8 ways your HR team can increase employee engagement

Sponsored by Workleap Officevibe

In most organizations, the HR team is the primary point of contact throughout the employee’s entire journey. From the very first nerve-wracking moments of the recruitment process to the bittersweet exit interviews, there is usually an HR representative there to guide us through it all. But how can HR help increase employee engagement over time?

By working with senior leaders and managers, HR team members are uniquely positioned to help build and maintain a strong, sustainable workplace experience. And a sure way to promote a positive experience is to ensure employees feel engaged and motivated every day.

However, keeping engagement high is easier said than done, especially as change affects so many aspects of organizational life:

  • Remote and hybrid working norms remain fluid as we navigate post-pandemic norms.
  • Automation and other emerging technologies are redefining established skills and work processes.
  • Companies across multiple industries are facing uncertainty and disruption.

Obstacles like these are why HR is more important than ever. When organizations face tough challenges, HR teams can ensure employees are engaged, happy and motivated.

In this article, we’ll explore some proven strategies your HR team can implement to increase employee engagement and sustain that kind of culture over time.

The importance of involvement

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Ensuring employee engagement is essential to the overall success of any organization.

What is at stake? Research shows that if your workforce isn’t engaged, your company is likely to underperform on multiple levels. For example, you can expect:

  • Higher stress in the workplace
  • Increased absenteeism due to illness
  • Lower productivity
  • Less employee retention
  • Unachieved business goals

No one wants to face these problems. But how can you avoid them?

8 strategies to increase employee engagement

It’s easy to talk about the dangers of poor engagement or the benefits of improving it. But what strategies can HR implement that will actually increase engagement and retain top talent for the long term?

Below are 8 ways to move the meter. Keep in mind that randomly focusing on just one strategy will not yield the best results. Instead, start by considering your organization’s current situation and goals. Consider which of these ideas are likely to have the biggest impact on your workforce. Then try a combination of methods that meet your specific needs:

1. Choose the best employee for each role

During the hiring process, HR is responsible for helping identify and select the best candidates for each open position. Being aware of the needs of each team and the broader objectives of the company, it makes sense for HR to recommend candidates who are the best fit for them.

This also means that HR must be responsible for ensuring that anyone you hire thrives in their role. So if an employee is going through a tough time, the appropriate HR representative should work with that person’s manager to assess the situation. It may mean that the employee would perform more effectively under different leadership or in a different role.

2. Have great onboarding

A great workplace experience starts with exceptional onboarding. When employees join a company, they usually have endless questions – not only about their job and salary, but also about the company culture and the resources available to them.

Onboarding tools like Workleap Onboarding help HR leaders and managers provide new hires with a seamless introduction to the company. They can also go a long way in creating high employee engagement from the start.

Does your HR department oversee a distributed team? This ultimate checklist for onboarding remote employees will get your new hires off to a great start.

3. Practice clear, open communication

Effective communication is key to the success of any team, but this is especially true in HR. In many organizations, HR not only functions as a sounding board for employees and as a leadership coach. It also serves as the main communication channel between senior leaders and the rest of the company. This means that transparency and trust are of the utmost importance.

Open lines of communication should also extend to one-on-one sessions. For strong engagement, employees must feel like they can trust HR representatives with their concerns and questions. Above all, they need to feel heard, respected and understood.

If employee satisfaction and engagement appear to be declining, you may want to avoid unnecessary turnover by conducting retention interviews. If you’re unfamiliar with the residency interview process, these six questions can help you get the conversation started.

4. Collect and respond to employee feedback

One of the most effective engagement initiatives we support is collecting anonymous feedback from across the organization. Employees may not feel comfortable providing feedback directly to their managers. That’s why it’s crucial to provide people with a safe space where they can express their thoughts and opinions without fear of repercussions.

For best results, use a survey template. This provides a consistent structure for collecting and evaluating concerns. It also makes it easier to relate that feedback to engagement.

Periodically review feedback reports with managers to analyze and interpret satisfaction and engagement metrics. This ensures you can stay ahead of key metrics and identify specific issues or trends that need to be addressed. From there, you can work with individual unit leaders to develop relevant engagement activities or initiatives for their teams.

5. Offer meaningful wellness programs

When people are tired, stressed or on the verge of burnout, they will obviously not perform optimally. But data from Workleap Officevibe shows that 1 in 4 employees finds their work-life balance unhealthy. This suggests that engagement-focused HR teams need to make staff mental and physical wellbeing a priority.

Add a budget line item for mental health resources and programs that help employees care for their physical, emotional, social and financial well-being. And to ensure your programs resonate, an employee wellness survey can provide a wealth of insight into employee well-being. Take the time to ask thoughtful questions and keep the conversation going through informal and formal forums.

6. Encourage a culture of recognition

In an ideal world, everyone in an organization would regularly recognize others for their contributions and achievements. But in reality, according to data from Workleap Officevibe, only 66% of employees are satisfied with the frequency of recognition they receive.

Practices that build a culture of recognition can make gratitude a cornerstone of your employee experience. Start with metrics that encourage leaders and managers to consistently express specific, genuine appreciation for team members.

Also consider the power of a peer-to-peer recognition platform. These systems allow employees to easily thank colleagues or express words of support for a job well done. This is very effective for improving engagement. In fact, it’s one of the best low-cost, high-reward strategies HR can implement.

7. Facilitate team building

If your organization has distributed teams, it can be challenging for people to make authentic personal connections. By organizing informal team building activities, HR can help bring that ‘human’ touch back to your department. Activities like these can increase the level of team interaction and engagement:

  • Innovative challenges
  • Job rotation programs
  • Team potluck dinners
  • Events and games based on mutual interests

Looking for more team building and collaboration ideas? Try these tips for remote teamwork!

8. Provide professional development opportunities

Nothing is more important to employees than investing in their growth. And it is also good for engagement. Many people are creative, resourceful and driven. But sometimes they need help finding and accessing courses and other learning experiences that will expand, improve or refine their knowledge and skills.

With employee surveys you can determine which topics appeal most to your staff. By then combining this feedback with maps of the organization’s capabilities, it is possible to create a curriculum that aligns employee interests with internal skill gaps.

For example, some organizations are helping employees expand their digital and AI skills to meet the increased need for tech talent. Others offer foreign language training to help employees work more effectively in a global business environment.

The best development programs structure learning opportunities in different formats. For example, you can combine informal workshops, online knowledge-sharing forums, and lunch-and-learn events with a variety of formal courses, mentoring opportunities, extended assignments, and certification paths. Consider these options as a way to help individuals expand their personal and professional competencies while increasing engagement and strengthening your company’s strengths.

How workplace experience tools can help

Your HR team is the heart of the employee journey. Their raison d’être is to help managers find the best people for their teams and ensure that these individuals feel comfortable, supported and engaged in their work. So even the most knowledgeable HR professionals can benefit from tools that help increase and maintain employee engagement.

Tools like those from Workleap Officevibe make it easy for organizations to collect employee feedback, measure engagement, and evaluate results. With these data-driven insights, you can design, implement, and improve engagement strategies that improve your employee experience and ultimately drive business success.

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