Four Keys to Improving Employee Engagement

You have your team of employees but are they engaged and happy? Companies can’t grow and thrive without the passion, innovation, and productivity their people bring to the business. Let’s start at the beginning – what does it mean to be engaged? (Nope, not referring to diamonds here!)

Engaged employees are those who are active participants in the company and interested in doing more than just the basic amount of work expected. A company is only as good as its weakest link, so happy workers make for a better and more productive company. Only 15% of employees report that they are interested or engaged in their work according to Gallup’s State of Global Workplace report (Gleeson). Here are four ways to help improve employee engagement:

  1. Recognition of your employees’ time commitments– Everyone experiences conflicting needs for a home life and that can make it a challenge to keep them interested in extra time commitments at work. This is especially true for after-hours events such as socials, training, and company sanctioned events. It is important to recognize the challenge that many have in balancing their work and their personal life. Try to keep after-hours events to a minimum – employees will not be happy if they are spending every evening at company events while missing dinner with their spouses or time with their friends. A great way to resolve this issue is to create family-friendly events: try holding a company day at the aquarium, give out tickets to a sports event, or any activity that allows the employee to have family time.
  2. Assign meaningful work– Every person wants to feel as though they are working toward something and that they are contributing towards a greater cause. They want to feel as though they have a stake in the company’s future. Employees who feel their work is underappreciated or useless are not engaged employees. Recognize the importance work they are doing and don’t waste their time on meaningless busy work. This also affects their overall attitude; if employees feel like they are doing compelling and valued work then morale will benefit (Gleeson).
  3. Recognition of work and effort– Not only should the task be important, but  recognition should be given where it is earned. People often feel as though their talents and efforts are not as appreciated as they should be, and the best way to keep employees engaged is to support their confidence in the work that they do. Employees tend to work harder when they know their company values them. Many companies are now expanding their employee management to encompass a full range of development, feedback, coaching, and evaluation activities throughout the year. (It is important to note that the level of praise should be appropriate for the work done. We don’t want to give out ‘Participant’ trophies.) In this global market, great employees can, and will, leave if they don’t feel valued. Another way to keep them engaged and happy – and indeed, to keep them at all – is to deliver commensurate rewards, including competitive bonuses, stock options, and commissions.

*When dealing with under-performance, it is important to know the difference between constructive criticism and brutal honesty. Being brutally honest will likely disengage the employee. If you are unaware of the employees’ actual work, you are better off saying nothing than overpraising or over-correcting.

  1. Consistently ask for opinions on how to improve– Employees are the only ones who can tell you what will help them be happier with the work they are doing or with the company where they are working (Gleeson). It is important to ask for their opinion on different initiatives and how the company treats the employees. A great example of this practice in action is Toyota; their entire area of business discipline is based around the practice of going to the factory floor to get solutions for high level questions. The higher in the hierarchy of management that a person is, the more isolated they tend to be. The workers know the situations and, if they feel comfortable doing so, will share sage advice. Feedback is essential when working within a company setting because things are constantly changing, employees are growing, and engagement must adjust to employee needs.

Employee engagement is an important issue with which every company struggles. Take into account these four keys to promote engagement and watch overall morale and productivity improve.

Works Cited:

Gleeson, Brent. “5 Powerful Steps to Improve Employee Engagement.” Forbes, 15 October

2017https://www.inc.com/brent-gleeson/5-powerful-steps-to-improve-employee-engagement.html Accessed March 19,2018