6 Ways to boost employee engagement

by Tricia Jones, founder of Capacity Builder

Employees are the driving force behind any company; the engine so to speak. And if you were to see that engine light flashing profusely, would you ignore it?

Unlike engines, employees have feelings and conditions. If your “engine” decides it doesn’t want to work for you anymore, that’s an issue. This is why it is absolutely essential to create a motivation-friendly environment where your employees want to come to work every day, not just have to.

1. Commit to your employees

Engagement is the emotional commitment and psychological contract an employee has with the organisation and to its goals. People are usually more easily committed to something that adds value to their life and aligns with their beliefs. Because it is an emotional commitment, it is often created using bonding techniques. (Spoiler alert: You have to get close to your employees).

If you need a better reason to up your employees’ engagement, look at the numbers. According to the British multi-national organisation, Aon, there exists a consistent, statistically significant relationship between higher levels of employee engagement and financial performance, with a 5% increase in employee engagement leading to a 3% increase in revenue growth the subsequent year (Aon: 2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement).

Now you’re probably thinking: “But, Tricia, how do I know whether my employees are engaged or not?”.

2. Ask engaging questions

Use the Gallup Q12 Index. No, it’s not the newest anti-aging cream on the market. It’s a list of questions you can ask your employees to gauge their engagement. Through rigorous research, based on more than 17 million employees, Gallup has identified 12 core elements – the Q12 – that link powerfully to key business outcomes.

Ask the following questions:

  • Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  • Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  • At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  • At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  • Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  • Do you have a best friend at work?
  • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  • In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

Once you have established whether or not you need to up the ante when it comes to employee engagement (trust me, you do), you can generate solutions surrounding your areas of need.

3. Create a safe environment

Employees who feel safe enough to speak up will often reveal the biggest issues they have with management, the office environment or the work itself. You’ll be able to fix these issues, get new ideas and boost engagement all at once. But the company has to promote an environment free of judgment and criticism in order for them to feel safe enough to do so. Make it a tradition by dedicating the last ten minutes of every meeting to employees.

4. Clarify goals and responsibilities

Clarifying goals and responsibilities seems like very basic advice, but is quite often overlooked in the workplace. An employee can’t be engaged in something they don’t understand. Get into the nitty gritty the next time you kick off a project or hand out new tasks.

5. Let them focus on what they do best

An employee will hardly be engaged when he or she needs to use a skillset they don’t possess. Ask employees what their strengths are and utilise it when delegating.

6. Recognise them

Recognition: a basic need all humans possess. Loved ones, employees and strangers alike all want to hear “You matter” or “I see you” at some point.

It doesn’t have to be the cheesy “Employee of the Month” noticeboard. Simply loading the name of a key player onto the company intranet will have an impact on engagement. You can also give an employee credit in a press release or company newsletter. Lastly, I would recommend taking your employees out to lunch to thank them every once in a while.
After all, the only thing more necessary than recognition is food.

An increase in employee engagement will directly impact employees’ motivation.