Engagement Tools That Go Beyond the Office
By: Tiffany Anisette Pringle author of Inspired To Win: 7 Strategies To Stand Out And Win In Any Organization and founder of Inspire Consulting & Management Group
Engagement! What is it anyway and why is it so important in the workplace? The idea of engagement in the workplace has a lot to do with what causes individuals to be motivated and excited about their conditions at work. Engagement increases performance, encourages a healthy work-life balance, and has the propensity to keep employees committed to an organization. It also encourages inclusivity in that it gives everyone an opportunity to participate, reducing barriers and creating stronger connections.
According to Kanellopoulou et al. (2020), Schlechty’s levels of engagements theory reveals that when individuals are attracted to their work, they persist, despite the challenges, and show excitement towards completion. So, if all it takes is engagement for individuals to be excited about their work and new challenges, why do so many studies report that engagement in the work is at an all-time low. In a recent report by Gallup, by the end of 2021, only 34% of employees feel engaged and 16% are actively disengaged in their work and within their organization. With the blurred lines between work and home, there is a thin line for balance, which can cause disengaged employees to experience burnout, stress, worry, and depression.
When considering the five causes of the “Great Resignation” era explained in a recent LinkedIn article by Betsy Allen-Manning, employees have left organizations because of poor leadership, stress and burnout, feelings of being undervalued, no sense of purpose, and no growth opportunities. It is more evident now than ever before that people are not afraid to take their happiness into their own hands and create a more meaningful work experience, whether that is with the competitor next door or their own new business, which could be a virtual, hybrid, or an onsite work model. The fact is there are more options than ever before, and employees need to be engaged to feel valued.
In this new era, it is critical for leaders to become intentional as they think about creating more engaging work environments. Not only does the focus need to be in the office, but also outside of the office as this is where most employees are spending their time due to the new hybrid and virtual work models.
Here are three suggestions that leaders can implement quickly to create more engagement outside of the office.
- Use Online Engagement Tools- Most meetings and team activities are taking place in a virtual setting. If using Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, or some other platform, be sure to encourage attendees to get involved by using emojis, the chat feature, annotation tools, and by unmuting themselves for discussions. You could also implement cloud-based engagement tools such as Poll Everywhere and Mentimeter where you can create word clouds, surveys, and even a little competition.
- Have Weekly Team Check-ins- Check-ins are a great way to get a pulse on how each individual on your team is doing throughout the week. You can schedule one-on-ones and group meetings with the entire team. The one-on-one meetings give leaders and employees an opportunity to learn more about each other on a personal level. Simple questions such as, “how is the family?” can be a way to hear more about an individual as they may be comfortable sharing stories about what matters most in their lives. In these meetings, it is always important to offer assistance on any project or assignment even if the employee does not ask for it. When meeting with the entire team, make sure everyone has a chance to share something about their weekend or day before the meeting starts, this will help ease any discomfort that may be present.
- Celebrate- It is a nice touch when leaders are willing to acknowledge an individual’s birthday, anniversary, or any other special days that may have. Prior to that special day, reach out to those on your team to get everyone to sign a virtual card, donate for the purchase of a gift card, or make something nice to showcase during a live virtual meeting. You can encourage everyone to change their virtual backgrounds to represent the celebration or a picture of something that person has an interest in. You could also plan a virtual trip. In the past, I have participated in virtual cocktail/mocktail making events, and virtual game nights, and have even visited a virtual Alpaca farm in Australia through Airbnb. Even with all of this, don’t forget the music, people love to hear their favorite songs.
There are many ways leaders can create more engaging work experiences to exhibit inclusivity, meaning, and purpose. It only takes a little time out of your day to commit to creating engaging work experiences for others. Just be willing to try, I’m sure that you will not only engage your team but also yourself, as a leader.
Kanellopoulou, Catherine & Giannakoulopoulos, Andreas. (2020). Engage and Conquer: An Online Empirical Approach to Whether Intrinsic or Extrinsic Motivation Leads to More Enhanced Students’ Engagement. Creative Education. 11. 143-165. 10.4236/ce.2020.112011.