7 Tips for Developing an Employee Engagement Plan

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Very often, organizations invest time and money in employee engagement plans without understanding their strategic implications. For example, implementing a trendy employee engagement initiative without knowing whether workers can benefit from it, or spending money on a program without first deciding whether or not the employee is interested in participating. Merely claiming to strengthen employee engagement is not enough; you really need to create a clear, actionable employee engagement plan to get there!

What is an employee engagement plan?

An employee engagement plan is a mechanism that organizations develop to define and prioritize their actions for improving employee engagement. It enables recognizing the key factors that influence employee engagement, identifying the employees’ pain points, and creating customized initiatives to address them. These can be fast and easy employee engagement improvements, as well as long-term programs.

Employee engagement plan helps convey to employees that the company is committed to responding to any sort of employee engagement feedback.

Thus, an employee engagement plan is an ideal tool to get started with if your company is willing to make a significant difference in how your organization approaches employee engagement.

Even though employee engagement is receiving increased attention in many companies, most workers are disengaged at work. Just 36% of employees said they were engaged at work, according to a Gallup survey. A lot of causes trigger low employee engagement, including a lack of respect from superiors, poor company communication, and a lack of alignment with the company’s mission. Since engaged employees contribute to long-term employee retention, higher productivity levels, and increased job efficiency, it’s clear that company leaders need to start seeing employee engagement as a strategic business goal.

Why create and implement an employee engagement plan?

Improving employee experience

Employees are the foundation of your business; without them, you won’t succeed. As a consequence, an improved employee experience positively impacts employee engagement. Good employee experience and high employee engagement help increase retention levels, benefit employees’ work life, and enhance job satisfaction.

Benefits of an Employee Engagement Plan

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Enhancing customer satisfaction

Employee engagement directly impacts customer experience. In fact, employees at companies with excellent customer experience are 1.5x more engaged than their competitors.

Creating a high-performance culture

Your employee engagement plan contributes to increased efficiency and, eventually, improves business results and profit margins.

Boosting shareholders’ value

Employees who are interested in their jobs outperform their competitors by 147%. These businesses benefit from increased sales, lower absenteeism, fewer shortages, better safety, higher efficiency, more incredible innovation, and lower operating costs. It leads to a higher return on investment for shareholders.

Getting known as the “employer of choice” in your business

According to Dr. Wayne Cascio, author of Investing in People: Financial Impact of Human Resource Initiatives (FT Press), companies that make the Fortune magazine’s annual “Top 100 Places to Work” list receive twice as many applications as firms that do not make a list.

The goal here is simple. You should receive (and select) resumes of higher-caliber talents for an open position compared to your competitors. Planning a great employee engagement strategy is the first step toward being an employer of choice and reaping the advantages that come with it.

How to create a plan for your employee engagement

1. Determine the reason for your company’s existence

An organization must express and define its values before implementing an employee engagement plan. Employees who feel connected to the organization’s mission, ideals, and priorities are more involved in their jobs.

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To begin, write down your company’s mission, principles, short- and long-term objectives, as well as what your company is doing to strengthen its brand positioning. Why was the company founded, and what values does it serve to customers, vendors, and local communities? What traits do you look for in your employees?

Employees must be able to quickly express and be inspired by what the organization intends to do and stand for.

For instance, an American online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos aims to provide exceptional customer service, which they refer to as “wowing” their customers. This is a core part of their company culture and what the company stands for, which is what they instill in all their employees, too.

2. Examine the findings of the employee engagement survey

To build an action plan, you must first find out what works and what doesn’t for engaging your employees. It entails delving into the survey results to determine your company’s strengths and weaknesses and areas for growth. You need to determine what drives employee engagement to understand the underlying factors and, most importantly, what is working and what isn’t.

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You need to consider the following factors because of their high effect on employee engagement:

  • Learning and growth opportunities
  • Promotion procedures,
  • Parental leave policy
  • Health insurance
  • Communication norms
  • Frequency and type of employee rewards and recognition
  • Meaningful work
  • Hands-on management
  • Supportive work atmosphere

Concentrate on the employee feedback you got rather than the scores. Take note of any recurring themes or trends in the categories of questions. Managers should meet with their teams to discuss the findings. The aim of employee engagement surveys isn’t to make the company look good but to help it improve.

You can also get more insights into the workforce’s engagement through regular meetings, focus groups, and company get-together.

3. Choose what you want to change

You must determine where you want to concentrate your efforts. Review the data and make a list of main priority areas to study further. Begin with two to three focus points. These focus points can serve as a springboard for creating actionable takeaways.

