Employee engagement programs are important. You alread have one, whether it’s intentional or not. It might be effective, or might be counter-productive. Rolling out a stratetic, intentional employee engagement program can be hard. We are confident most people do it the hard way because so many engagement programs fail.
But not the programs we’re involved in, and influence. Here are five big keys to having a successful, lasting employee engagement program in your organization:
Successful Employee Engagement Programs Have A Purpose
Unfortunately we sometimes see people looking for employee engagement programs who are looking for technology without knowing what they are really looking for. Oh, of course they have a list of features and criteria, but there isn’t a defined “why.” Someone at their organization heard a conference talk, or read a book or an article, and became convinced they needed to get a system in place. But they aren’t sure what their big “why” is. If you are looking for solutions because other companies are doing it, or a conference speaker said you should do it, you risk implementing a program that is destined to fail.
We talk to plenty of people who say their executive teams are skeptical because they “already had an employee engagement system” in place. I would bet the system was put in place just to have a system, but a higher purpose wasn’t defined. Your purpose might be to improve performance. It might be to improve your employer brand, improve retention, etc. Different organizations will have legitimate different “why’s” for their programs. Those are employee engagement programs that are successful. Otherwise your program might die within weeks or months, and your team loses confidence in future programs you roll out.
Effective Employee Engagement Programs Get Full Leadership Support
With a clearly defined why, your leadership has no excuse to not be behind the program. The why should align with strategic initiatives. An employee engagement program is not an afterthought, nor is it secondary to other programs and initiatives. Your employee engagement program is key to your organization because it is all about, and for, your most important asset: your employees!
In today’s world your team has options. No one expects to stay at an organization for forty, thirty, twenty, or even ten years anymore. We know we’ll either be let go, go through organizational change (downsizing, right-sizing, etc.), or we’ll have life circumstances that change, or we’ll get a better offer.
When leadership is behind the program, not just with lip service but in other ways, the team gains confidence that this is something they should participate in. They look for these cues from leadership, really. When the cues aren’t there, or they are conflicting, people wonder if the program will really work, or how long it will last. But when leadership gets involved, and is supportive, they trust it, and go all in.
Ways to support your employee engagement program include ensuring there is a proper rewards budget, that you have the right tools in place for admins and users, and leaders and managers are active users. Can you imagine how powerful it would be to have bosses… people who might seem unapproachable because of their title… giving recognition to people on your team? Don’t underestimate the power of kind words given in a semi-public forum!
Lasting Employee Engagement Programs Have Regular Marketing
When I became an entrepreneur I learned that I had to continually market anything I wanted people to know, do, or remember. I thought I could push something out once and people would get it, remember it, and appreciate it. I thought they would spread the word for me. Then, through trial and error, I learned that I needed to introduce a new idea, but I had to repeat my message multiple times.
I learned I had to market my ideas in different ways. Sometimes that was through webinars, sometimes through free ebooks, or in my other books. I blogged and tweeted regularly. As soon as I stopped, results trickled to a stop.
Messaging about your lasting and successful employee engagement programs need to be repeated and reinforced over time. Sometimes you think you are saying the same thing over and over. And sometimes you will. But, this repetition and reinforcement is necessary.
It’s important for new employees. It’s critical that employees who have been with you for a while know you are still behind, and support of, the employee engagement programs. Other leaders and managers need to hear this message, and be reminded that this is still a strategic initiative, and part of your organizational culture.
If you find yourself getting bored with your message then figure out different ways to talk about it. But remember, talking about rewards and recognition is way different than actually giving rewards and recognition. Make sure to use, and encourage use of, your employee engagement program.
Real Employee Engagement Programs Have Meaningful Rewards and Recognition
Your employees need to feel like their work, contributions, and efforts are really seen and valued. Imagine doing something great for your organization, going above and beyond and providing exceptional value to your organization or customer, and you get some cheap toys as a recognition. This might actually be fine, if the toys have some special meaning in your organization. But if they don’t, they can be insulting.
Make sure that the rewards or recognition actually mean something. This could be monetary, or it could cost you nothing. We can consult with you and talk about ideas but ultimately you need to make sure what you offer is not perceived as cheap. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. You can actually provide a bunch of no-cost rewards (also known as intrinsic rewards) that are meaningful.
Factors to determine this include your organizational culture, history of rewards in your organization, how leadership and management treat your teams, etc. We’d love to talk about this, you’ll see a link to get in touch with us at the bottom of this post. Okay, okay, you don’t have to wait… click here to get in touch!
Long-term Employee Engagement Programs Run On, And Scale With, Technology
Employee engagement program administrators care about the people they serve. They strive to provide a just, long-term program that really works. They take pride in their work, and enjoy watching people get rewards and recognition. However, if the systems they use to manage the logistics and data needed to run an employee engagement program are manual, there are some serious risks that could go south very quickly.
At Snowfly we have replaced manual, file-cabinet programs. We’ve replaced spreadsheets. We’ve replaced hybrid systems. Each of these systems can be as complex as you can imagine. Many of them have grown and evolved over years. Most of them are managed by one or two people.
What happens when those one or two people leave? Who will be able to make sense of these complex systems? What happens if their spreadsheets get deleted, or the servers have problems? Usually these are not mission-critical systems, so if there are server problems the IT teams might not focus on getting them back up until other, more important systems are recovered.
Snowfly employee engagement systems have engineers who focus on keeping the system up, and if anything goes wrong we are all over it. It is our sole focus, and we have an impressive record of uptime. What happens when your admin leaves your company? Our systems, tools, and programs make it easy for a new admin to jump in and keep your program going. We love it when people get promotions, or move to a job that is more fitting for them. But those moves shouldn’t take your employee engagement system down.
If you don’t have these five elements you can still work towards them. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You want a lasting, impactful employee engagement program. It can take time to get it in place, and once in place it can last for several years, even decades.
We’d love to talk about your employee engagement program, or what you want to create. We have tools, technology, and systems to help you. We also have many years helping organizations across industries build and improve successful, effective, lasting, real, and long-term employee engagement systems. Let’s talk!