As important as it is to work towards improving your organization’s levels of employee engagement, there’s no getting around the fact that it can be rather difficult.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
CEOs, managers, and “higher-ups” need all the help they can get in order to ensure that their staff is on the right track, especially as businesses begin to grow.
After all, everyone wants to lead their team to success, and sometimes all it takes is a few fresh ideas to help rejuvenate your employees and increase their productivity to a large degree.
Every once in a while, it helps to have a cheat sheet on your side that can help you to steer your team in the right direction. There’s no harm in referring to the following employee engagement ideas from time to time, as they can help to bring your team together and encourage empowerment, engagement and improved performance. They’re also a great way of how to motivate employees in your organization.
Keep these ideas close by, and you’ll start seeing results in no time.
1. Encourage Employees to Speak Up3
It’s common for modern-day employees go through the workweek feeling uncomfortable with the concept of speaking their minds. This discomfort can result for a number of reasons, but the most important thing to focus on is trying to break it down. When people don’t feel as if they can speak up, they may be holding back valuable ideas and solutions that could help to push your organization forward.
If you want your employees to feel comfortable speaking their minds, you have to make it clear that they can do so without fear of criticism and judgement. Promote and practice candor.
Keeping an “open-door” policy is essential, and you can help to encourage your employees further by holding roundtable discussions in which they can discuss anything that may be on their minds at the moment. The more you foster an open, safe space for communication, the more likely it is that your staff will bring great ideas to the table.
2. Help Your Employees to Get to Know Each Other Better
In larger organizations, many employees go through their days without knowing their colleagues very well, if at all. The bigger a company gets, the more of a chance there will be a disconnect. As a manager, it’s important to place focus on helping your employees to get to know each other better, and there are a number of fun ways to go about doing so.
You could play office games.
Just watch all of the seasons of “The Office” and you’ll get more take-aways than you’d get from reading every employee engagement book on the planet.
Or … !
You could just plan a happy hour at the end of the workweek …. it’s a great way to cut to the chase, and to get employees to communicate with each other on a more personal level.
There’s really nothing like taking your employees out to a bar, throwing down a few hundred bucks from the petty cash, and getting them tipsy … right? Ha. Ya know, this kind of thing happens all the time. One can learn a whole lot about another when there’s alcohol involved. Some co-workers may be into this, but there may also be many who are not. Understand this and you’ll be ok. Keep an open mind. There will be a clear separation between those who are cool with this and those who are not. 🙂 Cherish these moments.
^ SIDE NOTE: I actually had a boss that did this … he’d say, “We have a new guy starting tomorrow, so put on your drinkin pants, let’s give him the official welcome to the team.” Funny thing is … although it was a basic job, it sure was fun!
Perhaps more importantly …
You should always be sure to allow your staff to interact throughout the day and outside of work without having to worry about whether or not they’re being watched or judged. Conversations related to business are surely important, but that doesn’t mean your staff doesn’t need a break every once in a while. To be human is human.
3. Serve as a Mentor
When an employee begins to experience problems with engagement, it’s essential to step in as quickly as possible so that things don’t progress further. Some managers simply don’t take the personal approach that is often necessary for getting through to an employee, and instead rely on canned methods and techniques that will supposedly help to raise engagement levels. Unfortunately, these individuals are taking the wrong route the vast majority of the time.
Improving your employee engagement model means serving as a mentor for those who are facing issues, regardless of how busy you may be.
Offer your help. Drop what you’re doing and just help!
Setting aside just a bit of time to help someone who is struggling in their job can go quite a long way, and you can always task other managers with taking the reigns if you truly don’t have the time to do it yourself. So long as someone is mentoring the employee in need, you can rest easy knowing that no one is being left behind.
4. Only Reward Employees for a Job Well Done3
Some managers believe that one of the best way to keep employees engaged and performing well is to reward them on a regular basis, even if they’re not performing up to par. Unfortunately, carelessly dishing-out rewards won’t serve to do your business any favors and may even hurt performance and engagement even further. Instead, you’ve got to be quite careful with how you utilize rewards.
Case in point … if you reward your dog every time he sits down, rolls over, or fetches a stick he’s going to get comfortable. And when he gets comfortable, he poops on the floor.
Rewarding employees is certainly something that you should do from time to time, but that’s not to say you should do so carelessly. Pay close attention to the progress made by your employees, and don’t hesitate to let them know WHY you’re rewarding them, whether it be via a bonus, salary increase, a pat on the back, a verbal thank you, or otherwise. As long as you make a point to clarify the reason for the reward, you’ll effectively help to increase the chances that they’ll remain engaged in the future.
5. Focus on Collaboration & Working Together
Take a look at any employee whose engagement levels seem to be suffering, and you might find a constant — they’re likely to prefer to work alone.
