Successful organizations understand the importance of developing employees who are engaged and share a common goal.
They recognize that engaged employees put their heart and soul into their job and have the energy and excitement to give more than is required of them.
However, when employees are not engaged, it can have a negative effect on the work environment and ultimately the customer experience.
According to Wikipedia, “an engaged employee is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interest.”
According to the 2015 Gallop Pole, only 32% of employees are engaged at work and 17.2% of employees are actively disengaged.
Translated: a frightening percentage of employees are going through the motions and adding little if any value to their job.
These are probably your difficult employees and those you wish would quit!
If these survey results are correct, what can organizations do to improve employee engagement levels?
Organizations with strong employee engagement, have figured out the secret to creating a culture that fosters engaged employees.
And, they understand leadership’s role in communicating, developing, and rewarding employees for what they do.
How To Foster Engaged Employees
1. Help Employees Understand the Vision
Strong cultures of engaged employees have a defined, and well-communicated vision.
Leadership is responsible for communicating the vision and keeping it in front of the employees.
Workers should be able to recite the vision statement and be able to describe why the organization does what it does.
Employees that are emotionally attached to the vision, believe in what they do and are committed and loyal to the organization.
This is what you are aiming for!
2. Communicate Constantly
Good communication can be one of the most important things an organization can do to foster a culture of engaged employees.
Employees spend a good portion of their life at work and have an interest in what is going on within the organization.
Create a process for communicating with employees and always assume that more (information) is better!
3. Create Positive Interactions With First-line Supervisors
There is a lot of research that suggests that employees leave organizations because of their direct supervisor.
And, the level of engagement of employees is directly correlated with their first-line supervisor.
This includes how information is shared, how employees perceive equity among each other, and how well a supervisor demonstrates their care for individual employees.
Employees are people who deal with real-life issues and they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!
Spend a few minutes a day asking employees how they are. You might be surprised at the response!
4. Help Employees Develop to Their Full Potential
Employees like to feel like they do meaningful work and that what they do makes a difference.
They also yearn for the opportunity to develop and grow professionally – who wants to stay in the same job forever?
They need opportunities not only to grow in their job but to grow within the organization.
This type of development can be accomplished by having a defined developmental plan for each employee.
Managers should be constantly coaching their employees to fine-tune skills and develop new ones.
Use the performance appraisal process to identify areas where an employee needs development and come up with a plan to provide them with the training, classes, or on the job experience to help gain the needed skills.
5. Create a Healthy Team Environment
Employee engagement is dependent on how well employees get along, interact with each other, and participate in a team environment.
Developing a strong team helps to foster engaged employees.
Everyone wants to feel like they belong to a community, a team, and a family.
Coworkers are often the only family some employees have so maintaining a work environment where all employees feel part of a team, and work well together, is very important.
Create training for team leader skills and require all employees to participate.
Understanding the basics of effective teamwork helps all employees to be on the same page and embrace the team concept.
6. Create a Culture of Trust
Trust is the foundation for healthy work environments and employees need to trust each other, as well as their leadership.
Create a code of ethics and teach employees and leadership the value of operating an organization with integrity.
7. Communicate Clear Expectations
Employees come to work desiring to do a good job.
But to do that they need to know what is expected of them.
Once expectations are clearly communicated, employees need to be held accountable for achieving their goals through a structured performance management process.
8. Reward and Recognition
Employees need to feel validated and acknowledged as a valued part of the organization.
Strong leadership demonstrates how much they care for their employees and shows recognition for employee efforts.
Create programs to show employee appreciation and use staff meetings to give kudos to your great employees!
9. Solicit Employee Feedback
Employees are on the front line and know best about how work should be performed.
They need to feel like they are part of the process, that their thoughts and ideas matter and that they have a voice in how their work is performed.
Create employee advisory teams who can work with leadership to improve the work environment.
10. Be Competitive With Pay and Benefits
While pay and benefits are not the key indicators of employee engagement, offering competitive compensation, benefits and reasonable working conditions is a strategy for strong employee engagement.
Create a compensation strategy and use benchmark data to ensure what you pay your employees is competitive in your local market.
The last thing you want is for a good employee to jump ship because they want to make more money!
Developing a culture that supports employee engagement takes time.
But spending the time, energy, and resources to improve how employees perceive their work environment can not only have a positive effect on the employee, and your customers, but ultimately the bottom-line! And isn’t that the goal?