"Engagement!", "Engagement is the key","employees must be engaged!". Sure thing, but how?
If engagement is undoubtedly one of the success factors of a company, its application sometimes is quite mysterious or awkwardly limited to only 4 levers as seen in literature.
Instead, here are some ideas and practical advice to help you develop an effective strategy that will encourage employee engagement.
Employee engagement, what is it exactly?
Realism, to begin with
Engagement results in the commitment of a motivated employee whose positive behavior contributes to the achievement of personal and common goals. That being said …
The reality is: You can not engage an employee who refuses to be engaged.
The good news is: engagement is an attitude dictated by someone’s will (the right one!). An employee is disengaged simply in response to an inadequate organizational strategy. It is possible to move to an engaged state through effective tactics that are developed according to your business’ profile.
The turnkey solution… does not exist
There are as many ways to engage staff as there are employees. You need to explore and try (and sometimes, make mistakes), but mostly, you have to put the effort and time required to find the strategy that best fits your company.
Beware! You must also accept that increased engagement may require changes to the organizational culture and philosophy of your company.
It is impossible to be engaged by yourself. A comprehensive employee engagement strategy is only fully effective when all participants believe in it, from senior management to the last intern hired.
Encourage employee engagement by making sure it is shared by all managers and has a catalytic impact on employees.
People are engaged if they receive something in return (we are typically human after all). Your employee engagement strategy should therefore include tactics such as training, a supportive environment, positive feedback, advantageous rewards, promotions, recognition, etc.
Remember that people first pursue personal goals before pursuing professional ones. Employees must feel that this engagement is first benefiting them, THEN their colleagues and the company.
Constant evolution and adaptation
Your employee engagement strategy should adjust according to employee development and changes in the company – what mobilizes today may not work tomorrow. Agree to adjust your approach according to employee profiles, projects and even different times of the year. Constantly starting from scratch? Think of it instead as a challenge and motivational opportunity in your own functions!
How to encourage employee engagement?
Share information – really!
Be honest and generous: share the information! An employee who is informed will be able to make better decisions and more easily rally to a common goal.
Of course, it’s important to consider the role and the skill level of the employee so that he/she can use this information wisely. It is the manager’s responsibility to provide employees with the tools they need to be able to interpret the information received, objectives and related needs. Consider providing various training for your staff.
Rest assured, if for some, a great level of information is impertinent or may represent a stressor at work, for the majority, it is a real source of motivation that contributes to their sense of belonging and their engagement.
Open, fluid and constant dialogue
It’s important to share the good news with your employees. That being said, they will also appreciate being informed of the issues their organization is facing. It is better to show confidence and interact with transparency rather than letting employees speculate during lunch time – because trust me, they will!
Consider initiating meetings, as brief as they can be, following a senior management meeting, or the publication of business reports, or to announce a decision. Employees will recognize this vote of confidence and it will contribute ultimately to their engagement.
Plan an official communication channel. Think for example of a newsletter (weekly or monthly) for employees, or an internal email address reserved for suggestions that employees would make to management. An employee who feels he/she is entitled to his/her opinion is an employee who feels mobilized.
They’re working well? Tell them!
Even after a few years within the company, employees need positive reinforcement to pursue their empowerment. Do not be stingy with opportunities to share feedback to employees. If possible, do it right after an employee’s good work. Though appreciated, delayed feedback would be less effective than immediate feedback.
Set simple little habits in your practices or make it official in certain procedures. You can add a particular “well done” topic to the weekly meeting agenda. Take this opportunity to share the good work of an employee, or let another employee do it for a colleague. The signs of recognition from managers and peers are an intrinsic part of successful employee engagement.
All for one and one for all: under certain conditions
Encourage teamwork! Teamwork is a skill that is acquired through practice and that can generate great benefits for the company. It’s also a perfect opportunity to optimize the strengths and talents. Managers must ensure that teamwork is not a stressor at work, but rather a key to success for all.
Review some structures to encourage collaboration among peers. This will help establish a support network between colleagues and will develop personal engagement. Also note that mobilization creates a ripple effect: an employee engaged in a team can encourage others to engage as well.
The involvement of employees start with you!
Allow your employees to be more autonomous. A good analysis will make you to realize that it is possible to grant more responsibilities than you think. Consider improving the task of an employee, allowing him/her more flexibility in time management, task execution and quality control of his/her work. Make sure employees perceives the importance of their role and know the meaning of it. You will notice an increased employee engagement.
Also, involve your employees more in decision-making. Look for their points of view and let them, to some extent, challenge the decisions. After all, they are the key players in your company; they can enlighten you about new aspects of their tasks, in addition to adding to the success of the company – this will definitely help employee engagement.
Favoritism – surely not! Are you sure?
Bias and favoritism, real or in appearance, is very harmful to employee engagement. Make sure you identify the sources and adjust the situation.
Favoritism sometimes lies in situations that may seem normal at first. Take for example, the possibility to work from home for your employees who are parents… do you allow the same flexibility for employees without children? Do you apply the same rigorous punctuality for employees living near the office and those who live more than an hour drive away?
Employee engagement is definitely a constant challenge, but is also an invaluable strength in your company.
It is better to invest time and effort now, as the new, young and dynamic generation of employees, look first and foremost for a job in which they will perform and achieve personal goals – and these achievements inevitably go through employee engagement. Are you ready?