Tips to build an engaging workplace

Our Chief Happiness Officer, Dan Jefferies, spoke at TEDx Kalamazoo this year on his experience in the science of happiness. For every 10 workers only one of them is truly happy and engaged in their work! According to a Gallop study, that translates into $3,400 lost for every $10,000 you’re spending on payroll.

Those numbers paint a shocking picture – you’re losing $15K annually on disengaged employees making $50K/year. Multiply that by a workforce of 10-20 employees, and you’re easily looking at an entire department’s year of payroll.

In an environment that leaves 87% of the population disengaged at work, can you imagine how that affects productivity and talent retention? We spoke to Jenna Mathieu and Tom Perso of Trillium Staffing about two core elements that can help in engaging your team!

Conducive Work Environment

The physical space you provide to your team affects productivity in 2 areas—value-driving tasks and team collaboration. While not every office can have a Google-style array of ping-pong tables and cool toys, something as simple as finding out how your staff likes to work and building in a bit of flexibility can go a long way.

According to World at Work, the flexibility of work arrangements has increased from 37% in 2010 to 52% in 2013—across all industries, and 60% of survey respondents believe that flexibility has a positive effect on employee engagement! To learn how their employees work best, Jenna tells me Trillium uses an “All about me” questionnaire.

“Its kind of like a love language test, but instead of for your spouse, its for your co-workers, It asks questions like:

  • What are some interesting facts about you?
  • How do you get work done best?

We have a programmer on one of my teams, and for whatever reason, he works really well at about 5 AM. That’s a great time of day for him! He does more for the company in that environment, and we’re able to give him a schedule to reflect that!”

Fulfilling workplace culture

Another part of the engagement challenge is helping your employees want to be a part of your organization—cultivating a good workplace culture. According to Tom Rath, author of Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged with their jobs. Gallup shows that close work friendships in general boost employee satisfaction by 50%

So how can you exercise your organization’s culture? It could be anything from putting on dedicated events (like picnics or golf outings), or as simple as holding simple activities to build relationships with your coworkers.

“One simple thing we do to keep people engaged, is we go down to Bronson park in the summer on Fridays,” says Jenna. “We play corn-hole and eat at the food trucks down there. ”

It’s not just about aligning your workers’ productivity—it’s about creating an environment they want to engage with! How does your organization take on engagement outside the office?

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About

Garrett Wenger is a storyteller and marketer at Newmind Group, and a native to Kalamazoo, MI. He received his BFA in English Literature from Western Michigan University, and has heritage in Southwest Michigan’s creative writing community. He published his first book of poetry in late 2013, and he has been featured in numerous literary journals.