A 2016 report from Gallup shows that only 13% of employees across the globe are engaged in their work. This number is seriously concerning for businesses, at a time where employee retention is absolutely critical.
With skilled employees becoming increasingly difficult to find, employee retention is the only way to guarantee that you keep critical skills within your business. However, engagement is a significant metric in determining an employee’s happiness and willingness to stay in the organisation, so when employee engagement is low, turnover tends to be high.
Highly engaged employees also work harder, and are more creative and innovative, driving better results within the organisations.
So, what can you do to improve employee engagement? These five strategies, below, are a good starting point:
1) Be enthusiastic yourself
Being the boss, you probably don’t have to come into the office every day, and you yourself know how hard you work, but your employees need to see it. If you’re in the office with a positive energy, and you’re the last to leave, the rest of the team will feel energised by you, and that your expectations of them are reasonable, given that you have those same expectations of yourself.
It’s also important to behave the way you’d like for your employees to behave. Jump in to help with projects where you can, and if you make mistakes, be willing to admit them. That kind of proactive and blame-free approach to work will encourage others to have ideas and be willing to participate themselves.
2) Communicate and be transparent
Nothing dampens the spirit of an office more than when employees hear important news about the organisation through the grapevine or via rumour. Being open and available to talk to employees about the business and its inner workings is important to keep the second and third hard information sharing to a minimum.
Also take the time to be clear with employees about the goals and expectations that you have of them, and celebrate in the successes and contributions that they have at work. It’s also a good idea to survey the staff from time to time in order to gauge how team culture and communication can be enhanced further.
3) Give employees work they like doing
Putting employees on projects that bores them is a quick path to dissatisfaction. Of course, it’s impossible to enjoy all the work you do, all the time, but if employees have the ability to take some time out each week to work on projects that interest them, they’ll feel happier in the work they’re doing, and that their work appreciates what their strengths are.
It’s also important to let employees work on projects that have a clear value to the organisation. Including them in the decision making progress for those projects will result in something tangible that the employee can point to for their time in the organisation, and that will further improve engagement.
4) Protect a culture of genuine work-life balance
There’s always the perception that if an employee is not working long hours, then they must not be contributing, but this is simply not true at all, and in fact can be very dangerous to an organisation. Any business that doesn’t afford people the chance to have a home life, hobbies, and find time for entertainment, is a business that won’t hold on for its staff for long.
Thankfully there are all kinds of tools to help enable this now. It’s easier to work remotely than ever, so if people wish to live further away from the office in order to maintain lifestyle, they could continue to work from home and come into the office less frequently. It’s also possible to allow people to be more flexible with work hours; if they have an activity they like to do during standard work hours, they’ll be happy to catch up with work in the evenings, or start earlier.
Paying people well is of course welcomed, but employees respond even better to benefits packages if you can also offer gym or lifestyle club membership, in-office catering, and so on.
5) Don’t take long term employees for granted
The longer an employee has been at an organisation, the more likely they are to feel like they’re stagnating or no longer valued by the organisation. Having honest conversations with them on how to engage with them better, or help them to develop their careers and skillsets, is important in order to keep them engaged and happy.
Also make sure that you’re the one keeping on top of salary packages so that they’re in line with current market rates – employees will appreciate that you’re showing concern that they’re properly compensated for their work.
Keeping staff happy and feeling engage will help you to develop a culture of long service within your organisation; an increasingly rare achievement in modern business culture, but one that can help significantly in developing deep skills within the business.