From professional development to diversity and inclusion, employee engagement programs are key to retention. Beyond that, they’re also a powerful, underutilized tool that can benefit almost every area of your business.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to set up employee engagement programs with the best intentions, only to get distracted by other tasks. As a result, they never reach their full potential and fail to drive ROI.
Or, they’re implemented and nobody even knows they’re a thing. Obviously, in this case, no one gets to experience any of the benefits.
Here are some key signs your employee engagement programs need a makeover in 2023. Check back next week for what to do about it!
No one uses them—or even knows they exist
Maybe your employee engagement programs have lots of people signed up, but nobody’s engaged. Or nobody joins them in the first place. Either way, this is problematic.
Ineffective employee engagement programs can have a tremendous impact on a person’s ability to feel like part of the team. Beyond that, it can even have a detrimental effect on their career trajectory.
It’s a story the Workrowd team has heard all too often. The company’s founder, Rachel Goor, notes:
“Especially in remote and hybrid environments, it’s easy for employees to miss out on opportunities to build a better work life. For instance, we recently learned about an individual who found out three years into her tenure with a company that there was a mentoring program she could have joined from day one. She was burned out and ended up leaving, but tapping into this great initiative that the company was already running could have completely transformed her experience.”
Three years of growth missed out on all because no one connected her to a program that already existed.
Running them is detrimental to leaders’ careers
If you have employee engagement programs led by team members (e.g. ERGs), supporting them is crucial.
Running any sort of community is a huge commitment and can really eat into their time. Trying to do that alongside their full-time job makes things even more challenging. Either their program or their job suffers.
And of course, this could lead to adverse outcomes for these engagement champions. It leaves them less time for their job responsibilities, despite their significant contributions to company culture.
Rachel noted another example where:
“An employee was so passionate about social impact efforts that she took it upon herself to personally spearhead things for two years. She, too, ended up leaving, because the company had no way to support or empower her.”
It must’ve been heartbreaking for that individual to put everything into building opportunities for her colleagues to give back, positively influence the company’s culture, but then have to leave because her personal development suffered as a result.
Things fall apart when someone leaves
At some point, a leader or champion of one or more of your employee engagement programs is going to leave. It may be because they’ve found an opportunity elsewhere, they’re moving, or they’re retiring. If there’s no handover process in place, it can cause programs to fall apart.
This can come down to poor organization or limited knowledge transfer. Your program then falters and has to start again from scratch, if at all. This leaves a lot of opportunities and potentially disappointed employees behind.
Even if your program has seen high engagement up to this point, it’s unlikely things will stay that way if no one is trained to take over and they don’t know where to find all the information they need.
Any initiative’s atmosphere is directly influenced by the people running it. The only way to maintain that is for a new leader to hit the ground running when they take over.
You’re not effectively tracking their impact
It’s really important to have some form of data collection. Without it, you won’t know what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve. How do you know what difference your employee engagement programs are making? More importantly, how do you know where to invest your time and money moving forward?
It doesn’t just have to be hard numbers, of course. Anecdotes about employees’ improved confidence, skills, or new contacts they’ve met because of employee engagement programs can be just as powerful.
But if there’s nowhere for them to share those stories, how will you ever hear about them?
You don’t market or promote them
Quite often, you think you’re talking a lot about something, but nobody has heard you talk about it at all. This is common when you work in marketing, and marketing internal initiatives is no different.
So, while you may think you’re shouting, only a handful of people have probably heard about your employee engagement programs.
You need to actively promote your initiatives to new employees, as well as existing employees looking for something new. Promote them in as many places as possible, including in print, by word-of-mouth, and beyond.
Employees may not join the first time they hear about a group, program, or event. Over time though, they may change their minds.
They may realize the benefits of being a part of them and want to join in, too. Therefore, you need to talk about your employee engagement programs and their benefits as much as possible to encourage participation.
The organizational system is a mess
When employee engagement programs are managed manually, it makes the whole process clunkier. Almost every other part of our lives can be automated now. Employees expect a seamless experience for groups and events at work just as they do in their outside lives. Are you delivering?
Tasks like signing up, sharing files, organizing meetings, RSVPing for events, and sending reminders should be as easy as possible. This is true for both program leaders and for members and participants as well. This only happens when there’s a clear, easy-to-follow system in place.
Lack of regionalization/localization
What appeals to someone in one country will be different from what appeals to someone in another. Even countries that speak the same language can have dramatic cultural differences. (Like the US and the UK, for example.)
Being aware of these differences is important.
It’s also important to consider that some employees will prefer to meet in person. If they work remotely, it’s a great opportunity for them to get out of the house and connect with people.
Insufficient support/buy-in from the company
It’s all too easy for a company to decide to launch employee engagement programs, give employees the chance to run them, then abandon them, expecting employees to do all the work.
Your programs still need some sort of support from the business for them to be a success.
Many aspects of culture come from the top, and this includes the adoption of employee engagement programs. That’s the only way businesses will experience the full benefits of them.
If initiatives are left with small or non-existent budgets, or a disengaged/non-existent executive sponsor, they’re unlikely to deliver the results you’d hoped for.
An effective employee engagement programs strategy can lead to positive changes in employees’ skills, networks, and career paths.
However, when they’re done wrong, they can feel like a waste of time and resources for everyone.
If you’d like to ensure you’re maximizing the value of your employee engagement programs in 2023, Workrowd can help. Tune in next week for a post on solutions. Or, reach out to us directly to explore easy-to-implement tools to solve your engagement challenges.
Our one-stop platform has everything you need to successfully market, manage, and measure your employee engagement programs to drive greater impact. Learn more by visiting us online, or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out part 2 of this post covering solutions to improve the effectiveness of your employee engagement programs HERE.