When a company has a poor or toxic culture, the tension in the air is almost palpable. Instead of the sounds of happy, productive chatter, you’re more liable to catch whispers of gossip or stone-cold silence. Employees clock in, clock out, and likely look for a new job as soon as they’re out the door.
Your company culture plays a big role in employee engagement and, in turn, other measures of business success. Not only is retention impacted when engagement is low, but poor employee engagement is also associated with lower productivity rates.
By creating a culture of engagement, you’ll initiate a space where your employees are actively involved, attentive, and seek out the best possible results and solutions for your business. Engaged employees not only perform better — they can also contribute directly to the bottom line. For example, the construction manufacturer Caterpillar saw a $2 million profit improvement after improving employee engagement led to an increase in happy customers.
So how can you create a corporate culture where employees actually connect and collaborate with each other, and thrive in your workplace? Hint: It's not as simple as throwing a pizza party every quarter. Try out these tips to get started.
- Show Employees the Path to Career Growth
Career development is an essential component of employee engagement — when employees see a clear path for growth and advancement in their careers, they're more invested in their work and motivated to stay with the company long-term. Those who receive professional development opportunities experience 15% higher levels of employee engagement than those who don't. They’re also 34% more likely to stay with their companies, according to Harvard Business Review.
You can provide your employees with training and development programs that help them build new skills and advance in their careers. This might include on-the-job training, mentorship programs, or tuition reimbursement for continuing education courses. Companies can also offer clear career paths and employee development plans that outline the steps required to move up in the organization.
- Provide Meaningful Recognition
Authentic employee recognition goes beyond just a pat on the back — it's about creating a culture of appreciation where employees understand how their actions help propel the company forward. Employee engagement goes up nearly threefold when team members believe they'll be recognized by their company, according to research from Quantum Workplace.
To show appreciation for employees, companies can implement initiatives like an employee spotlight or employee of the month program. These programs highlight employees who go above and beyond in their work and provide them with public recognition for their efforts. They offer a chance to say "thanks" for a job well done and for the entire company to celebrate a stellar teammate's contributions. You can also encourage public shoutouts in meetings or on a collaboration platform like Slack to get everyone involved and boost engagement further.
- Listen to Employee Feedback
When companies acknowledge and act on employee feedback, it sends a powerful message that they value their employees' contributions and are committed to creating a positive work environment. It's important to remember that employees are the ones who are on the front lines of the business — they know what's working and what's not, and their feedback can provide valuable insights into how to improve the company. But to truly make an impact on engagement, companies should strive to turn that feedback into action to improve the employee experience.
To gather and apply employee feedback, you can try implementing regular engagement surveys or suggestion boxes where employees can share thoughts and ideas. Communicate openly and transparently about how the feedback will be used and what changes might result from it.
You can also hold town hall meetings around specific topics or ask managers to source feedback from their reports in one-to-one meetings. The key is creating a workplace culture of transparency where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions without fear of retribution.
- Make Work Fun
Adding some time for fun and team-building can go a long way toward boosting employee engagement. When employees have opportunities to socialize and bond with their coworkers, they're more likely to feel connected to the company and invested in its success. Fun activities can also help break up the workday and reduce stress, leading to a more productive and positive work environment.
Sometimes, this might look like creating a space to inspire connection between employees, like an employee resource group that's centered around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. You can also create a sense of friendly competition and foster camaraderie between employees by organizing a fitness challenge, trivia day, or Family Feud-style contest between teams. To help employees connect outside of work, you could try sponsoring a volunteer event or setting up a social outing.
- Offer Flexible Working Options
Offering flexible working options can contribute to employee engagement. When employees have the option to work from home, adjust their schedules, or work part-time, it increases their autonomy, and they'll likely feel more valued and trusted by their employer.
Hybrid work options, for instance, have been shown to boost employee engagement. When employees spend 60% to 80% of the time working remotely, they're the most likely of any group to feel that their engagement needs are being met, according to Gallup research. And the ideal "flexibility window" only seems to be increasing — their research from 2012 showed that employees who worked from home only 20% of the time experienced optimal engagement rates.
There are many ways to offer flexible work options to their employees. This might include allowing employees to work from home one or two days a week, offering flexible scheduling options, or implementing a four-day work week.
However, it's important to keep employee engagement in mind throughout. Regular check-ins for employees working remotely can help them build connections to the team and the company culture. You can also offer remote or hybrid employees ways their own opportunities for engagement, such as virtual volunteering opportunities or water cooler chats with teammates.
Wellbeing Strategies Keep Employees Engaged
Prioritizing wellness is an important tenet of a thriving, positive culture — and it helps keep employees engaged. Our work lives are closely tied to both our physical and mental wellness outcomes (and vice versa). By supporting your employees in these areas, you can keep them happy, healthy, and ready to focus when they’re at work.
About 85% of companies say that wellness programs have helped improve their employee engagement, according to a survey conducted by Virgin Pulse. These initiatives are a great way to show your employees you care, while putting them in the best position to contribute to company culture, customer satisfaction, and business results.
Learn more about how a wellness program can cultivate a culture of engagement by speaking with a Gympass wellbeing specialist!
- Developing and Sustaining Employee Engagement. Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/sustainingemployeeengagement.aspx
- Hickman, Adam, and Robison, Jennifer. (January 24, 2020.) Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes. Gallup. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/283985/working-remotely-effective-gallup-research-says-yes.aspx
- Keswin, Erica. (April 5, 2022.) 3 Ways to Boost Retention Through Professional Development. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://hbr.org/2022/04/3-ways-to-boost-retention-through-professional-development
Kohll, Alan. (July 30, 2018.) Your Employee Engagement Strategy Needs More Wellness. Forbes. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/07/30/your-employee-engagement-strategy-needs-more-wellness/?sh=6fcc78f942b5
- Wickham, Natalie. (April 20, 2022.) The Importance of Employee Recognition: Statistics and Research. Quantum Workplace. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/importance-of-employee-recognition
- Yohn, Denise Lee. (August 6, 2019.) Employee Feedback Is Good For Employee Engagement; Action Is Better. Forbes. Retrieved May 18, 2023 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/deniselyohn/2019/08/06/employee-feedback-is-good-for-employee-engagement-action-is-better/?sh=46acf22174cc
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.