If you work in HR today, the words “employee engagement” dominate your job and your inbox. It’s easy to get flooded with different ideas for how to engage employees. You’re probably familiar with many of the proposed tools and techniques: surveys, analytics, rewards, perks, culture boosters, and more.

One the one hand, it’s no wonder programs for fostering employee engagement are so popular. The value of a truly engaged workforce speaks for itself. Engaged employees perform. They stay with companies longer, are more productive, and create a better customer experience.

On the other, despite Bersin Associates’ estimate that spending on employee engagement is approaching $1.5 billion, Gallup’s State of the Workforce 2017 report indicates that only 30% of employees are in fact feeling engaged at their jobs. Companies are spending more and engagement is at an all-time low.

What explains the disconnect? What is the secret for how to engage employees? Here at YouEarnedIt, we make a constant study of the latest research, and one answer has become clear: to effectively engage employees, winning companies are investing in the comprehensive employee experience.

Creating a day-to-day experience that offers employees meaning, impact, connection and appreciation in their everyday work will lead to a culture of employee engagement. And if culture comes first, performance will follow.

Here are ten ways to foster employee pride through a positive employee experience.

1. Communicate (and Reward) Core Values
Establishing a defined, well-communicated vision grounded in core values — and recognizing behavior that supports that vision — gives employees a sense of meaning and purpose in their jobs. For millennials, that sense of purpose is critical. In her open letter to employers on why millennials leave jobs, Lisa Earle McLeod sums it up: “I’ll give you everything I’ve got, but I need to know it makes a difference to something bigger than your bottom line.” Having leadership communicate core values regularly and clearly builds meaning into the employee experience.

2. Consistent, Timely Communication
When employees invest their hearts and souls in their work, they want to know the results. Consistently communicating how corporate goals are being accomplished, and connecting an employee’s work to those goals, gives employees a sense of how they are impacting the outcome of the company. And that’s a great tool when you’re looking at how to engage employees.

3. Real-Time Coaching from a Manager
According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variation in employee engagement. Real-time coaching from a manager is one of the most effective approaches for fostering employee engagement. See the Art of Giving Constructive Feedback for tips on coaching employees.

How to Engage Employees

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4. Employee Development
No one wants to feel stagnant in their job. As companies grow, technology changes, and cultures evolve, most job requirements also change. Giving employees a chance to learn more, take on new projects, and grow in their jobs helps them stay connected to their jobs. Google famously encouraged this with their focus on giving employees time for passion projects – which resulted in Gmail, Google News, and AdSense.

5. Team Environment
When you’re spending 40+ hours a week at work, having a meaningful relationship with your coworkers makes a big difference in your employee experience. Having a supportive team environment builds each individual’s motivation. See 7 Free Team-Building Ideas for Your Corporate Incentive Programs for ideas on creating a positive team environment.

6. Culture of Trust

“Business is conducted through relationships and trust is the foundation of those relationships.” -Dennis S. Reina and Michelle L. Reina, Cofounders of the Reina Trust-Building Institute

The Reinas have spent more than 20 years measuring, creating and restoring workplace trust. Their findings? Organizations with a high level of trust also have higher engagement. So, when you’re planning actions that could foster employee engagement, ask yourself if your management team is building trust with employees. Are they living up to the expectations that they set? Do their actions match their words? Are your engagement activities authentic?

7. Clear Expectations

Your employees will have a much easier time meeting expectations if they understand what they are. Giving employees specific goals, as well as the training, tools, and resources needed to perform their job will foster employee motivation. Gallup’s Reengineering Performance Management paper indicates that holding employees accountable for achieving their goals through a regular performance management process boosts engagement and performance. See our webinar – A Manager’s Guide to Effective 1-on-1s and Continuous Feedback – for ideas on how to do meaningful employee-management feedback.

8. Show Appreciation
You can’t overestimate the power of appreciation. Glassdoor found that 80% of employees say they will stay at a job longer if they get appreciation from their boss. A Gallup Study shows that employees who get some form of recognition at least once a week are more likely to stay in a job longer. See our guide on Reward and Recognition Systems that Work to get science-based tips for showing appreciation.

Rewards and Incentives for Employees

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9. Give Employees a Voice
Feeling like they are part of the process, that their thoughts and ideas matter, and that they have a voice in their work performance gives employees a sense that they have an impact on their company. Plus, they’re on the front lines and know best about how work should be performed. Actively soliciting employee feedback and incorporating employee thoughts and ideas into how the organization operates is a very effective way to engage employees. See our CEO Autumn Manning’s tips on How and Why to Give Employees a Voice.

10. Competitive Pay and Benefits
While pay and benefits are not the key indicators of employee engagement, worrying about pay can distract employees. When you’re looking at how to engage employees, start out by offering competitive compensation, benefits, and reasonable working conditions.

Investing in an employee can have a positive effect on the employee, the customer, and ultimately the bottom-line.

About YouEarnedIt

YouEarnedIt is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, YouEarnedIt grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact and appreciation. To request a demo, visit www.youearnedit.com/demo.

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Darby Dupre
Darby Dupre