The U.S. unemployment rate reached its lowest point in 49 years this September. Meanwhile, the percentage of “engaged” U.S. workers — i.e., those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace — is at an all-time high, according to Gallup.
For companies without a robust employee engagement strategy in place, this presents a new reality — it’s becoming more difficult to attract and retain top talent.
When it comes to engaged employees, keep this in mind: business units in the top quartile of employee engagement see better customer engagement, heightened productivity, stronger employee retention, fewer workplace accidents and greater profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes, which in turn lowers healthcare costs.
Here are three warning signs your employees are disengaged, along with preemptive measures you can take to deepen employee engagement in the first place.
1. Poor company culture & no defined purpose.
At its core, culture is defined as a set of customs, ideologies and achievements that bring people and groups together.
Today, culture is pivotal in governing various aspects of our society, including how we conduct business. From a corporate standpoint, rich foundations for culture could set an organization up for long-term success, while poor foundations might increase turnover.
To define your organization’s culture, think back to your mission statement — what did your company originally set out to do? Maybe you pledged to help make people’s lives easier through innovative technology. Or perhaps you provide individuals and communities insurance from unexpected accidents and natural disasters.
Similar to how a mission statement works, your culture should instill a sense of belonging and unity within your employees. A solid way to lean into your organization’s culture is by aligning your mission with purpose.
According to the Chartered Management Institute, purpose reflects your company’s vision of the future and shapes your mission to help make it a reality. Your company’s purpose should answer, “Why are you in business?”
Innovative companies are already paving the way in engaging the employees of tomorrow. Let’s take a look at some of the purpose-filled practices behind businesses that made this year’s Civic 50 — a Points of Lights initiative honoring 50 companies that exhibit outstanding corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and impact.
Delta Airlines, for example, abides by their mission of forming “a force for positive local and global change, dedicated to bettering standards of living and the environment.” Delta reinforced this purpose earlier this year when they invested $500,000 to dramatically improve third-grade literacy scores in Atlanta.
By pledging to strengthen the communities in which they do business, Delta deepened a sense of purpose for their employees. If you’re just starting out, start small. Ask yourself, “How can I align my organization’s mission with purpose to achieve culture where employees are both engaged and happy?”
Breathe life into your company’s culture by aligning your mission and purpose with good causes in the community. Find nonprofit partners through the VolunteerMatch Network.
2. Lack of cross-organizational collaboration.
Remote work opportunities, artificial intelligence and cross-functional roles are making their way into more and more companies. As is often the case with innovation, workplace advancements — especially tech ones — come with drawbacks (or opportunities, depending on how you look at it).
You may be thinking: “I work in a matrixed organization. How do I infuse cross-organizational collaboration in my corporate culture?” The answer comes from a frequently asked question in Gallup’s employee engagement surveys: Do you have a best friend at work?
Research shows a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort an employee exerts in his or her job. To deepen employee engagement, a key solution is to increase cross-team and organizational collaboration.
Curating social activities, such as volunteering, helps foster a collaborative environment where employees work together to solve their community’s issues. If you have a remote employee base, you might also consider opting for a group virtual volunteer opportunity, such as curating an online library or coding open source software.
According to Monster, “working together in the community gives employees a fresh perspective on productive interaction. This renewal often carries over to the workplace, to a company’s benefit.” Plus, almost three-fourths of employees who volunteer through work report feeling better about their employer.
Regional grocery chain Food Lion promotes employee collaboration through purposeful opportunities that meet the real-time needs of their communities. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, 20 employee volunteers prepared and distributed bags of groceries and other disaster relief items to more than 1,000 affected families.
By collaborating on purposeful projects, experiences like these give employees an opportunity to step away from their desks, strengthen bonds and make friends, all while doing good for the community in return.
Boost engagement by giving employees the freedom to choose where they give their time. Learn how through our network of real-time opportunities from nonprofits in your community.
3. Few opportunities to learn & grow.
Most millennials agree that opportunities to learn and grow at their workplace are extremely important to them. If these opportunities aren’t readily available, your employees might find somewhere else to work.
With low unemployment and a competitive hiring market, employees don’t have to stay where they’re unhappy — or anywhere they’re not feeling challenged.
The upside is, by volunteering, not only will your employees build better working relationships with one another, they’ll hone their existing skills and develop new ones, too. Whether an employee is a coding expert or on the leadership ladder, volunteering is a great way to gain a competitive skillset.
In 2017, global consulting firm Deloitte launched the RightStep™ Virtual Mentoring program to help improve college readiness. They do this by mobilizing their consultants as pro bono volunteers to help high school students in underserved communities navigate the college application process. Deloitte’s program leverages the leadership skills needed to excel at the company while keeping true to its mission and purpose.
Whether you’re just building out your employee engagement program or are looking to refresh your strategy in the new year, consider how purposeful volunteer opportunities can define your culture, strengthen organizational collaboration, and keep your employees engaged and happy.