By Diamond Richardson
In our blog post last week, we examined how unengaged employees (due largely to a lack of trust in senior leadership) have major implications on your bottom line. Lost customers, absenteeism and lost productivity are just three of the many ways unengaged employees cost your company money.
Modern Survey’s study on employee engagement found that the “actions of senior leaders have become extremely powerful drivers of employee engagement.” Even if engagement is low at your company, as a leader you have the influence to turn it around!
The first step to improving engagement is realizing that you need it for more than just cost savings. As a leader in your company, you need the support of an engaged workforce to achieve goals. Engaged employees are accountable and responsible. Without the work of these employees, goals become nothing more than words on a screen or piece of paper. Another important fact to consider is that just like you need your employees, your employees need you. Employees do work to earn a living, but money is rarely the primary motivator for an engaged workforce. These four tips that can help you increase engagement at your workplace through giving employees what they really want:
Employees are more likely to be engaged when they understand how their work ties into the larger picture. Communicate with your entire workforce about business challenges, financial standings, and anticipated changes. If this information stays with upper-level managers, employees won’t understand how the work they do matters to the organization. Few things are worse than reading about your company’s financial performance or new mergers online for the first time. Without information, employees may continue to do their work, but it will be with a completely unengaged attitude.
2) Be consistent.
Every leader has his or her distinct leadership style. Consistently changing this style causes problems. If you are a leader who values face-to-face meetings regularly, reveal this expectation up front. Trying to spring a frenzy of meetings on your employees- after years of limited meetings- can be annoying to them and the work flow they have established. Constantly changing your leadership style sends the message that you are not reliable, and it is hard to develop consistent engagement levels when you cannot be consistent yourself.
3) Reward your employees for going above and beyond their job descriptions.
Companies that have employees who go above and beyond are more likely to achieve above-average returns in the long run. Show employees it is worth their while to do a little extra by rewarding those who do so. This creates motivation for employees to become fully engaged in their work and do more than the bare minimum. They are doing it because they want to, and that is powerful.
4) Let your employees weigh in.
New ideas should never come entirely from the C-suite. Customer-facing employees are closest to the action, and they often provide valuable insight. Create opportunities to touch base with employees from all levels of your organization. This can be accomplished through formal means such as quarterly “idea” meetings or brainstorming sessions. In large organizations, a policy that allows employees to submit proposals for viable ideas can also work. Employees are more likely to feel engaged when they know that their opinions matter.
Boston Consulting Group consistently tops best place to work lists because the company has many of these practices embedded in its culture. BCG employees are always encouraged to speak up in meetings. Junior consultants are often paired with senior-level managers to facilitate the flow of ideas, and for professional development of the junior associates.
Developing an engaged workforce does not happen overnight. It is the product of forming good habits in communication, consistency, appreciation and inclusion. Do not let these actions become those “annoying tasks you have to complete so your employees won’t quit.” View these actions as an investment in your company and the success of your employees. Work them into your culture and employee engagement will take care of itself.
How do you keep your employees engaged?