Mastering employee engagement is one of the most important goals any organization can work toward. A highly-engaged workforce performs remarkably better, which is beneficial to co-workers, managers, customers, and even stockholders. Employee engagement is multifaceted, and is often considered a difficult nut to crack; however, learning to master and balance these five elements will support an environment for engagement to grow and flourish:
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Recognition is a key element of employee engagement. Workers who receive recognition for the contributions they make to their team and the company are more likely to go the extra mile. Making regular public recognition a natural element of your organization's culture promotes goodwill and satisfaction in a job well done. Implementing a peer recognition system is an easy, efficient, and effective way to ensure contributions large and small are being recognized in the moment.
Rewards are one of the most difficult elements of employee engagement to master. Getting rewards wrong can damage creativity, and push workers to produce only exactly has been asked of them. Get rewards right, and you'll encourage high performance on a regular basis. The key is understanding the importance of timing, cadence, and the difference between intrinsic (inner fulfillment) and extrinsic (outward fulfillment) motivators, and how these factors affect performance.
Having friends at work is one of the strongest determining factors as to whether or not someone will enjoy work. Many employees are willing to take a pay cut to work in a friendly environment. Think about the way the constructs of your organization either encourage or discourage regular friendly interaction. Manufacturing spaces, events, and practices within the office that kindle interaction strengthens the bonds of camaraderie, and helps to instill a team spirit.
Working with purpose is perhaps one of the deepest, most sustainable motivators. If rewards and recognition are fuel to the fire of engagement, purpose is the kindling. It's an intrinsic motivator, which means it comes from within an individual, and can't necessarily be given to them. Although you can't simply give an employee purpose, you can help them see and understand it. Show employees the positive effects their work has on their colleagues, the company, and the world around them to help encourage a sense of purpose.
Have you ever once said, or heard anyone say "I'm so glad my boss is micromanaging me." without sarcasm? There's a reason for that. Employees crave and benefit from a sense of autonomy. Whether that means freedom to choose how to approach a task, or when/where they work, modern workers expect more autonomy. Do your best to provide it where you can. Employees are more likely to find creative solutions when they're not tethered by too many rules and procedures. In his recent bestseller Work Rules, Laszlo Bock suggests his readers:
"Give people slightly more trust, freedom, and authority than you are comfortable giving them. IF you're not nervous, you haven't given them enough."
These five elements work together to form an ecosystem that supports and nourishes employee engagement. Work to improve your mastery of each element, and balance them with skill to unlock the true power they hold within.