Employee engagement can improve a variety of business metrics, including mission critical ones such as revenue growth and customer satisfaction. A recent Hay Group study shows that high levels of employee engagement can increase revenue growth by 250%. Benefits to the bottom line are also compelling. According to Towers Perrin, companies with highly engaged employees see operating income improve by up to 19%. Benefits like these should come as no surprise–engaged employees are employees that have a sincere interest in seeing your company succeed.
According to the study, only 31% of employees believe that they are actively engaged in their jobs. Creating a culture of engagement, it turns out, is easier said than done. It requires knowledge, commitment, time and, even technology. With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help any business start down the road to more effective employee engagement.
Identify the motivators that matter – Most companies continue to believe that employees are motivated by traditional workplace sticks and carrots such as compensation and promotions. While things like compensation certainly matter, recent research by Daniel Pink suggests that people are primarily motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy is the ability for an employee to influence and control how they manage their time, tasks, and interactions with other employees. Mastery is the opportunity for an employee to become a true expert in the field in which they work. And purpose is the connection that an employee can form with a larger objective that is bigger than their day-to-day work. When creating an employee engagement program, it’s critical to remember that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are what employees care about.
Create programs, objectives, and goals that drive engagement – Recognizing that employees do care about Pink’s three primary motivators is step number one. Step number two is turning those motivators into tangible objectives and goals that employees can work towards. Creating programs where employees can act autonomously, acquire expertise, and connect with larger objectives is critical to this effort as is rewarding successful employee endeavors to accomplish each of these things. Make sure that these programs and the rewards associated with them are tangible and well-defined.
Remove roadblocks that hinder achievement – Most employees want to accomplish the objectives in front of them, but most people run into what they perceive to be a never-ending series of roadblocks. One such roadblock is knowledge where many employees believe that a lack of knowledge or expertise prevents them from accomplishing what they want to accomplish. Another common roadblock is lack of internal communication. Many employees cite poor communication as the number one hindrance to accomplishing a specific task. Companies that empower employees to master the subject of their work and facilitate internal communication are well on their way to improved employee engagement.
Make employee feedback a cultural norm – While most employees crave feedback of all kinds, most managers fail to give it. Feedback comes in many shapes and sizes. There is the annual or quarterly performance review which typically has a formal tone and structure to it. Then there is ad hoc feedback that might be given on a weekly or daily basis. This feedback tends to be less formal in nature, but is incredibly valuable. Regardless of the format used to provide employees with feedback, a few best practices can greatly improve employee engagement. First, provide feedback on a regular basis. Don’t wait until the end of the quarter or end of the year. Second, always provide objective, candid feedback that employee can understand and act on. Third, remember to ask for the employee’s perspective on the feedback given.
Close the loop by turning engagement into action – Engagement for the sake of engagement is just that. Happy employees are good, but happy employees that contribute to the business by performing in exceptional ways are better. It’s also critical to remind employees and management that engagement is a two way street – the company will do great things for employees and employees will do great things for the company. Very few companies get this right, but those that do create a virtuous cycle of employee engagement where the company does more for its people and the people do more for the company which in turn causes the company to do even more for its people.
Employee engagement is a journey, not an end-result. By focusing on these 5 tips, any company can improve employee engagement and by extension their business results. If you have tips on how to improve employee engagement, please share them in the comments below.