A lot of companies are out there battling to win “best place to work” and rightly so. After the big tech companies set the example with their fun workplaces and flexible policies, and the rise of platforms like Glassdoor, companies can no longer hide their culture from the public eye.
And it’s not just millennials looking for environments in which they will feel at ease. The job market is more competitive, people know to expect more benefits than before, and are more demanding. With both parents working, the rise of the gig economy and a more flexible workforce, companies know they have to do more to attract prospect employees. But that’s not all, once they’ve joined how can they ensure people are engaged and committed to the company?
Employee engagement is a funny term, but to me what it basically means is: employees are happy in their jobs and they are not likely to leave the company any time soon. There are many factors involved, and below are the top 10 I’d like to call out.
- Meaningful work. By meaningful I don’t necessarily mean saving the planet, just that a person has to feel a sense of accomplishment. That they are contributing to their team and that what they do is making a difference. If what someone does is repetitive or they feel as if it’s meaningless, it’s unlikely they will feel accomplished in their job and want to stay.
- Opportunities for career progression. Linked to the above, people want to ensure their work progresses. They may enjoy the same tasks for a while but probably won’t want to do the same thing for the next 10 years. People have to feel as if there are opportunities for them to develop and progress.
- A good atmosphere. People want to be happy to go to work and see their colleagues, not dread it. If they know they will see people they get on with (perhaps even friends), that’s important. Even better if they connect outside of work, spontaneously or not.
- Additional benefits. For example: the ability to occasionally work from home, a learning and development allowance, contribution to health insurance or a health & wellness allowance etc. Work isn’t just about the money and the benefits, but it does help contribute to an overall feeling of wellbeing and security within a company. If people know their company is supporting them beyond the salary, it makes a difference.
- A safe working environment. By that I mean safe from harassment and discrimination, but also a place where people feel safe to be themselves, express feelings and are not afraid to fail or learn on the job. We are all on a journey throughout our career so it’s natural to be in some sort of learning phase and not always get things right. If this is an accepted part of natural growth, people will feel safer to try new things.
- Freedom to operate, understanding your contribution. It’s extremely important to develop trust within a company and a team. If a person feels trusted to do their job, they will be more inclined to take initiative, and go beyond what they’ve been asked to do as they will have a real sense of ownership. Better still, is if a person can see and understand how their work is contributing to the overall company goals.
- Opportunities to learn. As I wrote in one of my previous blog posts, it’s incredibly important to have regular learning & development moments at work. After all, work is a bit like school for adults and we all want to progress throughout our career. If we don’t have the opportunity to learn, we will likely seek growth elsewhere.
- Investing back in employees/moments of celebration. It’s important to have moments to celebrate as a company or as a team. This could be an end of year party, a summer party, or more casual drinks. Either way, creating opportunities for colleagues to have fun together is important. It helps them to bond and get to know each other better. There is no need to go overboard with lavish trips, but remembering to bring everyone together now again helps to create a sense of pride and belonging.
- Feeling acknowledged and rewarded. As I mentioned in one of my other blog posts, recognition is important. Of course people are expected to show up on time and do their job. But if they are regularly going beyond their job description, show a lot of enthusiasm, or successfully deliver a large project, those moments should be recognized. If people come to work and never see any appreciation for what they’re doing, they will soon be tempted to leave.
- A pleasant workplace. This may seem pretty basic but let’s face it, if people dread going to the office because it’s old & dingy, or noisy so they can’t concentrate, is dirty or has mice, then it’s probably not the best place for them to be productive. Similarly, if the office is way outside of town in an industrial zone (I visited some offices outside of Gatwick and wondered how anyone would ever want to work there), it will make a difference. Attracting people to come and work at your company is also about the environment they’ll spend most of their week in.
My favourite workplace so far? Novartis campus in Basel. Why? Not only because of the amazing architecture, but also because of its location on the banks of the river Rhine. In addition there were a variety of places for lunch (from cheap to fancy), a supermarket, a pharmacy, a small library, a gym… What I liked the most was the various gardens & outdoor spaces which really helped to create a balance between the office spaces and nature.
It’s important to remember that it’s not enough to be able to hire people and deliver output for customers. People also have to want to stay with a company, and feel happy there. If you are wondering how to get started, you can download Snack Nation’s Clear and Complete guide to Employee Engagement here.
What do you think helps people stay engaged and committed at work?