Team Engagement is Crucial to the Success of Your Company. Here’s Why.

Team engagement needs to go beyond birthdays, first day parties, and once a year reviews. Learn the importance of a year-round strategy and its monumental impact on company culture.
Gauraa at SmartGift
August 6th 2021Aug 6, 2021

Between the raging pandemic and vacillating return-to-office dates, the past sixteen months have led to countless disruptions in the workplace. Team members are grappling with fluctuating expectations at work, and many are questioning going back to work at all. In the wake of these dramatic changes—not to mention the 7.6 million Americans who quit their jobs in April and May—companies are left wondering how to invest in employee engagement so they can retain their top talent.

Over the next few weeks, our Team Engagement Series will be looking at the challenges associated with coming back into the office and working with a fully remote team, while offering relevant solutions to each work environment. As part of our mission to recognize workplace heroes, SmartGift aims to spotlight how fostering connection, transparency in communication, and workplace appreciation can affect company culture and the bottom line.

Redefining Old Patterns of Team Member Engagement

Studies show that employees who feel heard and included are 4.6 times more likely to perform their best in the workplace. Because highly engaged teams are healthier, more purposeful and present, better engagement can increase overall profitability by 21%. This is why team engagement needs to go beyond birthdays, first day parties, and annual reviews.

Whether your team is remote, hybrid, or fully onsite, a year-round team engagement action plan can lead to lower absenteeism, higher retention, greater employee satisfaction, loyalty, and retention, making a monumental impact on company culture.

According to Yana Nigen, the CEO and Founder of WRAP, being able to engage and support team members is crucial. A bottom-up approach—such as granting employees access to engagement portals where they can select and add activities of interest for consideration—helps ensure employees have a genuine connection with the program.

“Formalizing engagement efforts and making them trackable is also important,” says Nigen. “If your company does not have an employee portal, you can use surveys or ask your HR team to suggest the best way to get feedback from your employee base and establish this two-way conversation.”

How to Keep Remote Teams Engaged

With the recent loss of face-to-face interactions, many remote employees have been struggling to stay connected and engaged. After sixteen months (and counting!) of Zoom, employees have started feeling exhausted by screen time, and over 69% of employees reported feeling burnout while working remotely.

Here are five team engagement ideas to support your remote workers and keep them feeling passionate about their jobs:

Introducing new hires to the rest of the team

Research from Quantum Workplace indicates that new hires feel 76% less equipped to perform their responsibilities than 85% of companies’ tenured employees.

When working remotely, new hires need more support and understanding during their onboarding process, whether it’s through training, communication, or other resources.

Introducing new employees to the rest of the team—even virtually—creates a culture of connectedness and helps establish rapport among existing members. This way, new hires can feel comfortable reaching out for information such as login credentials, document access, and the training, tools, and equipment necessary to do their job well.

Arranging Virtual Team Engagement Activities

Organizing online meetups for virtual social hours, multiplayer games, virtual escape rooms, or personalized trivia quizzes (free with Kahoot!), can boost office morale and make team members feel like they know each other without having met in person.

Playing games together especially encourages collaboration, teamwork, and team building, and is likely to lead to higher levels of engagement and overall productivity. In fact, many companies like Google even use gamification (game elements in the workplace) to increase overall employee motivation and loyalty.

Sending Thoughtful Gifts and Care Packages

Jobs with benefits like 401 K plans, tuition reimbursement, and health insurance with medical, dental, and vision plans are all helpful when it comes to employee satisfaction, but benefits don’t necessarily translate to employee engagement.

According to worldwide recruiting experts at Hays, 47% of people actively looking for a new job point at company culture as the main reason for wanting to quit. The 2021 State of Workplace Empathy Report from Businessolver shows that only 1 in 4 employees believe empathy in their organization is sufficient. Showing empathy and concern about well-being can help keep remote employees engaged.

A critical touchpoint for many, thoughtful company gifting is a helpful strategy to assist remote employees with burnout. If you’re wondering how to keep a global team engaged, sending gifts like floral arrangements, experiences, and treats is an excellent stand-in for taking small groups of employees out for a drink after work, and a great way of improving employee connectivity while making sure workers are appreciated for their hard work.

