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8 Back-to-Basics Ideas on Improving Employee Engagement

Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru

“Customers will never love your company until your employees love it first.” ~ Simon Sinek.

It is a well known fact that healthy employee engagement and sustained business growth are correlated. Interestingly, some might wonder whether corollary is true as well, i.e. successful organisations really have better engaged employees? And what if the stream were to flow backwards, can the success of a business result in better engagement? Before we start pondering into these questions, let me remind you that ‘correlation is not necessarily causation’. Indeed, there are a few studies that highlight the impact of employee engagement on factors such as service and sales; for example:

Service:

(Source: Aon Hewitt European Manager Survey 2011. Aon Hewitt)

Sales:

(Source: A Caterpillar Dealer Unearths Employee Engagement, Gallup Business Journal)

The above facts are clear indicators that organisations need to improve engagement levels of their staff. There are many steps to achieve this but let us break it down to the basics and start with the essentials. Here are a few easy ways to improve your employee engagement:

Conduct periodic employee surveys

We notice that a majority of the organisations circulate questionnaires and conduct interviews when an employee leaves. However, if periodic surveys are conducted when the employee is still with the company, the pain points can be identified and acted upon, resulting in the employee not leaving in the first place.

Also, many a times, companies usually have surveys that garner data which is of no use. Surveys must have questions that are actionable. It must also be understood that when employees provide feedback, they expect remedial action on their grievances. The lack of any communication or action would result in disengaged and demotivated staff.

Leaders must be role models

It is widely said and believed that employees leave managers, not companies. Hence, it is very important to understand that employees always look up to the leaders of the organization. So, if the leadership happens to preach certain traits to the employees, then it must be sure to exemplify the same. This is a simple yet effective way of keeping employees motivated, improving employee engagement and satisfaction.

Apart from this, simple actions by leaders such as giving constructive feedback, discussing career goals and aspirations, and simply showing warmth and care go a long way in keeping employees motivated and engaged.

Senior management must be coached and held accountable

The key person in any organization that is directly responsible for employee engagement is the manager of a person or the team. So, care must be taken to invest in training programs to develop his/her managerial and engagement skills. Not just that, his/her progress must be tracked and he must be encouraged to play an active role in the development of his workforce.

Communicate and do it transparently

One essential way to ensure that the workforce is motivated is to communicate with it – consistently and transparently. Always keep your staff informed about updates and changes in the company. If you don’t, they would draw their own conclusions, making them feel directionless and uncertain.

It would be a great idea to have regular emails from the CEO or anyone from the senior management informing the employees of the changes or progress in the organization and reinstating the vision of the company. Regular town hall meetings, where employees get a chance to interact with the management will also help them understand the vision of the company better, enhancing their motivation and encouraging them to do better.

Be generous with praise

This simple gesture of gratitude goes a long way in boosting the employees’ morale. Sadly, in many organizations, this is overlooked. Appreciation is a fundamental human desire and people want to be valued for their contributions. When employees are recognized for their good work, their individual productivity, satisfaction and efficiency increase, thus increasing the overall profitability of the company. In a survey by McKinsey Quarterly in 2009, praise from immediate supervisors and attention from company leaders were found to be just as important or more important than financial rewards.

Recognition can be in the form of regular rewards and awards. However, spontaneous praise always works! Next time you see one of your employees doing good work, just call out his name and thank him in front of his peers and see how his work moves from good to great!

Know your employees inside-out

Besides their performance and performance reviews, what else do you know about your employees? Get to know them on a personal level; discuss their hobbies, places they have traveled and where their interests lie. These details will help in harboring a feeling in them that they work in a place that is a ‘home away from home.’

Help them feel empowered

Feeling empowered and in control often makes an employee happy and thus productive. Every organization must help its employees with whatever they need and want. This could be in the form of infrastructure, training programs, coaching and mentoring, and support from the supervisors.

Get them involved in volunteer work

Many companies have made it mandatory for employees to be involved in certain charity drives and philanthropic causes. You, along with your employees, must make it a point to engage in such activities. This would instill in them a sense of pride that they belong to a business that’s all about making a difference in the world.

It is but obvious that engaged employees will create for a better work atmosphere, which in turn converts to better customer experience and rise in profits. Market leaders in every industry are introducing newer ways to improve employee engagement. While it is clear that something that worked in a particular organisation would work for another, but I believe the above points are possibly the bare minimums to start with. I would be delighted to get more suggestions on what else has worked for your organisation. Please share your suggestions and feedback in comments below.

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