By RedBalloon for Business

Everything you need to know about employee engagement

Employee engagement may be the holy grail of operational success, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated.

No one said it better than The Jackson 5… “All you gotta do is repeat after me; A B C, easy as one, two, three”.

So we’ve compiled an ‘A to Z of EE’ to help your business recognise both the benefits and relative ease of boosting your employee engagement. With a few simple tasks, behaviours and programs – repeated with consistency and conviction – you can tap into the well of discretionary effort all engaged employees bring to the table.

A – Appreciation. It’s a basic human desire to feel appreciated. If we feel appreciated we’re more likely to repeat the behaviour. People more than ever are seeking purpose in their work. It’s not enough anymore to simply show up, do the work, get paid and go home. People want more from their employers, more from their work, more from their workplaces – and employers who want to attract the best people must sit up and take notice.

B – Big or small. Efforts don’t have to be huge gestures all the time. Sometimes a personal handwritten note that genuinely recognises and thanks someone for their work is as impactful as a more lavish gesture.

C – Consistency. Building a workplace culture that looks after your people and delivers to the bottom line requires the same approach as any other business activity – consistency of execution. Know what you’re trying to achieve and consistently move the needle in that direction, one positive change, one effort and one day at a time.

D – Disengagement. It’s estimated that half of all Australian employees are looking for a new job at any given time. So if they’re always looking for something else to do, how engaged can they possibly be with your business? This is the flip side of not investing in your people, and it’s costly – with replacing high-level positions estimated to cost upwards of 400 per cent of their annual salary (TLNT).

E – ExperiencesCash bonuses and branded stress balls don’t create a community or culture in the workplace. It is connection that creates engagement and engenders trust, with both customers and employees. And it is shared experiences that create moments of bonding, camaraderie and understanding between individuals and teams. When people are engaged and feel their contribution is appreciated, they do better work. Using experiences to reward, recognise and incentivise both employees and business partners is a proven way of tapping into that valuable discretionary effort that can make all the difference to the profitability of a business.

F – Fun. Just because it’s work doesn’t mean it has to be serious all the time. Having fun improves cooperation and communication, it breeds creativity, and happy employees are healthier and more productive. In fact, A 2015 study by the University of Warwick found that happier employees are more productive by up to 20%.

“When you love what you do every day – you never have to work another day in your life.”


G – Generosity. Creating a culture of generosity is proven to increase health and happiness while reducing stress, improving relationships and even helping us live longer. And since we spend so much of our lives at work, it makes sense that those hours work in our favour.

H – Human. Don’t forget that behind your engagement strategies are real people. It’s easy to get caught up in budgets, results and stats – but what we’re all talking about, is people.

I – Incentives. This video, “The surprising truth about what motivates us” by Daniel Pink, gives fascinating insights into the use of incentives to drive behaviour. It’s 10 minutes long but well worth the watch.

J – Jump in. Start today. What’s stopping you from creating a workplace that inspires your people to do their best work?

K – Know your people. For Employee Engagement programs to be effective, you must know your people. Does Jane from finance like personal or public acknowledgement? Is she a fan of adrenaline-based activities, or more inclined for a day of pampering at the local spa? Does she like sweet or savoury snacks? Make sure you celebrate them in a way that shows you know and understand them – and that doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable. This will build a sense of trust, comfort and the idea that “they really get me”.

L – Loyalty. McCrindle places the national average tenure in a job at 3.3 years (3 years and 4 months), based on voluntary turnover of around 15 per cent per annum. So while loyalty can seem a rare quality in these days of constant job changes, that only makes it more important to acknowledge those who have stood by you consistently. Acknowledging contribution, length of service and performance are the hallmarks of a great employer – an employer worthy of loyalty.

Respect is earned, Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned.

Oscar Auliq-Ice

M – Meaningful. When deciding where to work, 90% of Millennials look for employers who offer ‘meaningful personal experiences’ in the workplace and 87% want ‘personal recognition’ (CONE Communications).​ These are no longer nice things to have, but absolute core requirements for the workplace.

N – Nurture. Looking after your people looks after your business. Care for them in the same way you care for your customers, and the results will speak for themselves.

O – Options. According to Ashley Goldsmith, Chief People Officer at Workday, “[Employees] want optionality… People are happier and more productive, regardless of age, when they are provided with more engaging work experiences”.

P – Personalised. As humans we want to feel known and understood; rewarded and recognised for our efforts. If this is done in a personalised way – with a reward that speaks to our own individual preferences, then it’s even more powerful. When more than two-thirds of employees say recognition from a manager is better at driving performance than money (EY), it becomes obvious that business is about people. And the brands that put their people first will see the profits follow.

Q – Quick. Engagement programs need to be fast and simple to be effective. The ability to give and receive recognition in the moment is powerful.

R – Rewards and Recognition. A culture built on the foundation of rewards and recognition is proven to build engagement, drive retention and attract top talent, while simultaneously reducing attrition and turn-over. Meanwhile, disengaged employees estimated to cost the Australian economy $305 billion each year due to lost productivity – an average of $26,300 per worker (EY).

S – Stats. There is significant commercial return to be won for organisations that focus on employee experience – a mere five per cent increase in employee engagement is linked to a three per cent increase in revenue growth the subsequent year (Aon). The numbers don’t lie.

T – Target-based. Linking your engagement efforts to business-critical targets and numbers means you can prove the impact of these activities in very real, commercial terms.

U – Unique. Make sure any efforts to recognise your people are in some way unique. When was the last time you heard someone raving about the amazing new toaster they bought? Or the company branded ballpoint pen they received last Christmas? It just doesn’t happen. But that time they conquered their fear of heights on a skydive. Or learnt to surf. Or finally went swimming with whale sharks… Now that’s a unique story!

V – Values. Any good employee engagement program will be linked to the values of the business. In fact, many programs are designed to specifically reward and recognise employees on the basis of living and breathing the company values in their day-to-day roles. So if you don’t have company values – or worse, you have them but your people don’t know what they are – that’s the place to start.

W – Wish lists. Back in 2004, renowned best employer, RedBalloon, launched an employee engagement project called “The Dreamcatcher”. At the beginning of the year every employee would write down 10 things they wanted to experience or achieve that year. When it came time to recognise people for great work, personal milestones or to just say ‘thanks’, the business was able to do so in an incredibly personalised, and powerful, way. Something so simple yet so effective in showing their people they knew who they were and what made them ‘tick’.

X – X-ray. Get to the bones of what makes your people tick and how to make their day-to-day life at work something fulfilling, meaningful and successful.

Y – Yes! Just say “Yes” to starting a simple program of engagement today. It doesn’t have to be hard or expensive, but you will soon see the outcomes paying dividends for your people and, in turn, your bottom line.

Z – Zest. Engaged employees have an incredible impact on the morale of those around them – they bring a positive, can-do attitude into the building; which is something worth bottling.

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To find out more about how the RedBalloon for Business team can help you reward and recognise your people, contact us today