Having truly engaged employees is the difference between successful and marginal organisations. Employers who dedicate time to creating an engagement strategy reap benefits including increased productivity, better employee retention and enhanced company culture.
But how do you reach that level? It isn’t always obvious how to foster employee satisfaction. Part of the problem is that different employees value different things: what makes one employee feel satisfied and positive at work might be totally different to another.
Fortunately, there are a variety of proven strategies you can implement that will appeal across the board to help increase engagement in the workplace.
1. Offer autonomy
Giving employees freedom and control over their time can make them feel happier and more productive. Introducing flexible working hours, remote working, and the option to work from home all lead to more productive employees.
There are other benefits of agile working, too. When teams aren’t limited by predetermined office hours, your entire organisation can be more flexible and responsive to any needs, problems or issues that might arise.
Offering autonomy gives workers the opportunity to organise their schedules when they personally work best, leading to more efficient and productive working hours. Instead of measuring performance by hours spent in the office, measure by activity and output. Employees who have the freedom to organise their own schedules are more productive and happier, and the whole company benefits.
Where employees are given the autonomy and empowerment to choose where and when they work, as long as their job can be done, a culture is created that removes the artificial measures of success, such as time and attendance, and focuses on results and performance.”- ENEI
Whilst not every position is suited to complete flexibility, there is always a way to integrate at least some, whether that’s in terms of time, location, or role.
2. Leave them to do their jobs
One of the main sources for disengagement at work is micromanagement. When bosses are overbearing, it kills professional development and drastically lowers employee morale. Employees are left feeling that every aspect of their work is scrutinised and that their bosses don’t trust their ability to get the job done.
Micromanagement is detrimental for two key reasons. Firstly, it kills any individual initiative on the team. Employees with great ideas, skills and knowledge will simply remove themselves from any situation where they feel they’re being micromanaged, whilst lesser-performing employees will become a dead-weight and wait to be told what to do next.
Secondly, micromanagement is bad for a manager’s productivity. If you’re so occupied with your team’s work, you lack focus on areas of greater importance.
So, how can you avoid micromanagement?
There are three steps to follow. First, set clear and measurable goals. Then communicate accountability by explaining your expectations. Finally, develop a plan to meet the goal alongside the employee responsible. Make them part of the process to bolster feelings of accountability.
We already know that workers are more productive when they’re given autonomy, and this isn’t just true for hours and locations worked. Workers with autonomy over their workload – those who set goals with their managers and are accountable for meeting them – feel more responsible and accomplished, which leads to (you guessed it) increased productivity and better performance.
3. Hire for attitude
Employee engagement starts at the hiring process, and hiring decisions based on attitude as well as skills lead to a more engaged workforce. A candidate’s experience and education don’t guarantee high performance, so even the most skilled candidate on paper will fail if they don’t have the right attitude.
Candidates with attitudes that fit with your company culture turn into employees who work well together with your team on projects and assignments. Employee engagement is closely linked to teamwork and team building, so making hiring decisions based on a candidate’s ability to work well with your existing employees should be a key part of your overall employee engagement strategy.
4. Give your employees a voice
Why settle with yearly surveys? Empower your employees and keep the lines of communication open regularly.
Your employees are full of good ideas, and might bring with them expertise and insight from previous roles, so give them the opportunity to offer feedback and raise any issues on a regular basis.
Take it further and involve them decision making or problem solving – you might be surprised by the insight that exists among your team. Asking for feedback and their help figuring out solutions makes employees feel like their voice counts for something.
5. Take action and follow-up
Giving your employees a voice is pointless if you don’t listen to what they have to say. If employees feel like their voice isn’t heard, they will become unwilling to share.
Help your employees understand that you care about their opinion by actively listening to what they have to say, and acting upon any issues that are identified. Letting your employees know their opinions are not only listened to, but contribute to change is a sure way to increase engagement. When your employees see you taking their feedback seriously, they will be more likely to give it in the future, which creates a cycle for continuous improvement.
There’s no quick-fix for sustainable, long-term employee engagement. Every business will need to create their own unique strategy by combining a number of different approaches on a trial-and-error basis. And remember: nobody changes their work habits overnight, so expect a gradual shift instead. Figure out what works, and keep doing it.
Do you have any tips or advice for improving employee engagement? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @Xpo_Online.