With retention and productivity strategies becoming a key consideration for organisations everywhere, employee engagement is high on the agenda for business leaders today.
However, creating truly effective engagement strategies is no easy feat. For employee engagement initiatives to be successful, they must be tailored to the unique needs and motivations of each individual.
Why invest in employee engagement?
Engaged employees voluntarily invest extra time, effort and initiative to contribute to business success. They feel a sense of purpose within their role, and bring enthusiasm, passion and energy to the work they do.
As well as being more motivated, committed and loyal, engaged workers are typically higher performers and produce better results for both the customer and the company. Boost your employee engagement with these five techniques:
Make sure you’ve got inspiring leadership
Competent, passionate and hands-on leadership is critical to employee engagement. Showing a genuine interest in your employees and investing time in understanding their needs and aspirations will help send the message that their contribution is valued, creating goodwill and a desire to succeed – both as an individual and as part of a team.
Check in with them regularly to find out how their experience in the workplace can be improved. This can be done informally, by participating in casual conversation or via occasional non-work activities. Find out what motivates them by instigating more formal employee surveys and avenues for feedback. Make a point of finding out how your employees define success so you can create a rewarding environment in which they can thrive.
Provide opportunities for growth
A guaranteed way to disengage staff is to let them feel underused. Engaged employees are those who are given the opportunity to adequately use their skills, and are encouraged to stretch those skills in order to progress.
Talk to your employees about their career plan. Does their current role make full use of their strengths and abilities? If not, come up with a plan to expand the role description. Is their career moving in the direction they desire? Try and map out a path within your organisation and agree on targets for promotion. Are there new or interesting projects they can work on to expand their skillset? Perhaps a secondment to a different department or location will give them the variety they need to maintain engagement.
Discuss the training and development opportunities that can help them advance within the company, and provide clear and consistent feedback on how they can improve their performance. Ultimately, showing that you care about helping employees maintain job satisfaction will reap rewards.
Foster meaningful work for all employees
Engaged employees believe that the work they are doing is important and has value. They feel they are contributing to something meaningful and take pride in the results of their efforts.
As a manager, it is crucial to frequently reinforce the importance of your employees’ roles to the organisation as a whole. Help them to see the direct connection between their activities and company success, and the ways in which even the smallest tasks can contribute.
Set goals and challenge your employees to meet them to promote a sense of purpose. Grant them the autonomy to improve the way things are done to help them feel trusted and respected, and involve them in decisions that provide a sense of ownership over the direction of the company.
Find ways to recognise and reward employees
For employees to be motivated to give their best, they need to know their efforts will be recognised and rewarded. Regularly thanking them for their efforts demonstrates your awareness of their hard work and provides encouragement for them to boost their performance.
Make the time to celebrate accomplishments, rewarding and recognising employees in ways that are meaningful to them. The celebrations don’t have to be lavish to be meaningful – ordering in a team lunch, sharing wins with the wider business or presenting someone with a small gift for achieving a milestone goes a long way to making people feel recognised and rewarded.
While competitive pay and good benefits are key motivating factors in accepting a job, providing incentives for higher performance gives employees something extra to strive for and helps them stay engaged for a longer period.
Put people at the heart of the culture
Companies that understand people are their greatest asset reap the benefits of an engaged workforce. These days, this means considering employees’ lives beyond the office.
Find out the responsibilities of your employees and consider initiatives that enable them to balance work and home life more easily – this may mean flexible hours or remote work arrangements.
Encourage employees to balance hard work with socialising and fun by investing in social events and regular team-building activities. Promote the sharing of ideas, suggestions and improvements by asking for feedback in a variety of ways, such as a ‘suggestion box’ initiative, or – more difficult, but more rewarding – fostering a culture of honest feedback.
A work environment in which people feel valued, heard and have a sense of camaraderie is critical to employee engagement.
At the heart of all employee engagement initiatives is communication. Good leaders should take time to find out what motivates their team and what their career goals are. Apply this knowledge to create opportunities for development and reinforce the value of an employee's contribution. Provide challenges and rewards to stimulate your team and foster a supportive environment where staff want to succeed – a company's best asset is an engaged workforce.