Are you struggling with employee engagement at your company? You’re not alone. According to recent research from Gallup, “a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged.” And make no mistake: engagement matters. The same study found that “companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.”

So, what can you do about it? Jive recently hosted a webinar on employee engagement to help answer this question. The webinar reviewed a bulletproof 4-step process for increasing employee engagement. We had hundreds of HR, Corporate Communications and IT professionals join us for the webinar, and they confirmed the challenges that engagement poses for their companies. In a post-webinar survey, most participants said that at least a quarter of their workforce is not engaged and that their company doesn’t have a fully worked out engagement strategy.

What percent of your employees are NOT engaged at work? (estimated):

Do you have an employee engagement strategy?

We also had many questions we didn’t have time to answer in the webinar. You can find those questions and our answers here:

Are the terms “employee experience” and “employee engagement” interchangeable? If not, how do they differ?

Employee experience impacts engagement, but they are different concepts. Employee experience is the totality of an employee’s experiences at work – everything from onboarding and training to day-to-day interactions with colleagues and management, throughout the entire employee journey.

Employee engagement, on the other hand, is “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals… engaged employees actually care about their work and their company.” (Forbes, “What Is Employee Engagement?”) 

How do you gauge employee engagement in cases where employees don’t feel comfortable expressing their (dis)engagement and may not respond to surveys?

Surveys are a useful tool, but they have some major shortcomings. Response rates may be too low or participation too self-selective to accurately reflect the views of your workforce as a whole. The rigid, multiple-choice formats limit the range of questions and fail to turn up trends you didn’t anticipate in advance. Surveys are also time-limited: they offer a snapshot at a given point in time, not an ongoing real-time assessment.

A better way to understand employee sentiment is through a social communication collaboration platform like Jive, which lets you listen directly to employees. Jive makes feedback and conversation a natural part of work and lets employees interact directly and spontaneously with leadership and each other. Those interactions provide a new level of insight into the mindset of employees: their attitudes, concerns, needs and satisfaction level. Jive’s advanced analytics can help you drill down further to measure sentiment, spot emerging trends as they happen and understand the forces that fuel engagement (or the lack thereof) in your organization – on a continuous, ongoing basis.

What are the recommended steps in creating an employee engagement survey?

There’s no need to create your own survey from scratch. We recommend you start with one of the many off-the-shelf surveys out there, then adapt it to your needs.

What is the recommended frequency (monthly, quarterly, biannually, annually etc.) to send out employee engagement surveys?

If you send out too many engagement surveys, employees will just start ignoring them (if they’re not ignoring them already). For many companies, the sweet spot is once a year.

In cases of significant layoffs (or M&A), how do you engage the “survivors” in the organization to adopt the new culture?

Major changes – be they re-organizations, leadership transitions, layoffs, mergers or acquisitions – can take a big toll on morale, especially if employees feel left out and in the dark. In the absence of clear communication, rumors, fear and doubt will take over.

If you want to keep employees engaged, it’s critical that you engage with them. Keep them apprised of what’s happening and what they can expect from organizational changes. Communicate early and often, and provide online forums where they can learn, interact directly with leadership and ask questions. Genuine dialogue is the best way to build the kind of trust it takes for employees to stay positive and productive during times of uncertainty.

Platforms like Jive can play a major role in all of this, offering an effective channel for change communications of all types: official news and announcements, executive blogs, and events such as virtual town halls. Jive spaces and groups provide a place to post informational materials, ask and answer questions and collaborate with employees on change initiatives. Critically, social intranets and collaboration platforms go beyond the rigid one-way flow of traditional intranets and allow real conversation and give-and-take.

Can you give us some good tips on “breaking” a holdover culture and creating a new one in organizations that have inherited such a culture from a previous company?

Cultural change is complex. Cultural values can’t simply be dictated to employees in top-down fashion. Nor can they be driven from the bottom up alone. It’s a holistic process: Leaders themselves must embrace and model desired cultural values. Employees need to spread and reinforce the values in grass-roots fashion. Companies need to communicate the values, hire for them and recognize people for living them.

It’s hard to do any of this when companies are siloed and fragmented – when different teams or parts of the organization inhabit their own separate spaces and cultural islands. Creating a common culture requires a common environment, where everyone can come together to share, learn and collaborate. Social intranets like Jive offer that common ground, turning siloed companies into unified communities. Consider the example of Cox Automotive, which used its Jive-powered intranet to forge a common culture across 24 separate brands and more than 200 global locations. Read the Cox case study.

