HR professionals are often responsible for helping managers identify ways to improve employee engagement. Studies indicate that disengagement is unfortunately common among workers across virtually all industries. While this is disheartening, it also represents a unique opportunity. You can make your organization stand out among the competition by proactively focusing on engagement.
There are lots of altruistic reasons for wanting to increase engagement among your staff, of course. If a person’s job is a major component of their overall happiness, then a company that provides engaging, fairly compensated work is truly fulfilling an admirable function in our society.
There’s also a business case for improving engagement. Engaged employees are more likely to stay with the company for longer periods of time, which reduces turnover costs. In addition, they work harder and more productively, and they’re more willing to go that extra mile to help the organization reach its goals.
Of course, the best ways to boost engagement vary from one company to the next. The specific nature of your business and the people who work for it both play key roles in determining how to improve morale. That said, the following basic tips are worth keeping in mind. Share them with management to help develop a workplace culture that prioritizes employee engagement.
There are plenty of reasons why employees may not be engaged. Don’t assume you know them. Instead, distribute anonymous surveys to your staff to learn which factors are negatively affecting their attitude toward the organization.
It’s important to be as specific as possible when designing survey questions—you want them to yield results you can act upon. This may mean designing different surveys for different departments. The complaints of employees in one department won’t always apply to other employees. While this does require more time and effort than simply giving everyone the same questions, it may pay off in the long run.
Most importantly, make it clear to employees that you are willing to actually make changes based on their responses. They’ll become discouraged and frustrated if they feel the survey was merely a token gesture. On the other hand, if you do make adjustments and communicate this, you’ll show your employees that you care about their satisfaction.
Focus on Training
Employees want to know they have opportunities to grow at a company—no one wants a dead-end job. This is particularly true of Millennials. They’re not likely to stay with an organization if they feel they won’t be given chances to move up the ladder.
Additionally, employees tend to become disengaged when they feel they don’t have all the skills and support they need to thrive. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about a job when you’re not confident in your own abilities and no one is willing to offer guidance.
These are two big reasons to offer training and professional development programs regularly. By giving employees the tools they need to improve their performance, you’ll boost their confidence, and signal to them that there will be chances to grow in their roles.
Hold Management Accountable
Remember, although HR professionals may be involved in developing employee engagement programs, managers are more likely to directly implement them. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly educate and train management, and to involve them in any discussions about engagement at your company. Make sure managers fully understand what steps they can take on their own to address dwindling engagement.
Once you’ve done so, it’s also vital to hold managers accountable. Let them know that employee engagement is one of their responsibilities. If surveys and other assessment tactics indicate that a particular manager isn’t making the necessary improvements, remind them that doing so is a core part of their job.
Most offices have some form of break room where employees can socialize, eat lunch, or take a coffee break. However, giving them even more opportunities to get to know one another can have a major impact on engagement. Social connections among colleagues are directly linked with high worker engagement levels.
For example, you can organize events outside of work for employees to participate in. Or, you could add a few games to break areas, promoting a fun workplace atmosphere. You could even study the office designs of companies with high employee engagement to better understand how the right layout can facilitate social interactions.
Recruit the Right People
When recruiting managers, try to find out about their relationships with past employees by interviewing these employees directly, if possible. Ask if the applicant was a good communicator. Were they an absentee manager, or did they veer toward micromanagement? (Stay clear of anyone who falls at these extreme ends of the leadership spectrum.) How did they motivate their team? One of a manager’s main responsibilities is to foster a positive working atmosphere, so it’s critical to ask these questions—just as much as it’s important to ensure they have the industry knowledge or requisite number of years of experience to do the job.
Again, applying these tips can yield real benefits for your company. Productivity improves when workers are engaged, and engaged employees are also more likely to speak highly of their company. This helps you attract more candidates when you need to fill open positions.
Though most workers don’t feel engaged, this certainly doesn’t have to be the case. Start with the tips above to remedy the situation.