Unfortunately, you can’t command employees to become more engaged.
Well, you can. But it won’t work.
Employee engagement comes from within the employee. They need to feel some kind of emotional connection to their role or company to be engaged.
The best thing you can do, as a leader or a manager, is to provide an environment in which employee engagement is more likely to flourish. Here’s how.
9 simple employee engagement ideas
“Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.” [Source]
1. Be transparent
In a survey completed by Harvard Business Review, 70% of those surveyed said they’re most engaged senior leaders provide continual updates and communicate company strategy. So, when a company isn’t transparent (about everything from new hires to growth plans), employee happiness and engagement can take a hit.
That’s because when people are left out of the loop, they can feel left behind. This in turn leads to dejection, frustration, and unhappiness. It also provides fuel for the rumour mill.
Try to be as transparent and communicative as possible. If you’re honest and clear, you’re more likely to get buy-in and engagement from employees.
2. Provide role clarity
Nobody wants to feel like they’re just another cog in the wheel. To be engaged with a company’s overall mission, employees need to understand the value of their work.
What is their contribution? How is their work bringing the team closer to achieving its goals?
This should be made clear from day one with a comprehensive onboarding experience. Thereafter, it should be reinforced and reiterated by managers and leaders.
3. Recognize and reward
Don’t let good work and kind deeds go unnoticed. UC Davis psychology professor, Robert Emmons, stated that “gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work.”
Recognition will reinforce the values your company holds dear and help employees feel valued. It can come from everywhere in your company—managers, leaders, and teammates.
Rather than telling people what to do, present them with what you want to achieve. Then see how they get there.
To keep everyone aligned and working towards the same goal, lean on your company culture and regular communication, then loosen the reins on your command and control.
5. Build the right space
Your office space has a big impact on employee engagement and productivity. There are differing opinions on the “best” layout—open office, cubicles, private offices. However, what’s most important is that your office space is suitable for your company and the way in which you get work done.
In our fast-paced world, timeliness has never been more important. This applies to everything from providing feedback and giving recognition, to taking action on changes that need to be made.
If you’re a leader or a manager, don’t wait until your annual 360-review to take any necessary action. And encourage your staff to take on this mentality too. If they have an issue, they should come to you as soon as possible.
7. Empower and educate managers
It’s hard to declaratively state who is responsible for employee engagement. However, one thing that’s undeniable is the influence that middle managers can have in this arena.
In this article, leadership expert Shawn Murphy explains how middle managers are best positioned to encourage engagement amongst employees. It’s time to empower them to do just that.
8. Use a communication tool
Your online tools, like your office space, also wield a lot of power in the world of employee engagement. If used correctly, these online hubs are the place where your company culture can come to life.
They can help connect people on both a professional and personal level, which serves to clarify communication and create stronger bonds within the workplace. All of this impacts employee engagement.
Check out this article if you're interested in learning more.
You may not be best friends with your colleagues, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate your wins. Not only is it good to take a break every once in a while, celebrating will bring you closer together and encourage your efforts.
Improving employee engagement can be extremely complex, but it often boils down to understanding simple human needs and how you satisfy those as an employer. Hopefully these nine tips will help you pave the way to a stronger, more engaged workforce.