Engaged employees are your company's biggest asset. By implementing effective employee engagement programs like ERGs, mental health support, and family benefits, companies can improve retention and productivity. This guide tells you everything you need to know about building successful employee engagement programs.
Motivated and engaged employees are your company’s biggest asset. According to a Gallup survey, teams with engaged employees show an 81% reduction in absenteeism, a 14% increase in productivity, and a 43% lower turnover. But how can people leaders foster more engaged employees? Competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits are one part of the equation, but strategic employee engagement programs can also make a difference.
Employee engagement programs are often part of a larger strategy to improve your team’s experience by providing growth and development opportunities. These programs can run the gamut from public recognition to offering family-friendly benefits. One study found that 94% of companies reported higher employee engagement and satisfaction when they offered flexible, family-friendly arrangements, such as remote work.
A comprehensive employee engagement strategy is a worthwhile investment for companies looking to boost employee loyalty and productivity. Here’s what people leaders should know about building employee engagement programs that make a difference.
What are employee engagement programs?
Employee engagement programs are initiatives designed to promote employee growth or development. Employee engagement programs can improve employee morale, motivation, and productivity by creating a positive work environment and building a sense of community.
These types of programs are numerous and diverse, but examples could include wellness programs, training and development programs, recognition programs, social events, and employee feedback programs. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement—the programs employers choose to implement will depend on your organization’s culture, location, budget, and industry.
Examples of employee engagement programs
There are myriad employee engagement programs, and you’ll need to tailor them to your mission and overall strategy. Here are a few ways you can boost employee engagement:
Create employee resource groups (ERGs)
ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that support and foster a diverse, equitable workplace. These groups are centered around specific characteristics like gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or race. With a staggering 40% of U.S. employees admitting that they feel “isolated” at work, ERGs can help foster inclusion.
Research from McKinsey shows a positive correlation between effective ERGs and employee experience. In companies where employees felt the ERG was effective, 83% said they felt “included,” compared to only 59% in companies where the ERGs were ineffective.
Provide support for reproductive & family health
At the surface level, this seems like a benefit (and it is), but supporting reproductive and family health is a great way to keep employees engaged and satisfied. Our recent report found that 96% of Maven Family Building members are more loyal to their employers because they implemented family benefits. There are many ways to support family planning and health, including:
- Providing on-demand access to family health professionals so employees can get the support they need from their homes.
- Giving employees access to a library of clinically-vetted content and resources for a trusted source of information during their family journey
- Designating a comfortable space for breastfeeding in the office
- Implementing a flexible work schedule for employees to ease childcare burdens
Increase mentorship opportunities
In a CNBC study, 91% of employees surveyed with a mentor reported being satisfied with their jobs. Mentorship benefits everyone. The mentee receives career guidance, and the mentor connects with their community and feels like a valued member of the organization.
Your organization can set up a formal mentor program, which usually includes mentor/mentee matchmaking, qualitative surveys, and a designated length of time for the mentorship. You can also encourage members of management to take on mentees on a rolling basis and provide informational sessions on how to find and approach a mentor for junior employees.
Support mental health
Employees—and working parents especially—often deal with high stress levels. A Great Places to Work report found that nearly one in four working parents suffer from burnout at work, doubling their chances of leaving their jobs for a new opportunity. To help alleviate burnout and stress, consider hosting on-site yoga or meditation classes, designating a quiet room for employees to de-stress when needed, and providing management training on recognizing the early signs of burnout. Companies should also offer employees access to mental health professionals who can help them deal with stress outside of working hours.
Publicly recognize employees
Simply put, employees want to be recognized for their valuable contributions to their organization—and employees who feel they will be recognized are nearly three times more likely to be highly engaged. A robust recognition program is a great way to show gratitude to employees who reach goals, generate revenue, or promote the company's mission. Recognition can be in gift cards, cash bonuses, quarterly employee luncheons, awards, or a combination. You can create reward programs tailored to your specific culture and management styles.
Encourage recreational team-building activities
Think beyond icebreakers—there are many different team-building activities, even if you have a remote workforce. Host a virtual quiz or escape room for remote employees. For in-person employees, you can have a team field day with various activities. These kinds of initiatives serve multiple purposes: employees get to work in teams, which fosters connection, and they get to network with coworkers across the company.
Create a strong employee feedback loop
Employee feedback is essential for every organization. However, employees often feel that their feedback isn’t implemented or taken seriously, which has dire consequences on employee engagement. According to Gallup, employees who “strongly agree that their organization takes action on survey results” are twice as likely to be engaged. Beyond conducting employee surveys, your organization can create a strong plan that includes regular updates on feedback received, an escalation protocol, and designate employee feedback as a management metric.
