develop recognition ideas In the spirit of engaging and empowering your employees, why not ask them if they're interested in spearheading a recognition program? For example, you might select a few hard workers to serve on a special recognition committee. This committee should also include members of the management team. Not only will this help bridge the gap between "management" and "labor," so to speak, but it will also give employees insight into budgets and constraints — in other words, what's feasible and what's not. That way, they won't feel frustrated if their ideas aren't approved. ("Great idea, Chris, but we can't afford a private chef this year. Let's think of another idea that may be more doable.") Give employees a seat at the table Employees who are not "at the top" are not typically invited to high-level, leadership meetings. But what if they were? Inviting outstanding performers to a meeting to which they would not normally be invited can be a meaningful reward. Of course, you can't invite them to a pre-IPO meeting, but you get the idea. Maybe you could invite the employee to a meeting with the leadership team to talk about strategic initiatives. Or maybe the employee could attend a meeting with another division in which he's interested. Recognition doesn't have to involve a thing — it can also involve an opportunity! Create development programs According to a 2012 report by PwC, 35 percent of Millennials (members of Gen Y) are attracted to employers that offer excellent training and developmental programs. PwC also notes that Millennials view training and development as a top benefit of working for an organization. As Gen Y assumes its dominance in the workforce, it's important to fold development into your recognition efforts. In addition to offering the ever-important pat on the back, development also keeps alive the mutual commitment between the employee and the employer and fosters engagement. Developmental efforts can vary, depending on your organization's budget and resources. It may range from a one-hour internal development session to an outside workshop in which the employee has expressed interest. (As for the latter, this assumes the employee's attendance in said workshop will also help the company. That is, the employee could ask to attend a cooking course, but unless you're in the culinary industry, that may not be your best bet.) For example, if the employee has a strong interest in developing her communication skills, why not schedule a one- to two-hour meeting with an internal Communications team member? The team member being recognized could then leverage the other department's knowledge. (Of course, you'll need to ask that Communications team member for her help. But remember: That person may see the opportunity to share her knowledge as a perk!) Or, if you have a larger budget, try sending your employee for some professional training. Encourage employees to acquire training in presenting, e-commerce, and more. Offering development opportunities rewards hard workers, fosters engagement, and ultimately generates revenue. Not too shabby!

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Using Social Media to Recruit Employees

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you're looking to hire, you can't afford to overlook social media. That means maintaining relevance on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This is particularly true if you're in the market for Gen Y workers. "Maintaining relevance" is, of course, the key phrase. Otherwise, you can expect users to ignore your feeds. To maintain relevance, minimize attempts at selling. Keep it fresh, keep it brief, and keep it non-commercial. Focus on conveying the following: Who you are: Social media is a terrific way to showcase your corporate culture. You might use it to share photos of your workplace, training sessions, corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, or anything else that speaks to your firm's culture. The more you can let people in on how great it is to work for your company and how amazing your staff is, the more people will want to work for you. Also, try using video to convey your culture. (For some great and hilarious examples of what some companies are doing to brand themselves, search YouTube for "company recruitment videos.") What you do: Use social media to tell your firm's story and show the great work you're doing. This will help in your recruiting efforts as well as with your tri-branding efforts. Your leadership: Get your leaders to embrace social media. Have them tweet, write a blog, post videos, and so on. This will help "humanize" your leaders. Job seekers want to know more than where the company is going — they want to know who's leading it there. What's in it for them: Do you subsidize your employees' parking fees? Do you serve beer and pizza on Friday afternoons? Do you offer professional development opportunities? If so, publicize those perks on social media. Of course, you should also post info about positions you're looking to fill! It's not just about the firm's own social media reach, however. It's also about the personal and professional reach of the firm's employees. For best results, trust your employees to maintain a professional air online — to be open, honest, and respectful, and to remain mindful of their own reputations as well as that of the organization. The result? Improved engagement for existing employees, and an organization that's more attractive to prospective recruits. You may be thinking, "If we let our employees loose on social media, they might say something negative about the company." Guess what? A few might. But implementing restrictions to protect you from the few who might say something negative will limit the engagement and recruitment potential that comes from unleashing all your other employees on social media. Obviously, it's great if your HR staff is using social media to recruit new, engaged employees. But the real leverage comes from engaging your entire workforce to "spread the brand," so to speak. Social media has an exponential reach — but only if you deputize your entire workforce to help!

