Ensuring Employee Engagement in Your Firm

Here at Sain, we know a huge part of achieving success in our firm can be attributed to our employees, so we are constantly looking for ways to engage them. In a nutshell, employee engagement is an employee’s emotional connection with the firm’s mission and goals. By ensuring that employees are engaged, team projects go more smoothly, and conflicts can be resolved naturally. What’s more, engaged employees also view huge challenges as an opportunity to grow and improve, boosting innovation and teamwork. 

However, a recent report estimates that 85 percent of employees globally are poorly engaged or actively disengaged at work. We want to provide a positive environment, where employees can thrive and can enjoy their work. Below are some ways Sain engages employees, and some tips on how you can boost engagement at your firm.

Measuring Engagement is Key

Before creating an employee engagement strategy, you first must determine how engaged your employees are. To do this, you can create surveys that show how people feel about the company. Teamwork, trust in leadership, confidence in career growth, communication, career development, recognition, and individual needs are just a few topics that the survey could cover. If you want a more accurate, data-driven survey, you can commission bespoke staff engagement surveys from consulting firms and professional industry groups. ⁠

Several years ago, our principals surveyed our employees about our benefits package to gauge satisfaction levels. That survey revealed that many of our employees preferred to have paid time off rather than vacation and sick leave. Because of employee feedback, we changed our policy to fit our employees’ needs. This is just one example of how a survey can positively impact your employees’ well-being. 

It Starts with the Managers

Managers can directly influence how engaged your firm’s employees are. Gallup notes that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores. Without managers to build relationships and connections with your employees, your HR team’s employee engagement strategy won’t produce any actual results. 

We empower our managers by offering training that focuses on building good communication habits with their direct reports. Last year, we offered a workshop where managers practiced giving feedback to their employees. We have also sent managers to external training like PSMJ’s Project Management Bootcamp and Principals Bootcamp, and several of our employees have participated in ACEC Alabama’s Leadership Development Series.

Show Your Employees That You Care

Many companies often forget that employee appreciation also translates to employee engagement. By making your employees feel valued, you can help them feel more satisfied with their work, motivate them to perform better, and even increase their self-esteem. Unfortunately, about 79 percent of workers today think that their bosses don’t care about their happiness at work, even if being happier has a significant impact on individual performance.

Our company leadership models how we should value each other to create a friendly work environment. For instance, in our bi-monthly company meetings, our COO takes time to praise employees who have worked hard on projects or accomplished a personal goal. Our team leaders also recognize an employee’s hard work with gift cards, by bringing donuts for their team, and other tokens of encouragement to employees. 

It’s also important to try being involved with your employees’ lives outside the office (if they’re open to it). We do this by supporting people through big life events such as births, weddings, illnesses, or adoptions. 

Offer Training and Development Opportunities

Most employees want to know that there are career development opportunities. After all, no employee wants to stay in the same position or do the same thing for the rest of their career. So, it would be best to have various training and development opportunities for your staff. 

Professional development is very important to us, which is why our employees set annual goals during their December performance reviews. After setting their annual goal, the supervisor will support the employee by offering coaching, connecting them to resources, and sending them to professional conferences.

We encourage external training opportunities like the PSMJ’s Project Management Bootcamp to sharpen our employee’s skills. On top of this, we also encourage active participation in professional organizations such as ITE, ACEC, ASPLS and ASCE. We also offer in-house training workshops. In the last year, we have offered in-house training including how to think like a marketer, how to manage a remote team, and business development for beginners. 

A collaboration between guest writer Allie Cooper and Sain Associates HR Coordinator Caroline Young.