Bessie is a freelance writer and has 10 years of HR experience. She is currently a Regional HR Business Partner with a US MNC. 

There have been many discussions on the benefits of employee engagement and the importance of companies investing in them.  Even so, we see that there are still companies who remain sceptical of such investment given the cost and time involved. Some are unsure of how they could get started; while some give up after few attempts.

As HR professionals, we have to understand that employee engagement is a long-term investment. Besides emphasising on the benefits, you have to ensure that your management understands that it is not about waving a magic wand and seeing the benefits the next week or month. However, it does pay to wait patiently for the company would subsequently benefit from its investments. Some of the key benefits of employee engagement include:

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  • Increased Productivity

A survey conducted by the Hay Group observes that companies with more engaged employees are much as 43 percent more productive.

  • Increased Retention Rate

Engaged employees tend to be more committed to their job and company. They are the ones who are more loyal and will stay with the company. They can also be the positive energy within the company that help to boast the overall morale and work environment.  A study by Towers Watson shows that Similarly, 72% of the highly engaged said they would prefer to remain with their employer if they receive a new opportunity.

  • Increased Business Success

Employees who are not engaged will not be doing their best. Key findings from Gallup indicates that employee engagement result in 21% higher productivity and 22% higher profitability. A successful company requires committed employees who continuously strive for the best performance and encourage others to do so.

Now that we are aware of the benefits of employee engagement, the next question will be on how to get started on it. Below are some tips on how you can take the first step to employee engagement.

 Read also: Using Social Media to Hunt for Talent

Getting started

There are numerous employee engagement activities that a company can organize but you should ensure that these activities meet the needs of your employees.  It is pointless to carry out numerous activities and observe that your talent attrition rate is on the rise.  Carrying out activities without understanding the gaps or needs will only waste your time and deplete your energy.

The first step is to conduct an employee survey.  Conducting an employee survey will enable you to find out where changes within the company are required. Consider if you have the budget to engage a consultant to draft the specified survey questions or provide you with the template. There are many consultancy firms which offer such service including collating the result as a third party provider. This will ensure anonymity of the participants where employees will feel most comfortable. Do remember that majority of the employees will not want to see their feedback about their managers landing up on their manager’s desk. This would backfire on them and your entire engagement plan.

If you have limited budget, it is still possible to draft your own survey questions. You will be able to find plenty of possible survey questions online but you should decide on selecting and using the correct type of questions. For instance, the question should be clear and direct and not too ambiguous. Upon selection, you can use free survey website to create the list of questions that you have selected. One of my personal favorite is surveymonkey.com but the basic membership will limit the number of questions and responses that you can create and receive. Such survey website will be able to collate the results whereby you can generate it as report and graphs for analysis.

Analyzing the result

 Analyzing the result is the most important part of deciding what action plans are needed after the employee survey.  In my opinion, some of the sections that usually have poorer scores are the following.  Since every company has its own culture and challenges, the action plans will also differ to meet the situation. From my experience, the following are some of the sections that typically have lower scores.

Common issues:

    • Compensation and benefit:  It is not unusual to see compensation and benefits as one of the top concerns since most employees believe that they are not paid well. As HR professional, you should not neglect this especially if the score is extremely low. You should re-examine your salary structure and benefits programs to make that they are competitive within your industry.
    • Teamwork: You should aim to promote team bonding through various activities.  It would be wishful thinking if you believe that all you need is to organize a one-time activity and expect everyone to work well together after that. Like trust, team work needs to be built and established over time. In my previous company, it took us 3 years before we observed a significant improvement in our team work section!
    • Management: If management is one of the key concerns, you should share this information sensitively with the management team since some feedback may be against them. My suggestion is to share and discuss these findings with your General Manager before sharing them with your management team.
    • Work life balance: You should identify the potential group of employees who may have provided this feedback. The highest possibility would be the ones who tend to work overtime on a regular basis. Discuss with their manager potential solutions to ease their workload or streamline their current process. Consider if you intend to roll work life balance strategies on a company-wide basis.

Decide on action plan and time line

 Once you have identified the areas for improvement, decide on the action plans and timelines for them. Ideally you should focus on 2-3 areas for improvement for a year so that you can have detailed action plans for each of them. You should also share the plans and timeline with your employees so that they are aware that the company is serious about engaging the employees.

Tapping on available funding 

As a HR professional, I can clearly understand the challenges of securing a budget from the management for employee engagement activities. You may want to know that the Singapore Government offers various funding which companies can tap on. Depending on how creative you can be, they can actually be very useful in your employee engagement activities. Two of my favourite funds are the Workplace Health Promotion Grant and the Workpro fund.

    • Workplace Health Fund is is a funding scheme offered by the Health Promotion Board (HPB). The grant provides financial support to help organisations start and sustain their workplace health programmes.  With the funding, you will be able to promote team bonding through healthy activities within the company. I would see this as killing two birds with one stone! You can obtain more information from www.hpb.gov.sg
    • Workpro fund (used to be known as WOW fund) by MOM supports work life initiatives to improve work-life harmony; job-design; age management initiatives and many more.

Now that you have the tips and the tools, I wish you and your organization luck in implementing a successful employee engagement program. Do believe that the effort invested will certainly pay off in the long run.

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