Are there any special methods or techniques to keep senior leadership engaged with employees? If so, could you please name a few?

Give them a platform that makes it easy to reach out and engage with their teams, departments and the company as a whole. Such interactions shouldn’t be limited to formal announcements, meetings and events; they should be a simple and regular function of the job. The blogging capabilities of social solutions like Jive are perfect for this purpose, enabling executives to quickly create and publish eye-catching posts that instantly appear in employees’ newsfeeds on their desktop and mobile devices. Employees can comment and ask questions, and execs can respond, igniting real dialogue and fostering genuine connections across hierarchies. In addition to blogs, executives can post quick status updates and contribute to any ongoing public discussion in the community.

Those simple steps – making leadership communications painless and routine – have helped transform executive engagement for many Jive customers.

Our CEO has been conducting small group meetings with employees to get feedback, but most employees do not feel comfortable giving unfiltered feedback to the CEO.  How do we create a culture that is a “Safe Zone” for unfiltered feedback at every level of the organization?

You will never have a safe zone if people are punished for speaking up. Are they? If they are, your CEO should not be conducting these meetings until your culture has changed. If not, then the CEO needs to address this by saying: “It’s safe to be open and honest here, and I want to hear your thoughts. If you think it’s too risky to be candid, please tell me, so I can address the issue.”

Should HR be solely responsible for driving and managing employee engagement?

For best results, we recommend that senior leadership and operations also share ownership of employee engagement initiatives, along with HR. Senior leadership is essential to establishing, promoting and sustaining an engaged collaborative culture. Operations are likewise essential, because it’s important to give employees a sense that they matter and that they can make an impact in the company; the most direct way of making an impact is giving feedback for improving company’s operations.

Should employees below “senior level” in the hierarchy approach their direct supervisor [to talk about employee engagement], or perhaps employees should talk to a senior leader directly?

You can do it either way. If you are not comfortable speaking directly to senior leadership, ask your manager to join you.

Which tools do you recommend to engage employees from small remote offices that normally do not join corporate events and activities?

A mobile-ready social intranet like Jive provides a way to instantly reach and involve everyone in your organization – including workers who don’t have a desk, a computer or even a company email address. You can send targeted, high-visibility communications – news, announcements, notifications – that employees can easily consume and engage with anywhere. Remote workers can give feedback, participate in discussions and actively participate in company culture.

How do contests among employees impact employee engagement? Which are the most important factors in crafting successful contest programs for employee engagement?

Contests can be good or bad. If your culture is positive and strong, then contests will be viewed as healthy competition. If not, they may be viewed as further dividing people.

Beyond contests, some social intranet and collaboration platforms have built-in gamification features to drive engagement, sharing and teamwork. Jive, for example, has quests and rewards that companies can use to incentivize everything from mentoring to brand advocacy. And Jive’s Peer Recognition Badges give co-workers a way to acknowledge and encourage each other. Cox Automotive is one Jive customer that’s successfully used gamification to accelerate onboarding by rewarding new hires for learning and engaging.

What is the most effective way to implement the employee engagement strategies when senior leadership is scattered across different locations and time zones?

Nearly every company is dealing with geographic dispersion in some form or other. People are working across different offices, and increasingly from home and other remote locations. This is perhaps the biggest argument for new digital workplace technologies like Jive. A Jive interactive intranet and collaboration hub gives widely scattered colleagues one place to gather, stay in sync and work together, providing a shared virtual location in place of a physical one. A prime example is the U.S. Veterans Health Administration, the nation’s largest healthcare system, which uses a Jive-powered hub to connect hundreds of thousands of staff members across 2,000 locations, including busy clinicians using mobile devices. Watch the video.

To summarize: employee engagement is a big, multidimensional problem that’s made more complicated by the increasing geographic fracturing of companies, the siloing of functions and the growing percentage of remote and deskless workers. While those trends are accelerating, new technologies are rising to the challenge. As the stories of Jive customers demonstrate, a social intranet and collaboration platform can bridge divides and provide the cohesion, sense of community and cultural solidarity that companies need build highly engaged workforces.

Want to learn more? Be sure and watch the webinar if you missed it. And take a look at these additional resources:


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