By Len Adams, CPC, CTS
Your company is running and you have hired your team of employees now comes the next step: how do you keep you employees engaged and happy? First thing to know is what does it mean to be engaged? Engaged refers to employees who are active participants in the company and they are interested in doing more than just the basic amount of work expected. This is important because a company is only as good as its weakest link, so happy workers make for a better and more productive company. Only 15% of employees report that they are interested or engaged in their work according to Gallup’s State of Global Workplace report (Gleeson). Here are four ways to help improve employee engagement:
- Recognition of your employees’ time commitments- Every person experiences conflicting needs for a home life and that can make it a challenge to keep them interested in extra time commitments at work. This is especially true for after-hours events such as socials, training, and company sanctioned events. It is important to recognize the challenge that many have in balancing their work and their personal life. Try to keep after hours events to a minimal amount because employees will not be happy if they are spending every day at company events and missing dinner with their spouses or time with their friends. One great way to resolve this issue is create events that the employees can invite family to come to; try holding a company day at the aquarium, tickets to a sports event, or any activity that allows the employee to have good family time.
- Assign meaningful work- Every person wants to feel like they are working towards something or that they are contributing towards a greater cause. Employees do not want to feel like their work is underappreciated or useless; recognize the importance work they are doing and do not waste their time on meaningless busy work. The employee is being paid for the time they put into the project, so do not waste that money. This also effects their overall attitude; if employees feels like they are doing compelling and valued work, then morale will benefit (Gleeson).
- Recognition of work and effort- This ties into the last point of assigning meaningful work because not only should the task be important, but also recognition should be given where it is earned. Often people feel as if their talents and effort are not appreciated as they should be, and the best way to keep employees engaged is to support their confidence in the work that they do. People will take pride in their work if they know that a good job will be appreciated and recognized. This will motivate employees to work harder to do their best work for a company that they feel values them. Although it is important to note that the level of praise should be appropriate for the work done. Employees recognize unearned praise and it can have the opposite of the desired effect. Also understand when dealing with underperformance, it is important to know the difference between gentle encouragement and brutal honesty. The most important lesson to take from all of this is that employees want to know that their employer is aware of their efforts and contributions whether they are performing above or below expectations. If you are unaware of the employees’ actual work, you are better off saying nothing than overpraising or overcorrecting.
- Consistently ask for their opinions on how to improve- Employees are the only ones who can decide what will help them be happier with the work they are doing or the company they are at (Gleeson). It is important to ask for their opinions on different initiatives and ways the company treats the employees. A great example of this practice in action is Toyota; their entire area of business discipline is based around their practice of going to the factory floor to get solutions for high level questions. The higher in the hierarchy of management that a person is, the more isolated they tend to be. The workers know the situations and, if they feel comfortable doing so, will share sage advice. Feedback is essential when working within a company setting because things are constantly moving, employees are growing, and engagement must adjust to employee needs.
Employee engagement is an important issue that every company struggles with. Take into account these four keys to promote engagement and watch overall morale and productivity improve.
Gleeson, Brent. “5 Powerful Steps to Improve Employee Engagement.” Forbes, 15 October 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2017/10/15/5-powerful-steps-to- improve-employee-engagement/#3b4f866341d5. Accessed 16 October 2017.