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Building Engagement? Put Culture at the Center

Here are five strategies to improve your culture and enhance the focus and engagement of your team members

When 60% or less of time at work is productive, improving employee focus and engagement must become a priority. In fact, one study discovered that engaged employees are 20% to 25% more productive than their counterparts.

But 95% of business professionals do multitask while in meetings, so 37% of them forget some of the information being discussed. Even still, 59% of businesspeople agree they can pay attention to a piece of content all the way through without getting distracted. That means human attention spans are becoming more selective.

Boosting employee engagement in the digital age requires using both digital and non-digital methods to capture workers’ selective attention. We’ve discovered that building concentration begins with culture.

Culture Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement

It takes more than ping-pong tables to create an excellent company culture. A great culture is composed of employees who feel heard, who are recognized for their hard work, and who are passionate about their place of employment. A great company culture provides learning opportunities that help limit distractions and encourage growth. They ask their employees what they need and then go out of their way to provide it.

One organization that excels at leveraging its culture to build employee engagement in the digital age is Zappos. Its leaders have built such a solid company culture that they created a three-day camp to teach other companies their secrets to success. Zappos recently saw its lowest turnover rate in more than 18 years.

Zappos understands that a person’s time is subject to more demands than ever and that these demands come from all directions: career, home, family, fun, errands, social, and more. Therefore, companies are responsible for giving their employees the tools and training they need in order to stay focused.

Ready to shoulder that responsibility for your own company? Here are five strategies to improve your culture and enhance the focus and engagement of your team members.

1. Rediscover Your Values
If there’s an issue with your company’s culture, a good first step is to review your “core” values. These unchanging principles are an essential part of your foundation. It’s critical that these values be shared and practiced across all levels and functions. Do employees understand and practice your core values? What values are missing? Ask your employees, “If there were one new thing you would like to implement into our workplace culture, what would it be?”

When you emphasize your culture and conduct discussions across all levels and functions in the company, rather than from the top down, you can effectively enable positive change. A company culture that anchors itself in its values can help show employees where to focus their efforts.

2. Introduce Digital Tools
You can help keep your employees focused by providing tools that allow them to spend more time on strategic work and less time on time sheets, expenses, or internal communication. Employees who have multiple ways to communicate and accomplish tasks within their teams are likelier to stick around, work more efficiently, and enjoy better work-life balance as a result.

Digital tools for employee engagement such as Slack allow for employees to quickly and easily answer one another’s questions versus waiting for email responses or taking a break to walk to someone’s desk. Filling out paperwork should be just as easy. Make time sheets accessible online or via apps so employees can update and submit them on the move.

3. Manage Your To-Dos
Project management software can play a huge role in keeping individuals on track and focused on their tasks in order to move the entire team forward effectively. Introducing organization tools like the Pomodoro Technique or applications like Asana or Trello can help employees with their workloads and raise managers’ awareness levels.

These tools are useful for staffing projects, keeping track of each person’s workload and enhancing ongoing task management between team members. Employees can also use them to manage their own to-do lists and stay focused on their daily or weekly targets.

4. Go Small or Go Home
Small gestures can sometimes make all the difference in improving a company’s culture. For example, do you have a streamlined process for people to recognize great work in their colleagues? If not, try creating a way for employees to share positive stories about one another’s success. Sift through the stories and regularly select some to share throughout the company or on public-facing platforms.

The visibility and appreciation that comes with this process can help employees focus on the good work they and their teammates are doing. Snack delivery service Snack Nation puts this idea in action: There, the team meets every Friday to give shout-outs to co-workers who have “crushed it” that week, recognizing hard work and keeping the team focused on shared goals.

5. Practice Gratitude
To take the previous point one step further, ensure you are expressing gratitude for your employees’ hard work as well. Thank them and thank them often. This appreciation can come in the form of a gift card, a cash bonus, a special lunch, or a simple note, all of which will convey that you appreciate their focus and dedication.

Avoid sending a generic form email. A handwritten note that highlights a specific action by that employee will go much further. Be genuine in your communication with employees and thank them for authentic reasons, and you’ll see culture growth in no time.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Company values are written in ink; company culture is written in pencil.” In other words, a company’s foundation is grounded in values, but culture needs to evolve as the company grows. Good workplace cultures are intentional, and company culture is the medium through which values are translated to behaviors. With these strategies to improve employee engagement through your company’s culture, you’ll be able to keep your team focused in this digital era.

Want to learn more about engaging employees beyond the office? Check out our guide to engaging employees at company events.

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