Ways To Increase Employee Engagement In Startup Companies

Zack Williamson

Zack Williamson

If you’re wondering how to improve employee engagement or what employee engagement even is and how it affects a working environment, you’ve stumbled into the right place. Due to the popularity of the term, it’s become a bit of a buzzword in the professional space, at least to some. However, this doesn’t stop it from affecting your business, so making sure you or your HR staff are doing everything to help improve employee engagement will be beneficial. As a startup company as this is your chance to incorporate employee engagement into the culture as it’s being built.

What Is Employee Engagement?

It is the emotional commitment that employees have to the organization and its goals. If you had to describe it in other words, there is no exact match, but loyalty and genuine care for the company comes close. What makes employee engagement stand out is its ability to affect retention, happiness, and productivity.

In terms of retention, those employees who are actually engaged will stay loyal to the company. Those who are just happy with the job or are satisfied with the current status quo may leave the company when given a better offer by a different company. Engaged employees believe in the goals of the company and will stick around other offers and tough times as they want to see those goals reached.

Engaged employees work towards a unifying company goal, their hard work and effort progress this goal and the results give them the motivation to keep going. Happiness is different from this as it only takes into consideration, one aspect, the emotion. A happy employee can be completely unproductive at work, but due to their personality can still be happy.

Productivity, in regards to its correlation to employee engagement, is sort of a mix between both retention and happiness. It’s related to retention in the sense that there is nothing that says a productive employee is going to stay at a company if offered other opportunities. In relation to happiness, it is only one aspect, whether employees are productive or not, they will always lack the other aspects that will help a company grow. In the same example used when talking about happiness, someone unproductive could be happy at work, not wanting to leave but not adding anything to a team.

Without employee engagement, there will always be something lacking. Having employee engagement allows you to have all the ingredients for successful employees. Ensuring that they’re fulfilled both professionally and emotionally while working.

Bespoke Employee Experiences

If you have the time and resources, getting to know your staff or at least training your HR department to get familiar with them goes a long way. Interacting with them on a regular basis, even if it’s not work-related allows them to see that you’re putting in the effort to get to know them. The bespoke aspect of this comes in once you or HR knows everyone. You can tailor their experience at work based on their personalities. Talking to more outgoing employees for longer periods of time to catch up, giving them training in regards to their job but in person, conference styled training. On the other hand, someone who’s more reserved could be allowed to have space and their training could be online videos.

Black woman manager leader having team chat virtual meeting group video conference call with diverse business people remote working online at home office. Teleconference concept. Over shoulder view

Regular Feedback

On the same page as customizing experiences, providing actionable feedback can encourage employee engagement as it displays dedication to employee development. Being able to point out areas of improvement without any accusatory or aggressive undertones will show that you or whoever is giving the feedback, have a level of professionalism and care about the staff actually improving. This style of feedback will also incentivize employees to actually seek out feedback instead of avoiding it. This will also increase the number of workplace interactions and help to build a community in the workplace.

Active Leadership

People tend to gravitate towards leaders they define as good. While this is subjective and the traits of a “good” leader may differ, a general rule of thumb is that people will follow a leader that uplifts them and helps them grow. These types of leaders are generally seen as role models for their staff and if they are outwardly engaged, chances are their staff will follow suit.

In line with being an active leader, leadership should promote growth. This means encouraging staff to take training sessions that will help them grow professionally. Training courses should be related to their current job or the job they aspire to have in the future. By allowing staff to undergo training that will help them essentially “level up”, you are showing them that you care about their growth and not just the bottom line of the company. This step essentially humanizes their working environment, reminding them that they work with people who care instead of robots who just pump out numbers.

Make Your Employee’s Voices Heard

Giving your employees a space where they can voice out concerns or simply ask questions can be beneficial to engagement. Something like a monthly town hall meeting can greatly help give everyone a voice at the company, this should be easier as a startup as there shouldn’t be too many of you but will still work for bigger companies. A more accessible version of this is to simply create a channel specifically for questions and concerns in whatever chat application you already use within your company.

Equally as important as listening to your staff, actioning some of the items is critical. Having a forum for suggestions doesn’t matter if all the comments fall on deaf ears. Obviously, some of the suggestions or concerns won’t and probably shouldn’t be actioned, but there will be items that are brought up that will improve the working environment or at least the quality of life in the office, that can be actioned for the benefit of all. By actioning some suggestions, people will come to know that they have a voice and they are being heard.

The Wrap Up

Startup companies have a huge benefit when increasing employee engagement. Their generally smaller size allows HR to be more active with everyone, as opposed to bigger companies where 1 HR person might be responsible for 100 or so employees. This allows for a more customized approach when it comes to the staff. This goes back into leadership as leaders can promote growth through training and by being an example to follow. Employee engagement raises the productivity and morale levels of the employees in the company and should never be overlooked. Listen to your staff and working with them to address concerns will show your commitment to them, which they’ll reciprocate. Basically, the best way to increase employee engagement is to make sure there’s a give and take relationship that transcends money.