In any business, it’s easy to get caught up with the numbers and data. Managers chase after profits and growth, often forgetting the most critical element: employee engagement.
Employee engagement is key to growing a successful organization. It’s the very thing that motivates teams to do great work. It’s good that we’ve seen more organizations prioritizing employee engagement in the past few years. But despite the work they put into making team members happy, only 12% of companies in the US are truly happy with how their employees engage.
While raising employee engagement takes a lot of work, it’s not exactly rocket science. Most managers just forget to go back to the basics of what humans really need to be happy.
In this article, we’ll explore the timeless principles that can help in developing and sustaining employee engagement in your workplace.
1. Take a genuine interest in their work.
Can you imagine working while feeling nobody cares about your actions? That’s not exactly an ingredient to success.
When employees believe that their work matters and is appreciated, they are more likely to feel engaged, which, in turn, leads to increased job satisfaction and commitment to the organization. At the same time, leaders who engage with employees at this level can better identify potential roadblocks and offer more tailored solutions.
To show genuine interest, managers should:
- Schedule one-on-ones that discuss the team members’ work, progress, and challenges.
- Ask thoughtful and open-ended questions about their projects, goals, and aspirations.
- Be more involved in employees' projects or tasks while giving them enough autonomy.
- Ensure employees have the resources, tools, and technology to perform their jobs effectively.
- Address any obstacles or challenges they face in their work promptly.
This goes far beyond simply being a pleasant or considerate boss. Taking a genuine interest in employees' work sends a powerful message of respect and recognition, which enhances employee productivity and demonstrates a commitment to their professional growth and development.
2. Have clear expectations.
Ambiguity is counter-productive to success. When employees understand what is expected of them, they have a better sense of direction and purpose. They have a framework they can use to excel.
Clarity allows team members to have open and constructive dialogues with their managers. This makes it easier to address challenges, seek guidance, and track their progress more effectively.
Managers can set clear expectations when they:
- Ensure that job descriptions are accurate and up-to-date.
- Discuss any performance standards or key performance indicators (KPIs) in detail.
- Summarize expectations through job descriptions, performance plans, or project outlines.
- Help employees prioritize tasks and responsibilities and indicate the most critical and urgent tasks.
- Provide concrete examples of what success looks like.
By implementing these practices, managers can ensure that their employees clearly understand what is expected of them, contributing to better performance, increased job satisfaction, and a more productive work environment.
3. Provide constant communication.
Did you know that miscommunication causes businesses in the US to lose around $1.2 trillion annually? This is why clear and constant communication are non-negotiables for a successful workplace.
Constant communication fosters a sense of connection, transparency, and inclusion within the workplace. Communication builds trust between employees and leadership, making it easier for team members to trust that their concerns are being considered and their contributions valued.
Open communication channels also provide opportunities for employees to give and receive feedback. This feedback loop allows for continuous improvement at the individual and organizational levels.
To ensure constant communication that supports employee engagement, here’s what you can do:
- Hold regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and town hall-style gatherings to provide updates, share information, and address questions or concerns.
- Utilize various communication tools and platforms based on your team members' different needs and preferences.
- Encourage open dialogue and create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.
- Keep employees informed about company news, changes in leadership, financial updates, and strategic developments.
- Actively seek employee feedback and input on essential decisions, projects, and changes.
- Encourage peer support and knowledge-sharing through informal channels like chat groups or forums.
Embracing constant and meaningful communication practices creates a more engaged and connected workforce, which paves a clearer way to success.
4. Provide intentional leadership.
Providing intentional leadership means leading with purpose, mindfulness, and a deliberate focus on achieving specific goals and outcomes. Although systems and processes are good, it’s also important to be flexible with your leadership style, knowing that different team members have different personalities.
When leaders are focused and mindful of their actions, it directly influences the level of commitment and motivation exhibited by employees.
To practice intentional leadership effectively, here are some tips:
- Demonstrate the behavior, work ethic, and values you expect from your team.
- Ensure that team members understand how their work contributes to achieving the organization’s vision.
- Trust your team to take ownership of their work and support their efforts.
- Understand the needs and challenges of your team members and show empathy and support for their personal and professional well-being.
- Create an inclusive work environment where all voices are heard and valued.
- Use employee feedback and engagement surveys to measure engagement levels and identify areas for improvement, then take action based on the feedback received.
Leaders and managers who lead intentionally reflect an organization’s commitment to helping their employees succeed.
