Tips to improve your employee engagement levels to influence your business performance.
I have often wondered why certain employees are so passionate about their work and consistently outperform the rest of their team members, while others in contrast are simply checked out, and disengaged with no zest at all. People are the heartbeat of your organisation and your employees play a significant role in driving your business performance. Research indicates that organisations with highly engaged employees have better productivity levels and bottom line results. With this in mind, let us unpack the meaning of employee engagement.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement may be described as an employee’s commitment level towards achieving the organisational goals and the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs. Engaged employees go the extra mile for the organisation, not because they have to, but because of their discretionary effort.
Understand what matters most to your employees in the workplace and ask why. Here are some common factors to consider that may influence your employee engagement levels, together with a few tips.
As leaders, we set the pace and tone on how things are done, within each department and the entire business. You cannot expect an employee to be engaged if you are not yourself engaged as a leader. Lead by example. Build relationships with your employees, through consistency and integrity. Do as you say.
■ Shared sense of purpose
Leaders should clearly communicate the organisational purpose and overall vision. Set objectives linked to the achievement of the company mission and vision. Involve employees in setting these objectives and becoming strategically aligned. Engage with them on a regular basis about their ongoing contribution to achieving the mission and vision of the organisation. Being part of a much bigger purpose may be regarded as an important engagement factor, especially for a millennial. Bridge the personal purpose with that of the business.
All decision making should be aligned to the company values. Recognise employees for living the company values in their daily activities. Highlight and reinforce this values based behaviour in their performance feedback discussions and reward them for it. Again, leading by example is vital here.
Leaders should promote an open two-way communication with their teams. Regular communication and transparency can also help foster trust and build relationships with the organisational leaders. Employees should feel free to ask any question. Management should provide timeous constructive feedback when these questions are raised. Help equip employees and leaders to hold honest constructive conversations through training and coaching.
■ Work relationships
Employees spend a large percentage of their time at work. Help build strong collaborative teams with activities focused on building positive work relationships, promoting teamwork, problem solving and productivity. Resolve conflict as quickly as possible, focusing back on the company values, which all employees should subscribe to.
■ Work satisfaction
Recognise good work publically in team briefings or other communication platforms. Being passionate about what you do is also key. Understand what your team members are passionate about and where possible, incorporate this into their role.
■ Work flexibility
There is a growing trend for work flexibility. This may differ from employee to employee. It could be for example: flexible working hours, work from home days, flexible benefits, to name a few. Promote work-life balance.
■ Financial rewards
Reward employees for their performance and link this back to the company objectives and values. An employee can feel devalued and disengaged, if their efforts are not adequately recognised and rewarded.
■ Personal growth
Personal development should be promoted. Provide opportunities for employees to participate in meaningful work. Encourage your team members to study further, so that they can increase the skills set and further develop in their careers.
Give employees some level of autonomy. This will help display trust that your team member will take responsible actions to deliver the desired work outcomes. Focus on the deliverable to be achieved.
The question now is: “Are you in tune with what your team members value the most at work, so that you can unlock their potential and best results?
It is vital to measure your employee engagement levels in order to establish a baseline assessment and to improve on it. Conduct regular employee engagement or team pulse surveys. There are many examples of employee engagement or team pulse surveys available online. Keep it simple, focused and as short as possible. Review your team pulse regularly.
A few examples of questions and statements that you could use in your engagement survey, are as follows:
“How am I feeling at work today and why?
Unhappy: Reason ………………………………………….
Okay: Reason ………………………….……………..……..
Good: Reason ……………………………………………….
Amazing: Reason …………………………………………..
“What does good performance look like in my role?”
“I have everything I need to perform at my best.”
“What is your success story for the week and why?”
“Do you receive meaningful recognition for good work and why?
“How have you displayed the company values last week?”
“I feel comfortable sharing my feelings and giving honest feedback to my Manager.”
“What challenges have you had in the prior week,
if any, and what is your proposed solution?”
“I am given opportunities to develop within my role.”
“There has been progression in my role.”
“I have work-life balance.”
“How likely are you to recommend the products and services of our company to a friend?”
“Do you have any other questions you wish to raise?”
Employees should also be requested to add their commentary. Analyse the data and commentary from the survey to list the actions required to improve your employee ratings and then take the appropriate steps to address each applicable engagement factor. Feedback to your employees about these improvement interventions implemented should be given at the next meeting or sooner, where practically possible.
Having an engaged workforce is something that does not merely happen overnight. It takes time and effort, pretty much like everything else in life. Get to know your employees, understand their ‘true heart’ or passion and check in with your team regularly. This may help you unlock that untapped potential and ultimately improve your business success.
Companies that understand what motivates employees are sure to have a productive year. Read here for some common productivity myths and how to deliver on what employees really care about.
Terine Lott-Cupido is the Managing Director at EmpowerLink Services, a Human Resources consulting company, focused on providing HR solutions to small business. For more information visit www.empowerlinkservices.co.za.