The engaged employee passionately rallies around your company’s goals and always goes the extra mile. This ideal employee more than likely doesn’t exist.
Engaged employees are a rarity. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 32% of American workers are actively engaged in their jobs. So, how can you change that and implement strategies at your company that develop a culture of engaged employees? Consider the following and you’ll be well on your way.
Make engagement a priority
Put simply, unengaged employees aren’t happy. If your employees are truly the greatest asset your company has, then they should be cared for accordingly. This means that the implementation of a solid employee engagement strategy should get top billing on your to-do list.
Getting started on a new employee engagement strategy can be a daunting task. The process is often surrounded by confusion, frustration and a mountain of questions. This uncertainty often pushes organizations to put the development of new engagement strategies on the back burner.
While it can definitely be a high mountain to climb, the reward is worth the effort. According to a report by career website The Muse, companies with high levels of employee engagement see two and half times more revenue compared with organizations with low employee engagement.
Start at the bottom
It’s typical in most organizations for issues to be dealt with by upper management and for solutions to then be passed down through the ranks. An effective employee engagement strategy allows employees to work out issues themselves, counter to this top-down method.
This notion is often difficult for top-level managers to grasp. It’s not directly about you, and that can be a tough pill to swallow. It’s about better engaging employees for the benefit of the company. A successful engagement strategy hinges on truly understanding your employees—and that doesn’t start in the boardroom.
Employees must be directly involved in the process. Include them in the decision-making process. Survey results should be distributed companywide, and information on the overall process should be transparent. In this bottom-up approach, managers should be facilitators of the overall conversation, not problem solvers.
Give your employees clear targets
It’s difficult to rally the troops around a particular goal if the goals of your company are not clear and concise. Why does your company exist in the first place? What is your purpose, the “why” behind what you do? The answer to this question should be evident to you and everyone on your team.
How does this purpose relate to the goals and objectives of your employees at the individual level? Engaging your team means making this connection—from the company purpose to the direct goal or objective—very clear. Break down overall company goals and the “why” in a way that is directly relatable to individuals.
The idea is to give your employees purpose. This is most likely to happen when larger company goals are scaled down to targets that are actionable and visible to each layer of your organization.
Ensure your strategy is easy for employees to begin
How do you eat an elephant? As you’ve probably heard, the answer is one bite at a time. The first bite is typically the hardest. Getting employees to take that first bite or move toward engagement is typically the most difficult part.
Don’t expect miracles to happen and engagement levels to shoot up immediately just because you’ve implemented a new strategy.
As with anything else, employees are more likely to adopt the task involved in your engagement strategy if you start small. Make it easy for them in the beginning. As time progresses, they’ll be more comfortable with larger tasks.
Communicate openly and often
Any engagement strategy worth its salt takes into account that employees want to be heard and taken seriously. Employees should feel comfortable voicing concerns and opinions on any engagement strategy implementations. In fact, these voices will be crucial in ensuring that your strategy is successful.
You should know how your employees feel most comfortable communicating. What language do they use? What channels do they prefer? Maybe a blog is a great way to reach the millennials in your workforce, but what about the older members of the team?
Whatever the method and channel, know how to best reach your employees. Morale soars when communication flows openly and comfortably. If you create a healthy, communicative environment, you’ll get real, honest feedback on engagement strategies and how they work for your employees.
Listen and act
Listening is important, but it’s only half the battle. When feedback from your employees highlights an issue, listen and then take action. Engagement gets a major boost when your employees see a true link between their comments and actual organizational change.
Realize that one size does not fit all
Each employee is different. Attempt to understand what makes them tick. Some may prefer to work in teams. Some may feel they perform better when they do it alone. It’s illogical to think that one standard plan will boost engagement across the board. A more appropriate approach would offer choices within your strategy.
Options allow various opportunities for participation and increase the chances that employees will find at least one topic or task they connect with. Employees are more likely to feel comfortable engaging further once they’ve connected with, and participated in, a facet of the company’s engagement strategy.
Evaluate your plan and adjust
Your work isn’t done once you have a solid engagement strategy in play. The process should be ever evolving. Evaluate along the way and make critical changes to certain aspects that aren’t working. The more agile your strategy is, the better it will grow to fit your employees’ needs.
Engagement can seem like a mystical word that’s been over-engineered to the point of madness. The true core of engagement is far less opaque. It’s quite simple really. Employees want to be heard and understood. If you let this notion drive your strategy, you’re well on your way to a more engaged workforce.