Employee Engagement: How to Keep Frontline Employees Motivated at Work
Employee engagement affects almost every aspect of your business. From productivity, to customer relations, to overall retention rates. Here’s everything you need to know about how to create an effective employee engagement strategy.
It all starts with a plan...Employee engagement is an important topic. How important? Statistics show that disengaged staff cost businesses an estimated $450 - $550 billion every year. That's a lot of money!
But wanting to engage your team in meaningful ways and actually doing it are two different things. You need to have a strong plan in place and the will to execute it consistently. This is especially true if your company hires a lot of frontline employees. These workers are often on the move, and require a mobile communication solution to reach them effectively.
In this guide, we'll tackle the topic of employee engagement as it pertains to frontline workers. We'll start by covering what is employee engagement, how to improve employee engagement, why it's so important, and highlight a few key statistics that you, as a manager at your company, should be aware of.
Then in chapter two, we'll outline a five-step strategy you can use to better connect with your employees. We'll also list a few specific features to look for in any employee engagement app you choose.
Chapter three will cover employee engagement best practices and in chapter four, we'll show you how to accurately measure your work engagement efforts. Finally, we'll end with a few real-world examples of all these employee engagement strategies in action.
We have a lot to cover so without further ado, let's get started!
Chapter 1: Employee Engagement Definition
Let's take it from the top and cover what employee engagement really is, why it matters, and the stats you need to know before building an employee engagement strategy for your frontline workers.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement describes the relationship a staff member has with the company he or she works for. A highly engaged employee is someone who enjoys their job and actively seeks to benefit their employer.
Disengaged employees are the opposite. They couldn't care less about the business who employs them, and they tend to do the absolute minimum amount of work required. In cases of extreme disengagement, an employee may even actively work against the company in an attempt to do it harm.
It's worth noting that employee engagement and employee advocacyare NOT the same thing, though they are related. Whereas employee engagement describes the relationship between a business and its staff, employee advocacy is the promotion of an organization by its own workforce. Or, to put it a different way, employee advocacy is when team members advertise the company they work for without being asked to, simply because they believe in the organization.
As you can see, employee engagement and advocacy are different. BUT strong work engagement leads to increased employee motivation and advocacy.
Why Is Employee Engagement Important?
Employee engagement is incredibly important for several reasons. These reasons include increased productivity levels, customer satisfaction scores, and staff retention rates. Let's take a look at each of these individually.
According to an employee engagement survey by Gallup, an engaged workforce is 21% more productive than a disengaged one. Because these team members are excited about the work they're doing, they approach their jobs with more creativity and vigor. This boost in passion leads to better work and more of it — two essential components of a high-performing team!
Increased Customer Satisfaction
Work engagement also leads to increased customer satisfaction scores. How so? Well, let's look at the facts. One of the main reasons customers leave companies is because they don't appreciate the way the business has treated them. But highly engaged frontline employees who care about their organization will naturally treat customers with more respect. This goes a long way in securing customer satisfaction.
Higher Staff Retention Rates
Finally, we have staff retention rates. Frontline workers who are happy and engaged in their work don't seek out new avenues of employment. Why would they? They already love where they're at! This is important for companies to realize as the cost of replacing team members can easily balloon to one-third of the departing employee's annual salary.
The Employee Engagement Stats You Need to Know
We live in a world of big data, so how about a few statistics on work engagement? Did you know that:
In 2018, 34% of the U.S. workforce consisted of engaged employees. While this number may seem low to you, it's actually tied for the highest percentage in Gallup's history.
Also in 2018, only 13% of the current workforce in the U.S. could be classified as "actively disengaged." This stat comes from the same Gallup report mentioned above and is the lowest percentage the research firm has ever seen.
Organizations with high levels of employee engagement are, in general, 22% more profitable than companies with low employee engagement scores.
Engaging frontline workers is even more important than engaging their desk-bound counterparts. Only 22% of non-desk employees report feeling like their job is important to their company's vision. Even worse, the same study finds that only 10% of these folks feel connected to the company that employs them.
Women tend to be more engaged and have more employee motivation than men. 45% of women surveyed report being happy in their jobs. Only 38% of males reported feeling the same.
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Chapter 2: Boosting Employee Engagement at Your Company
Now that you know what employee engagement is, why it's important, and some key statistics that illustrate the state of workplace engagement, we can move on to the fun stuff: how to boost engagement at your company. In this chapter, we'll cover how to build a winning employee engagement strategy and the tools you'll need to do it successfully.
Below, you’ll find employee engagement strategies that will help you create a successful system built to improve employee productivity, customer satisfaction, staff retention rates, and overall profit. And don't worry! None of these employee engagement ideas will break the bank.
First, to increase employee engagement, you need to assess the current work engagement levels of your frontline staff. We'll talk more about measuring employee engagement in a later chapter. But for now, understand that knowing how your team feels about their company is important.