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Establishing an Employee Engagement Committee

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If your organization has declared that employee engagement is a top business objective, then it should also assemble an employee engagement committee. This committee, which will consist of 10 to 20 people (depending on the size of your company), should have a clear charter to evaluate and prioritize employee engagement survey results, with an ultimate goal of increasing employee engagement, boosting innovation, improving the firm's culture, and even changing company policies. The committee's "deliverable" is a list of specific engagement recommendations for leadership. Here are a few other points to keep in mind: The committee should be composed of members of senior leadership, as well as a cross-sectional group of high-performing employees. A 50-50 split is advisable. This will demonstrate upper management's commitment to the cause. A mix of leaders will also provide a reality check against a focus on "employee satisfiers," such as free coffee, improved benefits, and extra vacation time. (Remember: "Employee engagement" is not the same thing as "employee satisfaction"!) The committee should be ongoing, but its membership should rotate. Set "term limits" of two years, with half the team rotating each year to ensure continuity. (At the committee's outset, half the committee will serve just a single year, with the balance of the committee committing to two years.) Populate the committee with people who are excited to take part. Ideal appointees are those who self-identify as being passionate about engagement, who are enthused about being on the committee, and who don't look at their appointment as "one more thing to do." (Of course, they have to receive the endorsement of their leader!) Give the committee teeth. It needs the authority to make decisions and act on them. Including a mixture of highly respected members of the leadership team will ensure that issues needing a rubber stamp are hastened onto the appropriate desk. Create opportunities for the full committee to get leadership "face time." This is a great way to reward their efforts, and will help ensure that it remains a business improvement committee — not a social committee. Ensure that the committee is diverse. You want geographic, generational (including Gen Y), operational, and cultural diversity, as well as people who've been with the company for years and people who are relatively new hires. Brand your committee internally and externally. On your company's intranet and website, promote the committee's charter, the names of committee members, and any committee recommendations that are adopted. An employee engagement committee is not your social committee — the one you assemble to plan the year-end holiday party, manage the company softball league, or host the company picnic. In fact, if you include these activities in this committee's charter, you'll diminish the committee's importance.

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All in the Family: Engaging Employees by Engaging Their Families

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Spouses and other family members have a huge influence on how a person feels about his job or company. These individuals' views on the firm can make the difference between keeping a valued employee and losing that person. They can also make the difference between having an employment offer accepted or rejected. Savvy employers work to engage their employees (current and future) and their spouses! Here are a few tips to keep in mind: When an employee works late into the evening or during the weekend, send a handwritten note to the employee's spouse to thank him or her for donating family time to the firm and to emphasize the employee's critical role in accomplishing something important for the firm. When an employee helps land a big contract for the firm, send the employee's spouse a handwritten thank-you note expressing your firm's appreciation for the employee's efforts. When your firm gets an "atta boy" letter from a client, extolling the virtues of one of your employees, send a copy of the letter to the employee's spouse along with a handwritten thank-you note from you. When making an offer to a potential employee, hand-deliver the offer letter to the person's home on your way home from work (assuming he or she is local). When interviewing a potential employee from out of town, invite his or her spouse to come along. While you're at it, arrange for a local real-estate agent to show the spouse around town, including areas where they might be interested in purchasing a home. Sure, these are small things. But they can make a huge difference! These tips are focused on spouses. Be leery of extending such courtesies to employees' parents. (Don't laugh — many organizations are struggling with how best to politely decouple their Millennial employees from their helicopter parents!)

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Diplomatic Immunity: Identifying Your Engagement Ambassadors

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You've probably heard the term brand ambassador. A brand ambassador is someone who embodies a brand and serves to promote it. Similarly, an engagement ambassador embodies engagement and serves to promote it. Hopefully, your organization is brimming with people who might serve as brand ambassadors. These are people who are visibly engaged and committed to your organization. Identifying these individuals at the outset of any attempts to boost employee engagement is often worthwhile. After all, they're your allies! How do you identify potential engagement ambassadors? Just look around. These employees are the ones who refer recruits to your firm. They volunteer to join your various task teams. They take part in company social events. Odds are, your managers know who these people are — ask your managers to identify them! As invested individuals, these people already have an interest in seeing your organization succeed. Perhaps more important, they'd likely be even happier at work if everyone were as committed as they are. If they're excellent communicators, so much the better! Seek out ways to help them share your engagement message, regardless of where they fall in the corporate hierarchy. A successful engagement strategy can turn skeptics into supporters. Having one's expectations surpassed is a powerful conversion experience. Don't ignore the unconvinced in your audience. Let the clarity and consistency of your message overwhelm their doubts. The result: an even larger army of engagement ambassadors to deploy!

