Executives, HR professionals and internal communicators dream about engaged employees. Engaged employees are productive, produce better quality, are safer, provide better customer service and even increase the engagement of other workers. They’re happy, brand advocates who other people want to work with.
So … how do you engage them? There are lots of ways beyond benefits and compensation (although those matter). Employee engagement relies on two core principles: help employees find a sense of purpose and belonging.
1. Practice open communication
What’s open communication? It’s transparent, clear and kind. Open communication goes beyond “open door policies,” where employees have information they need when they need it. Workplaces with open communication have managers who provide information frequently, including progress on company goals, expenses and revenue. In these environments, executives know many of the people in the company and everyone in their department. They walk around the office to interact with people and sit in on team meetings.
Executives and managers listen, too. They accept feedback, including questions at employee meetings and even anonymous questions on the intranet. They even use active listening.
2. Let people make decisions
Drive down decision-making. It’s empowering! It’s also illuminating. For example, when employees are given authority and accountability over budgets, they tend to spend money more wisely. When they contribute to strategy, they’re more apt to embrace it.
Enabling employees to make decisions is also more efficient. You’re eliminating time and effort wasted as management makes a decision. It does involve more coaching, helping employees get input from the right people, understand limitations exist and more.
And that means you’re developing employees. Enabling your front-line people to make decisions gives them responsibility and an opportunity to learn.
Celebrate where your company is “winning” – not just successful projects or new customer deals (though those are important). Celebrate when you hire a new employee. Enjoy diversity among employees. Acknowledge new ideas and ways of doing things. Celebrate your values in action.
Acknowledge them in teams and individually. Don’t forget the people behind the scenes!
Reward people, thanking them. Congratulations can be monetary or just extra time off. For smaller successes, maybe it’s a card or kudos on your intranet.
Letting employees know they matter and belong is critical to engagement.
4. Train managers and leaders
One of the biggest reasons people leave a company is their relationship with their manager. Sometimes it’s a lack of chemistry, but many times managers and leaders don’t have the support they need to succeed themselves.
Training and support bridge that gap and develops careers.
- Provide training once a year, requiring new managers to attend and encouraging experienced managers to be there, too.
- Create a section on your intranet to enable managers to ask questions, exchange ideas and get documents.
- Create mentoring programs where more experienced managers are paired with less experienced ones.
- Give supervisors time to manage.
- Make them accountable for people management.
- Consider 360-degree reviews to ensure they’re meeting employees’ expectations, too.
5. Care about people
This one seems easy; it is. Encourage listening, empathy, sympathy and community by giving time for people to socialize, build relationships, build teams and take time away from work.
Some of the best executives, HR teams and internal communications professionals make caring about people part of their daily lives. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, famously said, “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.” It is.
When people feel accepted and cared for, they’re more likely to give a company their best.
6. Make goals clear
Tie company goals to department, team and individual goals. Make those goals clear and ensure people have support to achieve them. Encourage executives to discuss them at all employee and department meetings. Embed dashboards on your intranet so employees can see progress routinely for themselves. Set up two-way online communications about those goals and monitor them, too.
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