If you’re a manager, employer, business owner, etc., then these words have almost assuredly come across your desk.
But what do they mean? And what do they mean for your bottom line?
Something that’s “engaging” is something that is charming and attractive. So being engaged, in this use of the word, means to be motivated towards something.
And for your employees, that something is the goals of your organization.
Employee engagement is a measure of how committed your staff is to being involved in your business. This is also why engagement rates are so closely correlated with retention rates — the more engaged your employees are, the more they will want to stay.
So, this means that engagement affects your bottom line when it comes to the cost of hiring, training, retaining, and replacing staff. But it also affects their day to day performance. An unmotivated worker does unremarkable work.
And when your team is not interested in putting more into the business, the business can’t grow.
Whether the phrase has been brought up by someone else in your organization, or it’s on the forefront of your thoughts, it’s clear that employee engagement is essential. Now, let’s explore how you can actually engage your employees, with 13 easy options!
1. Build personal relationships
Changing your approach to engaging your employees doesn’t have to be a concerted effort. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting to know them!
We’d like to think that our work life exists in a bubble; that nothing from our personal lives bleeds into our professional lives. But the truth is, both worlds are inseparable.
Get to know your employees and what their life is like. Ask how their weekend was, or how their hobbies are going. Showing that you, as part of their work life, support their personal life too will help align their personal goals with your organization’s professional ones.
It’s also a great way to glean insight as to how they think, and what stressors they might be dealing with so you can help them manage.
2. Make sure they have the right tools
And make sure they know which tools to use in which situations.
Think of it from your perspective: you encounter a problem and no one around you is willing to help you solve it. Do you really feel connected to the people around you?
Of course not. But when those people offer support, guidance, and tools — as well as help you learn how to handle future problems — you know you can trust them and you’re more willing to support them in turn.
The same is true for your staff. Don’t send them into battle unarmed; outfit them with everything they need, and stand by their side!
3. Keep them informed
When employees don’t know where the business is going, they don’t know how to help you get there.
Keep employees in the loop when it comes to upcoming topics that can affect their jobs, for the better or worse.
And also make sure they have access to the same metrics you have to determine how successful the business has been in the past. Seeing how they have contributed to meeting goals will give them a sense of pride and ownership in their future work.
4. Give room to grow
Trust in your staff’s ability to prove themselves.
When you micromanage, you may ensure accountability in the short term, but you’re not making space for them to learn accountability for the long term.
Put more simply: when you trust your staff more, they’ll trust your leadership more.
5. Put your money where your mouth is
One of the worst things you can do to damage your integrity in the eyes of your employees is to not do as you say.
If you create a plan, follow through. If you create rules, enforce them. If you make a promise, don’t ever break it.
Not only will this build their trust in management, but it will also inspire them to take the same steadfast approach with customers and coworkers.
6. Perform acts of recognition
A paycheck is not the same as a thank you.
Make sure you are showing your employees that you are paying attention to them and their work, by recognizing their achievements.
It doesn’t always have to be some grand gesture, like a huge bonus or a big award. Oftentimes, saying something itself is more than enough.
The same goes for accomplishments, though; even little ones deserve recognition.
7. Encourage teamwork
You, alone, cannot make someone feel engaged with their entire organization. The sense of being engaged in any community comes from just that: a sense of community.
Create opportunities for teambuilding in your workforce.
It doesn’t have to be the cliche softball team, or company retreat, either. Try partnering new people up on projects, or set a goal for the whole group to achieve together.
8. Distill a culture of customer care
If your staff deals with customers on the frontline, then the amount they care about the company is often equal to how much they care about your customers.
Listen to your customer base and discover what issues they are having. Then strategize ways that you can reinforce the importance of the issues for your frontline staff.
If your employees know and believe that the work they are doing genuinely helps others, then they will feel genuine feelings about the organization they work for.
9. Listen to your employees
We’re not the only experts when it comes to how to improve engagement! One of the best ways to learn how to boost employee engagement is from your employees themselves.
Surveys, meetings, interviews, suggestion boxes — there are a myriad ways you can open up a channel for communication between employees and management. But the most important step is to make sure you actually listen.
10. Create a safe space
Engagement is pretty much the exact opposite of fear.
Your employees can be scared of many things. Being punished for missed deadlines and unmet targets, or simply being made redundant due to unstable and unreliable leadership.
If your workers are always worried about how to survive, then they can’t thrive. Nurture your business to provide a safe space for them to excel.
11. Keep coaching
Employee engagement isn’t a one-and-done deal. You have to keep at it.
Keeping your positive attitude despite any setbacks is how you motivate employees and make a more magnetic company culture.
If your attitude is flippant and you cannot keep a consistent demeanour, then you won’t be the inspiration they need.
12. Let them take the wheel
As a manager, you know that you can only reach as high as the people beneath you.
If you want to develop a team of engaged workers who feel as strongly about the business as you do, then you need to make room for them to take on some of that leadership role.
It’s also a great way to get people out of their comfort zone to make their work life more exciting.
13. Make personal development a priority
Do you want someone on your team who’s just there for the paycheck?
Or do you want someone who’s looking beyond the horizon?
If you want to attract and engage people who aspire to more, then you have to help them get more out of their job. This means supporting their growth and development in all areas, not just at work.
One great way to do this is by tapping into free funding to support training for your new (and existing) employees! Check out the Canada-Ontario Job Grant program, which provides opportunities for employers, individually or in groups, to invest in their workforce, with help from the government. You can get started with ReStart, today!
Employee engagement is essential, it’s sure. Because engaged employees don’t just drag their heels, they push the needle of what your business can achieve.
Remember these strategies we’ve suggested next time the words “employee engagement” come up, and you’ll be ready to push further as individuals, and as a team.