A productive and well-functioning work environment doesn’t only depend on hiring great team members. Leaders need to make sure their employees are on-board, feel part of their organization’s mission, find purpose in their work, and take on new challenges.
Engaged teams are more productive, report higher satisfaction, and have happier customers. Organizations with engaged employees see 2.6x more growth in earning per share. It clearly makes a difference.
However, engaging your employees requires constant effort. Even top-performers may lose their enthusiasm and fail expectations if they feel undervalued, insignificant, or unrecognized.
The command-and-control style of leadership is becoming a thing of the past. Leaders should make sure individuals are connected to their organization’s mission.
Is it difficult? Improving employee engagement at your organization doesn't have to be!
1. Meet with your employees regularly to review their tasks and show how they relate to the company’s objectives.
Finding a purpose at your job is infectious, and it brings colleagues together. But that purpose is often blanketed by the pressure to achieve results. To feel engaged, employees need to see how their work relates to the bigger picture and understand that they aren’t the only ones struggling with challenges.
Organizational leaders should plan regular staff meetings that communicate the immediate and long-term goals of the organization. These meetings ensure that tasks are fairly distributed and create a more transparent, psychologically safe atmosphere.
Connecting team tasks to goals is an important step in creating an engaging work environment. Understanding how individual tasks play into the company’s objectives and affect end-users helps employees to build purpose and identify with the work they do.
While preparing your review, don’t forget to keep your presentation short, and sprinkle in some humor.
2. Show interest in your employees’ suggestions for improvement and make sure to address them.
Check in with employees regularly to discuss ideas on solutions and improvements. Give your employees a chance to participate in decision-making, even indirectly.
Highly Engaged employees are 3.1x more likely to say that their organization takes their feedback seriously than Actively Disengaged employees. - Bonusly's 2019 Engagement and Modern Workplace Report
You don’t need to solicit feedback from everyone after every meeting, but actively listening to and acting on employee feedback is important to running a successful team.
Leaders should solicit ideas in public settings, during one-on-one meetings, and over private messages—everyone communicates differently. Aim for a psychologically safe culture, where feedback is accepted and appreciated.
Don’t forget to respond to ideas! It’s important to follow up with your team to make sure they feel heard, even if changes don’t occur. Your employees may not be the sole reason for an implemented idea, but acknowledging their role in public meetings will encourage more suggestions and improve engagement.
3. Engage the top-performers by challenging them.
Leaders can engage top-performers by assigning them more challenging tasks than the rest, such as cross-departmental responsibilities or managerial assignments.
This won’t only give them better chances to build their skillset and increase their motivation—it will keep them engaged and prepare them for future success in the organization.
4. Diagnose reasons for disengagement and don’t be afraid of taking bold steps.
Research shows that the drivers for employee engagement differ between the most engaged and least engaged employees. This means leaders need to approach top performers and the most-disengaged team members differently—there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Before thinking of how to better engage employees, leaders should first identify reasons for disengagement. Individuals may have personal problems or other issues that need to be dealt with separately.
You can use a variety of methods to diagnose the reasons behind employee disengagement, and methods can be tried and tested to figure out what works best. Some employees prefer filling out surveys, whereas others may prefer one-on-one meetings.
Offer team members training if they lack certain skills to do their tasks efficiently. If their low productivity stems from incompetence, and their negative attitude can’t be repaired, don’t shy away from taking bold measures. Don’t forget: a negative attitude can be contagious.
5. Show you care about your team.
Your employees aren’t robots designed to deliver a certain task. They’re individuals with unique attributes, interests, and opinions. Make sure they feel appreciated not only as employees but also as people.
Be radically candid. Open yourself up, and ask your team questions unrelated to your business. Give them a chance to show their personality, and encourage them to bring their whole selves to work.
Need a first step? Ask how they spent their weekend or learn about plans for their next vacation.
Two-way communication is vital for a healthy work relationship. This also means that you need to be direct with your feedback. Now that you have a personal connection, don’t shy away from giving direct and honest feedback to your colleagues, keeping their best interests in mind. Remember that people need to feel cared about and valued, not interrogated.
6. Have fun together! Organize a simple group activity every week.
Think about organizing hangouts based on your team’s interests. Your setting could be a restaurant, a local pub, a museum, or even a mini golf course. Get feedback before your final choice—your well-intentioned costume party could turn out to be a bust if no one’s into it.
7. Say thank you!
Appreciate your employees when work gets done. It’s easy to take work for granted, especially in large organizations, and a simple thank you can go a long way.
The most effective kinds of recognition are specific, timely, frequent, visible, and value-based. Recognition is one of the easiest ways to build healthy relationships and revitalize the work environment. Research shows that recognition is highly correlated with employee engagement—so don’t forget to thank, and thank often, especially as organizational leaders.
84% of Highly Engaged employees were recognized the last time they went above and beyond at work compared to only 25% of Actively Disengaged employees. - Bonusly's 2019 Engagement and Modern Workplace Report
Bonusly’s interactive and intuitive guide to modern employee recognition is a great place to start to understand the ins and outs of employee recognition.
Employee engagement is a key ingredient for organizational success, and it’s up to leaders to make sure their teams feel like a valued part of the organization, doing work that matters.
Get to know your employees better, learn how to engage them, and empower them to move the organization forward.