5 Steps to Improve Employee EngagementReading Time: 4 minutes
We all share Garfield’s feelings from time to time. We hate Mondays. Getting back to repetitive tasks or never-ending emergencies piling up at work is not the greatest source of motivation. But how to keep employees engaged in their work? In this article, we are looking at 5 steps that incrementally improve employee engagement.
This may seem basic and self-evident. Yet, somehow it remains overlooked. Because once we have it, we take it for granted… until we no longer have it. When it comes to the relationship between employees and their supervisors, respect matters a great deal. It is the single most important value employees care about. According to the article by the Harvard Business Review, there are two types of respect in the workplace. The first is owed respect, which is this universal need to feel included as a valued member part of the organization. The second is earned respect, in which employees are recognized for their individual strengths, character, behaviour, efforts and talents.
When employees feel respected, they tend to be more engaged. In turn, the organization fares better for it. But creating a respectful work environment to improve employee engagement is not that complicated. It could be as little as acknowledging the presence of a coworker. Ask yourself how the lowest-level worker should like to be treated. Then, establish that as the basic for the overall organization. Make sure to practise in a professional setting but also in daily life how the dignity of a human person should be recognized.
Open the channels of communication
This second step further extends the core value of respect towards a relationship of reciprocity between management and staff based on clear and regular communication. As we know, lack of communication in the workplace can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings and avoidable conflicts that negatively impact the daily operations of any organization. For instance, letting your whole team know in advance that you have meetings all day and will be reachable by email only can spare everyone a lot of trouble.
Rather than a rigid top-down leadership approach, why not consider creating a safe space that allows input from employees at any level? As indicated by a survey from Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), the top 300 most performing companies plan their budgets from the bottom up, not top-down. Employees feel respected when they are heard. Gaining insight from them can prove valuable to the success of a company. Who better to ask for valuable information than the ones with their finger on the pulse and at the front line? Take customer service as an example. Staff dealing directly with clients on a daily basis are exposed to comments and information that can improve business. What issues are they dealing with at work? And what do they need to resolve them and excel at their job? Open dialogue.
Build trust by assigning more projects
Learning something new and acquiring new skills are very important to employees. In maintaining the channels of communications open, the next step to improve employee engagement is to reap the benefits by listening to employees on what skills they want to improve upon. These present great opportunities to incrementally delegate some tasks requiring those skills. By doing so, the employer shows trust towards employees which reinforces confidence in their own abilities and gives them a sense of advancement.
Stimulated by the challenge, they become increasingly more invested in the company’s operations and success. Employees with daily repetitive tasks and stuck with the same position for too long is a recipe to make them less interested in their work and eventually leave. As we have discussed before, one of the main reasons employees quit is so they can fill a better job position somewhere else. Simply put, promote employees to higher positions internally and encourage them to do so. It’s a win-win for both the employee and employer.
Implement incentives and rewards
It is crucial that their efforts don’t go unnoticed. So another step to improve employment engagement is to motivate them with incentives and rewards. Carrots yield results! As we may suspect, incentives and rewards boost morale, positive attitude toward work, performance and productivity. Validate employees’ accomplishments and breakthroughs with tangible gestures. They are especially effective when they are specific. For instance, you may recognize a team for the way they handled a particular project. Moreover, leaders may also congratulate teams on a particular result, applaud them for their punctuality, highlight their efforts on providing a solution, etc. Validating their work ties back to the feeling of being respected. Indeed, it recognizes the employee as a valuable human being within the organization. And those tangible gestures could be anything. Depending on the level of engagement or produced results, they may include cash and non-monetary benefits as well.
However, as stated by IRF, non-cash rewards and recognition programs can have even better payouts. Indeed, when they are designed with specific goals in mind and once these goals have been reached, the payout becomes even more important. In need of ideas for incentives and rewards? How about an employee recognition award, a change of title, flexible hours, a heartfelt note, an invite to a conference, a new office chair, snacks, more hours for learning, gift cards, day off, free lunch, a closer parking spot…
Nudge for cooperation
Cooperation is the fifth step to keep employees committed to their work. While businesses competing against each other can be good for the economy, cooperation is better within the organization. Many organizations value teamwork. Why? Because the ability for individual employees to work together can have many benefits like boost morale and productivity, especially with respect, effective communication, mastered skills and a shared common goal. Cultivating bonds between coworkers can help establishing stronger relationships and support system at work. On occasions, we happen to come up with better ideas and solutions when we put our heads together. We become exposed to different ways of tackling an assignment. In turn, it could inspire us to improve on the individual way we do things.
Cooperation is also a great opportunity to showcase and apply each other’s complementary strengths. For example, a tech-savvy coworker who shows you a few shortcuts could save valuable time and make work surprisingly more pleasant! Asking coworkers for help is a chance to do a better job. Furthermore, it indicates that you trust their competence which can make them feel valued. In short, positive relationships at work and cooperation can contribute to improve employee engagement.