While employee engagement has a variety of definitions, few would dispute its importance in today’s workplace — especially as more companies have employees working in separate locations. Culture, communications, leadership, and company reputation are factors influencing employee engagement, which, in turn, influences how well an organization runs.
Gartner and Deloitte’s report, “The Digital Workforce Reimagined,” argues that companies achieve better business results with employees who are more engaged and informed. “Organizations that are in top quartile of workforce experience empower workers, inspire innovation, and drive productivity,” concludes Gartner, emphasizing that these companies achieve better results – and it’s not just saving time and money:
- Top organizations are 1.6x more likely to achieve better customer outcomes
- They are 25% more profitable than companies in the bottom quartile, and
- Enjoy twice the customer satisfaction as reflected in their net promoter score.
For many organizations, the question is how to improve employee engagement. While there is no single answer, three Paylocity clients share their tips to success.
Tip #1: Start Small and Build from There
For HR professionals, finding tools to engage employees is critical. One of the simplest ways to start building more engagement is through communication. Chimena Campbell is the controller at Anchorage, AK-based retailer Alaska Mill & Feed and knew the company needed to upgrade its company-wide communication in 2020. The company has a bit of everything, as they own and manage manufacturing facilities for animal feed, fertilizer, ice melt, and wild bird seed; run a sizeable distribution center; and operate the Alaska Mill & Feed retail store. However, the employees rarely connected with each other across the different business units.
“The limitation with things like Slack and Teams is that half of my people don't have a company email. But everyone has a cell phone,” Campbell said.
Campbell turned to Paylocity for help. She and her HR colleagues implemented Paylocity to improve HR and payroll functions, optimize recruiting and onboarding, and free up time to focus on more impactful parts of their role such as building culture and connection. Using Community, a social collaboration hub within the Paylocity platform, she was able to streamline communication through the Paylocity Mobile App because she knew every employee had access to Paylocity regardless of whether they had a company email address. She posted company updates, created groups based on interests, provided benefits information, and ultimately made Community the North Star of the company's communication strategy.
“You'd print and hand out 50 flyers for announcements and put them in people's lockers,” Campbell recalls. “We’d hope that the people who did have email read it and didn’t just delete it or simply miss it. Shifting everything into one spot was a huge win for us.”
She and her team mastered the basic communication functions of Community — company updates and announcements — but they knew they needed to get other employees involved. That’s when they started promoting Groups within Community. Since the company is located in Alaska, it’s only natural that a Fishing Group would get some attention. Little did Campbell know it would be the catalyst to true employee engagement.
“Our warehouse guys went fishing and got this 77-pound halibut,” she recalls. “They posted the picture on Paylocity. It went viral internally. Other employees were drawn into Community to post pictures and comment more often. That really helped get our employees to use the system more frequently for other things, too.”
The post drew other employees in to share their interests, comment on other posts, and ultimately connect with employees across the retail store, manufacturing plant, and warehouse. Employees are now proactively connecting with each other, their teams, and the company. Campbell credits Community with helping Alaska Mill and Feed differentiate in the current labor market while also helping retain employees.
It's a widespread phenomenon. Across all Paylocity clients, the total number of monthly Community users has grown by more than 40% from July 2021 to July 2022. During the same period, the number of employee posts in Community across clients has increased by more than 135%, outpacing HR announcements by more than 25%, which indicates employees are rapidly embracing Community on their own.
Tip #2: Create Connections – Both Online and In Person
It's not just communication and viral posts that make a difference. A 2022 report by Gallup on the state of the workplace indicates that most employees remain disengaged at work, and low engagement alone costs the global economy $7.8 trillion. The report states that “The relationship between wellbeing and engagement is vital because people’s experience at work influences their lives outside work, and their overall wellbeing influences life at work.”
Listerhill Credit Union has more than 280 employees across Alabama and Tennessee. The company faced similar challenges as Alaska Mill & Feed as they shifted to a hybrid workforce and leadership worried about communication and culture issues with the shift. Mallory Watkins is the VP of People Operations, and she was concerned about how disconnected employees would become in the hybrid environment. And with numerous locations, there was little opportunity for employees to meet in person and keep them engaged. Mallory and her team decided to turn Paylocity into the epicenter of connection at Listerhill.
“We post a Motivational Monday quote or saying that we schedule for each week on Community,” Watkins said. “It created a connection between employees at all our locations like we didn’t have before.” So, when employees check their pay on Paylocity, they also get a unified message to start the week. All employees can connect digitally, regardless whether they're working remotely or at separate locations. So, employees can check their pay and experience company culture, all in one place (Paylocity) where everybody can gather digitally, regardless of whether they’re working remotely or at separate locations.
That’s not all. Watkins wanted to create opportunities for employees to connect in person outside of work hours. With Community, Mallory coordinates a Tuesday workout group for employees that meets every week and has expanded across more locations. “Culture helps us attract and retain talent. With Paylocity, we’re able to make sure culture is a priority. We want our employees to feel valued at work and outside of work. Paylocity enables us to do that.”
Paylocity is continuing to enhance Community with updated features like one-to-one and one-to-many chat functionality to improve real-time communication, as well as improving collaboration by letting users upload, create, edit, and share files. It also enables automatic creation of team groups for supervisors and direct reports that immediately adds or removes employees based on changes in employee status, which can help new teammates connect easily with icebreaker questions.
Tip #3: Use Digital Tools for Digital Natives
Depending on employee demographics, digital tools like Community can also ensure all employees get and share the information they need to do their jobs well. Mountainside Fitness, a fast-growing fitness group with more than 20 locations across Arizona, uses Community to replace communication channels that either don’t reach all employees or are ignored. It has quickly become the single source for all company updates, connecting employees across locations — even those who are deskless or completely remote.
“Community is already a big asset to our company. It lets our team connect with each other in ways they haven’t before, but it’s come so naturally for them. Now with team groups, chat functionality, and file collaboration, we can level up our communications,” said Robyn Klawitter, SVP of Human Resources at Mountainside Fitness.
Leveling up communications also helps attract and retain talent. Mountainside Fitness hires a lot of tech-savvy people to staff its clubs, so having technology that fits their lifestyle is vital.
“Our employees are not at their desks all day, so delivering communications on their mobile devices is critical,” Robyn explained. “Our executives post messages about company updates or even location-specific updates, so Community has really become our go-to source for communicating with employees.”
Start Small and Build from There
Each of these client examples shows different ways to engage employees throughout their journey. Most clients start small and maintain a consistent cadence to drive employees onto the platform. Once they use Paylocity, employees quickly become accustomed to checking for important company information through the platform. Once they see there are more opportunities to engage, adoption will increase.
As part of the most complete platform for the modern workforce, Community helps employers deal with workforce challenges, including The Great Resignation, changing workforce demographics, and the rapid shift to mobile and hybrid work. The employee experience has never been more imperative, as evidenced by recent research from the MIT Sloan Management Review, which found that corporate culture is 10 times more likely to contribute to employee departures than a company’s compensation.
Now and going forward, HR professionals can be confident in the Paylocity tools at their disposal to help keep their employees engaged whether they work on the retail floor, warehouse dock, or from their home.