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What can you do to fully engage your employees in 2020?

By Craig Bulow, Corporate Away Days

Studies show that only 13% of employees worldwide are effectively engaged in their work, with the global costs of unproductivity reaching a staggering $7 trillion. Employee engagement and workplace productivity are inextricably linked. It is repeatedly shown that employees who are absorbed in and enthusiastic about their work perform better and create more value for their organisation. (Source: Gallup) 

This means that far from being a buzzword engagement is a necessity if a business is to be successful in today’s economy.  Further data from Gallup shows that companies with engaged employees outperform others by 202%. 

Also, an Aon Hewitt study found that the number of actively disengaged employees rose by more than 50 percent during situations where job duties were impacted by their company being acquired. Their research found that even employees whose jobs were not affected by an acquisition were 25 percent more likely to be actively disengaged.

  • Employees who feel empowered, respected and like they’re making a difference are more likely to stay onboard, and those who don’t have a 35% chance of staying. (Source: HRDive)
  • There’s a 76% chance of an employee still being at a company after 12 months, after two years that likelihood drops to 59% and after three years to 48% (Source: Forbes)
  • Over 90% believe there is solid evidence linking engagement to performance, and they believe it has the strongest impact on customer service and productivity.

Overall research shows that engaged employees are happier, perform better, and provide a better experience to the end customer.

Let’s look at a number of ways that you can ensure you have engaged employees in 2020 and beyond.

  1. Lead by Example

Belief in senior leadership is the No.1 factor in creating positive employee engagement. 58% of employees say they would start a job with a lower salary if they worked for a great boss. 85% of employees say they would stay longer in a company with an employer who shows a high level of social responsibility. (Source: Glintinc)

The best way to do this is by example.  Don’t tell them about your great leadership – show them through your own actions. If you make a mistake; take responsibility. If you say you will do something; make sure you do it. If you set a deadline; meet it. 

  1. Offer flexible working conditions

75% of employees say they experience greater productivity when they are working from home. This also reduces commuting time, cost of travel, less daily stress and a comfortable environment. (Source: Glintinc)

The downside to this is isolation; employees risk losing even more connection with their colleagues / peers, especially if they are spending the majority of the week working from home with no human contact. 

However, arranging social engagements can help to mitigate this by building relationships and ensuring that the people you are dealing with remotely on a day-to-day basis are not just faceless emails, but real people whose personalities you know. It’s much easier to build a relationship and trust when you share a common interest in an event or activity.

Encouraging social connections

88% of employees rate connection with their colleagues important to their job satisfaction. However, 73% of employees working in an open planned office fail to talk to one another. (Source: Peoplemanagement.co.uk)

Over the last 20 years there has been a huge step forward in technology, which has changed the way we communicate both at work and socially. Face-to-face communication has reduced, and we’re at risk of losing the human connection – which is crucial to improving engagement at work.

  • 70% of employees said friendships at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life.
  • 74% of women surveyed said they would refuse a higher paying job if it meant working with difficult people. 58% of men said the same thing.
  • 50% of employees that have a best friend at work reported that they feel a close connection to their company. (Source: Inc.com)

After speaking with a number of professionals in the City it was striking to find the majority described their working day as containing little or no personal verbal communication with their peers; it’s always an email. Even if the person is just across the room – email was still the dominant form of communication.

One way to tackle this issue would be to remove individuals from the office and put them in a neutral, social environment. This can be done with an engaging and fun away day, perhaps one that the team has collectively chosen for itself. 

Team bonding days have their place – but they are all about work! You are more likely to engage individuals with fun experiences and activities that they would choose for themselves. Imagine offering them a day out they would really love? The sort of thing that they’d happily pay for and organise at the weekends or on a day off in their own time? Imagine how much more impact that would have than something that felt like a ‘work’ day? The interest, excitement and commitment are already there as it is something they actually want to do and/or experience. 

Clearly not everyone will have the same interest for every event / activity that is chosen. Perfect! This gives the employer an opportunity to engage different individuals from across the business who share the same interests, creating a common ground that’s ripe for breaking the ice.

For those who like to do other things then the next engaging Away Day can include those who share more of the same interests. Once there are several groups of engaged individuals talking about their Day, in the days or weeks before and after the event, am pretty sure they’ll be looking forward to the next one having already started to engage naturally.

Engaging your staff socially out of the office on inspiring and engaging events centred around wellbeing is a sure way to improve morale and in turn productivity for the company. A company away day with a wellbeing theme can generate up to 800% ROI.