You can quickly discover this information via pulse surveys, one-on-one meetings, and the general response to tasks, organizational achievements, and company setbacks. For example, how does your staff react when business goals are reached? Are they excited? Or is their reaction more like ‘meh?’
Also, what's the team demeanor like when roadblocks are encountered? Is there a sense of indifference? The way your team reacts to certain situations will tell you a lot about their engagement levels.
2. Clarify Company Values and Goals
Next, clarify your company's values and goals and each individual employee's responsibilities. It's very hard for staff to engage in their work if they don't fully understand what they're attempting to achieve and why it matters.
Furthermore, when team members connect with the vision and values of a company, they'll be MUCH more likely to engage, work hard, and enjoy their careers. They'll have a sense of purpose, and you'll see employee motivation skyrocket.
So make sure that you identify and share your company's values and goals with your team. And ensure that each staff member understands the important role he or she plays.
3. Open the Lines of Communication
Open lines of communication are a great way to kick-start employee engagement. This means that clear and convenient communication between staff members and management should be a top priority. But it also means that communication between peers should be just as accessible.
Colleagues should be able to talk and recognize each other, just as management is able to. This is most easily done via an internal communication app such as Beekeeper. This is especially important for field workers who might not get a chance to connect with co-workers very often. An internal communications platform can help them feel connected even when offsite.
As a management professional, it's important that you don't just open the lines of communication, but that you actively participate in them. That means taking time to listen to your team and acting on their feedback. This philosophy will convince your staff that their voice is heard and appreciated, and will make them feel more engaged in their work.
4. Provide Continual Employee Training
Earlier we mentioned that every engaged frontline employee tends to be someone who understands their role within a company. It's important then to provide training to your teamso they can constantly sharpen their skills and stay on top of industry trends. Taking this approach will also subconsciously communicate to workers that they are valued.
Employee training also opens the door to career advancement. This is good for both team members and management. Your team wants to feel like they can grow within your organization. Promoting qualified team members is often in the best interest of a company too. Rather than hiring a brand new face that doesn't understand your organization's mission and culture, you can promote a frontline employee who already gets it.
5. Recognize Your Team in Meaningful Ways
Timely: Recognition given days, weeks, or months after a job well done is much less effective. Timely recognition builds engagement.
Frequent: Your team contributes on a weekly basis. Only recognizing them every once in a blue moon will leave them feeling undervalued and less engaged.
Specific: Specific recognition allows staff members to learn which of their contributions is most valued. It also assures them that their efforts are genuinely appreciated.
Visible: Privately recognizing employees has its place, but public recognition is often more beneficial. It shows other team members what great work looks like and allows colleagues to congratulate each other, thus keeping your entire team involved and engaged.
Tools of the Trade
Now that we've laid out a five-step system for building an employee engagement strategy, let's talk about the tools you'll need to implement it. When choosing an employee engagement software solution, be sure that it has the following tech features:
The employee engagement app you use should be convenient and intuitive. Your team shouldn't struggle when using it. If they do, they'll probably end up finding a different way to communicate. Or, even worse, they might decide to not communicate at all. Neither of these options is ideal.
Beekeeper makes secure communication between co-workers incredibly convenient. Users have multiple ways to converse — through a public news feed or via private chats — and they have the ability to attach and share files directly within the app.
Our platform even has an automatic inline translation so your team can interact with staff who may speak a different language.
Employee Recognition Features
As we mentioned earlier, employee recognition plays a significant role in employee engagement. Your team wants to be recognized for their accomplishments. What better way to do so than through employee engagement software?
Recognizing your staff has several benefits. First, it allows you to reward employees in a public forum. Two it's very easy to do, making it all the more likely that you'll recognize your team on a regular basis.
Both employee motivation and staff retention rise when management makes the effort to recognize great work. Make sure your employee engagement app allows you to easily praise your team’s hard work.
Lastly, the employee engagement software your company uses needs to be accessible on a mobile device. This is especially pertinent for businesses with off-site frontline workers. If these folks can't access your organization's app while in the field, engagement will be nonexistent. Make sure you choose to use a mobile-friendly app like Beekeeper.
Chapter 3: Employee Engagement Best Practices
We've covered a lot so far, but we're not done yet! In this chapter, we'll explore a few employee engagement best practices. Follow these tips, and your work engagement efforts will be successful.
Screen for Employee Engagement
Employee engagement should start with the hiring process. When assessing new talent, be sure to ask questions that shed light on their work ethic, willingness to learn and adapt, and the values they hold. This information will allow you to determine if they'll fit your culture and be willing to engage in it. Try asking questions like:
- What values define your work ethic?
- Do you prefer written or spoken communication?
- How do you envision this role evolving as you gain more skills?
