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Improving employee engagement and morale can feel like an uphill battle. With so much energy and resources in an organization focused on finding and hiring the best people, it can be easy to lose sight of what happens after the job offer is accepted and the new employee is onboarded.
But keeping employees content and thriving is in your organization’s best interests—it reduces turnover and helps you keep your recruitment at a manageable level. So what can you do to help your own organization nurture the employees you already have on board?
5 ways to improve the employee experience
1. Reach out
Communication is the key. Organizations where employees feel like decisions happen far remotely from their daily work lives, or where they don’t feel like they’re in the loop, tend to suffer morale issues. This doesn’t mean you have to turn everything into a democratized process, but frequent outreach about larger initiatives, strategies, or priorities for the company can make employees feel more included in what the company is doing.
2. Ask for feedback
When you let employees take surveys, you’re probably going to hear things you won’t like. You’ll also hear people venting, or complaining about things you can’t really change. It may not be pretty or fun to get honest, anonymous input on your organization. But you will also get essential insight into what people are thinking and how they feel about their jobs and their workplace.
Whether positive or negative, feedback directly from employees is one of the most valuable resources you have. It can provide direction for future initiatives or programs that can benefit employees, or help you identify patterns and gaps before employees jump ship to go somewhere else. Anonymous online survey tools are readily available. You also don’t have to make it anonymous, but if you want honest, actionable information, employees should feel secure that they won’t be singled out or penalized in any way for their honesty.
3. Celebrate achievements and milestones
The joy of being rewarded for achieving a goal is something none of us ever really outgrow. As adult professionals, the gold star sticker or candy prize may not have the same cache it did in third grade, but the idea of getting called out for success or receiving a reward never gets old. Plus, employees who feel like their accomplishments are seen, heard, and recognized tend to be more satisfied in their day-to-day jobs.
Depending on your organization’s resources, it can be a financial reward and incentive, or something as simple as an annual employee achievement award, or frequent announcements about various achievements or accomplishments throughout the company. People are working hard every day for the organization’s bottom line, and giving public credit is a significant morale booster.
4. Create employee bonding experiences
Remember how, back in the day, many companies had annual picnics or events that allowed employees to socialize away from the everyday grind? Work culture (and many company budgets) have moved away from large-scale events like that, but there are still opportunities to create fun, social events for employees.
Have a lot of people who love to cook or bake? Organize a quarterly potluck or an annual bake-off. Are there people with fun, crafty hobbies or amateur artistic skills? Schedule an annual employee arts festival where they can put their projects on display, complete with wine and cheese. It can even be as simple as having monthly pizza day or a bagel brunch where people can come together in the office and chat away from their desks.
5. Foster employee growth
One of the biggest sources of employee frustration is when people feel like they have nowhere to go. Encourage employees to diversify their skills, whether that’s offering organization-wide discounts on classes or training programs, or giving employees a chance to shadow other groups and departments to develop deeper knowledge.
Mentoring programs and management training opportunities can help improve employee engagement significantly. They also improve the strength of your internal candidates for open positions and promotions, and discourage people from taking their talents elsewhere.
The review process is also a chance to go deeper with employees. You can talk with them about how they see their career developing and discuss what success looks like to them. This knowledge can help managers and employees set customized goals to support employees as they grow and develop.
One of the most important things to remember as you strategize around the employee experience: your employees are your resources, but in a sense, they’re also your customers. Their experience matters. Putting in the work to make them feel supported and satisfied in their everyday work will always benefit your organization’s bottom line in the end.