Keeping Employees Engaged
Employee engagement used to be viewed as an add-on, only to be dealt with once all other aspects of a company were fully developed. Now, engagement is recognized as integral to a companies’ success. Rather than being an add-on, it is recognized as the life of an organization.
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment someone has to their organization and its goals. Engaged employees feel more connected to the organization, resulting in commitment and their discretionary effort. Every leader should be concerned with engagement levels among their employees.
The facts: a study on employee engagement
A study by Psychometrics found that 69% of Canadian HR professionals believe that engagement is an issue their organization faces. 82% of them said engagement is important and needs to be addressed. They rated these following factors as contributors to increased engagement among employees:
- Control over how they complete their work
- Opportunities to use their skills
- Good relationships with management and leadership
Employees themselves said, in order to improve engagement, leaders can:
- Communicate clear and precise expectations (71%)
- Listen to employee’s opinions (62%)
- Give recognition (52%)
Across the ages 18-60, all respondents reported that salary and benefits had the least amount of influence over how engaged they were in their work.
While it makes sense to assume disengaged employees are the ones who are disloyal to the organization, it is the opposite. Disengaged employees show up to work and stick with their jobs long-term, continuing to foster negative relationships with coworkers and showing little interest in their work, further hindering the work environment. Therefore, employee turnover and absences are not accurate markers of engagement.
No matter how big or small your organization is, it may seem difficult to know where to start. So, here are some things to keep in mind for driving engagement that employees and leaders should be conscious of.
Clear and consistent communication
- Communicate clear expectations
- A study by the Global Strategy Group (GSG) found that only 3 in 10 employees say their employer is effective at communicating with them.
- Those who hear from upper management on a regular basis are twice as likely to trust their employer.
- Workers, especially younger workers, want to hear more from leadership.
- Leaders need to ensure every employee understands what they need to accomplish individually, as well as how they are contributing to the organization’s overarching goals.
- Provide regular feedback on performance
- Part of communicating clear expectations is providing helpful feedback on whether or not employees are meeting these expectations.
- Diversify communication and communication channels
- As said by Tanya Meck for Forbes Magazine “Segment your employees in the same sophisticated ways you segment your customers. Ask them how they want to hear from you, how often and about what topics”.
- Emphasize cross-functional communication across the organization to make sure every employee and department understands the company’s goals.
Making employees feel valued and trusted
- Give employees greater control over how they work
- According to employees, this is the most important factor in increase their engagement. Co-working spaces are a great way to allow employees to work how they want. They have the option to work around colleagues, alone in a meeting room or sometimes even outside!
- Give opportunities to learn new skills
- Feeling stuck in a pattern can make even the most ambitious feel disengaged.
- Give employees opportunities to share their ideas
- Give opportunities for employees to speak up (during group meetings and one-on-one meetings).
- Encourage career growth
- The business environment is becoming increasingly fluid, specifically for younger workers. Leaders should encourage career growth and personal development, regardless of whether they are staying at the company or not. Examples include connecting them to your personal network if applicable, or assigning projects for which they need to develop a new skill set.
Simply put, employees who are actively engaged will work harder to contribute to the organization’s success. It’s up to leaders of the business world to ensure good communication and feedback practices are in place to keep employees active and striving to achieve their personal bests.