Empowering employees

Knowing someone and trusting them are two quite different things! So, as well as getting to know your team, have faith in their abilities. Engage employees by empowering them to take responsibility for their work and new challenges. 

Give people the autonomy to get the job done in their own unique way. All this ‘trying and doing’ it for themselves develops employees’ skills through experiential learning. Remember that empowering employees means steering clear of micromanaging.

Warning: Other people’s way of doing things may be different to yours (but it just may be better!).

Removing role ambiguity

Role ambiguity is often cited as a common cause of workplace stress. Failure to address this issue also leads to task duplication and wasted resources. It’s bad news for both employee engagement and business success. If you want to avoid staff burnout and engage employees, you need to set clear expectations.

Research agrees, with a recent Gallup study revealing ‘clear expectations’ as the most ‘foundational’ factor for employee engagement.

By setting clear employee SMART goals, KPIs and expectations from day one staff can better plan and measure their progress. Give each employee the right tools, information, feedback and training to excel in their role. Ensure each employee knows what to do, how to do it and how their work contributes to the company’s wider goals.

Training for career progression

Modern workers are motivated by purposeful work and career progression opportunities.

So, to engage employees, give them what they want; personalised training and development to suit their needs. Developing staff skills boosts the expertise, productivity and engagement levels within your organisation. 

You can use your knowledge of employees’ career goals or interests to tailor training towards staff preferences. This personalised approach keeps employees motivated as they work towards their personal goals within the wider context of the company’s needs. 

Training on how to improve employee wellbeing, for example, diet, sleep and exercise, as well as looking at anxiety and stress levels in the workplace can create agents for change, sharing the knowledge and looking out for those that may need help or advice on being a better them.

Including wellbeing training and learning

Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates – between 30% – 50% higher than businesses that don’t. Offering career and development training that includes wellbeing topics would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their jobs. (Source: Glintinc)

Wellbeing training should cover evolutionary practices, the three main ones being: Sleep, Diet and Exercise. In addition, at work training on how to look out for signs of stress and burnout in our colleagues is helpful. 

Engaging the services of leading professionals in wellbeing and mental health to offer interactive workshops and seminars to educate staff at all levels will help ensure the company’s workers mental and physical wellbeing is kept a high priority.

Investing in your employees with ongoing job training keeps them engaged in their chosen career path and therefore more committed to the company. Training and development also encourages’ communication and connection between colleagues who will share knowledge and experience. 

Ideally, once started, keep this face to face communication going in order to build relationships and trust

Having fun 

84% of executives thought that employees with a sense of humour do better job than employees with little or no sense of humour. (Source: Linkedin)

Studies show 90% of people say a fun work environment is very or extremely motivating. (Source: Growth Engineering)

There are so many ways to have fun and everyone has their personal favourites. An away day for example on an inspiring, engaging and exciting event will build trust, resilience and connections across the workplace at all levels especially with a Wellbeing theme at its core. 

A recent 2019 ‘Simply Health Survey’ monitored by CIPD found that those organisations who had wellbeing activities improved morale and engagement by 44% and lowered sickness by 31%.  The survey clearly suggested that many private sector organisations would benefit from a more strategic approach to embracing wellbeing.  And yet, R.E.B.A reports that only 8% of organisations at board level have a wellbeing agenda.  

Individuals are more engaged whilst doing an activity which creates a better impact and therefore better results.  

Employee Recognition

Research suggests employees value recognition more than money. So however big or small a success, make sure you praise your workforce for a job well done. Share the company successes. Encourage everyone to celebrate each other’s successes. By celebrating company-wide achievements you will encourage a supportive work environment and motivate staff.

Recognition is a powerful way to engage employees, with research showing 76% of people find peer praise extremely or very motivating. So, however you choose to spread the praise – be it with a day out, a trip to a special event, in one-to-one sessions, or an old school round of applause – celebrate success!


Making some simple changes can improve employee engagement hugely. Review what are doing and make some of those changes in 2020. Your staff will appreciate it and your business will see the benefits.

Craig Bulow is the founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focussed on Wellbeing and Reward activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing.

Every Corporate Away Days event and activity is chosen with wellbeing as its focus, helping to encourage employee engagement, foster connections and build relationships within the business.

Web: http://www.corporate-away-days.co.uk/

Instagram: corporateawaydays

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/craig-bulow-3b227721/ and https://www.linkedin.com/company/corporate-away-days/