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How to Increase Employee Engagement in Small Businesses

Employee engagement is vital to a business’ productivity and performance. For small businesses, some might think that fostering employee engagement requires expensive sponsored events and fancy, catered dinners after hours. However, small businesses can implement cost-effective strategies without leaving the office. This blog post lists out best practices for increasing employee engagement in your small business. 

Why Employee Engagement Matters in Small Businesses

Employee engagement is more than compensation packages, professional development, and work-life balance. Although these things are highly important for retaining employees (see Key Strategies for Boosting Employee Retention), the little things equally matter. In day-to-day operations, small businesses may feel they have to implement extravagant strategies like the large corporations; yet they must recognize the power of the little things in employee motivation and satisfaction. Your small business has the advantage and opportunity to create a close-knit community among employees starting with you.

Employee engagement is not the traditional benefits offered to employees, but rather refers to the underestimated power of small actions. Your small business has certain advantages over large corporations to create a close-knit community and strong workplace culture among employees. These include a decentralized structure for more frequent communication and a condensed office space for employees to get to know each other, both of which provide opportunities to increase employee engagement. 

  1. Open the communication lines for employees to provide feedback: Fostering and increasing employee engagement begins with effective, open communication that lets employees know they can count on you to consider their feedback. Employees are more likely to engage when there is openness, trust, and honesty in the workplace. 

  2. Congratulate and reward employees for a job well done: After feedback has been provided, considered, and implemented, it’s time to congratulate employees for their hard work. This can be a job well done in completing tasks before the deadline, meeting and exceeding business objectives, and outstanding performance in soft skills such as customer service. Next, reward employees with small gifts and words of congratulations. The goal is to ensure that high-performing employees feel recognized for their work, valued by your small business, and compensated for their effort - even the small things. These efforts will incentivize high performance and productivity for all employees.

  3. Host team-building events to facilitate trust among employees: Hands-on team-building events, such as puzzles, card games, quizzes, and more that require group effort is a great way to introduce and maintain collaboration and trust among employees. Small business owners should also partake in these events as a way to break the ice and maintain healthy behavior among employees. 

  4. Practice what you preach: Your small business should treat employees with the same respect, dignity, patience, and care that you outline and carry out with clients. This not only aids in openness, trust, and honesty as mentioned earlier, it also makes employees feel that they are working for a business with purpose and intent. Your small business can elicit a positive, meaningful relationship with employees by placing the mission, vision, and values statement in the office for all to see as a great reminder.

  5. Keep employee engagement ongoing: Last but least is to maintain, evaluate, and revise employee engagement strategies. Employees need to be assured and affirmed that openness, trust, honesty, recognition, rewards, collaboration, and meaningfulness will continue to matter and not be secluded to a seasonal or one-time occurrence. This is especially important as new hires take over job roles and new job roles are filled. 

Fostering employee engagement in small businesses is crucial to a strong workplace culture. Remember, your small business has the upper hand in comparison to large corporations because of its decentralized structure and condensed office space. Open communication, healthy collaboration, and ongoing efforts are cost-effective strategies to increase employee engagement. How does your small business keep employees engaged? Have you used any of these strategies to do so? Let us know in the comments below. 


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