Was That Really The Question? Ways to Encourage Employee Engagement

Ways to Encourage Employee Engagement

The other day I saw this question posed to others in a forum, “what do you do to show your employees they are involved?” The obvious answer to me was, don’t just try to show them, actually get them involved.

I’m sure the intent of the question was supposed to be “how do you involve your employees,” but it didn’t really come across that way. This does bring up the question of do you only do things to try to “show” employees they are engaged, or do you actually involve them?  The point being is that if you truly involve your employees, you shouldn’t have to look for ways to appear that you are.  Employees are very perceptive when programs or the latest buzz words are being hyped. However, if these programs are not actual practices in their workplace, it comes across as if management is trying to pull a fast one on them.

A recent survey published by Gallop showed 51 percent the U.S. workforce is not engaged. According to The Engagement Institute this cost U.S. business between $450 and $550 billion dollars a year. A 2017 ADP report shows that 63 percent of “full-time employed workers are open to, or actively looking for, new job opportunities.” There is a lot of lost productivity due to these staggering numbers. And don’t think for one minute that the lackluster attitude doesn’t trickle down to the quality of service and attention your customers receive.

Where To Start

There is no end-all, be-all list of engagement ideas.  Some techniques will depend upon your business model, you and your employees’ personalities, what motivates your employees, and what you view as quality outcomes for your customers. 

It’s usually best to start at the beginning with the hiring process.  Find candidates that mesh well with your current corporate culture. You can always teach and train to skill. Make sure you take the time to orient or onboard employees not only into their job, but into the company culture. Unfortunately, this step is often not comprehensive, a low priority, or skipped altogether. A 2017 Career Builder survey found 36 percent of company have no formal onboarding process.

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Once you have the right people in place communication is still imperative. Employees want to see that upper management is transparent and that they buy into this process. As I mentioned before, employees can spot a con job a mile away. Look at employees as valued team members. It’s much easier when management and employees are all pulling the wagon in the same direction. To ensure the success of your employees is to ensure the success of you and your business. They must be viewed as having something of value to contribute to the process of providing an excellent customer experience.

Take the time to really get to know your employees. Be visible. Be engaged yourself. And I’m not talking about just knowing their names and what departments they work in, but who they really are and what their lives are really about. Of course, this task can be delegated. In a large company a CEO may not know the entire story about each employee, but there should be managers in between who do.

Growth Opportunities

It’s important to provide good employees with different methods of expanding their horizons. This can range from the necessary training needed for them to excel in their current position, as well as cross training for other jobs within their department or within the company in general.

Other growth opportunities may include expanding employee responsibilities, delegating specific tasks to them, and of course providing them with the opportunity for upward mobility within the company. Instead of handing down edicts from the top and letting them trickle down to the bottom, form teams where employees have a chance to collaborate and help set policies. We have to remember that frontline employees are the ones who know what the customer is looking for and what the roadblocks are to providing excellent customer service.

Remember to Have Fun

While work has that name for a reason, it shouldn’t be drudgery. Inherently, there is usually enough stress involved in getting projects and products out the door to customers.  Leaders should make sure they’re not adding extra pressure to this process.

Remember to celebrate more. Acknowledge the success of employees, projects, and any other milestones reached. Celebrations don’t have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as taking somebody a cookie and a Route 44 Coke from Sonic.

Take the time to plan activities for employees and their families outside of the office walls. This idea is a little more challenging but very important. It can be as simple as going out to eat or planning a picnic at a local park. This is a great way to get to know your employees and their families. While it’s not always feasible for larger companies to get everyone together at once, it can be done on a departmental level.

I’m not sure why this phenomenon happens, but the advent of computers, cell phones, and the other marvelous technology was supposed to provide us with more free time.  Let’s face it. That just hasn’t happened. It seems that we’re all busier now than at any time in the past. That’s why I think it’s very important that we make the extra effort to make these get-togethers happen. Even if that means knocking off work a little bit early and giving employees a chance to participate while on the clock.

Say Thank You…..Often

Enough said really. Get in the habit of saying thank you. When you see employees walking down the hall, stop and thank them. Stick your head in an office or cubicle and say thank you for a job well done. There’s a great misconception that employees typically leave a company for money. Research and my personal experience has shown that not to be true for the majority. Typically, employees leave a manager, not a company, or because they do not feel appreciated. Most of the time all they want is to be acknowledged for a job well done. A simple thank you goes a very long way to engaging employees and creating a nurturing atmosphere.

These are just a few of the many ways to encourage employee engagement. Do some research on your own or let me help you.  Find out what’s going on in your company and what your employees desire.  You can do electronic surveys. However, it’s always best to have that human involvement. So get out of your office and go talk to your employees.  Really listen to how they feel about the company and its processes and procedures.  It will go a long way to building trust with employees, and that’s a great first step.