Have you ever observed an employee on the job who was obviously just putting in their time for a pay check and nothing more? How about someone who worked so hard, enthusiastically and consistently you thought they owned the company? What is the primary difference between these two employees? In a word, it’s engagement.
What is employee engagement? Full engagement goes beyond basic job satisfaction; it’s the degree to which workers are fully committed, involved and enthusiastic about their jobs. Engaged employees carry out their work for the higher purpose of ensuring that the company’s best interests are served. Strong employee engagement is what fuels the level of productivity and performance necessary to achieve optimal efficiency and profitability. An engaged employee will often use the term “we” instead of “they” when talking about company matters.
Employee engagement results in multiple benefits to a company. Some of them are:
Greater employee retention
Improved customer service and loyalty
Increased cooperation and collaboration
More individual initiative and creativity
Increased productivity and performance
A strong competitive advantage in the marketplace
More likely to attract top talent
Improved employee morale
More satisfying personal life for leadership and team members
So, now you understand how beneficial it is to have engaged employees. What can you do to create an environment at your company to help your employees stay motivated, loyal, and committed to excellence? How do you help them care enough to do their best?
10 Proven Strategies for Greater Employee Engagement
1. Don’t skimp on strategic recognition. Say “thank you” for achieved benchmarks or extra effort. Tell your employees through intentional words and phrases that they are noticed, appreciated and valued. Tangible forms of recognition can be very rewarding, like Certificates of Appreciation for specific accomplishments, public acknowledgements or awards. But never underestimate the value of a simple “thank you!”
2. Help your employee see how their contribution directly or indirectly benefits the company’s goals. When an employee understands how their effort and performance impacts the strategic objectives of a company – both positively and negatively – they are more likely to choose to do excellent work rather than shoddy work.
3. Keep employees informed of relevant organizational developments and changes. People need to feel included and informed, especially when decisions and changes affect them directly or indirectly. Being kept in the dark causes worry and frustration and can break the employees’ trust, which will shift their focus from “the good of the company” to “taking care of Number One.” People need to know what’s going on so they can process, adapt and embrace changes.
4. Involve your employees in decision making and ask for their input. Having a say in company matters empowers an employee, gives them a sense of worth and contributes to their buy-in. Soliciting ideas from the people working in various levels and operations of an organization can also be a great source of creative cost-saving, efficiency, and staff morale improvements, making your company even more desirable for recruiting and keeping the best job candidates.
5. Maintain a company culture that creates trust connections between executives, managers and peers. Work to encourage “push back” through the ranks of the organization while emphasizing the importance of keeping discussions solution-focused. There must be opportunity for constructive criticism and disagreement – even between lower and higher level staff – as long as it is communicated respectfully.
6. Give your employees clear benchmarks or specific job objectives. A moving target is the most difficult to hit. If necessary, tell employees why a particular task is helpful or necessary. Clearly communicate deadlines and ask employees if they understand what is expected of them. If they know what they are supposed to do and why, they’ll be able to gauge if they are succeeding.
7. Provide the resources your employees need to do their job. Set an example of using supplies wisely, but be sure they have the tools, safety equipment, office supplies, etc. to perform with efficiency and excellence.
8. Invest in training and development. Offering your employees opportunities to learn new skills, master new technologies and expand their knowledge related to their role communicates they are valued and able to contribute significantly. If your company can’t afford formal training programs, even briefings by company leaders or in-services by skilled employees can make a difference in staff unity and education.
9. Train managers to be coaches instead of just authority figures. Yelling and threatening are not viable methods of motivating employees to become engaged. Managers need to view their crew as a valuable resource that deserves to be developed by teaching, encouraging and modeling proficiency and professionalism. When working with an employee to correct a problem, the manager must offer clear direction for what needs to change and how it should be done.
10. Show the employee the potential for a bright future. Since the beginning of time people have asked the question, “Why am I here?” While a person’s job may not be the ultimate answer to that mystery, it is important to people to feel that there is a good purpose for what they do and how they spend their time, talent and energy. As a leader, you must articulate a vision for your company and share it with your employees so they can sense that they are part of something that matters. They want to know that they can continue to grow and develop within your company, whether it’s expanding their current responsibilities or exploring a whole new role. They need to know that what they do and how they do it matters – and it’s worth the effort.
So, try these strategies, and remember, engaged employees are a vital key to helping your company succeed!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.
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