It's also a good idea to contact any references a potential employee has. Ask about the level of engagement the candidate displayed in the past. Were they attentive to their work and a team player? If not, it's unlikely they'll suddenly turn things around. It's generally best to hire someone with a strong history of engagement.
Ensure Leadership is Onboard
Employee engagement shouldn't be the complete responsibility of employees. In fact, one could argue that management plays the biggest role in whether work engagement is high or low. After all, they're the ones that set the example for their teams to follow.
So make sure that your management team is highly engaged, and that they possess the proper knowledge and skills to rally the rest of their staff. If they feel they would benefit from a certain training or conference, do what you can to support them and make it happen. The skills they aquire may very well help them learn how to engage employees better.
Also, whenever a new employee engagement initiative is about to launch, gather your company's leaders and inform them of any changes before the rest of the company. This will allow them to ask questions and gain clarity. They can then impart what they know to their teams.
Use Employee Surveys
Employee surveys are a fantastic way to gauge your team’s engagement — but they have to be created and used in the right way to be effective. Here are a few tips to ensure your employee engagement survey is successful:
Know Your Goals: What are you trying to learn from your latest survey? When you know your end goal you can develop strategic questions to ask and accurately evaluate the answers you receive.
Keep It Simple: Employees don't fill out complicated surveys. If your team can't figure out how to submit their answers, they won't. Fortunately, tools like Beekeeper make sending pulse surveys a breeze. Our platform is mobile friendly and includes chatbots which you can use to automate the survey process.
Encourage and Share Feedback: How do you encourage feedback? You act on it once you receive it! When team members make suggestions, take them seriously. Also, transparency boosts employee engagement. So distribute survey results once you receive them and your staff will feel more involved.
According to Deloitte, only 22% of companies survey their employees on a quarterly basis. Get ahead of your competition and get the opinions of your team! Your company will be better for it.
Focus on Company Culture
"Company Culture" has become a bit of a buzz phrase lately. Fortunately, technology makes building positive culture much easier. An employee engagement app like Beekeeper will help your management team connect with staff members, share company values, source opinions, and encourage workers. It will also give frontline employees a convenient avenue to collaborate with each other — even if they happen to be working in different locations.
Video: Director from Mandarin Oriental explains why she loves Beekeeper
Looking to build a strong brand culture? Then first define what "culture" means to your company. What's your vision? Next, begin acting out your vision. Your team will follow your lead and naturally start implementing the strong cultural elements you model. Finally, encourage positive culture. Once your team understands the atmosphere you hope to create, ask them to continue developing it.
A strong culture boosts employee engagement because it provides an environment that team members enjoy working in. When your team loves coming to work, they'll be more productive and staff retention rates will be much higher.
Chapter 4: Measure The Effectiveness of Your Employee Engagement Strategy
Once you have an employee engagement strategy in place, you need to measure its effectiveness. That way you can tweak your approach to better suit your company's needs and improve employee satisfaction and retention. Here's how to measure your efforts successfully.
Know What to Measure
The secret to effectively measuring employee engagement is to simply know what metrics to pay attention to. This isn't always easy to do when you can have an avalanche of data at your fingertips at any given moment. Here are a few key employee engagement metrics to keep an eye on:
Operational Efficiency: Do your employees meet deadlines, show up to work on time, and get along with their colleagues? These are all signs of work employee engagement. When measuring the effectiveness of your employee engagement strategies, check attendance and performance records and track team member use of company resources.
Training Opportunities: Studies show that employee motivation dips dramatically when team engagement runs low. To get your staff more involved, offer ongoing training and educational opportunities. Then measure how many employees take advantage of the professional development your company provides.
Internal Communication: If your company uses an internal communication app (hint: it should, especially if it employs out-of-office frontline workers), then one of the easiest ways to measure employee engagement is to evaluate your app's usage. Are team members conversing through it regularly? If the answer is yes, than engagement is likely at a healthy spot.
Workplace Benefits: A company that cares and takes care of its employees will naturally have more highly engaged workers. Which means competitive workplace benefits are important. But benefits by themselves won't guarantee employee engagement.
You need to create a balanced atmosphere where benefits and workload are equal. Meaning, don't offer your team paid vacation and then force them to work so many hours they can't take advantage of the time off. Be sure to always measure employee engagement against the work perks your company offers and adjust as needed.
Optimal Work Quality: Lastly, look at the quality of work your team is producing. A large amount of subpar work could signify many things — your team doesn't understand what's being asked of them, they don't have the skills required to produce good work, or they simply don't care enough to do things correctly. The latter reason is a sure sign of low employee engagement. So, when measuring your efforts, be sure to track work quality.
Consult Your Analytics Dashboard
A quality employee engagement app will have an analytics dashboard for you to consult. This tool will give you invaluable insight into the minds of your team. Are they healthy, happy and engaged? Or do they show signs of discontent? If you're able to catch the signs of low morale early, you may be able to reverse the tides and improve employee retention rates.
