Is a disengaged workforce hurting your company’s performance? According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 70% of U.S. employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged at their respective workplaces.
While all workplaces can suffer from low levels of employee engagement, it’s particularly common in commercial offices. The high-tech and digitally connected nature of commercial offices instill a lack of engagement. As employees become disengaged, they won’t fully commit their time and energy to help your business succeed. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to increase employee engagement in the office.
#1 Reinforce Goals
Setting goals is essential when running a business because it allows you to track your business’s success. Without goals, how will you know whether your company has succeeded? With that said, goals can also have a positive impact on employee engagement in your office.
According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), seven in 10 employees say goals are a crucial driver of engagement. When you set goals – and display them in a prominent area of your business office – employees will know exactly what they need to do for your business to succeed. As a result, they’ll feel a stronger connection with your company that compels them to work harder and more efficiently.
For higher employee engagement rates in your business’s office, set both short-term and long-term goals. Goals can vary depending on your business’s industry and functions. Nonetheless, it would be best if you created a combination of short and long-term goals. Short-term goals should consist of target objectives that you want to achieve within six months or less, whereas long-term goals should include target objectives that you want to achieve in at least one year. After creating relevant goals, display them in a communal area of your business’s office, such as the breakroom or conference room.
#2 Lead By Example
As a business owner, you should lead by example. In other words, don’t just tell employees what they should do; show them by doing it yourself. Employees will follow your lead, resulting in higher engagement rates.
Employees appreciate business owners and managers who are willing to work on the front lines. When you perform a task yourself, employees will take notice by following your lead. If you stand on the sidelines while dictating tasks to employees, on the other hand, employees may or may not follow your lead. Regardless, you’ll achieve higher engagement rates in your business’s office if you lead by example.
#3 Seek and Receive Feedback
You can use feedback to increase employee engagement in your business’s office. According to Salesforce, employees who are heard by their employer or manager are nearly five times more likely to feel empowered than their counterparts who aren’t heard by their employer or manager.
Empowerment, of course, encourages higher engagement rates. When you seek feedback from an employee, he or she will feel appreciated. For instance, asking an employee, “How’s everything going today?” shows him or her that you care. In response, the employee will strive to put his or her best foot forward. It only takes a minute to stop and ask an employee about his or her day, but doing so can have a profound impact on engagement rates in your business’s office.
In addition to seeking feedback from employees, you should also give it. A survey conducted by Workhuman, formerly known as Globoforce, found that nearly nine in 10 Human Resource (HR) executives cite peer feedback as a critical driver for their business’s success. By giving feedback, you can address areas of an employee’s performance that need improvement. Alternatively, you can let an employee know when he or she is performing a task correctly.
When giving feedback to employees, follow these tips:
- Address the employee by name to create a stronger personal connection.
- Don’t wait until an annual, semiannual, or quarterly performance review to give feedback.
- Offer constructive feedback to help employees overcome any challenges they are encountering.
- Always close your feedback with a positive note about the employee’s performance.
- Ensure two-way dialogue by asking the employee if he or she has any questions.
- Give feedback in person rather than by email, telephone, or other digital mediums.
- Schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss the employee’s performance further.
#4 Recognize Hardworking Employees
Employee recognition and engagement go hand in hand. When employees aren’t recognized, they are more likely to become disengaged. And considering that nearly two in three employees don’t feel appreciated at work, it can have a profound impact on your business’s employee engagement rates as well as your business’s overall performance.
What is employee recognition exactly, and how does it affect engagement rates? The term “employee recognition” refers to the acknowledgment of an employee’s work by his or her professional peers. In essence, it involves telling or showing an employee that you notice his or her hard work.
#5 Hold Face-to-Face Meetings
Holding face-to-face meetings can have a positive impact on your business’s employee engagement rates. The problem is that many companies, especially those that operate in a commercial office, now host virtual meetings over the internet or a local network. Virtual meetings are undoubtedly convenient because they can be performed in front of a computer rather than an actual conference room. Unfortunately, though, they don’t have the same positive effect as face-to-face meetings.
With virtual meetings, employees won’t directly interact with you or other employees. As a result, they may get distracted while attending a virtual meeting. In comparison, face-to-face meetings require direct interaction, so employees are typically more attentive, which manifests in the form of increased engagement. Holding regular face-to-face meetings is just one more way to boost employee engagement rates in your business’s office.
While face-to-face meetings can boost employee engagement rates in your business’s office, you shouldn’t hold them too frequently or for too long. In the United States, office employees spend an average of five hours in meetings each week. Over the course of a year, that’s over 260 hours. You can still hold face-to-face meetings with employees but remember to keep them short and productive.