Collaboration is one of the most important things for businesses to focus on improving, as it can help to improve ideas, cut down on wasted time and — yes — improve employee engagement. It may seem like a lofty goal if your employees tend to stick to themselves, but it doesn’t have to be at all.
One of the best ways to improve collaboration in your company is to implement social intranet software.
This serves as a virtual platform that all of your employees can work off of, which means they’ll have little choice but to work with one another, regardless of how shy or disconnected they may be.
It’s important to view social intranet software not as a way to “force” employees to collaborate … but … as a tool for motivating employees to branch out and work more closely with their colleagues. Once they get the hang of how to use it, social intranet software becomes an incredibly powerful tool that will likely serve a huge role in the future of business.
6. Encourage Positive Health & Wellness
If you want to have a staff full of engaged employees, you’ve got to take steps yourself to help them remain happy and healthy.
Wellness is important for any professional, yet stress and other life factors can sometimes get in the way and cause people to neglect exercise and healthy eating habits. In the end, it stands to reason why so many businesses have issues with engagement — it’s a product of modern society.
Go have lunch with your coworkers. Have lunch with those that report to you. We’re humans, we stuff food in our face all day, and we do it socially. So get social and go stuff some food with the people you work with. There’s a lot you can learn about people, and yourself, based on how and what they eat.
Encouraging wellness within your organization doesn’t have to be hard. Some companies provide their employees with gym memberships, for example, while others choose to bring in massage therapists or other professionals to help staff members de-stress and maintain clarity. It can even be as easy as stocking healthy snacks in your company refrigerator for employees to turn to if need be throughout the day, as every little step towards wellness will serve to improve levels of engagement in your organization.
7. Clarify Goals and Responsibilities
Every employee has a set of goals and responsibilities they need to work on. One of the biggest contributing factors to falling engagement levels, is the confusion over what one’s role actually is.
It doesn’t take poor management for issues such as this to occur, either. (Though usually it is due to poor management.)
Keep in mind that sometimes, things simply get lost in the mix, and it can take time to realize what happened before you’re able to identify the issue and take action.
Clarifying goals and responsibilities is essential if you intend to improve your employee engagement strategy … a staff member simply can’t be engaged in something they don’t understand.
Whenever you kick off a project or delegate out a new task, it’s essential to go into the logistics in as detailed a way as possible, taking time to answer any questions that your employees may have. You may end up spending a little more time explaining things, but the fact that you’ll be likely to experience less headaches as a result, makes doing so more than worth your while.
8. For New Hires, Start on the First Day, Perfect the Onboarding Process
There’s nothing more depressing for a manager than hiring someone who seems as if they’ll be an excellent fit for the job, only to find that they simply aren’t nearly as engaged in their work as they should be.
Sometimes the issue stems NOT from the individual, but from the way they’re onboarded. Joining a new company can be a very stressful experience, and the more help a new employee can get, the better they’ll be at their job.
It can be tempting to allow employees to fend for themselves during the onboarding process instead of helping them through each step, but you’ll benefit greatly from being there in case they’re in need of a hand.
Onboarding doesn’t have to be a lengthy process, but it most likely will be if you don’t help to move things along.
CEOs and those in managerial positions should make themselves available when new employees join the team, as this will help to ensure any issues that pop up are negated as quickly as possible.
9. Be Flexible3
The best managers are those who hold their employees accountable for their performance, yet give them the flexibility they deserve. These are professional adults, after all, and they don’t need someone breathing down their neck at all times. It can be quite difficult for those in leadership roles to give up control, especially when working on high-profile projects.
That said, it’s essential to realize just how much of a difference a little bit of flexibility can have on an employee’s performance and level of engagement.
There are plenty of ways to prove to your employees that you’re willing to give them the flexibility they need. You could allow them to work from home, for example, or take a personal day if need be. So long as they keep up their end of the deal regarding the work they’re supposed to get done, there should be little to worry about.
Note, however, that it’s important to keep an eye on how certain employees respond to extra flexibility, as some may take things too far, in which case an intervention may be warranted.
10. Help Employees Move Forward in Their Career and Education
No manager wants to admit that their employees may someday go on to work at a different company … but that’s typically the reality of things.
In today’s world, the sky’s the limit, and many people put a great deal of effort into advancing their career as far as possible through education, workshops, and other enrichment tools.
A good manager is one who is there to help their employees reach their goals, even if that means they may someday leave the company.
If you want to improve engagement levels, you need to show your employees that you’re here to help.
You can do this in a number of ways, such as paying for classes, allowing employees to attend workshops during workday hours, arranging internships, and more.
Most importantly, you should strive to be there for your employees should when they have any questions about YOUR career and how you got to be where you are at.
Sometimes, all it takes is giving out some simple advice to let someone know that you really care.
Lookout for PART 2 of this article coming soon!