Making Team Meetings More Engaging

According to a survey conducted by Monster, even engaged teams reported that their attention starts waning 18 minutes into a Zoom meeting. If you’re wondering how to make team meetings more engaging, the answer is simple: cutting down the minutes. A 2020 study from Microsoft found that “brainwave markers associated with overwork and stress” were significantly higher in video meetings than emails.

The findings from the study also suggest that focusing on screens to extract information without non-verbal cues and screen sharing with limited view of the people you’re interacting with also lead to fatigue.

Incorporating Feedback and Recognition into Business Strategies

While annual surveys are important, results from a recent SHRM survey on employee recognition show that ongoing check-ins are critical for successful engagement and values-based recognition. Using pulse surveys and HR chatbots like Achiever’s Allie can initiate conversations about employees’ feelings about their jobs confidentially.

Team member engagement survey questions like “How do you feel about work today?” and “Would you recommend the company to your friends as employees?” are also helpful in reminding people that their work has purpose and that their employers are actively concerned about creating a healthy and happy work environment.

That said, it’s not enough to just ask employees how they’re feeling—measuring their answers and recording any progress helps make tangible change moving forward. It’s equally important to reward feedback practices by thanking employees for their time and energy, and by communicating a plan to let them know they are heard.

How to Keep Onsite Workers Engaged

While maintaining high levels of employee engagement is crucial in remote setups, engagement is just as important onsite, especially now, as many workers transition back to the office under uncertain circumstances.

Here are five team engagement ideas to support onsite workers:

Ensuring Employee Health and Psychological Safety

Workplace safety can play a critical role in team member engagement. Creating a safe and healthy workplace for workers and clients, especially amidst the pandemic, is necessary in order to retain employees and stay productive. This not only means ensuring that a COVID-19 health and safety plan is in place, but also avoiding severe management styles (such as punishments like public humiliation and withheld projects) to maintain employee psychological well-being.

Creating a kind and positive work environment with constructive input helps employees contribute without feeling insecure, and leads to better relationships and growth results.

Opening Up Regular Channels of Communication with Employees

Opening up regular channels of communication with employees ensures that everyone is on the same page, and fully understanding of any decisions being made throughout the organization. Sharing goals and objectives leads to company-wide growth while creating accountability for employers and employees alike.

Employees are people with personal interests and lives outside of work. Routinely checking in with team members about their goals—professional as well as personal—leads to greater job satisfaction, reduced levels of stress, and increased respect, creating a positive and productive work environment.

Encouraging Side Projects, Collaboration, and Teamwork Among Team Members

Gmail, Google Talk, AdSense, Google News, and the Facebook “like'' button were all born out of employee side projects. Many companies like Google prioritize side projects, giving employees up to 20% of the workweek to focus on such collaborative projects.

Encouraging side projects lets employees strengthen their collaborative skills while sharpening their individual expertise. This leads to personal and team growth, and of course, higher overall engagement.

Rewarding and Recognizing Employees

When considering how to engage a team, onsite or virtual, recognizing their hard work and accomplishments is of utmost importance. Per Fast Company, happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy employees. A study on the relationship between economics and mental health conducted at Warwick Business School found that “human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.”

The study also demonstrates that companies investing in employee satisfaction tend to have happier workers. In fact, employee satisfaction levels rose at Google by 37% after the company realized financial incentives weren’t enough to motivate employees and create a productive work environment.

Conducting Employee Engagement Surveys

Asking team engagement questions regularly not only helps management understand and identify which strategies are working throughout the organization, but it also makes employees feel valued. Giving workers the opportunity to voice their opinions in a safe environment encourages open communication and leads to successful engagement.

When it comes to company growth and improvement, it’s always better to seek individualized answers from the bottom-up rather than seeking inspiration from other model corporations.

Recording and monitoring progress is just as important as regular surveys, and helps management adjust plans as required, recognize and celebrate results, which, in turn, boosts engagement, too.

Whether your current model is remote, hybrid, or fully onsite, creating an active engagement culture at work leads to happier and more productive employees, and a better bottom line.

SmartGift’s Team Engagement Series aims to spotlight how small interactions can have big impacts on company culture. Over the course of the forthcoming weeks, our Team Engagement Series will define challenges and pain points for employees while offering solutions for different work environments.