We all seem to get it by now — more engaged employees perform at a higher level. The organizations that get their strategy right in this area provide a superior customer experience, have lower levels of employee churn, higher morale, and, ultimately, much higher financial performance. Their customers love them more! What are some things you can easily implement that will give you big lift in your levels of employee engagement with the lowest investment?
First, hire right. Making the right hire is well over half the battle in your employee engagement levels. Hire people who believe what you believe, and have the attitude you want. Get that right, and the following eight ideas can help them thrive.
1.Embrace and Adopt a Strengths-Focused Culture. People excel in their areas of talent and strengths. You can find many assessments to help you in this area. But the key is focusing on people’s strengths first. Identify them, and then figure out how you can stretch them in those areas. It does not mean you ignore their weaknesses, but your people become more engaged when doing what they naturally do best.
2.Volunteerism and Company Support from the Top-Down. It’s important to help the communities in which you serve. You cannot underestimate the impact of allowing your people to volunteer (yes, even on company time). It is beyond giving back, it is team building, networking and uniting around a common problem to overcome obstacles. In regard to engagement levels, this is one of the highest-rated items on many employee engagement surveys, and it is a multiplier in terms of return on happier and more satisfied employees.
3.Make Friends At Work. According to the 2017 Gallup Study of the American Workplace, having a best friend at work has a high correlation with engagement and higher productivity. But how can your company help support this? Formally, you can embrace deeper mentoring programs and relationships. This should be aligned in initial onboarding, so the mentor can assist with training and facilitate introductions. Informally, the more in- and out-of-work activities that you can schedule aids in bonding, networking and, ultimately, friendships.
4.Establish “Fun” Committees. Whatever you call or brand your internal efforts to schedule fun stuff, give it to the people who are passionate, and let them run. Never underestimate the impact of happy hours, food trucks, bowling and other fun activities to help your people get to know each other better on a personal level, and perform better in teams.
5.Really Celebrate Successes and Wins. When someone does something awesome, find ways to recognize and reward the behavior you want. It is amazing how many employees still only get feedback primarily when they have done something wrong. So many leaders simply expect great performance, and then think they are providing fantastic coaching and leadership when they rip apart the performance of someone who screwed up. That management style is already going the way of the dinosaur, if you are really looking to attract and retain the top employees of tomorrow.
6.Extend Trust to Get Trust. Play a game of “What Rule or Outdated Process Can We Kill?” Once a quarter, include in a shop meeting, “Keep it or Kill It” as an exercise. Employees get to nominate rules or processes they believe do not add value. Leadership still has veto authority, but the goal should be able to kill at least one (and you can’t add one to replace it). There are many areas you can see this have impact.
7.Extend Trust to Get Trust (Part 2). Your people are on social media. While there are some specific instances of needed prohibition of access to some sites and/or personal devices, the best companies are moving toward the understanding that people are increasingly not separating their work and personal lives. Embrace this! Regarding social media specifically, encourage and help your people to be brand ambassadors on all platforms, not just the ones you think are for business.
8.Let Your People be Authentic, and They Will be Their Best for You. We have finally reached a tipping point where the vast majority of organizations understand the value of diversity in their teams. They not only get it, but they also strive to leverage it for a competitive advantage. Appearance standards have shifted drastically of late, as many companies are allowing unique looks and individuality in their employees. Some companies are hesitant to permit their staff to work with visible tattoos, facial hair, or body piercings, but, where possible, allow your people to be themselves. The key is getting and keeping the best talent, not the talent you think looks the best (unless that’s your goal). You should seek employees who are passionate, talented and believe in what you believe. Those are the ones who become truly engaged, deliver the ultimate customer experience and help build the brand you deserve.
These tips can help you immediately in your employee engagement efforts at a relatively low cost. The key differentiator for organizations moving forward will be in how they become an employer of choice for a pool of top talent. It is not just about happy and satisfied employees — it is about those who are able to bring their best effort and energy to work each day.