Employee engagement describes the level of emotional involvement and enthusiasm employees demonstrate for their work, and how that influences their performance and willingness to further the organization’s interests. While that may seem “soft” and intangible, many researchers show that the benefits of increased engagement are very tangible and impact the bottom line.
When an organization suffers from low employee engagement, the symptoms tend to be diminished morale, decreased productivity, an increase in tardiness and sick and personal days taken, and a rise in employee turnover. These can translate to significant costs to the organization.
However, an organization recognizing that higher employee retention, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism make a financial impact will see that engagement efforts make sound business sense. Engaged employees tend to complete things faster, get higher customer service ratings and demonstrate greater loyalty.
Use these five quick tips to improve employee engagement starting today:
Build Trust: Employees need to be able to trust their managers and company leadership. Clear communication is a key element of trust. To build trust, monitor how and what you communicate to people around you. Be clear and direct. Manage expectations. Be truthful and as transparent as possible to avoid guesses and assumptions, and to prevent rumors and unfounded fears from spreading.
In organizations under stress, sometimes it is difficult for leadership to be completely forthcoming. Few people expect everything to be perfect all the time, but uncertainty breeds discontent. Tell employees as much as possible as early as possible, even if it is bad news.
Create Connections: People want to have meaning in all aspects of their lives. If they do not feel the importance of what they do, they disconnect. Therefore, it is important to highlight the connections between things and people. Help employees see the “big picture” of how their role and objectives fit into the organization’s objectives. Encourage others to look at how their actions and performance affect others.
Appreciate People: Recognition is an important part of motivation and engagement, and it can be as simple as genuine appreciation. Praise where warranted, and give credit where credit is due. The best recognition is immediate, specific, and personal. Let the person know specifically what you appreciate about her or what she did, and do so in a way that the individual will appreciate (some people like public praise, others prefer a one-to-one chat).
Motivate Others: Motivation is our desire or willingness to do something. An organization where people are willing and able to work toward a common goal is stronger than one where people are badgered or threatened or generally reluctant. Leaders with higher degrees of emotional intelligence tend to get better results through inspiration, persuasion, empathy, and integrity. Use your listening, persuasion and influence skills to inspire and motivate people to work toward a common goal.
Support Growth: There is nothing more demotivating than feeling you’re in a dead-end job. Talk to employees about what direction they’d like to see their career path take, and help them identify opportunities for personal and professional development that will help them achieve those goals. Share with them ideas they can use for their own career management within the organization. Move past any fear you may have of your employees leaving – by caring about their growth and aspirations, you will probably get a more productive, loyal, and longer-term team member than if you don’t have these conversations.
Whether these ideas will be a stretch for you, or you think you already are on top of employee motivation, I recommend you consciously try to increase your efforts in each of these five areas. You don’t have to be a manager or leader of an organization to build trust, create connections, appreciate people, motivate others and support growth – anyone at any level can make a difference in the work lives of those around them.
I invite you to a 30-day employee engagement challenge. First, look around at the people you interact with every day, their demeanor when you talk to them, and the overall environment in which you work. Take some specific notes about what you see and hear. Use each of the 5 tips listed above every day (yes, each one every day) in your interactions with others for the next 30 working days. At the end of that period of time, notice what is going on in the office, how people react to you and to others, and the environment. What has changed? (Come back and share with us in the comments below!)