Employee Engagement: Going Beyond Just Perks
By Emily Taibl, Sweeney Conrad, PS
Busy season survival kits, end of year parties, ice cream days and company barbeques… creating strategies to engage employees can be a lot of fun. It’s a chance for marketers to use their creativity, and break up the monotony of desk work for their teams. However, employee engagement goes far beyond just fun and games.
Knowing that engagement is important is the first step, but how do we create an environment where our employees are satisfied and engaged? Wikipedia outlines eight drivers of employee engagement. I’ve broken them down below, with suggestions on how we, as marketers, can help:
- Personal Resources: People need to feel good about their skills. It makes perfect sense, employees who hold positive perceptions of their own personal strengths and abilities will be more dedicated to their jobs, because they feel like they are equipped to do a good job. As marketers we can support this by creating opportunities to further skills, as well as highlighting our employees’ strengths. Technical continuing education is a part of CPAs requirements, but consider providing opportunities for your employees to learn soft skills. Trainings on things like networking, personal brand, business development and business etiquette will help your team members grow in confidence. You might also consider highlighting your employees’ strengths. At Sweeney Conrad, we had a consultant come in to help us identify our personal and professional skills, as well as teach us how to focus on the strengths of those we work with. The CliftonStrengths Assessment is a great place to start.
- Perceptions of Job Importance: People want to feel like what they are doing is important. This can be especially challenging for those of us in marketing roles at accounting firms, as we are often tasked with proving the importance of what we are doing in an industry where the focus is on the billable hour. Marketers can help celebrate team members’ wins, and find ways to highlight employees who are going above and beyond. Consider creating an employee spotlight in your internal communications or at firm wide events. At Sweeney Conrad, we have whiteboards located in central locations throughout our office. Employees are encouraged to write public messages of gratitude to those who they feel deserve it.
- Clarity of Job Expectations: It’s hard to be successful when you don’t know what success looks like to your superiors. It’s important to make sure that people know what is expected of them, so that they can spend time on the things that matter the most, and feel like they are accomplishing things. One way to do this is to have clear outlines of what is expected at each level. Setting meetings where you outline goals by quarter with your supervisor can also make your expectations crystal clear.
- Career Advancement/Improvement Opportunities: Long-term goals and a clear career path with advancement opportunities is essential to keeping employees motivated. It’s difficult to work hard when you feel like the finish line keeps moving, or like you are stuck in a job with no room to grow. Help your partners create documentation that outlines what it takes to advance within your firm, and make sure these steps are clearly communicated to your employees.
- Regular Feedback and Dialogue with Superiors: Feedback is both key to improving in your career, and essential to making employees feel seen for what they are working on. Help your firm develop mentoring and advisor relationships so that your employees are getting regular feedback on what they are doing well, and how they can improve. Create firm wide events where partners are encouraged to just get to know some of the more junior members of your firm, especially those from different departments. At Sweeney Conrad we host Lunch with the President, where new employees get a chance to be part of a small group having lunch with our Managing Partner, so that they can build a relationship early on.
As a marketer, you may be tasked with setting up a regular meeting schedule with your partners so that you can share what you are doing, and get their feedback. Open these lines of regular communication to help show your value, and to get their feedback. It will build your confidence.
- High Quality Relationships with Peers, Superiors, and Subordinates: People like to work with and for people who they like. This is where some of the fun stuff can come in, like parties and games at work that help you get to know one another outside the stress of deadlines. Another way to help keep relationships in tact is to offer trainings on how to have difficult conversations, and how to tactfully provide feedback. Doing so will help keep lines of communication open, and relationships in good standing.
- Perception of Ethos and Values of the Organization: There is an old country song lyric, “you have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” Your company’s mission, vision and values is your foundation. It should be clearly communicated on a regular basis, and be a thread running through everything you do. People want to work for a company that they believe in. As marketers we can make sure our values are everywhere: visually printed in the office, mentioned at events, and highlighted in the ways our employees are demonstrating and living out these values.
- Effective Internal Employee Communications: Having a clear understanding of what is going on makes employees feel a part of the firm as a whole. When people feel like things are going on behind closed doors, or that they are in the dark, it creates insecurity and a feeling that they are an “outsider.” Help your partners communicate by creating a message from the partners that goes out once a month, host quarterly firmwide events where you give updates from all departments and teams, and consider doing an internal communication from marketing or HR on the happenings at the firm. At Sweeney Conrad, we have an internal TV and marketing creates slideshows each month featuring new folks, news, congratulations and more.
While firms will never have 100% engagement, it’s important to work towards creating an environment where employees feel confident, needed and heard. Do you have additional ideas on how to keep employees engaged? Send them our way or post on the AAM Minute Board! We would love to hear from you.