Why is engagement such a big deal?
Two words: Productivity and Retention
Engaged employees are more productive in their daily tasks, and in that they go above and beyond those tasks because they are passionate about the company’s success.
Engaged employees are the ones who stay late without even being asked because they are so involved, they are the employees who solve problems, instead of just reporting them, and they are the employees who become brand ambassadors completely of their own accord.
Also, engaged employees are the ones that tend to stick around.
In my working career I have been responsible for fostering this kind of attitude in my teams; I’ve been a boss, a manager, a supervisor… But much more importantly, I am currently a very engaged employee, and it is from that perspective which I write this article.
Engagement, when it comes right down to it, is just a fancy social tech inspired word for morale.
Workplace morale has always mattered; it’s why casual Fridays exist, why you still stumble upon vintage employee of the month plaques at your local thrift shop, and why despite extremely limited space sea captains of yore always made sure to pack enough rum.
These days casual is the norm, plaques are considered a waste of precious resources by most, and an office full of rum is just a lawsuit waiting to happen!
Well, as mentioned previously, I am part of a team with exceptionally high morale. Our spirits stay high despite working remotely, rarely interacting face to face, and the total absence of rum.
Our team’s high morale is based on three building blocks:
1) Recruitment – We don’t hire jerks, we hire for fit.
Ever hired someone based on their incredible skill set, only to fire them for their attitude? Yeah, most companies have.
It’s not that skill doesn’t matter; it’s just that good skills are more easily developed than good character.
Smart, positive, and capable people will pick things up quickly, be an asset to team morale, and grow with your company.
Also, no matter how talented they may be, hiring employees that crush team morale is never a good idea… unless their interaction with others will be kept to a bare minimum.
2) Meaning – Because work without meaning is utterly meaningless!
Purpose is what drives people.
One of the biggest workplace morale boosters is the introduction of an important new project. This is because we humans want what we do to be meaningful and important.
Unfortunately, most of what we do at work is rote. I mean really, has anyone ever been inspired by data entry?!
A way to combat this it to explain in detail why each task matters, how it affects the company’s overall workflow, and how it is essential to the company’s success.
You can also regularly remind employees of the big picture (the company’s goals), and how they play an important part in this picture.
For example: At least twice a month my boss and I go over recent successes, progress, and goals… And he always makes me feel like an integral part of all three.
I am never more engaged than in the days following those meetings!
3) Recognition – A simple thank you is almost enough.
You may not be able to give out massive bonuses, or impressive raises, but you can always give authentic recognition.
Thank yous are important but if you really want to let an employee know that you appreciate their hard work, you need to get a little more specific.
Many employers and managers put more time into tracking their employees screw ups than tracking their successes (I’ve been guilty of this in the past myself.)
Paying close attention to your employees’ progress, the areas in which they excel, and their accomplishments will help you give them authentic thanks and recognition.
Nothing is more motivating that being praised for making a positive impact, than being praised for making a positive impact with specific examples to back up the praise!
Except maybe a huge bonus… But hey, you’ve got to work with what you have.
Until next time, happy hiring!Tags: employee retention