One of the most critical challenges of running a business is creating a corporate culture that keeps employees engaged and, by definition, retained. As an entrepreneur, it is your job to not only demonstrate a personal passion for your company, but also to inspire the same level of commitment in your employees.
But how do you go about doing that? How do you improve employee engagement in the workplace? Luckily, we are on hand to help.
What is Employee Engagement?
Before we start looking at strategies of how to engage employees, it's first useful to have a clear understanding of what this term means.
Employee engagement is not the same thing as employee satisfaction or happiness. These are simpler terms that are used to measure whether or not an employee enjoys coming into the office, and if their needs are being satisfied. Having a fun office or providing an adequate salary does not mean that you have done everything you can do to keep an employee engaged; instead, these are merely components of employee engagement.
The definition of employee engagement is the measure of the emotional commitment that staff members have to the company and the services it provides. Engaged employees aren't just showing up, putting in their hours and cashing their paychecks – there is a level of commitment and passion present for ensuring that the company is successful.
This is important not just for your staff, but for you, too. An engaged workforce means fewer absences, higher productivity and, ultimately, higher profits; it raises the efficiency of your entire workforce and impacts all areas of your business.
So, how do you go about improving it?
How to Improve Employee Engagement
Fostering an environment that yields high employee engagement is not a one-step task. Just as high levels of engagement will benefit your wider enterprise, you too will need to evaluate how your company interacts with your employees.
In general, you will need to look at how your organisation's corporate culture treats the employees who are a part of it. Here are some steps you can take to start the process:
1. Share the Company's Successes with Your Employees
Make sure that you are using the positive momentum that your company builds through its successes and growth to engage employees. Staff members want to know that the work they are putting into the organisation is creating positive results.
It can be tempting to bask in the glory of your new business overcoming obstacles alone, but you didn't get your company to where you wanted it to be by yourself. Make sure you communicate your appreciation to staff members and acknowledge their contributions.
Sharing successes with employees is an integral part of creating a sense of transparency that is, in turn, key to building engagement. Not everything that the company and your employees do will be positive, but by keeping communication open with all your members of staff, you will help them feel like they understand what the company is going through. Beyond that, it also gives them the opportunity to assess the situation themselves, and offer whatever they can contribute to help the company succeed.
2. Get to Know Your Employees
One of the most straightforward ways to increase employee engagement is simple: get to know them. Building strong relationships can help you understand where they fit best in your company and will help you communicate your passions for the business and your vision for the future of the company.
It will also give you the opportunity to find out what drives your employees, what their goals are, and how you can work together to further those goals while they are contributing to the company. Making sure that your employees feel that they are part of a business that values their aspirations is one of the best ways to encourage engagement and loyalty.
Depending on the size of your company, you may not have an opportunity to interact one on one with individual employees. If your company is too large to accommodate for personal interaction on your part with most of your employees, you need to make sure that your managers are prioritising these connections.
3. Act on Employee Feedback
Building personal relationships with your employees is an essential step towards creating better employee engagement. However, through this process, you also need to establish a way for feedback to be heard and responded to.
Improving your rapport with staff members will not be effective if their concerns and suggestions go unanswered. In fact, failing to acknowledge the issues they bring to you will undermine the trust you are trying to build in the first place.
Utilising employee feedback doesn't just help improve your employees' connection to the company, but is also a valuable way to find the best solutions to the issues facing your business. If you do not have a way to receive and act upon employee feedback, you not only risk your workers' disengagement; you could also be overlooking critical business intelligence, which could lead to bad decisions being made.
4. Lead by Example
As with any change that affects the corporate culture of an organisation, it is essential that you set a strong example. You need to let your employees see that you are a leader who strives towards best practices, and are an active participant in the workplace.
While this is of paramount importance in small organisations, it is just as vital in larger ones, too. While you may not have the opportunity to inspire each member of your staff personally, your managers and team leaders need to follow the example you set. The way that you lead them will have real-world impacts on how they are connecting with employees and increasing engagement in their own departments.
5. Be Consistent
As noted earlier, increasing employee engagement is not a process that can be completed in one push. You need to ensure that these positive changes are companywide and are uniformly observed.
Be the kind of leader that employees feel that they can trust, by establishing an influential company culture that values every member of the organisation. By listening to their ideas, setting a strong example and emphasising positive momentum, you will find a roster of dedicated and engaged employees who are ready to help push your company to even greater heights.
In the meantime, learn more about how to motivate employees and deal with other common in-office management challenges.
Do you have another great way of increasing employee engagement in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below.