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The secret to employee engagement (Part 1)

December 17, 2014

Some employees barely make it to work on time, mindlessly drift from task to task, do only what is required and show little enthusiasm for their work. Meanwhile, others are excited about coming to work and exude energy no matter the task. They go above and beyond minimum expectations and are always looking for ways to get the job done and satisfy customers. Experts use the term “employee engagement” to describe the continuum between these two types of employees, from disengaged to highly engaged.

Engaged employees are committed to their organization and its bottom line. They have tremendous pride and job ownership. They put forth more discretionary effort in terms of time and energy and, on average, demonstrate significantly higher levels of performance and productivity than those who are not engaged. The Gallup organization has collected data that confirms this: engaged employees generate 38% higher customer satisfaction scores, 22% higher productivity, and 27% higher profits for their companies.

Simply put, employee engagement quantifies the connections employees have with their work and how well an employer is meeting its employees’ needs for challenges, growth, and opportunity; along with a sense of belonging; motivating and caring leadership; and feeling valued and rewarded for their contribution.

As the data shows, employee engagement is a critical element in business performance and front-line managers are the linchpin. They have an enormous impact on the climate in their group. And keep in mind employee engagement is a contact sport. Managers cannot engage their employees by sitting behind their desks answering emails and taking phone calls. They have to get out in the workplace and actively interact with their employees.

Here are some practical tips and techniques you can use to engage your workforce.

Know Your Employees

  • Meet with each of your employees and find out what is important to them and what motivates them to perform on a regular basis. Think of it as a “stay interview” vs. the more common “exit interview.” Examples of the types of questions you might ask are:
    • What do you enjoy most about your work?
    • What frustrates you about your work?
    • What do you see as your top three strengths? Are you utilizing them in your work? If not, how can you and I make that happen?
    • Are you getting the amount and types of feedback you want?
    • What do you want to get better at? What are some new skills you would like to learn?
    • What would you like to be doing three years from now?
    • How can I help and support you in your current job as well as help you achieve your long-term career goals?
  • Find out the birthdays of each of your employees. Create a calendar to remind you to send them a personalized birthday card on their special day.
  • Learn about employees’ interests, hobbies, family, etc. to build a personal relationship and create an emotional connection with each of your employees.

This is part one of a four-part series on improving employee engagement. Check back next week to learn more practical tips.

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