Develop a formal onboarding program
Great engagement should start the day your employee does, but unfortunately, too many organizations are missing the mark. Gallup reports that only 12% of employees felt they had an adequate onboarding experience. Implementing a thorough and strategic onboarding program significantly improves employee retention and productivity. Formal onboarding should be a holistic process that includes everything from equipment, training, and HR sessions to adequate time with their new team members and managers.
Spread the [company] news
Like a strong employee feedback loop, informed employees feel empowered and part of the larger organization. Whether good or bad news, do not shy away from being transparent with your employees. Transparency means clearly aligned organizational goals, accountability at every level, and open and honest communication. Research shows that transparency promotes better employee productivity, trust in your organization, and even job satisfaction.
While this list is not exhaustive, it can spark ideas on how to motivate and engage your employees in a meaningful way.
What are the benefits of employee engagement for an employer?
High employee engagement doesn’t just benefit employees—employee engagement is an important marker of organizational health. Some benefits for employers include:
- Increased productivity: Engaged employees have higher productivity levels. Gallup’s meta-analysis shows that organizations with high employee engagement report 22% higher productivity. Highly engaged units achieve 18% more sales and 10% higher customer ratings, even within the same organization.
- Improved retention & job satisfaction: When employees are unengaged, they seek other opportunities, which costs your organization money. A 2019 CNBC study found that 90% of U.S. employees who considered quitting felt “undervalued” at their current job. Job satisfaction is also higher when employees are actively engaged, which translates to higher productivity and interest in their duties.
- Reduced absenteeism: According to Gallup, highly engaged workplaces had 41% less absenteeism. Reduced absenteeism could potentially save your organization millions of dollars—one white paper calculated that unplanned absenteeism costs U.S. employers $3,600/hour.
- Remote engagement: Contrary to popular belief, research indicates that remote employees are more engaged than their in-office counterparts. A flexible work schedule leads to a 62% increase in employee satisfaction. Maintaining an engaged remote workforce can enhance their experience and support your company's goals.
- Lower costs: Higher employee engagement means higher savings. According to recent research, disengaged employees in the U.S. cost organizations around $450-550 billion each year in lost productivity. Companies with a high ratio of engaged to non-engaged employees experienced 147% higher earnings per share than their competitors.
A checklist for successful employee engagement programs
You know the importance of having a highly engaged workforce. We’ve shared a few tactics you can implement in your organization, but what must you do to have a thorough employee engagement strategy?
How Maven can help you develop an effective employee engagement program
Maven, the leading women’s and family healthcare company, offers an integrated, 24/7 platform that makes family planning and reproductive health easy, streamlined, and accessible for your employees. Challenges when starting and raising a family can have a significant impact on employee engagement, but with Maven as a partner, you can offer a full range of support services for your employees so they feel cared for at work and home. To learn more about how Maven can further enhance your employee engagement efforts and employee benefits, request a demo today.
We’re always here to answer your questions—and that starts now.
Why measure employee engagement?
You won’t know if your employee engagement programs are working without proper measurement. The program is an investment of time and resources, and you want to be sure your efforts positively impact the bottom line.
How can you measure employee engagement?
There are a few different ways to measure your efforts, including employee satisfaction, productivity, absenteeism, and customer satisfaction.
What differentiates employee engagement from job satisfaction?
While it may seem like these are the same, engagement and satisfaction are different. Employee satisfaction is when employees are happy and content with their workplace experience. Engagement is whether or not employees are invested in the organization and motivated to put effort into their jobs.
How do engaged and disengaged employees differ?
Engaged employees are more productive, happier, have less frequent absences, and contribute positively to the organization’s goals. Disengaged employees put less effort into their job, may constantly be looking for a new position, don’t contribute as much, and are more likely to have unexplained or unplanned absences.
What drives employee engagement?
A myriad of factors can influence employee engagement. Transparency, recognition, support, feedback, and efforts from the organization make it clear that employee engagement, satisfaction and experience are a primary concern.
How do you develop an employee engagement program?
Review your current needs, gather initial feedback, get management sign-off, and implement two to three tactics. Test and learn; keep what works and move away from what doesn’t work. Always keep feedback loops open.
What is the goal of employee engagement programs?
- To increase employee engagement in a way that positively contributes to your organization’s goals, values, and mission statement.