The average employee faces a multitude of pressures – everything from a growing workload under deadlines to achieving both short and long term goals. It’s easy for employees to feel overwhelmed and burned out. However, if an organization takes time to invest in employee engagement, there can be benefits for employees and employers alike. Engaged employees are enthusiastic about work and, in turn, willing to do more to help their company succeed. Employees usually find that activities designed to improve employee engagement are fun and a refreshing break from their usual day-to-day routine. Employers benefit from improving camaraderie, team building, and encouraging creativity in the workplace. But if you dig deeper, improving employee engagement goes well beyond having fun and team building.
So what are some ways you can improve employee engagement? Once a month for the past two years at 24Slides, we have been holding Play Saturdays. On a Play Saturday, our team gets together outside of work engage in different team building activities that increase engagement and foster creativity. Some of these activities have included team competitions like a Vine contest designed to encourage a healthy competitive spirit and teamwork as well as workshops, trainings and activities to boost creativity (e.g., GIF creation workshops, craft activities such as t-shirt printing, and culinary showdowns). The 24Slides team has also participated in sport and wellness exercises including a Yoga Day and self-defense training to promote team building as well as physical and mental fitness. We also have Play Saturdays for entertainment while allowing our team to better get to know one another with activities such as decorating the office.
Building Engagement During Work Hours
At the same time, improving employee engagement is also something that can be done during work hours. Some in-work activities that create engaged employees are themed office days (e.g., suit-up Fridays); sharing and encouraging charitable acts; celebrating achievements, birthdays, work anniversaries, and other important milestones; and giving and receiving feedback with tools such as 15five.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
In March 1982, James Wilson and George Kelling introduced the “Broken Window Theory.” The theory states that in urban environments, taking steps to prevent small crimes like vandalism or taking time to fix buildings with broken windows can contribute to a decrease in even more serious crimes. The decrease in crime happens because the community is invested in the well-being of the area as a whole. How does the Broken Window Theory relate to employee engagement? By investing time and effort to improve employee engagement, a company can create a culture where employees are more satisfied with their work, and as employees are more engaged, they become more productive as well as loyal brand advocates.
So while events such as art competitions or themed office days can seem simplistic, they are actually small opportunities for a company to convey an important message to employees that they work for a great organization that values their happiness and has a unique company culture. Engaged employees are more apt to share and promote company values. Enthusiasm created in the workplace is likely to carryover outside the office, where employees become valuable brand advocates.
While there can be some costs associated with activities to improve employee engagement, companies should look at these costs as an investment back into the organization. Moreover, they are usually low cost investments with high returns. Engaged employees help make your company a great place to work and become loyal brand ambassadors. Studies have shown that engaged employees are more productive than disengaged employees. When a company actively works to improve employee engagement, it is working to repair its “broken windows” to create a company culture that encourages its employees, inspires creativity, and boosts productivity.