Employee engagement, simply put, is the extent to which an employee feels attached to his or her job. Engagement is an important concept for managers and HR professionals since the more engaged employees are, the better they will perform. Engagement also helps improve retention and productivity, and will help organizations in getting the best from their employees. Some ideas to boost employee engagement are listed in this post. We will attempt to increase the scope of discussion and list some more ideas in this article.
It starts with culture. An encouraging, nurturing culture will allow organizations engage employees better than a listless, indifferent one. To ensure excellent engagement, therefore, organizations would have to ensure that their culture is also excellent. Culture forms the basis for engagement, and engagement becomes easier with good culture. This should also be an important factor in hiring, since you do not want to start with employees who do not fit the organizational culture.
Offer the Right Tools and Systems
When employees are forced to work with tools that they either don’t like or are not comfortable with, it shows in their results. When you satisfies instead of optimize, you will trade off cost with productivity and results, and that is never a good thing. For example, instead of a paid word processing software solution that helps with spell checks and grammar mistakes, if you go for a free product that does not, you will run the risk of mistakes, which will hurt your reputation in the long run, causing damages that are nowhere close to the savings you will have from the free processing software. Therefore, do not skimp on essentials – apart from the tangible losses, you will also see a dip in engagement. Therefore, get the best tools and systems you can for your employees.
Another important factor in employee engagement is management. If your management shows indifference and lack of interest in the careers of employees, it will be reflected in the way employees work. In fact, many employees leave their organizations because they do not have adequate support from their seniors and managers. So, ensure that your managers are supportive of your employees, and offer them the guidance they need to ensure that they are successful at their jobs. Managers should also ensure that they are not breathing down the necks of employees to perform – in creative fields, micromanaging rarely works. People would want to be left alone to work, and when disturbed frequently, might turn in work that is sub-par since they have not been allowed to do what they could. So, managers should find the right balance between managing and letting go.
Communication is one of the keys of engagement. And here communication is not just one-way – it should come from both parties, and should be effective. Make sure that you are communicating with your employees effectively, and are also listening to what they think and feel. Invite opinions and feedback from them on how to improve the workplace, and ask them periodically about what you should be doing to make things better for them. Feedback is a very important organizational process, and it greatly helps with engagement of employees. Feedback from both parties should focus on both the positives and negatives, and offer chances to both parties to improve themselves.
No Restrictive Policies
Of course, we do not mean that you should have a lassie faire organizational policy, but you should ensure that your policies are not stifling your employees. Rules and policies should work to help the stakeholders in an organization – not to make them regret coming to work every day. Think about employees when you make policies – not the organization or the business process. When you take care of employees, employees will take care of your business.
Smart and Clear Goals
One of the reasons employees feel a lack of engagement is when their goals and objectives are ambiguous and unattainable. When they don’t know what to achieve or if they are not clear on what to achieve, they will be demotivated, and not put in their best since they feel that their efforts are wasted anyway. Also, these goals should be tied in what they also want to achieve in their professional lives or there will be dissonance and performance will be affected.
Show a Career Path
You do not want employees who are also-rans. You want people who want to achieve, and you do not want them to be lax. They should understand that what they do for the organization will also help them in the long run and improve their chances at the workplace. They should be shown a career path where they will grow and excel.
Transparency and Visibility
Transparency and visibility are very important in achieving employee engagement. Lack of transparency and visibility will lead to many undesirable outcomes such as demotivation, lack of productivity, and attrition. Transparency among operations and visibility of senior management will help reinforce employee beliefs and help with engagement. Senior managers should follow an open door policy and make it a point to mingle with line employees and solicit feedback and opinions regularly. In keeping HRM operations transparent, HR software will be of big help. This visibility and transparency should get buy-in from all the stakeholders – when senior management preaches but does not practice, it leads to discontentment and dissatisfaction, which are the harbingers of many undesirable activities.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Instead of hiring insipidly and worrying about how to engage them later, ensure that you are hiring the right kind of people. Most employees come with a clean slate – they want to do their best, and respond to how you treat them. However, some come with burdens – try to sort them out so as to prevent engagement issues. Employees you hire should be able to have a positive impact on culture and productivity – you don’t want people who need to be mollycoddled.
Emphasize on Collaboration
Employees work best when they collaborate with one another. In this day and age, team work one of the most important contributors to success, and thankfully, we now have the tools and systems to ensure effective collaboration among different employees and business units. Silos and ad hoc operations do not lead you anywhere – ensure that all the business units are in collaboration with one another.
Rewards and Recognition
Everyone likes to be recognized and rewarded, and when properly implemented, an organization-wide reward and recognition program can be a huge success. The right rewards motivate and engage employees, and would make them want to work harder
Apart from rewards and recognition, you could also offer some perks to your employees to keep them engaged. Things like offering them club memberships, discounts, transportation, and so on would help engagement, and will have a positive result on operations. These perks need not be something great – sometimes, the smallest of things will go a long way in showing that you care for them. Sone day-of-the-week parties, sports and team building activities and so on could work well for both parties.
Performance and Feedback
It is often true that engaged employees perform well and high-performing employees are highly engaged at the workplace. So, managers should always be on the lookout for ways to improve team and individual performance so that they will reach for bigger and better goals in the future. You want your employees to be motivated to do more, and in motivating them, recognizing their performance through effective performance management programs and offering them consistent and actionable feedback is very helpful. Make sure that everyone takes these activities seriously – they should not fade into the background of your work – they are just as important.
Encourage your employees to maintain adequate work-life balance. They are no use to anyone when they are burned out – they lose motivation, and do not produce effective results. Have a policy if you must that people should clear out and not work late hours until there is a need. Plan your workforce and workloads in such a way that they do not have any adverse effects on your employees.
There is no doubt that employee engagement is one of the most important things HR professionals should watch out for. Engaged employees are just that much better at completing their tasks and contributing to the organization. Communication perhaps has the biggest impact on engagement – ensure that communication within your organization flows freely and in all sides.