Consider:

  • Which points from the survey have the biggest effect on employee engagement?
  • What were the places where we scored the lowest?
  • Which outcomes would we be able to improve with a few minor tweaks?

For example, your employee engagement survey results might show that your employees don’t feel appreciated and recognized. That’s why they are not motivated to provide stellar customer service. You want to change this and start showing your employees more appreciation and recognition for their hard work.

4. Brainstorm solutions

Recognize potential obstacles to resolving the problems you’ve identified and come up with solutions. Bringing the team together to discuss what’s going on will help you better focus your efforts. Build focus groups for each of the focus areas you’ve developed.

Find ways to encourage an innovative and open dialogue, maybe through applying design thinking concepts. It allows teams to question assumptions, consider different points of view, and reframe challenges as opportunities. Review your notes from the meeting, review the focus group meetings, and begin brainstorming ways to enhance each focus area. Make a list of as many ideas as you can, then talk about which ones the group prefers.

Gain a deeper understanding of how a particular program aligns with your organization’s priorities and needs.

In our example, you can decide to focus your employee engagement plan on rewards and recognition to appreciate your employees. Define the characteristics of the said program. What kind of behaviors will be rewarded? When and what kind of rewards will be offered? How often (frequency) should they be rewarded? And how does this all relate to the organization’s goals?

It’s also essential to have an idea of a cost estimate (including hidden costs) to prevent overspending or a negative ROI.

5. Time to act and be accountable

Now that you’ve established your top options, it’s time to bring your employee engagement plan into action. It is a vital move to have a long-term effect on engagement and keep team members accountable. Most people lose interest or become distracted by other goals during the year if they do not make a consistent commitment, take ownership, and hold themselves responsible.

The team should know who is responsible for the specific acts, the timelines for monitoring progress, the success metrics, and the deadlines.

You will avoid the strategy falling through the cracks by clearly outlining the action steps and responsible for the outcomes.

Setting SMART goals for your employee engagement plan and what it ultimately aims to do helps you track progress and results. Let’s have a look at an example.

David is an HR manager of an MNC who got a forwarded email from his CEO, Cornelia. The email was from one of the customers in Texas who shared his bad experience with one of the customer service employees. David promised the CEO that he would look at, develop, and implement an employee recognition program to encourage employees to provide better customer service.

What could a SMART goal look like in this scenario?

  • Specific – To improve customer service
  • Measurable – A 10% increase of Customer Satisfaction Ratings in the following 6 months.
  • Achievable – By using an employee recognition system.
  • Relevant – Recognizing team members will boost productivity and morale, increase the number of completed tasks, and decrease customer complaints.
  • Timely – In 6 months.

6. Improve the core element of employee engagement – communication

Once you’ve put your employee engagement plan into action, communicate it to your workforce in a concise way. In our example of an employee recognition program, explain to your employees how to use it, what its value and benefits are, and let the senior managers promote and encourage the employees to utilize it daily.

In general, transparent communication is key to the success of any employee engagement initiative.

Your organization should facilitate peer-to-peer and peer-to-management contact. Increasing the number of meetings between managers and their staff to discuss work and set priorities is one way to enhance communication. Employee presentations, in which both managers and non-managers make weekly presentations on various topics, may also be sponsored by management.

Build brand ambassadors that can inspire their coworkers. These ambassadors communicate the company’s mission, ideals, and messages to employees, allowing them to connect their work to the broader context.

7. Evaluate the outcomes of the initiatives regularly

You must be vigilant as staff adapts to any changes once you’ve put the engagement plan into effect. Communicate with the employees regularly to gather feedback and make any required changes quickly and efficiently. It is essential to measure the engagement action plan’s effectiveness against defined performance metrics regularly (once a month or every six months, for example).

Measure turnover metrics, Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) performance, employee attendance metrics, and in-house engagement survey results to see how effective these facets of the strategy are at increasing engagement. It’s not easy to develop and execute a strategic employee engagement plan, but company efficiency, employee satisfaction, and happiness all improve when done right.

Regularly revisit your program, evolve, and adapt according to the results and new requirements.

Over to you

Nurturing employee engagement is vital to the long-term success of your organization. You should start with identifying what the issues are and then devise effective remedies. Whether you’re implementing a new learning & development initiative, a rewards and recognition program, or another employee engagement solution, make sure you understand the objectives, purpose, priorities, and the desired outcome of the program and how it advances your organization’s goals. Then you’re well on your way to set up an effective employee engagement plan.

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