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Survey Says: Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Are your employees engaged? Good question. And the only surefire way to answer with any accuracy is to conduct an employee engagement survey. Your organization should conduct an employee engagement survey sooner rather than later to gauge its pulse. As you embark on your survey, keep these points in mind: Don't conduct a survey unless you're convinced your leadership is committed to listening and acting on feedback. Otherwise, you'll wind up fostering cynicism and skepticism, not engagement. In fact, you'll be worse off than if you hadn't conducted a survey in the first place. Partner with a consulting firm. Yes, you may have the in-house resources to design and administer your own survey. But your cost savings will be overrun by the huge administrative effort, lack of credible benchmark data, and confidentiality concerns among employees. Have a communication plan. Decide when and how to communicate survey results and "next steps" to senior leadership and the rank and file. Employees need to know their feedback was heard and analyzed, and that action is being taken. This will help to build trust and credibility. Establish a cross-sectional committee to review overall company results and to make recommendations to management. This task team should be composed of 10 to 20 employees (depending on company size) and include an equal mix of leaders and respected members of the rank and file. Also consider establishing "local" committees to review results on a departmental level. Keep it simple, and execute flawlessly. After a survey, the tendency is to overpromise and underdeliver. If you do this, however, you run the risk of creating a skeptical work culture. Better to do the opposite: underpromise and overdeliver! Organizational follow-up and follow-through are key to successful implementation — and to how your employees will judge the success of your survey and engagement efforts. If your employee engagement survey fails, it will be because you failed to properly interpret the results, prioritize your needs, and create action plans that you follow up on. Implement a follow-up feedback mechanism. Consider having managers include a "survey action plan" agenda item in all regular departmental meetings for at least six months following the survey. Do not commit to another survey for 18 to 24 months. You'll need at least that long to effectively act on the feedback from your last survey and execute your action plan. Seeing results takes time! Set the stage. If you're conducting a follow-up survey, promote progress made since your last survey. View this exercise as a terrific branding opportunity — one that will enable you to capture high levels of employee participation.

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How Branding and Employee Engagement Relate

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Company branding and engagement are connected, so writing an employee value proposition (which basically says who you are and why people should work for you) is an important step towards engaging your workforce. Your company should communicate your brand internally and externally. So, what does branding have to do with employee engagement? Well, a few things: Identifying and communicating your brand is vital to ensuring that you hire the types of people who can succeed and be engaged at your firm. Generation Y, soon to be the largest segment of the workforce (if it isn't already), is all about branding. That attitude informs what they wear, where they shop, what device they play, and what company, or brand, they work for. Understanding and crystallizing your brand will position you to find, retain, and engage this key workforce group. Building and branding a culture that is unique to your firm will enable you to leverage social media to engage customers, employees, future employees, and other key stakeholders with your brand. In the past, companies sought out good employees. These days, thanks to the emergence of social media, the tables have turned. If you want your firm to win the “war for talent,” you’ll need to make sure employees (and customers) are able to seek you out. Although every company is unique in some way, most companies fail to identify their unique characteristics. Part of developing your EVP is pinpointing what makes your firm unique. One way to do this is to poll employees via surveys, exit interviews, and stay interviews. As you uncover what makes your firm unique, try to link your EVP to your firm’s vision and purpose. If your EVP appears to be disconnected from your vision and purpose, you have a problem. Either you haven’t captured the right characteristics or, well, you have the wrong vision and purpose. Figuring out the connection between your EVP and your firm's vision and purpose is important to establishing a line of sight to connect and engage your employees to your brand. Sometimes, merely identifying your uniqueness is not enough. Successful firms proactively create uniqueness. In the early days of Southwest Airlines, founder Herb Kelleher created an EVP that was fun, and built his hiring and branding efforts around it. Even today, you will continue to see remnants of Herb’s EVP on Southwest Airlines promotional materials, including the following passage: Fun-LUVing Attitude: Don’t take yourself too seriously, maintain perspective (balance), celebrate successes, enjoy your work, and be a passionate team player.

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