If you’re an employer or line manager then you may be surprised, and perhaps disheartened, to hear that only 13 per cent of employees worldwide are actively engaged at work, according to research by Gallup. This suggests that the remaining 87 per cent are either indifferent or actively hostile towards their company and current position, which is a statistic that is worthy of attention.
While it may be nigh on impossible to create 100% engagement, some high profile companies are doing a notable job of shifting the dial when it comes to fostering trust, commitment and satisfaction among their workforce. Here are a few examples of initiatives that are proving successful in enhancing employee engagement.
While it may be nigh on impossible to create 100% engagement, some high profile companies are doing a notable job of shifting the dial
AirBnB creates experiences
Founded just eight years ago, AirBnb has embraced the concept of employee engagement with open arms. This sharing economy business doesn’t have an HR director or a chief human resources officer. It doesn’t even have an HR department. Instead it has an employee experience team that focuses on creating “memorable workplace experiences that span all areas of how [the organisation] relates to employees”. That mission encompasses everything from how people are recruited and developed to the environment in which they work, from safety and security to food and social events.
The company builds this experience around three pillars – create, learn and play – to ensure every aspect of working life is considered and enhanced. AirBnB takes this approach because it believes that the health and happiness of employees are pivotal factors in the organisation’s long-term success, and it is delivering results with 90% of employees recommending the firm as a great place to work.
HBO delivers employee education
While many people would gladly work for the company that created the “Game of Thrones” TV series just to embrace their inner geek, there are more substantial reasons to submit your resume to HBO. One of the most important is the Learn@HBO Program, which offers a variety of instructor-led courses to help employees boost their skill set. This might include Photoshop classes for a marketer looking to improve promotional material or leadership classes for lower-level employees who wish to advance.
HBO wants its employees to get better at their jobs and is willing to provide the channels as long as team members take it seriously. If you need to further your formal education, HBO has partial tuition reimbursement for classes.
There’s always a risk that if HBO trains its employees, they will take their skills to another company. But as long as they’re engaged, why would they even think about leaving?
HBO wants its employees to get better at their jobs and is willing to provide the channels
Southwest Airlines puts employees first
U.S.-based Southwest Airlines has more than 47,000 employees on its staff, and it knows that if they’re not engaged, they’re going to have a problem. Not only do disengaged employees lead to a higher turnover rate (and therefore hiring and training costs), but they could also create a bad customer experience in an industry where unhappy customers can potentially cause serious issues for the airline and other passengers.
The Southwest Airlines management team decided that employees would always come first in the company, followed by customers and then shareholders. They knew that if they invested in their employees, the customers would be treated better and the company would make more money. As a result, their culture creates opportunities for employees to go the extra mile and receive praise for it. Essentially, Southwest Airlines has created trickle-down customer service. Management treats its employees the way it wants customers to be treated, and the employees simply follow management’s example.
Google’s committee hiring
No article about employee engagement is complete without talking about Google. On the surface, Google seems like a great place to work simply because of the perks. Employees can enjoy complimentary gourmet snacks and a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on when they’re in the office. Dogs are welcomed and employees receive ‘massage credits’ for a job well done. While all of these perks help with recruiting, they’re not the only reason for such a high level of employee engagement.
Google makes sure that employees are hired by committee, which means multiple people on the career ladder have a say in whom they work with. Such an approach can help reduce friction within peer groups while making entry-level employees feel like they’ve been heard. This policy is just one of the many ways that Google’s leadership works to create an engaging environment for employees.
Google makes sure that employees are hired by committee
Hyatt’s culture of caring
Like Southwest Airlines, the team at Hyatt knows they won’t be able to provide top-level hospitality without engaged employees. According to Hyatt’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Robb Webb: “If I see someone who has an emotional attachment to what they are doing, it becomes the difference between great service and caring.” His goal is to make Hyatt employees care about each other so they’ll care about the customers. An easy way to do this is to celebrate the major events in his employees’ lives. If a grandchild is born, or a child goes off to college, the team acknowledges it and takes time to celebrate the achievement. This creates a caring work environment instead of a system where only productivity is measured.
Not only does this engage employees in their job and improve co-worker relationships, but it also provides on-the-job training in how to care for customers. A manager that helps a couple on their honeymoon, or one who sets up a wedding ceremony, will be more likely to care about the happy couple and go the extra mile to celebrate with them than would a manager who just follows a checklist to completion.
Employee engagement can’t be bought overnight, but small changes can add up to create a healthy culture. Do your employees feel like they’re being heard? Do they have opportunities to grow? Do they have a reason to show up beyond getting paid? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you have opportunities to improve your culture.
Employee engagement can’t be bought overnight, but small changes can add up to create a healthy culture