Jennifer Lee, Communications & Marketing Strategist, Materion Corporation [NYSE:MTRN]
In a small organization, one would think it would be easier to engage employees than in a larger; however, both come with their own challenges. For example, in larger organizations, employees often feel like they are just another cog in the wheel and do not really make a difference. While each skilled individual is key to the organization, it’s harder to ensure that in larger companies’ employees feel appreciated.
On the other hand, in small companies, many employees may know each other and speak regularly, but are they really engaged with the business itself? Often employees in a smaller business are too busy to engage with the organization’s communications or activities. They are too occupied with the day to day to pay attention.
Additionally, small companies may feel at a disadvantage when it comes to promoting employee engagement because they often do not have the time or budget for extravagant perks. Another factor is that HR tasks will sometimes fall onto managers because the HR specialists are stretched thin.
Engagement with employees can keep the current workforce happy and make a company more attractive to potential candidates. Failing to meet these expectations could result in employees choosing to seek new employment opportunities and job seekers passing over a business in favor of another. How can a smaller organization solve some of these issues? Here are five suggestions.
Use technology to your advantage:
1. Not all employees receive communications the same way; this is where technology can help. Communicate with multiple channels: email, posters, all-hands meetings, one-on-one, and e-signs. We have found e-signs work great in communicating to employees.
Make sure you keep them updated on any milestones in the plan along the way. Ultimately, employees want to be valued by the company they work for and any type of engagement you put in place can help communicate their value
The signs are strategically placed in the break rooms where employees gather for coffee breaks and lunch. The sign can have company messages, anniversaries, new employee announcements, holiday greetings, benefits info, and, most importantly, safety messages.
2. Have a one-stop HR platform for employees to do multiple things: check their paycheck, leave balances, benefits, bonus info, internal job postings, and engage with their manager on performance, etc. This platform could provide additional company communications, as well.
3. Create an informative Intranet that is easily accessible to all employees. Even if employees work in labs or on a manufacturing floor, or other areas, computers may not be permissible, have computers located elsewhere so they can use them. Create stories about the company, its strategy, and post fun things like the “Company Outing” photos. Allow for employees to post comments and rate stories. (Note: make sure policies are in place to encourage appropriate comments).
4. Engage on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Many employees are already on these channels, and by encouraging them to follow the company page, they are not only supporting the business, but they are also able to comment and participate in conversations for the external audience. Employees take pride when they are recognized on these channels as well, for example, if a team wins an award, and it is posted-on LinkedIn or Facebook, it creates pride in their accomplishments. (Note: make sure social media policies are in place to encourage appropriate comments).
Of course, there is nothing like good old fashioned face-to-face communications with employees:
5. Create an activity or engagement committee, have frequent meetings to generate ideas for employees to get involved in and get their feedback. This gives employees a voice in what they would like to participate in. Often these activities are low or no cost but will bring a considerable amount of value. Some ideas we have heard and/ or done that create a sense of community is a catered “Thank You” lunch for employees, “Toys for Tots” or other community efforts like an international pot-luck lunch, wellness challenges, “guess who” the baby photo is, and so on.
All these tips can help create transparency and build employee trust, which in turn helps with engagement; nevertheless, many other factors are often involved. Try taking the pulse of the employees through a survey to help you gauge where you need improvement. A great start would be to analyze the results and create a specific plan of action that would be communicated to employees. Make sure you keep them updated on any milestones in the plan along the way. Ultimately, employees want to be valued by the company they work for, and any type of engagement you put in place can help communicate their value.