How Companies Can Better Support Frontline Employees Through Engagement Programs

Posted on November 07, 2018

By Lisa Molnar, HHS Executive Vice President of Human Capital Management

Employee engagement programs serve as an effective way to connect with team members and better identify their needs and wants. However, without the proper research and backing, many engagement programs can fall short of their potential. That’s why it is important to structure out a way to survey, analyze, develop, and evaluate programs that will best fit the needs of both frontline employees and leadership teams. Following these four steps will provide better insight into building a successful employee engagement program.

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Visit with Employees to Understand Their Needs

Before an engagement program is implemented, it is best practice to visit different site locations and start a conversation with employees regarding their wishes for the workplace. The point of this assessment is to obtain buy-in from the company’s targeted customers—the employees. By keeping the conversation open ended, it allows employees to express their needs within the company and also outside their day-to-day operations. If it is difficult to meet face-to-face with all employees, consider conducting a survey across multiple locations so that information can be collected in an online database for review. This process provides leadership with a better understanding of their frontline employees needs, which can be reflected in a successful engagement program.

Analyze Feedback and Determine Engagement Approach

Once employee feedback is received, it should be charted and analyzed. The suggestions may be as simple as providing candy in break rooms or having regular potlucks, or you may learn that 80 percent of employees would appreciate receiving recognition via gift cards. Leadership should then take this information and decide how they can best fit it into a program. When creating a program, it’s important to consider the employee demographic and research their backgrounds. Focusing on employee needs and applying their feedback to their external situations will help leaders better determine how they can best represent their team. For example, if it is noted that most frontline employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck, supplying gift cards to area supermarkets might be an ideal way to support their home life. Moreover, decide how the gift cards will be earned. Will it be based on customer recognition, tenure, or meeting unit requirements? Also consider that engagement programs aren’t always about monetary rewards. Use this opportunity to better understand how employees like to be recognized. It could be through employee of the month awards, birthday announcements, or simply being recognized in front of the team during meetings. Once the employees’ needs are better understood, then form a pilot program.

Roll Out Pilot Engagement Program Based on Findings

Vet a site to do a pilot roll out of the employee engagement program to see how it will be received by the team and leadership. The pilot program should encompass multiple avenues of recognition including monetary, spotlight, private, and peer-to-peer. This allows the program to meet the needs of multiple personality types, while supporting different generations and their view of how they’d like to be recognized. Once the pilot program has been implemented, conduct bi-weekly or monthly calls to discuss the results and gather feedback with select managers and employees. At the end of your trial period, send a survey out to all participating employees and managers to request even more insight from both a leadership level and frontline perspective.

Evaluate Effectiveness of Engagement Program

The success of an employee engagement program is a two way street and requires buy-in from both the frontline team and executive leadership. If both the leadership and frontline employees are supportive of the program, it is ready to be launched. The launch should include testimonials from individuals who participated in the pilot program and a strong campaign of support from leadership. In the first three months, consider including additional bonus points or rewards to really bolster the program and increase engagement. However, if either one of the parties struggles to support the pilot employee engagement program, the program will need to be reevaluated to ensure success.

Following these four steps provides for a more thorough evaluation of employee needs and will allow you to successfully provide them with the resources needed to encourage more engagement with the organization. Although this process may seem tedious, in the long run, once an effective employee engagement program is set in place, the company will begin to see higher quality results and a more satisfied workforce. Employees are vital to organizational success; that’s why it is important to better engage with them and create positive work experiences.

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Lisa Molnar oversees all human resource, employment liability, employee benefit programs, time and attendance, and payroll for HHS' business within the United States. Molnar earned her Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medicine and Business Administration and currently holds multiple designations under human resources and insurance including her SPHR, ARM, and CEBS.