While 2021 brought back some of our pre-pandemic norms, such as having employees back in offices in various forms, the pandemic continued its effects on the labor shortages and employee turnover we saw throughout 2020. Businesses across our country and globe struggled to keep their employees satisfied and engaged, or even retain them, as well as find new employees to make up their company base.

Employees want to feel connected to their workplaces in some form with the fact much of our daily business interactions have remained virtual for the past two years. This pandemic effect, along with others, has led to 85% of employees feeling unmotivated in their current roles, causing many to search for new opportunities.

This instance and more are concerning business leaders everywhere, and it’s time for those in charge to create more applicable work environments for their employees, as well as workplaces that prospective employees would be attracted to. Businesses can accomplish this by enhancing their employee engagement tactics and overall company culture.

Invest in employees

Businesses spend significant amounts of time strategizing how to optimize their customer experience, whether it be in-store or online. However, they must not lose sight of putting in the same efforts and focus to better the experiences for their own employees.

Company leaders should implement initiatives that focus on improving the overall well-being of employees, both professionally and personally. These programs can have major positive benefits on the health of employees, and also increase their productivity and satisfaction on the job. Seventy percent of employees enrolled in a workplace wellness program had higher job satisfaction after partaking in a program, in fact.

Some initiative examples that can be implemented include: a profit-sharing program where employees can earn a share of company profits, company-wide fitness challenges to boost physical health, employee assistance programs and support groups for mental and emotional health, or even employee-led committees that enable employees to speak with their peers on important topics facing the business and their daily lines of work.

Allow employee-led philanthropy

Giving back and corporate philanthropy has become incredibly important to customers with the companies and brands they buy from. The same sentiment can be said for employees and the importance of how much their employers give back and where to.

Instead of having the executive team simply write off checks to local organizations as the way of giving back, leaders should discover causes their employees are passionate about and find ways the entire company can properly benefit them. Once those causes are identified, it’s time to empower employees to lead and execute the initiatives.

With this, employees can take the reins of coordinating in-store events such as giveaways or item drives, as well as managing collaboration with local organizations for partnership events that raise proceeds.

If the business wants to go the monetary donation route, leaders can give employees the opportunity to nominate their favorite nonprofits to receive the allotted funding. There can also be allocated volunteer hours where employees can give their time to their favorite organizations and causes themselves.

Whatever it may be, allow employees to have their fingerprints on these processes and let them make these projects their own. Empowering them to lead philanthropic efforts provides them a sense of purpose, as well as opportunities to further connect with their neighbors in the community.

Implement an internal “culture of service”

The term culture is often thrown around regarding a business, and we often hear how important it is to have strong internal culture throughout an organization. This is no cliche, especially in regards to retaining current employees and recruiting prospects. In fact, a 2019 Glassdoor survey found 77% of adults consider culture before applying for a specific company.

At TCC, we created a culture of service to have our leadership team serve our employees the way we train and envision them serving our customers. As our business has evolved over time, we’ve learned that when employees feel valued within the company, they are more likely to make sure each customer feels valued as well. This is key as 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

A culture of service can be made up in a variety of ways, including having “open door” communication extending from the leadership team to each employee inside the company. The point here is to create and sustain constant lines of communication, ensuring complete transparency and consistency throughout the entire business. Expanded mentorship programs are another prime example, which allows employees continued professional and personal growth throughout their tenure.

With the ever-evolving labor markets we’re seeing across industries, companies must adapt to be as  employee-centric as possible if they hope to have a sustainable employee base. This means effective employee engagement strategies will be paramount in 2022 and beyond.

Chad Jensen is the president of Round Room Holdings, Inc., which operates leading Verizon retailers, TCC and Wireless Zone.

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