7 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement and LoyaltyFeb 01, 2022
If you want to position your business for long-term growth, you must prioritize employee engagement and loyalty. Unfortunately, recent events have made this more challenging than ever. Workers are leaving jobs at alarming rates, and traditional employee engagement programs now seem inadequate.
The interior design industry has been particularly hard hit. In the past two years, the following events have taken place:
- Widespread shutdowns led to a nearly complete end to commercial design projects
- Many designers were laid off
- Experienced interior designers moved to residential design
- Some designers left the industry entirely or moved to independent work
- Supply issues and costs have made it difficult for firms to grow as planned
Even though things began to open back up in 2021, they didn’t return to normal. As a result, many people were ambivalent about returning to work.
Some felt as if their loyalty and commitment to the job weren’t appreciated. Others were wary of the risks of returning to work during a pandemic. In addition, families struggled to balance childcare costs or caring for elderly relatives.
Despite this, there are interior design brands that are thriving. So what are they doing? They are implementing employee engagement ideas that truly work. That’s something that you can do as well.
Keep reading if you’re interested in creating and implementing employee engagement programs that increase worker retention and employee loyalty. The seven employee engagement ideas listed in this article are a great place to start.
Why Is Employee Engagement Important?
An engaged employee is productive, motivated, and loyal. As a result, they are more likely to stay with their employer, even during difficult times. Also, because they feel a sense of ownership and loyalty, they are more likely to go out of their way to solve problems and make customers happy.
To further answer the question, “Why is employee engagement important?” take a minute to focus solely on employee retention.
When you include the cost of recruiting, onboarding, training, and benefits, it can cost thousands of dollars to replace a lost employee. Then, it could take you months to reach your break-even point for a new hire. The financial burden of new hires alone should be enough motivation to learn how to engage employees.
Best Employee Engagement Ideas
You need actionable steps to learn how to improve employee engagement. Start with these ideas:
1. Shift Your Thinking on Employee Engagement and Loyalty
Before you can determine how to improve employee engagement, you may need to shift your perspective. To do that, consider these questions:
- Do you see engagement and loyalty as an entitlement?
- Are your expectations of loyalty and engagement aligned with your company’s culture and compensation?
- Do you believe that employees should feel the same sense of ownership and urgency about your business as you do?
Be honest. If you answer yes, you may have unreasonable expectations of your employees. Remember that they will not feel the same connection that you do to your business. Instead, you have to earn that connection by creating a great work culture and treating people well.
2. Improve Company Culture
Company culture is a combination of factors that include policies, interactions between staff members and managers, amenities, and even the design of your physical space. Even some intangible elements can contribute to the overall work culture you create.
Culture is also an important consideration as you explore how to improve employee engagement. Nearly half of employees have considered leaving their jobs due to company culture issues. One in five of them has done so.
How do you improve your company culture? That depends. Each workplace is unique.
Start by examining your current work culture. If it doesn’t meet your workers’ needs, there’s a problem. Likewise, if you have developed a company culture that doesn’t align with your organizational values, you can’t expect anyone who works for you to take those values seriously.
The following benefits may not apply universally, but they do match the needs and expectations of many workers today:
- Flexible schedules
- More autonomy, less micro-management
- Comfortable workspaces
- Policies that reduce COVID exposure risk
- Remote work
- A focus on diversity
- Open and honest communication
Most importantly, leaders must pay close attention to interpersonal relationships. If the work environment is impacted by backbiting, petty feuds, cliques, and favoritism, any efforts you put in place to improve company culture won’t work.
3. Give and Accept Feedback Frequently
Engaged employees regularly receive constructive feedback that includes guidance on implementing suggestions for improvement.
Don’t wait until it’s time for annual reviews to do this. That approach often leaves team members feeling overwhelmed and blindsided. Instead, bring things up as they happen, and always approach this process with empathy.
It’s also important to be receptive to feedback from your team. Just don’t expect it to come automatically. Many people don’t feel comfortable giving their thoughts and insights without first being prompted. Furthermore, some may fear negative repercussions if they share thoughts that aren’t entirely positive.
This latter concern is a cultural issue and must be addressed. For the former, take the initiative to schedule one-on-one time with employees. Ask about projects, their goals, and anything that may be getting in the way of their success and productivity.
Finally, do something with the feedback you receive. Obviously, you won’t be able to implement every suggestion or make every requested change. Still, when employees communicate with you, they should expect a reasonable amount of action.
4. Create Meaningful Worker Recognition Programs
People respond to positive reinforcement. That recognition is even more meaningful when personalized and in line with the accomplishment.
Why personalized? Every employee is different and will appreciate different forms of recognition. For example, one designer might appreciate being publicly recognized with a round of applause in a staff meeting. Another might appreciate a simple email of thanks. Recognition is an important part of how to engage employees.
While you don’t have to offer tangible rewards, these can serve as very concrete examples of your appreciation. Team members almost universally appreciate:
- A free lunch
- Gift cards to stores they use
- Extra time off
- Access to training and career development resources
Don’t forget to recognize the accomplishments of your team as a whole. Be free with your praise in meetings and via email. You can also boost morale with team rewards like catering meals or declaring a staff holiday.
5. Consider Your Compensation Structure
Pay is a sticky subject. So many design firms are truly struggling, and many simply don’t have the budget to give significant raises. Still, this impacts loyalty and engagement, so it needs to be considered.
Start by learning the market rates for interior designers in your area. If you can at least match this, you’re probably going to see your retention rates improve.
There are a few other things to watch for as well. One of these is wage compression.
Wage compression happens when businesses raise salaries for new employees to boost their recruiting efforts but keep existing workers at the same rate. Inevitably, experienced workers learn that newer team members make more money than they are.
What if you can’t raise salaries, or your wages are already competitive? In that case, consider offering some additional perks to make your workplace even better. For example, your team members might appreciate daycare reimbursement, the option to work remotely, free employee meals, or tuition reimbursement.
6. Give Workers Employee Development Support
The best employee engagement programs include a plan for professional development. That makes sense when you consider that most people simply want to know that they have a future with your organization and that you are willing to invest in their professional development.
You can improve employee development at a company level by providing workers with access to the tools and training needed to be successful. Additionally, your annual review process should include a discussion of each employee’s goals and interests.
Once you know, you can work with them to create a roadmap with action steps to help them succeed. For example, if someone on your team wants to gain more experience in commercial design, you can keep them in mind for those projects.
7. Provide Managers with Support and High Expectations
Confidence in leadership is an absolute must. The saying is true: People quit managers, not jobs.
You have to set your managers up for success. If you are the manager, this advice still applies. Many business owners are exceptionally talented when it comes to creativity and technology. But, unfortunately, they don’t always have the best leadership skills.
Here are some steps you can take to help leadership at your company succeed:
- Offer leadership training programs in-house or pay for recommended courses
- Encourage managing for outcomes instead of processes
- Provide managers with the same coaching and feedback you give to other employees
- Give managers access to technologies that will make their jobs easier
In addition to providing them with resources for success, you must also communicate your expectations clearly. Workers must always see leadership held to an equal or higher standard than they are.
Access to Helpful Resources for Owners and Designers
What if you could improve your leadership skills and create an environment that encourages better worker engagement? You can get help with that through training, education, and support tailored specifically for interior designers. Get started by joining our community today.
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