5. Be generous with recognition.
Being generous with recognition is crucial for employee engagement because it fulfills some of employees' most fundamental psychological and emotional needs — to be seen as a valuable team member.
When employees receive recognition for their efforts and achievements, it reinforces their sense of worth and competence. This positive reinforcement motivates them to continue performing at a high level and strengthens their emotional connection to the organization.
There are a few common ways to celebrate, like holding quarterly or annual awards ceremonies or having an “Employee of the Month.” But even the small things count, even when it comes to recognition.
To make team members feel seen and recognized, here are some best practices:
- Highlight specific accomplishments, contributions, and areas where they excel during one-on-one meetings or team discussions.
- Recognize achievements in public settings, such as team meetings or company-wide communications.
- Send personalized thank-you notes or emails to team members expressing gratitude for their hard work, dedication, or specific accomplishments.
- Implement peer recognition programs or simply create an atmosphere where employees freely acknowledge their colleagues' efforts.
- Provide flexibility in work schedules or additional time off as a form of recognition for consistently meeting or exceeding performance expectations.
- Recognize high-performing employees by offering them opportunities for skill development, attending conferences, or taking on leadership roles within the team or organization.
Remember that constant recognition should be sincere, specific, and tailored to individual preferences. It should align with the organization's values and goals while reinforcing positive behaviors and contributions.
By incorporating these practices into their leadership approach, managers can create a culture of ongoing recognition that motivates and engages team members.
6. Provide development opportunities.
Providing development opportunities is crucial for employee engagement because it fulfills the human desire for growth. Human beings naturally seek to expand their knowledge, skills, and capabilities.
When organizations invest in the professional development of their employees, it signals a commitment to supporting their individual growth journeys. And how do employees reciprocate that? They perform even better than expected.
How can you provide opportunities for development to your employees?
- Have one-on-one conversations with each team member to understand their career aspirations, strengths, weaknesses, and development goals.
- Provide access to training sessions, workshops, and courses that align with the skills and competencies employees need to excel in their current roles or advance in their careers.
- Pair employees with experienced mentors or coaches who can guide them in their professional journey.
- Encourage cross-training within the team or across departments.
- Support employees in pursuing relevant certifications or credentials in their field.
Organizations that prioritize employee development create a more engaged, motivated, and skilled workforce, positioning themselves for long-term success.
7. Put value in health and wellness.
When you put value in your team members' health and wellness, it shows understanding that your employees' well-being has a profound impact on their performance, motivation, and overall job satisfaction.
Employees experience various stressors, both personal and professional, that can affect their performance. Taking care of them gives them an elevated sense of trust and loyalty, leading to increased engagement and a desire to reciprocate the care and support.
To show team members that you value their health and wellness, here are some tips:
- Implement flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible hours, to accommodate employees' needs for work-life balance.
- Avoid a culture of long working hours and excessive overtime.
- Encourage employees to take regular breaks and vacations to recharge.
- Normalize discussions about mental health and encourage employees to seek help when needed.
- Develop wellness programs that include fitness challenges, nutrition education, stress management workshops, and access to fitness facilities or memberships.
- Allow employees to take mental health days when needed without fear of stigma or repercussions.
- Implement flexible leave policies that include sick leave, personal days, and vacation time.
Aside from these tips, promoting non-work-related activities that encourage team members to build strong work relationships is also a great way to help their overall wellness. Even the simple act of having random coffee chats with colleagues is a great way to step back from work and just have meaningful conversations.
Even better, you can use the Coffee Lottery feature and let team members chat with your CEO and key decision-makers. This is a great way to get better employee engagement, especially when they realize they have a direct connection to the leadership team and can be heard.
Sign up for a free trial now and see how CoffeePals can help you develop and sustain employee engagement.
Q: What is employee engagement?
A: Employee engagement refers to employees' emotional commitment and dedication toward their work, organization, and goals. Engaged employees are enthusiastic and motivated and actively contribute their best efforts to help the company succeed.
Q: Why is employee engagement important?
A: Employee engagement is crucial because it leads to higher productivity, better job satisfaction, and lower turnover rates. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile, positively impacting an organization's success and bottom line.
Q: How is employee engagement measured?
A: Employee engagement is typically measured through surveys, feedback mechanisms, and performance metrics. Common methods include employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, one-on-one interviews, and tracking key performance indicators related to productivity, absenteeism, and turnover rates.