24 Jun Employee Engagement - The Ultimate Guide for a Good Leader
Your employees are the foundation of your business and keeping them engaged is one of the most important factors for success. You want your workers to be truly interested in the business and have pride in what they do. Likewise, you need to understand the importance of your staff and be interested in their goals and aspirations. This way, you can create a positive and productive work environment.
As a leader, you should know how passionate and driven your workers are. You should ask yourself the questions of whether your employees genuinely care about your company’s future and if they are dedicated to helping it expand and be successful. If the answer is yes - you are on the right track. Otherwise, there are ways to improve the level of engagement amongst your staff.
What is employee engagement?
Besides understanding if your employees enjoy their job or not, measuring employee engagement can show several important things. For example, it lets you know how committed your workers are to the business and its success, as well as how emotionally invested and motivated they are in what they do. Engaged employees will work hard towards the common goals of the company and its vision, they will care about the company’s values and have a clear understanding of their work objectives.
It is not all about productivity and motivation either - employee engagement is also about caring for the people that work for you. You want to be sure that your company’s management is always fair and respectful. Making sure that your leadership is built on mutual respect rather than fear is extremely important and should be your priority. Once you know that your staff is truly happy with their work environment, feel respected and treated well, good results and productivity will come naturally.
Why is employee engagement important?
There are numerous ways in which employee engagement can completely change the way your company operates and the environment you work in. Here are a few common benefits:
- With happy and satisfied employees, your workplace becomes more positive.
- Your employees start feeling like they are a part of the team, rather than just individuals working for you.
- Engaged employees tend to be more committed and loyal to the business, which can improve the employee retention rates.
- Engagement often leads to a more productive environment, where people want to work hard towards a company's goals and vision.
- Studies show that more satisfied employees tend to be absent from their work fewer days than those who are disengaged.
- Overall, engaged employees create a happier and hardworking work environment, which can lead to better job performance, thus higher profits in the long run.
How to engage employees:
- Clear vision - First and foremost, you need to make sure that your employees understand your company’s vision, as that is the most important step in engagement. Your team should know what the company’s goals are and how their work contributes to them. Don’t be scared to frequently remind them of your vision either, as it can create a genuine belief and sharing of values to commit to it.
- Getting to know them - This is so simple and yet extremely effective. All you need to do is show your employees that you care about them beyond the tasks that they do. Make sure you find time to always say hello, talk to them a little, ask about their personal lives and hobbies outside work. This will make them feel more appreciated as individuals as well as less disconnected from the management.
- Keep them in the loop - Your employees are the backbone of your company and the company’s success or failure depends on them. Therefore, they should never be kept out of any concerns and struggles that the company is facing. Likewise, the success and positive customer feedback should be always shared with your team. This can be done by organising regular team meetings or through a monthly newsletter. This will ensure that your employees feel like they are an important stakeholder in the company (which they are) as well as give them opportunities to share ideas and be more proactive.
- Encourage growth - The people that you chose for your team are likely the ones you saw potential and ambition in during the hiring process. So, make sure that once you give a person a seat at your company’s desk, you continue encouraging their growth. As a manager, you need to give them opportunities to show off their skills and let them thrive at what they do best. Career progression is also paramount for employees, so internal hiring and extra training opportunities can prevent the company from being a stepping stone.
- Provide them with feedback - Constructive feedback is key for your employees’ progress. They need to not just blindly do their tasks, but be aware of what was done well and what could be improved. This does not mean only the negatives though, it is crucial to appreciate their hard work as well. Make sure you don’t take your workers’ efforts for granted and always point out what they’ve done really well.
- Listen to the feedback - Receiving feedback from your team is just as important as providing them with it. Ensure that your employees have the opportunity to tell you what they like about the workplace and what could be improved. Don’t just listen though - act according to it. If you address the issues that your workers have risen and actually implement changes, it will only grow respect and trust towards the management.
- Motivate and inspire - As a manager, it is your job to ensure that your employees do not only understand the importance of their work but also feel comfortable and happy with it. Being a great leader means setting a positive tone from the start and being a mentor when your employees need you. If you see someone struggling with a task, make sure you give them the words of encouragement and some helpful advice. This will reduce their stress and make them realise that they always have your support.
- Encourage teamwork - Teamwork can be extremely beneficial for your employees’ engagement. When a couple of people work together towards a common goal, they get the sense of unity and greater purpose. This also allows them to bounce ideas off each other to come up with the best solutions and ultimately increase the service quality.
- Culture of trust - As mentioned above, building your company on fear will not lead to successful results. Micromanaging can be frustrating and off-putting for employees. Being told what to do constantly is a reminder for them that they are not trusted or relied upon. You need to give your employees room for creativity and intuition, show them that you encourage innovative behaviour. In other words, the management should focus on the bigger picture, leaving certain nuances to the employees, who likely know their job better anyway.
How to measure employee engagement
Making changes to engage your employees more is great, however, don’t forget that you need to measure the engagement as well. Otherwise, you don’t know where you stand and if your practices work. There are a couple of ways you can go about this.
You can use an anonymous employee survey that is a very similar concept to a personality assessment. This will make your results quantitative, thus easier to compare. You can ask them how strongly they agree with such statements as “my workplace is safe” or “I feel trusted by my employees”. This will allow you to see whether your overall scores are low or high as well as compare results every year.
Another way is simply to talk to your employees and really listen to what they say. Of course, as a manager you are likely missing out on some private conversations between your workers. Understandably, your employees may be hesitant to come to you with any complaints or concerns. This is why it is so important for you to show that you care and that your staff can come to you to talk. Encourage these talks yourself and ultimately they will trust you enough to start these conversations.
As a business owner you may find it difficult to use some of the employee engagement practices. For example, lowering the amount of control and leaving your employees to find their own path can sound risky and scary.
However, the reality is that if you create an environment of trust and respect - that is exactly what you will get back. Happy and engaged employees will focus on the bigger picture rather than only thinking about their day-to-day tasks. Businesses are expecting employees who share the same level of commitment as its leaders, so giving them commitment back has to be part of the deal.