How to engage employees at every phase of their work journey

Engagement in the workplace is important, not only because it creates a positive and friendly work environment, but because it impacts the business’ bottom line as well.

Proactively engaging employees at every phase of their journey with your company, rather than just at the beginning, can lead directly to improved attitudes, increased enthusiasm and morale, greater performances, and higher employee retention rates.

A 2020 Gallup report titled “Employee Engagement and Performance: Latest Insights from the World’s Largest Study” reports some eye-opening stats. Those businesses in the top quartile of employee engagement when compared to the bottom quartile showed:

  • 23% more profitability
  • 66% greater employee wellbeing
  • 13% more participation
  • 18% more productivity
  • 81% less absenteeism
  • 18% less employee turnover in high-turnover environments
  • 43% less employee turnover in low-turnover environments

To put it plainly, a workplace with great employee engagement equals a more successful workplace.

[Related: How and why you should create a corporate culture which supports women]

The problem is that too many businesses have a narrow understanding of when they should engage individual employees. They only focus on engaging them when they are first hired, as a reaction to falling morale and employee turnover. Alternatively, they engage when employees have notable successes and major milestones.

This is problematic because as employee engagement decreases, it can become more challenging to improve. To prevent that, proactive engagement is key.

Things like virtual team events and team bonding experiences can go a long way in proactively keeping your team engaged and productive at work.

Onboarding and welcoming to the team

When it comes to onboarding and welcoming a new employee, engaging them with their new environment early not only reduces stress, but lays a solid groundwork for workplace satisfaction and productivity. In one study, 70% of employees who had an exceptional onboarding experience stated that they “have the best possible job.”

It makes sense. Disappearing after introducing a new hire to the rest of your team can make your new employee feel isolated and unsupported. Engaging your employees from the start and following up with regular check-ins will create an environment where they feel like they can ask questions, give feedback, and put their best foot forward.

Additionally, a workplace with fun and engaging onboarding methods can help improve productivity across the board, as well as intra- and inter-team connectedness, company reputation, and employee retention rates.

Don’t forget — welcoming new employees is about more than just setting them up to get to work as soon as possible. It’s also about making them feel welcomed and ensuring they have the tools and relationships they need to be successful.

Organize a welcome meeting and make sure they have time for introductions with coworkers across the company who it might be beneficial for them to get to know. This is especially crucial if your company is remote or a hybrid workspace. Meaningful connections early in employees’ time at a company can contribute to improved team morale, better communication, and increased productivity.

Check out our piece on how to welcome new employees for other helpful and unique ways to engage with a new team member.

[Related: The retention metric people leaders aren’t talking about]

Rewarding progress and successes

Throughout each phase in an employee’s work journey, a good manager should be celebrating progress and success. Acknowledging small and large milestones is crucial for creating a motivating work environment. Not only does this encourage employee engagement, as well as resilience to future challenges, it can also positively impact employee retention and ambassadorship.

The key here is to reward small wins as well as big victories. If you hold out and only shout out the most important milestones, you risk demotivating a large portion of your team and alienating employees who are on less flashy projects. Appreciation can be a big factor in employee engagement.

So go ahead, express your gratitude on Slack, during a Zoom meeting, or via email and let everyone know their hard work is appreciated!

Measuring engagement

It’s good to have a system for measuring employee engagement in the workplace regularly to keep a pulse on how everyone is feeling. You can do this by offering engagement surveys, asking for anonymous feedback, and performing more intentional check-ins.

Some questions you can ask during your check-ins or on your engagement survey include:

  • How do you feel about work today / this week?
  • How would you describe the work culture to someone who isn’t employed here?
  • Do you feel excited about coming to work?
  • Are you proud to work at our organization?
  • Are you satisfied with your current benefits and compensation?
  • Do you find this company’s values and work meaningful?
  • Do you feel like your supervisor is invested in your success?
  • Do you get adequate recognition for your accomplishments?
  • Do you see a path to advancement in your current position?
  • Do you have all the tools and resources you need to be successful?
  • What would make working here a better experience?

Make sure to create space for unprompted comments and feedback as well.

Results from these surveys and check-ins can help managers identify issues particular to certain roles and departments. You can also compare responses over time to see change in key metrics to better improve your workplace.

[Related: EAs are the backbone of your org, here’s why they deserve all the praise]

Avoiding (and recognizing) burnout

If you notice that you or your employees are feeling a little stressed out, you might be dealing with a case of employee burnout.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines employee burnout as “a prolonged state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion typically caused by mismanaged stress, namely in the workplace.”

Trying to balance everything on one plate can be overwhelming for anyone, especially during the last few years. A recent report from Indeed confirms that burnout is on the rise, with 52% of all workers in the U.S. are suffering from burnout at their jobs.

Is your company remote, or a hybrid workspace? It might be at an even higher risk for burnout. 70% of remote workers are experiencing burnout even without heading to the office each day. Virtual employees can find it even more difficult to draw a line between work and personal life, especially if they’re working from home.

[Related: 5 Reasons your team isn’t loving virtual happy hours]

If you’re starting to notice signs of burnout in your employees, you should show support, and offer solutions that could make their day-to-day a little easier. Proactively reach out and check in with your employees regardless of their successes or what stage they’re at in their work journey. This will show them that you care about your team’s well-being, not just the company’s bottom line.

When you can prevent and address employee burnout, you’re not only helping your employees, but you’re giving your company a boost as well. An estimated $1 trillion is lost in productivity each year as a result of employees dealing with mental health issues.

A study from Gallup reports that this might be because those suffering from burnout are less confident in their work, more likely to take a sick day, and more likely to leave their current job than those not dealing with burnout.

These employee burnout statistics are eye-opening. Check out our blog on how to prevent employee burnout for ideas on how to recognize, prevent, and address burnout issues in your company.

Offboarding and saying goodbye

Just because an employee is leaving doesn’t mean you should overlook engagement practices.

Planning events like a fun farewell party can give everyone a positive note to leave on and show your appreciation. Your company’s reputation will be secure as a place that values their staff and the contributions they’ve made — both current and past.

When you say goodbye, look at it as a time to celebrate the achievements of your departing employee and acknowledge all that they have contributed during their tenure.

Engaging with an employee during their final days is especially important if your team is remote. It can feel easy to silently slip out the door, so to speak, when you’re a virtual employee, but everyone should be recognized to the same extent.

Some other things managers can do to encourage team engagement in an employee’s final days include:

  • Review and shout out their big successes over their tenure at the company either in a meeting, staff email, or Slack shoutout.
  • Express your willingness to be a reference or a point of contact for guidance in the future.
  • Solicit feedback on what they loved and what your company could improve.

Interested in more farewell ideas for coworkers? Read our guide and say goodbye with a bang!

[Related: 20 Unusual team-building activities to connect with your colleagues]

Engage at every phase with Mystery

Looking for ideas on how to further engage your employees at every phase of their work journey? Check out Mystery today.

From stellar first impressions to saying goodbye to an integral member of your workplace — we work to bring teams together to celebrate, bond, and build a sense of community.

Learn more about how we work or book a unique event today!

Featured image via PxHere.