12 Effective Ways to Increase Employee Engagement
After studying 1,001 examples of companies that give little unexpected extras to employees, here are a dozen ways to drive engagement and reinforce culture from the book, What’s Your Green Goldfish:
You never get a chance to make a first impression. Example: USAA (#456) figuratively runs a Boot Camp. The insurance provider for military members and their families has an interesting onboarding process for new employees. Training includes trying on military fatigues, eating MRE’s (ready to eat meals) and reading letters from family members.
The design of the workplace, the type of the work and where people are situated will influence collaboration and engagement. Example: XPLANE (#708), which was founded in 1993, has an “Inspiration Wall” — a designated space in the office kitchen where employees can post anything they have created or want to share that inspires them. “It helps us express new ideas and personal findings which foster surprising connections, creative collaborations and, at its simplest, helps us all know each other better.” Here’s a video by XPLANE on Gamestorming:
According to Louis Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” If you want a strong culture, keep things open by default. Example: AnswerLab’s (#510) CEO schedules Walk & Talks with every employee. These one-on-one check-ins provide employees with an individual opportunity to share any concerns or brilliant ideas they have with the CEO directly. Combining wellness with one-on-ones helps achieve two important objectives simultaneously. Meeting outside the office and getting physical helps eliminate the nerves and intimidation employees might normally experience when connecting with higher-ups. According to Forbes, everyone gets a FitBit pedometer connected with an online leaderboard so all can see who’s clocking how many miles. This promotes more “walk and talk” meetings—which last generally one hour–along with monthly step competitions. The company also reimburses for gym memberships.
Keeping fit and eating right does a body and mind good. Example: There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but at Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (#355) there is a free flu shot. Recently, an in-house doctor started at the top of the company’s 30-story office tower in The Woodlands and over three weeks worked his way down, floor by floor, giving injections to nearly 1,900 employees at their desks – at no charge.
5. Time Away
Time off is regenerative. Example: Employees at New York, NY-based Deloitte (#197) don’t have to sacrifice their life’s dream for their careers because they enjoy the benefit of sabbatical leave. Deloitte offers four unpaid weeks off to do whatever they wish, and three to six months (yes, months) of partially paid leave to volunteer or pursue a career-enhancing opportunity.
6. Modern Family
Bye, Bye June and Ward Cleaver. The traditional family is now the Modern Family. Smart organization create employee programs that help with the challenges of today: Day Care, Eldercare, Infertility, Adoption, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Same Sex Partner Benefits. Example: McMurry (#694), a Phoenix-based marketing communications company, gives new mothers an $800 allowance for house cleaning, home health visits, meals, lactation consulting or other services.
Action “heros” speak louder than words. Example: Decision Lens (#712) awards top-performing salespeople with custom-made action figures designed to resemble the employee. According to Co-Founder John Saaty, “It’s a humorous way to acknowledge the great efforts of our sales team, and something that’s more memorable than the usual plaque or something like that.”
No longer an extra, flexibility is an expectation. Example: Jeff Gunther, CEO of the Charlottesville Meddius (#182), VA-based software company Meddius, decided he would change the way his staff works by instituting a Results-Only Work Environment. Meddius employees can work any time from any place in any way, as long as they get their work done. Gunther has found that by giving employees the trust and autonomy they need, they’ve actually been more productive and loyal to the company.
9. Training and Development
Investing the development of your people. Example: The Container Store (#460) puts an emphasis on training. Employees receive on an average 160+ hours of training per year. Typical annual turnover in retail is 100%, but at Container Store it hovers around 15-20%.
10. Pay it Forward
Giving back and paying it forward. Example: Decision Analytics Corporation (#250), a military contractor, believes in giving back. Each quarter, staffers assemble care packages for soldiers overseas.
11. Team Building
A team that plays together stays together. Example: At Virginia company Snagajob (#62), the Culture Squad organizes the annual Office Olympics, during which employees [Snaggers] are divided into competing nations—and dress the part.
Tapping into the creativity of your team powers innovation. Example: 3M (#53) launched the 15% program in 1948. Employees were given 15% of their time to work on personal project of their choosing. If it seems radical now, imagine how it played as post-war America was suiting up and going to the office, with rigid hierarchies and increasingly defined work and home roles. But it was also a logical next step. Fifteen percent time is extended to everyone. Who knows who’ll create the next Post-It Note? (a 15% time innovation)
It’s one of the things that sets 3M apart as an innovative company, by sticking to that culture of giving every one of our employees the ability to follow their instincts to take advantage of opportunities for the company,” says Technical Director Kurt Beinlich, who tries to get most of his 70-person lab team to participate.”
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a slideshare providing an overview of the book, What’s Your Green Goldfish: