Whether you are looking to add talent to your team or keep the employees that you have, the phrase employee engagement should be on your mind. It certainly is on the mind of many other business leaders, and if others are already implementing an engagement strategy, then they have a head start in the race of retaining and recruiting. There are few feelings worse than watching one of your best employees join your competitor. With Millennial workers changing jobs every 4 years, employers need to start strategically implementing engagement strategies or else get used to the separation anxiety that comes with a competitive job market.
Even if you feel your staff is adequate, you still have to stave off declining morale. Low morale and engagement hurts your company in a number of ways that include reduced productivity, increased turnover, and increased absenteeism. Add these three results together and you get an exponential increase in stress and a decrease in quality deliverables.
Certainly you want your employees to be engaged with their work. Here is a secret that may not have occurred to you: your employees want to be engaged in their work too! It has even been suggested that feeling engaged in the workplace is more valuable than a pay raise. Many employers think that more money will solve the problem. Sadly, the pay raise will boost morale for a while, but many employees regress after the new money becomes an afterthought in their personal budget. So if money alone cannot boost employee engagement, what can?
Here are 6 characteristics of a company that embraces employee engagement.
1) Two-way Communication
Disengaging an employee is as easy as refusing to value their input. Communication amongst all levels of employees must be regarded as equally valuable. Employees want their voices to be heard. This extends past open-door policies and annual employee surveys. For employees to feel that their voices are valued, they must see their suggestions being taken seriously and their ideas receiving recognition when they make a positive contribution.
Developing a culture that values and practices open communication is hard. For all the talking and typing that is done about the work environment, a healthy communication milieu can be challenging to achieve and maintain. The American Psychological Association provides some good examples of effective communication in the workplace, one of which is utilizing multiple forms of communications such as employee newsletters and training sessions.
If an employee is not performing, then the employer needs to provide feedback and take corrective action. Nothing is as disheartening to an employee as seeing a co-worker constantly shrug off responsibilities and not be held accountable. The presence of unfairness is a big de-motivator, especially if management is perceived to have an unfair advantage. Holding everyone in the office accountable shores up the importance of the tasks at hand and it shuts down the dreaded plague of mediocrity.
3) System for Personal and Professional Growth
If you want to keep your employees happy, then invest in them in ways that help them achieve both personal and professional goals. Employees may have different growth goals at various times in life. Some may want to go back to school while others feel the need to address the injustices they see happening in their community. Employees will stay engaged if the company invests in them as people and not merely a means to the business’ ends.
4) Clearly Defined Responsibilities
If you want to frustrate and alienate your employees, don’t provide them with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The absence of this clarification results in your most dedicated employees feeling the strain of picking up extra work that was supposed to be someone else’s responsibility. There are times when the team has to fill in the gaps, but if the gaps routinely show up because the tasks were not assigned correctly, then it will lead to burnout and disengagement.
5) Scheduling Flexibility
Work-life balance is becoming increasingly important in the workplace. One survey of workforce Millennials cited lack of flexibility as the reason they quit their job. To some, the routine of being stuck in the office stifles creativity and is the reason for checking out while on the clock. Technological advances offer the ability to log in from almost anywhere. Work can be done regardless of location. Are there ways that your employees can break out of the cubicle? Certainly there are. Just don’t forget about putting in accountability measures.
6) Recognition of Contributions and Personal Qualities
It should be considered mandatory to recognize the contributions that employees make to the business. Noting years of service, sales awards, and other benchmarked accomplishments can provide employees a sense of accomplishment for their labor. Real recognition, however, goes beyond what a person has done and sheds light on all a person can do.
One of the easiest tools for acknowledging publicly an employee’s abilities is LinkedIn’s Skills and Endorsement program. This program gives employers the power to publicly recognize all the skills an employee brings to the company – even the ones that might never appear on a resume. This simple acknowledgment can boost morale by making a statement in a public forum that extends beyond the walls of the company. It is always nice to find out when someone is saying nice things about you behind your back, and this is the digital equivalent. Did I mention that you can also use this feature in your recruiting process?
Another effective tool for employee recognition is to add an employee spotlight to your company intranet or employee newsletter. These internal communication platforms are the perfect places to give recognition to staff who’ve reached goals or excelled in some way. You can also take it a step further and allow employees to post what they’ve done and what they’re proud of, whether big or small, which will encourage other staff achievements. Email newsletters are the perfect platform to spotlight all the differentiators that set your firm culture apart from others.
All of these attributes are linked to your company culture, which can be the biggest selling point both to current and prospective employees. A strong and desirable corporate culture makes retaining employees easier because the grass will not seem greener elsewhere. Recruitment becomes also becomes easier, because your company’s reputation for having a great culture will act like a magnet to attract top talent.