Employee engagement has become a popular topic and key differentiator for many successful businesses and organizations. Regardless of location, size and type, your business’s commitment to each employee’s emotional and functional well-being is increasingly vital to your business’s efficiency and bottom line. Data provided by Dale Carnegie Training supports this trend and its overall impact.
3 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement
It is often said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave people. The three most common reasons for this are: 1) their dissatisfaction with their direct manager, 2) their lack of confidence in senior leadership, and 3) the amount of pride they feel in their workplace culture.
When employees are not engaged, job satisfaction, productivity and customer service can all decline for your business. The level of employee engagement is critically important in the delivery of your business’s products and services. Partially engaged employees may not be accountable and may not be as efficient and productive as they could be if they were fully engaged. Disengaged employees don’t have the inclination or passion for catering to the specific needs of your customers and often don’t work well with other employees.
4 Traits Engaged Employees Exhibit
- Enthusiasm – employees are excited about their work
- Inspired – employees are driven by their leaders
- Empowered – employees are permitted to do the job their way
- Confident – employees are certain they can achieve excellence
An enthusiastic and inspired employee that’s empowered to take ownership over tasks and projects will ultimately lead to them having greater confidence in themselves and increase your confidence in them. As a business owner, employees look to you for leadership and direction, but they want to know that you trust them to carry out the mission that you’ve clearly outlined. Build them up in these areas, provide them the tools they need to get the job done, and then get out of their way. You’ll likely be amazed at how well your employees will flourish and how you will be able to focus on the bigger, more strategic ideas that will truly move the needle for your business. Employees that display these four key traits will also be ready to help you tackle that next project and surpass your goals for the business.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
Now that we’ve shared what employee engagement is and why it is so important to your business let’s explore how to approach enhancing it. The following strategies are ones that our customers have found helpful in reaching greater job satisfaction, increased efficiency, higher productivity and improved customer service.
- Provide a clear vision. To be engaged, employees need to understand the vision and goals of your business. Anchor the team to a vision so they understand how their role contributes to the success of the company. Use staff meetings to create a dialogue about the business’s vision regularly. Discuss how every employee can help achieve your vision and goals. Clear communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is vastly important.
- Focus on culture. Developing a rewarding culture goes a long way toward improving employee engagement. Make sure team members feel valued. Recognize and reward superior job performance. Give employees praise about their job performance every week at a minimum to reinforce desired behaviors. Build trust and respect with team members by keeping them informed. Even if you have to deliver bad news, employees appreciate accurate, timely information. Keep the lines of communication open between employees and the leadership team. Otherwise, unnecessary gossip will take over, which tends to reduce morale.
- Establish feedback protocols. Give staff regular, timely feedback, which improves efficiency by reinforcing the job performance you want and discouraging behaviors you don’t want. Feedback helps you work better with your team because employees appreciate knowing how they are doing and how they can improve. Don’t forget to solicit feedback from staff as well, which further assists in efforts to improve operations. Address any employee concerns and strive to facilitate creative problem-solving.
- Develop managers. Managers play an integral role in employee engagement. First and foremost, managers must be engaged themselves before they can be a driver to increase employee engagement in the business. If managers are frustrated and unhappy about aspects of their job, they aren’t likely to be a positive influence on the rest of the team. Formulate a plan to increase managers’ engagement if they are not fully engaged.
- Create employee developmental plans. Employee developmental plans improve job satisfaction and employee engagement because they facilitate training and career development. If business is slow, there is no excuse not to spend time on training and staff development. Tailor developmental plans for each team member. Set quarterly or monthly goals for employees to undergo the training necessary to achieve new skills or proficiency levels.
- Use generational differences to your advantage. Depending on your type of business, you may have a mix of several different employee age groups to consider. The Baby Boomers generation (born between 1944 and 1964) compared to Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) have very different outlooks on life, work and communication skills. A Baby Boomer typically places greater value on personal relationships and didn’t grow up with technology. However, Millennials are highly tech-savvy people that value convenience and are mobile-engaged through the Internet and social media3.
Managing these two types of employees within your staff can be challenging but is very doable if you understand them and adapt your leadership approach. For instance, maybe your young rockstar employee can run with the new social media strategy you’ve developed together to increase awareness of your brand in the marketplace. Meanwhile, your devoted Baby Boomer employee provides tremendous value by leading your customer service team because they’re good at connecting with people and developing relationships. Know these generational differences and use them to your advantage instead of allowing them to cause problems potentially.
Also, don’t ignore Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration (born between 1995 and 2015)3. This generation is the largest ever in history and doesn’t know life without the Internet or mobile devices. Much like Millennials, this group can provide excellent value to your business if given the opportunity and managed correctly.
The above strategies will improve morale for your team and help your small business reap the benefits of employee engagement. Engaged employees are committed to your business and happy in their jobs, which translates to higher employee retention and productivity. Engaged team members help elevate the level of customer service, which also helps drive more profitability.
1 – Dale Carnegie Training, May 2019.
2 – ConantLeadership.com, June 2019.
3 – Impact Business Partners, 2017.
4 – Drucker.institute, 2019.