Employee engagement best practices: 7 things leading HR and leadership teams do

Guides
December 1, 2022
Praisidio, Inc
Employee engagement best practices: 7 things leading HR and leadership teams do

When your team feels appreciated, challenged, well compensated, and taken care of, they make the magic happen. Here’s the gut punch: most employees never get to feel this way. According to Gallup, only 15% of employees around the world — and 35% in the US — feel engaged at work. That’s not good for business. According to the same survey, businesses with the best engagement saw a 10% customer engagement increase, an 18% productivity increase, a 23% profitability increase, and a 43% lower turnover. 

So if you want to increase profits, lower costs, keep your customers happy, and avoid joining the line of US businesses losing a trillion dollars a year in attrition costs, you need to increase employee engagement. The easiest way to do this is by borrowing from what the best HR and leadership teams are already doing. 

1. Measure your team’s daily reality

Employee satisfaction surveys are better than nothing. The problem is that they don’t tell you what’s really going on. Most surveys are not frequent enough to give you enough information. And they use trailing indicators — they show you what happened in the past, not what’s happening now. On top of that, answers are heavily affected by the recency bias — your team is telling you how they felt at the time they answered the questions. 

Here’s the final kicker: even if your surveys are anonymous, employees — especially in smaller teams and companies — may not share their real answers because of fear of retribution. So how do you find out what’s really going on?

The best way to understand how your team is doing is by tracking real-time behavioral data with a solution like Praisidio. Instead of asking people what they’re doing — and hitting the limitations of memory, question bias, and timing — you can track their actions. This way, instead of making inferences based on past behavior, you can adjust your engagement strategy based on what’s happening this week. You can act faster and smarter, helping your team before they have a chance to get frustrated and disengage. And you can create more personalized engagement programs too. 

2. Set the right workload

If you want to keep your team at the top of their game, you need to create the right workload balance. 

If your employees have too much on their plates, you’ll have to deal with the chronic cost of burnout. If your high performers stay in that state for too long, they’ll feel out of control and hopeless. This will then affect work quality, team cohesion, and productivity and lead to quiet quitting followed by real attrition

On the other hand, if an employee has too little on their hands, they’ll start feeling uninspired. Their skills will stagnate and — if they go unchallenged for too long — they’ll start losing interest and fill in the time gaps with scrolling or job searching. 

That’s why the best leaders pay careful attention to everyone’s workload. They monitor meeting frequency, make sure everyone’s project load is just right, and they work with those in maker roles to create uninterrupted space for deep work. 

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3. Foster unbreakable team bonds

If you want your team — and your business — to outperform the competition, you need to help them build strong connections. Lack of connection leads to loneliness, isolation, frustration, and a low productivity rate. 

When people feel connected to each other, and to their shared mission, they communicate better. This improves performance, keeps meetings enjoyable, reduces information silos, and — generally speaking — makes it easier to deliver projects on time and on budget. And it’s not just about your team. When employees in different departments feel connected, it cuts down on unproductive competition and helps everyone keep their eyes on the prize. 

Of course, the more connected your team, the more important it is to focus on employee engagement. Because when the key dominoes leave for better-paying positions with your competitors, you risk damaging team cohesion. 

As with most effective HR and leadership initiatives, you need balance because when connection eats into maker time, everyone suffers. So keep an eye on the amount of one-on-one, skip-level, and manager meeting loads. If team members are not engaging enough, step in and encourage them to meet more. But if meetings are beginning to become a distraction, step in and help them schedule some much needed maker time so they can focus on their work. 

4. Create effective recognition programs 

No one likes to have their efforts ignored — yet just 23% of employees are happy with the level of recognition they get. This needs to change. 

When you recognize someone for their contribution, you show them that the hours they logged were not for nothing. Feeling like their work is pointless and lacks meaning is a key reason your employees lose interest — the right level of recognition prevents this from happening. 

But there’s a fine line to walk here: as a leader, you have to make sure that recognizing one employee doesn’t make others feel less recognized. The simplest way to do this is by having clear, well-defined rules around great performance. You can set those by creating a matrix that lets people know what’s good, what’s great, and what’s exceptional for their role. When your matrix is done, clearly mark the tangible benefits and rewards they’ll get for brilliant performance. 

This clarity gives your team something to work towards, encourages great performance, and discourages favoritism at the same time. 

5. Eliminate pay gaps

How would you feel if you found out that the person you sit next to every day makes 20% more than you for doing the same job? What about learning that your friend — working in the same position at a different company — is making 25% more with better benefits? About 50% of employees that plan to quit, leave so they can make more money. 

Pay gaps for the same role and the same experience — between employees at your company or at a competitor — are also the fastest way to kill job performance and lose your brightest employees. This is why we see more and more States introducing pay transparency laws.

At great companies, these gaps tend to develop accidentally over a period of time. This usually happens when the market value of a certain skill set goes up, so new employees get a higher starting rate. This puts their overall compensation at a higher level than that of loyal team members that stuck with you. Because raises are often percentage-based, that higher start brings more money in over time too.

That’s why you need to make sure that all employees have a fair external and internal compa ratio.

6. Build a growth-first environment

Without growth opportunities, your best employees will stagnate. Their creativity and problem-solving abilities will slowly wane until they lose interest and quit. If you want employees to stay and thrive, you need to make sure there are clear pathways to skill development, promotion, and training. 

Employees get stuck when they’re mistrained or when they’re overtrained. If an employee lacks training, they lack the key skills to perform their job properly. This can lead to underperformance, frustration, and low productivity. These employees need access to mentoring, professional training, and regular support. If an employee is over-trained, they’re usually ready to move up to the next level. To thrive there, they need to develop the skills for that role. 

To identify employees that can benefit from training, look at their tenure, time in role, number of job changes, and the number of courses or opportunities they’ve taken. These metrics will help you identify the right opportunities for them. Ideally, HR documentation should lay out growth opportunities too so that proactive employees can seek them directly. 

7. Lead by example

Ultimately, proper employee engagement starts and ends with the leadership team. If your leaders buy into the mission, vision, and purpose of the company — and lead by example — then employee engagement will go up. If they don’t, your team will disconnect. 

The best thing you can do is identify both your best managers and those that are struggling to keep their teams happy. Employee turnover per manager can help you with that. If people keep leaving at a higher rate than for similar teams, offer extra training and support. 

Next, take a look at your teams. Are there certain teams that have seen a high manager turnover? If that’s the case, it’s time to dig into those reasons managers are struggling to stick around and address them one by one. 

Support your team

Applying these steps will help you create the kind of engaged, productive team most companies can only dream of. But if you want to stay ahead of trends and develop a sixth sense of what your team needs so you can cut down attrition rates and raise employee engagement, then you need real-time data. That’s where we come in. 

Praisidio tracks key data points in real-time and pulls them together into a single dashboard that helps you predict turnover up to 6 months in advance. With this data, you can step in and give employees the encouragement, support, and training they need to thrive before they start interviewing. Our clients use this data to reduce attrition costs by over ten million USD for every 200 employees.

Book a demo and find out just how much we can save you. 

Prevention is always better than cure. Book a demo with one of our retention experts to see how Praisidio can help you solve turnover 6 months before it happens.