How do managers foster effective employees? Clue: they find engaging strategies that make staff feel valued and valuable to the success of the business.
Go on the internet and type in any combination of terms, such as ‘career development’ or ‘increase employee engagement’ and you’ll get an avalanche of responses. The term ‘improve employee engagement’ brings back 69,700,000 results… rather a lot of work for even the most committed human resources director.
So, rather than give you a serious case of RSI, let’s distill some of the best recent advice about how a company can not only build trust with its workforce but also improve employee engagement.
1. Make an emotional connection — Remuneration is only a part of the picture. An employee who believes the company acknowledges their contribution will feel a greater level of loyalty to the business. Writing in Harvard Business Review, Andrew Chamberlain argues that recent research carried out by his company suggests that, whilst pay helps, it’s unlikely to keep them if there are gaps in workplace culture, values and career opportunities for staff to rise through the organization.
2. Trust goes two ways — engagement through delegation and empowerment. Writing in Industry Week, Shawn Casemore makes the case for empowerment and engagement running hand-in-hand, “For over a decade now, I’ve been teaching and coaching leaders on the power of asking questions. When you ask your people about their ideas, you engage them in identifying what to do. This is at the heart of empowerment.” Casemore found that as a manager, asking staff questions was a powerful method for not only achieving better engagement but also allowing a much greater sense of buy-in to the company strategic plan.
3. Developing an employee engagement strategy that creates a clear path for career development will reap greater reward — It may not surprise too many that employees who feel their company has a career path for them feel a greater level of engagement with the business. At its most basic effective employee engagement will reduce the chances of staff quitting. A Linkedin Global Job Seeker Trend Report which interviewed over 10,000 members revealed the top trend was the desire for career growth. “To attract the best candidates, offer them career opportunities, not jobs.”
4. Are you hearing me? The art of effectively listening to employees is key to engaging a workforce — Giving employees a meaningful voice within the organization is about treating them as valid stakeholders and ensuring they feel valued. Listening provides a channel for staff to have influence over what happens to them at work. This might be in direct one-to-one discussion on by utilizing tools such as online email surveys from software vendors specializing in internal business communications such as Poppulo. Effective employee voice helps to build an open and trusting dynamic between the company and its workforce. Critically, effective listening can also contribute to organizational success. People are more likely to show commitment to the organization if they have a voice. Sharing views can lead to greater innovation, problem-solving and productivity.
5. Share… Share…Share — Rather than top-down staff training, aim to foster greater peer to peer, or bottom-up learning and development. This will strengthen group cohesiveness as well as rewarding good work by recognizing an individual or team’s contribution to best practice through knowledge-sharing. It’s also argued that bottom-up learning is far more effective in the much more dynamic workplace where constant change is the name of the game. In the article ‘Four Questions To Ask For Better Employee Engagement’. Chris Cebollero argues that good leadership is effectively giving staff the power to grow and develop. He lists key questions to ask staff in the course of a day which allows managers to get a measure of their current level of engagement. There are also questions intended to draw out and share the best from staff whilst valuing their knowledge to the company. E.g. ‘If you were leading this department/organization, what is the one thing you would change, and why?’
In this brief article, we’ve addressed just a few of the many dynamics that work together to affect how employees can more effectively feel engaged in the organization. Yet, in these five we embody some of the bedrock issues facing any company trying to invoke an effective strategy. Any manager able to foster a staff who feel an emotional connection, feel empowered, have a sense of long-term opportunity, are listened to by management and are able to offer best practice insights up to the hierarchy, will ultimately enjoy a far greater level of employee engagement.