‘Employee engagement’ is a term that you often hear being bandied about within organizations. Unfortunately, some businesses struggle to comprehend its importance. Employees are the backbone of your organization, for they are the ones who deliver your results. But having them just show up to work every day isn’t enough, for the most productive employees are the ones who feel engaged with their work. If you’re unsure how to achieve that, we’ve got you covered. Below are 12 ways you can improve employee engagement.
1. Provide Meaningful Work
Doing work that is ‘meaningful’ is one of the critical factors for employees when measuring job satisfaction. But what exactly is ‘meaningful work?’
Your employees should feel that what they do matters. They need to feel that their work contributes towards the company’s goals and that they are part of the ‘bigger picture.’ According to Harvard Business Review, employees who derive meaning from their work are much more likely to commit to an organization over the long-term and are willing to work for less money in exchange for more ‘meaningful’ work. Meaning is the new money, so make sure that your employees understand the importance of their work if you want to maximize their engagement.
2. Business Ambassadorship
What do your employees say about your organization in the privacy of their own home, or to their friends? Employees who are engaged and fulfilled by their work make the best ambassadors for your company, and the things they say could potentially impact whether or not a customer decides to do business with you. Try to create a positive work environment that will make your employees want to shout ‘I love my company!’ from the rooftops.
3. Development Opportunities
The opportunity to learn and develop new skills can be a huge motivator. Don’t wait until you have a more senior position to fill to think about employee development. Give your employees the opportunity to work in different departments, or to go on training courses. Taking an active interest in providing learning opportunities is a sure-fire way to build employee engagement.
If you spend countless hours training your employees to do a job, the least you can do is offer them the opportunity to do that job without breathing down their necks. Micromanaging will create feelings of animosity within your team, as they will interpret it as you not trusting them to do the job that they are paid to do. If you can’t, then that speaks volumes about your own competency to train your employees.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t check on your team to make sure they’re performing to correct standards. But unless you have reasons to be concerned about their performance, leaving them to get on with the job will lead to feelings of trust, which is of vital importance in establishing loyalty to your organization.
5. Promote a Culture Which Encourages Feedback
Feedback is an incredibly important tool, but many managers view feedback as needing to be negative. This isn’t true. If there is a performance issue with an employee, it absolutely needs to be addressed, but you have an equal responsibility to give praise where it’s due. Positive reinforcement of the behaviors you want to see will lead to higher levels of job satisfaction among your employees.
Feedback should be a two-way street. Encourage a culture where your team feels comfortable voicing their opinions or concerns without fear of repercussions. This is not the same as allowing them to have a moan and complain if they’re unhappy about something. Giving them the confidence to speak their minds and offer genuine suggestions for improvement will create a trusting work culture and will lead to much higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement among your employees.
6. Set Clear Expectations
Failing to provide clear expectations can lead to confusion, with employees not knowing where their priorities should be. This leads to wasted time and increased stress and frustration for both the employee and the employer.
Setting clear expectations will mean your employees come to work every day knowing exactly what they’re expected to achieve. They will also understand how and why they’re being asked to do what they do, and it will allow them to understand to ask for support when they need it. As a manager, if you’re unable to effectively communicate your expectations to your employees, then you cannot expect your employees to meet them.
To increase levels of engagement among your employees, ensure that they understand exactly what they’re expected to achieve.
7. Alignment of Personal and Company Values
It is imperative that you hire people who are going to fit in with the culture of your organization. Their personal values need to be in line with those of the company. If you’re hiring someone to work in customer service and they have the social skills of a potato, the chances are that they’re not going to be a good fit for your business.
When interviewing, ask candidates why they want to work for your organization. If they say it’s because you offer a higher rate of pay or that they’re just looking for any job, consider showing them the door. The best candidates will relate their answers to the company’s values or goals, and talk about how these match with their own values. These are the people you want to work for you.
8. Be a Leader, Not an Authoritarian
The importance of good leadership within your organization cannot be overstated. Nurturing healthy relationships with your line reports is crucial for employee engagement. Don’t mistake being in a position of authority for being a leader, they are not the same.
Your job as a leader is to serve your employees, not the other way around. You have a responsibility to help your employees to reach their potential so that they can go on to achieve the results which will help to achieve your company’s goals.
9. Promote a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Many organizations claim to promote a healthy work/life balance, but not all of them grasp the importance. Treat those who work for you as people first, employees second. They absolutely have commitments to your organization, but these should not come at the expense of their life outside of work. Research has found that employees who believe they have a healthy work/life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t.
As a manager, you should lead by example in promoting this culture. Set boundaries with your team, in that you won’t send or respond to emails or calls outside of work hours. There is almost nothing that would not be able to wait until the next workday. Promoting a healthy work/life balance will prevent your employees from burning out, increase productivity, and reduce staff turnover/recruitment costs.
Recognition in the workplace provides your employees with a sense of accomplishment and gives value to their work. Recognition doesn’t have to be monetary, and it doesn’t have to be high-cost, but it should be meaningful. Promoting a culture that encourages frequent recognition for your top-performing employees will make them feel that their efforts are valued, and can act as inspiration for other employees to strive that little bit harder.
11. Listen to Their Ideas
We all have a voice, and for most of us, it’s important that we feel our voice is heard. Your employees are the ones who deal with your customers day in and day out. If there’s a problem that needs solving, they are potentially the people who will have the best ideas as to how it can be solved. Give them the opportunity to voice their ideas, doing so will make them feel valued as an employee and is likely to result in higher job satisfaction and engagement.
12. Encourage Peer To Peer Friendships
In a report conducted by TinyPulse, many employees reported that their colleagues were the number one factor in determining job satisfaction. This is hardly surprising since your colleagues are the people who you spend eight hours a day with. Research has shown that employees who develop friendships with their peers are happier, more productive, and more loyal to the organization than those who don’t.
Whichever tool you choose to utilize to get your employees more engaged, the outcome is going to be more involved employees who do not just go through the motions at work staring at the clock all day, but employees who actually want to be at work and enjoy what they do. Putting in the effort to engage your employees will always pay off in the end for your employees, yourself, and your company.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.