When consulting the analytics inside your employee engagement software, look for the metrics we just described above. Things like internal communicationsapp usage, attendance and performance records, work quality notes, and more. A tool like Beekeeper will be able to share many of these details with you.
Ask Your Team
Finally, if you really want to know how your employee engagement efforts are doing, simply ask your team. Revolutionary, we know. But in our technological world, sometimes we get so wrapped up in analytics and software tools that we forget to go back to basics. So get feedback from your team, ask them if they feel engaged, and discover what your company can do better.
There are a few ways to do this. You could ask them face to face during one on one meetings. This approach will allow you to ask custom follow-up questions based on employee responses. The downside is, team members may not be comfortable speaking openly to management.
Another option is to use surveys like the kind available inside Beekeeper. These will allow your staff to answer questions anonymously giving them the freedom to speak their minds. For tips on how to create effective surveys, refer back to chapter three.
Chapter 5: Incredible Employee Engagement Examples
So far we've covered what employee engagement is and why it matters, how to improve employee engagement, and how to effectively measure the strategies your company implements. But before we let you go, we also want to share a few success stories with you.
Dentsply Sirona is the world's largest manufacturer of dental supplies and technologies. They employ 16,000 people across 40 different countries — most of whom are classified as out-of-office frontline workers — while also providing education courses to over 400,000 dental professionals.
Clearly Dentsply Sirona runs a massive operation. And in order to make that operation work as smoothly as possible, they invest in the employee engagement app provided by Beekeeper.
Before using our solution, internal communication within the company was difficult. Sales and manufacturing teams were on completely different wavelengths and important details fell through the cracks. But in 2016, all that changed.
Now, Dentsply Sirona, with the help of Beekeeper, has a simple and intuitive way for employees to connect and engage. Management can quickly send out notifications and inform teams of new developments. They've also used our many employee engagement features to give in-app feedback and send quizzes and surveys. These steps have helped them involve their varied workforce like never before.
At Heathrow Airport, one of the world's largest airports servicing over 78 million people every year, engaging the organization's 6,500 employees is a big deal. But the old system, a mixture of paper notifications, word of mouth sharing, and break room bulletin boards, wasn't cutting it.
That's when Heathrow turned to Beekeeper. They wanted a communication and work engagement platform that was easy to use and could be operated on the mobile devices their team members already owned and used every day. In a nutshell, they wanted real-time communication capabilities.
Today, Heathrow employees report feeling more connected to the company than ever before — even frontline workers who spend most of their day in the field. Heathrow has also noticed that company culture and productivity have skyrocketed since implementing our solution.
One of the airport's biggest employee engagement wins has been allowing team members to share photos and comments about their concerns. This gives Heathrow more "eyes on the ground" and allows them to fix minor issues before they become big problems. It also allows team members to feel valued and like they're contributing in meaningful ways.
Wheatsville Food Co-Op
Up until 2016, Wheatsville Food Co-Op was the only food co-op in Texas. Now there are others, but the company, which has been operating 1976, still leads the pack with three storefront locations and 250 employees.
In 2017, leaders at the co-op analyzed the slate of annual employee satisfaction surveys. One thing became very clear: there was a major communication gap between departments and frontline staff members. And this disconnect was leading to serious employee engagement issues.
Fortunately, Wheatsville Food Co-Op found Beekeeper, and our solution has helped its management teams and frontline employees connect with each other on a deeper level. The fact that Beekeeper can be operated on a mobile device is especially important to the co-op as 70% of their team members don't have a company-issued email address.
The workers at Wheatsville Food Co-Op are now empowered and feel comfortable speaking openly with management, sharing their opinions, and recognizing their peers for a job well done — all inside the mobile app!
Your Turn: Boost Employee Engagement at Your Company
Congratulations on finishing this guide! We hope it's been beneficial to you.
Employee engagement is one of the main pillars that separates successful companies from the not-so-successful ones. Your organization's ability to connect with every frontline employee will open the door to increased productivity, better customer and employee satisfaction, and improved staff retention rates.
Fortunately, implementing a winning employee engagement strategy is a straightforward process. Simply:
Assess current work employee engagement levels
Clarify company values and goals
Open the lines of communication
Provide continual work employee training
Recognize your team in meaningful ways
These steps are much easier to complete when you have the right technology solution to assist you. This is especially true for organizations with frontline employees.
The Beekeeper Solution
Beekeeper is an employee engagement and internal communications platform that's specifically designed for frontline employees. Our suite of convenient features such as streams, one-on-one and group messaging, employee surveys, powerful analytics, shift management, and more will help your company craft a winning employee engagement strategy.
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And because our software can be accessed on any mobile device or computer, every single employee will be able to use it no matter where they are.
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