How to Increase Employee Engagement Beyond Perks

According to Gallup data, a whopping 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged at work.

A lack of employee engagement disrupts an organization’s ability to generate results, because low engagement levels inhibit effective learning, development, and productivity in the workplace.

Senior management at companies across the globe are left wondering how to tackle their engagement crisis and align teams around shared objectives. Follow these three steps to boost engagement and help employees understand their personal impact on driving sustained results.

1. Start with Topline Results

What’s the first word in your training glossary, and the primary objective of your employee engagement or training initiative? If it’s not results, nothing else matters.

Our Workplace Accountability Study, which surveyed over 40,000 participants, revealed that

  • 85% of organizations say key results are not clearly defined such that employees at all levels can engage.
  • 93% of survey participants indicate that the lack of clarity inhibits them from aligning their work or taking accountability for desired results.
  • 70% of survey participants indicate that the lack of clarity puts their organization’s key results in jeopardy.

Unfortunately, this misalignment around organizational goals creates an environment of confusion and shifting priorities, which in turn leads to low productivity and widespread disengagement.

The first step in addressing a lack of engagement among employees is identifying and articulating your topline priorities, or Key Results — the three to five essential organizational goals that your company must achieve in order to remain relevant and generate sustained profitability.

Leaders must identify what their topline priorities are, and then create a comprehensive strategy specifying how to communicate those priorities to each and every employee within the organization. Rather than sending a single, catch-all email blast to the whole company, managers must make an active commitment to ensuring that each of their direct reports understands the company’s topline priorities.


2. Train Employees Around Desired Organizational Results

The next step to boosting employee engagement in the workplace: launch a comprehensive accountability training initiative that helps your employees better understand your organization’s Key Results and the essential role individual team members play in achieving them.

In a recent training session at a major corporation where safety is a topline priority, the COO of the company posed the question: “Who is accountable for safety?” Nearly every employee in the room looked at the director of safety. The COO saw this moment as a valuable teaching opportunity: it wasn’t just the director of safety who must be held accountable for safety, but each and every employee. Accountability at work requires a collective commitment.

Similarly, within your organization, it’s crucial to embrace positive accountability — which, according to the New York Times bestseller The Oz Principle, is “the personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”

When all employees take accountability for achieving Key Results, they engage more deeply with their daily work, understanding that it is their ownership of these results that enables organization-wide success.

3. Bridge the Gap to Boost Employee Engagement

Even after employees participate in effective, focused training initiatives that help them feel personally accountable for Key Results, engagement in the workplace can plateau. That’s because most employees have a ‘clock-in, clock-out’ mindset: they show up, fulfill their basic duties, and then leave — without ever establishing a deep connection to the work they’re doing. This creates a cycle of disengagement.

To sustain engagement across an organization, employees must feel a meaningful connection to their organization’s Key Results each and every day. As New York Times bestselling authors Roger Connors and Tom Smith write, “The defining characteristic of an engaged culture is that people voluntarily assume their own engagement. Rather than drawing them out with workplace perks, give them something even more rewarding — the ability to tie their work to the clearly defined aims of the organization.”

To help employees make the connection between their daily actions and Key Results, managers should aim to inspire not just initial buy-in from employees, but continuous investment in organizational results. They can do so with Propeller’s Key Results module — where Key Results are succinctly stated to help employees keep an eye on the targets toward which they should be moving every day.

The Progress Updates section provides all employees with insight into current and historical progress toward Key Results so that they can accurately gauge the gaps that remain to be closed in real time. Further, leaders can upload encouraging video messages in order to create greater alignment around Key Results. The kind of consistent messaging afforded by the Key Results module of Propeller empowers every employee to take action toward important organizational goals.

See Your Desired Results in the Workplace

Your company can buck the disheartening trend of employee disengagement in the workplace. As a corporate leader, address your engagement crisis by defining the organization’s topline priorities and strategically working to connect every employee initiative, workshop, and training directly to your Key Results.

Most critically, employees at every level of your organization must feel invested in and committed to achieving Key Results.

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