#6 Skip the Open-Office Layout
When designing your business’s office, you may want to skip the open-office layout in favor of a more traditional closed layout. One study found that employees in open offices have 73% fewer face-to-face interactions than employees in traditional closed offices. And as previously mentioned, face-to-face interactions promote higher employee engagement rates.
Open offices live up to their namesake by featuring an open layout with few or no partitioning walls. In the past, nearly all commercial offices featured individual workstations, such as cubicles, each of which separated with partitioning walls. Around the mid-20th century, businesses began experimenting with open layouts. Since then, open offices have become increasingly common in the United States as well as many other countries. Some reports even suggest that over half of all commercial offices in the United States use an open design.
Open offices offer several advantages over traditional closed offices, such as increased flexibility, but they also have disadvantages, one of which is lower employee engagement rates. Contrary to what some business owners believe, open offices don’t encourage social interaction between employees. They actually push employees to isolate themselves behind their computer screens. As employees face fewer face-to-face interactions, it may trigger disengagement. You can avoid scenarios such as this by opting for a traditional closed office design rather than an open office design.
#7 Invest in High-Quality Office Equipment
When was the last time you purchased new office equipment? Whether it’s a chair, desk, table, or file cabinet, no piece of office equipment lasts forever. And while using old and degraded office equipment sounds harmless, it could result in lower employee engagement rates.
It’s no secret that office employees spend a substantial amount of time sitting. A typical office employee may sit for six or more hours in front of his or her computer. All that sitting can take a toll on employees, especially if they are forced to use low-quality office equipment. Employees may experience back pain or other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), for example, from sitting in a low-quality chair with little or no lumbar support. By investing in high-quality office equipment, employees will have the tools necessary to perform their respective tasks at peak levels.
If you haven’t done so already, take a few minutes to evaluate your office equipment to determine whether it needs replacing. Any equipment that’s old and degraded that should be replaced. When shopping for replacement office furniture, though, focus on high-quality pieces to get the best bang for your buck. Cheap office furniture often has an attractively low price, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you purchase cheap chairs and desks, you can expect a shorter lifespan for your office equipment, meaning you’ll have to spend more money to replace them in the future.
#8 Emphasize Employee Health
Emphasizing employee health as part of your business’s culture encourages higher engagement rates. According to CareerBuilder, there’s a strong connection between an employee’s health and his or her level of engagement. When an employee’s health declines, his or her engagement decreases. When an employee’s health improved, conversely, his or her engagement improves with it.
How exactly do you emphasize employee health? One idea is to offer a health and wellness program in which you encourage – as well as a reward – employees for taking steps to improve their health. Among other things, a health and wellness program can include smoking cessation courses, health screenings, dieting seminars, fitness tracking devices, and physical activities (e.g., cycling, running or team sports).
Along with a health and wellness program, you can emphasize employee health by stocking your office’s breakroom with nutritious snacks. Avoid stocking refrigerator and vending machines exclusively with junk food. Instead, include nutritious snacks from which employees can choose.
#9 Give Employees Breaks
Overworked employees are more likely to be disengaged than their counterparts who take regular breaks. You can’t expect an employee to be 100% productive for eight or more consecutive hours without a break. Employees can only work for so long until they experience burnout. And once an employee feels overworked and burned out, his or her performance will decline, thereby paving the way for disengagement.
In the United States, there isn’t a federal law requiring employers to give their employees breaks. Granted, some states have their own laws requiring mandatory breaks, but most do not. A business owner, however, you should consider offering breaks to your employees. Whether it’s a short 10-minute or a longer 30-minute break, it will allow employees to rest and unwind. When employees return from a break, they’ll feel more physically and mentally energized.
#10 Offer Career Advancement Opportunities
If an employee can’t advance to a higher position, he or she may feel disengaged. Also known as professional development, career advancement refers to an employee’s ability to progress up the corporate ladder to a higher-level position.
Not surprisingly, most employees want jobs that offer career advancement opportunities. It’s estimated that 52% of U.S. employees aren’t happy with their current job. If one of your business’s employees isn’t happy with his or her job, they probably won’t put their best foot forward. Instead, the employee will do the minimum amount of work to get by without losing his or her job.
Allowing employees to advance from their current job to a higher-level position naturally increases engagement rates. If an employee knows he or she can advance to a higher-level position, the employee will work harder in an effort to earn it.
While the exact cost varies, research shows that disengaged employees cost businesses about $16,000 per year. Assuming you have just six disengaged employees working in your business’s office, it can cost your business nearly $100,000 in lost productivity, increased turnover rates, low morale, and other expenses. By following these ten tips, however, you can keep employees engaged and actively involved in your business’s operations.
President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for over 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.