In the final part of our show, we discuss the two most important aspects of employee engagement: keeping the highly engaged employees engaged and motivating the less engaged employee. But before we jump into that, it pays to recognize that the level of employee engagement might be something to do with the leadership style in a particular organization. It's been proven that bad management is often the root cause of low employee engagement. So, even before you think about solving the issue from an employee's perspective, determine if the management is to blame.
Addressing employee disengagement issues is not something that happens overnight. The causes might be complex, and each case might spring from unique scenarios. As a manager, you must determine the reasons behind unacceptable employee disengagement before implementing changes that tackle employee engagement issues.
Hire the Right People
Let's face it; hiring the wrong individuals will cost you lots of time and money. While new employees should have the relevant skills, experience, and qualifications for the job, they should also have the right attitude and fit well within a company culture. If you have a vibrant, dynamic team, you don't want to hire people who refuse to think outside the box. Hiring the right people does not guarantee that there won't be moments of disengagement; the good news, however, is that it's far much easier to engage the right people than it is to engage the wrong people.
Offer Employee Rewards and Recognition
Rewards are the one powerful tool that companies have been utilizing for years to boost employee engagement, increase retention, and keep employees happy in the workplace. Although employee engagement and culture are not synonymous, they are linked. Because engagement is largely about how employees feel connected to their work, a positive culture is fundamental to building an engaged team. A positive approach to employee recognition, in turn, fuels overall engagement.
Managers need to remember that reward and recognition programs must constantly evolve to remain effective. For example, many people believe Employee-of-the-Month-style programs are no longer valuable. Instead, many employees prefer professional development opportunities like attending a leadership conference, gaining a mentor, or enrolling in an exclusive webinar. It's important to note that although HR trends change frequently, the importance of rewarding and recognizing employee achievements remains constant.
Make Goals Concrete
Every time you assign roles in upcoming projects, always stress that the expected end product should align with the company goals. Make it clear that your employees' work has a real impact on business operations and the ability to help the company reach future benchmarks. This way, people see that what they are doing is tied to the company's strategy, which in turn proves to the employee that they hold a significant position in realizing company goals.
When individuals have a clear understanding of how their jobs contribute to company strategy, they become more engaged and connected to the company.
Host Employee Check-ins
Sometimes employee disengagement is not entirely an employee's fault but rather the employee's work and home environment. Make it your job to check in on your employees to ensure that they are in the right mental capacity to be fully engaged in their daily duties. Host monthly or quarterly lunches with your team where people can connect and enjoy their team's company. These breaks help to foster a sense of community and strengthen the identity of the team. However, if you feel that you are better equipped to handle employee check-ins personally, by all means, do that.
Is The Team Member Worth Saving?
Before we jump into maintaining a highly engaged employee, I'd like us to briefly discuss whether or not a disengaged employee is worth saving. This might sound like a harsh question, but remember, keeping an employee on your payroll who might never change won't do any good for the company. At the same time, you don't want to make a knee-jerk decision and terminate the employee right off the bat. After all, engagement is a spectrum, and at some point in an employee's life, they are bound to be disengaged. So, letting someone go isn't always going to solve the problem. Think about where your employees land on a disengagement scale of "At Risk," "Complacent," and "Toxic." If they are already toxic, chances are they can't be saved, but you can likely work with the other two types.
Sustaining Employee Engagement
As earlier mentioned, employees are a company's biggest asset. Having a highly engaged team is a sure way of meeting company targets and boosting productivity. If you enjoy the benefits of a highly engaged team, these four steps will help you maintain that level of productivity.
Just like disengaged employees, rewards can be used to sustain the engagement level of an engaged employee. Always make sure that the efforts that an employee puts in for the organization never goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Have a robust structure that recognizes performance every quarter among teams and an annual award scheme that recognizes individual and teamwork success. The other reward that most leaders tend to ignore is the tenure-based milestone award that appreciates how long an employee has been with a company.
Training and Employee Development
Providing highly engaged employees with training and developmental opportunities encourage good performance, strengthens job-related skills, and maintains that competitive edge. Improving individual and organizational skills, helps employees keep up with changes in the workplace, such as keeping up with new technology.
Using a training needs assessment, leaders can identify the gaps between the competencies employees have and those they need to do their work effectively. From there, the supervisor and employee should work together to identify training and development opportunities such as formal classroom training, web-based training, rotational assignments, on-the-job training, self-study programs, and professional conferences/seminars. Mentoring and coaching can also help employees continue developing the skills they will need to be successful in their careers.
Communicate Early, Communicate Often
It may require a lot of effort to build a trust culture and only one incident to destroy it. Poor communication created trust issues, which can quickly erode a culture. People become disconnected, directionless, and distrustful when leaders are playing their cards too close to the vest or becoming opaque in the face of their crisis. We're living in a culture of transparency. Today's workforce wants to stay connected and participate in decision-making that affects their future and the enterprise. To keep up with the highly engaged employees, always make sure you communicate early and communicate often.
Be Visible and Accessible.
Employees are more engaged when their leaders are present, show genuine gratitude, listen to ideas, and transparently make decisions. Being a humble leader makes you more human and will be mimicked by your peers and everyone else throughout the organization. Simple manners, common courtesy, and periodic feedback will directly impact your employee retention, peer-to-peer respect, and, ultimately, levels of engagement. Although the open door policy is something you might be against, ensure you have specific times when employees can access you, and have their voices heard.
[Radio] Part 1: Staff Engagement - The Disengaged Employee Here
[Radio] Part 2: Staff Engagement - Security and Belonging Here
Ally Nitschke is a Speaker, Leadership Strategist and Courageous Conversations specialist, She has been working as a leader and with leaders for over 15 years. She is on a mission to change the way we communicate at work, to lean into those uncomfortable conversations and lead with courage. Ally delivers Courageous Leader programs, Courageous Conversations workshops, Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.