Creating and Maintaining Employee Engagement - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

As per the latest Gallup report, only 35-36% of the employees are truly passionate and enthusiastic about their jobs.

In short, they feel engaged in their work. The percentage of disengaged employees hovers around 51% while 13% are said to be actively disengaged.

Wait a second.

Aren’t we all striving to do meaningful work that engages our minds with absolute dedication and unwavering focus? Then, what’s holding us back from giving our best?

Moreover, how are companies dealing with disengaged employees? The truth is, no matter how successful a company is or how high the “happiness quotient” at the workplace, it’s hard for an employer to ascertain whether his employees are fully engaged in the work they’re doing.

They may be satisfied with the job. They may like the salary and love the perks. They may have no reason to grumble. But are they really “engaged”?

10 Ways to Create and Maintain Employee Engagement

An individual is said to be engaged when there’s a strong sense of connection towards his work, his team and his organization on a mental and emotional level. Basically, it indicates the extent to which an employee feels passionate about the work and the workplace. From an organization’s perspective, a truly motivated workforce will result in increased profitability, greater productivity, positive customer experience and reduced attrition rate.

All these factors are crucial for the company’s long-term success.

For employee engagement to be effective, an employee needs to perceive work as an immersive experience that’ll contribute to his growth. We cannot disconnect a person from their emotions. We’re all emotional creatures and contrary to popular belief, even the most “rational” of our decisions are rooted in emotions.

So, what if an employee stops feeling excited about his work? Like any other problem, this one requires careful assessment. A series of strategic guidelines and thoughtful actions may just provide the right solution. Instead of getting bogged down by boredom and apathy, we should allow these feelings to act as our driving force. They’ll show us the way to the future.

Let’s look at some of the significant strategies you should consider as an employer if you’re looking for ways to engage your workforce.

1.   Assign the right role to the right person

When you hire the right people with the right skills and assign them the right roles, the job is half done. Such a strategy ensures employees are genuinely invested in the roles and responsibilities instead of being fixated on monetary incentives. Employee performance tends to shoot up if the assigned roles align with their interests and career goals.

According to Watson Wyatt WorkUSA Report, highly engaged individuals are more likely to be top performers as compared to their less-engaged counterparts.  As a manager, you need to take your employee’s career goals into consideration. You can even take on the role of a mentor, guiding that employee towards fulfilling his career aspirations.

2.   Support and encouragement matters

Don’t ever underestimate the power of kindness and compassion. You’ve no idea how an encouraging word or a supportive gesture can transform an individual’s perspective. Try to reaffirm an employee’s areas of strength. Sure, there will be room for improvement and those need to be discussed. But in the process, don’t forget to highlight the positive points as well. Celebrate small victories and help your employees overcome big disappointments. When employees see how invested you are in their struggle, engagement becomes a natural outcome.

Companies should strive to create a conducive environment for employees to blossom into confident, self-assured and productive individuals.

3.   Back up good skills with effective training

A planned approach and a well-prepared team is all you need to tackle various challenges at work. If your team has been trained in the right skills, adversities would turn into accomplishments in no time. Identify the areas of improvement for each team member and come up with a definitive plan. The plan would essentially include training courses ranging from technical competencies and business skills to communication proficiency.

Considering the cost per hire for each employee, it would make sense to invest in their learning and development. That’s how companies promote optimum employee contribution to their performance growth.

4.   Stay committed to the core values

When an organization and its employees come together to achieve a common goal, success is inevitable. But what’s even more magical is the deep sense of attachment and familiarity an employee feels towards the company. All you have to do is explain, with patience and clarity, the company objectives, its long-term vision, and core values. Some may say, “But that’s what the induction sessions are for.” The induction session is a one-day affair. Simply parroting the company’s policies on the joining day isn’t going to help.

You must explain these core values from time to time so that they are ingrained in the employee’s mind. Only then can employees feel a sense of belonging towards the company, thus making them feel fulfilled at work.

5.   Recognize top achievers

Employees feel motivated to perform when their efforts are recognized and appreciated by the organization. When a company values good work and professional conduct, it automatically boosts an employee’s morale. Recognize the top performers on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.

Depending on the company’s core values, team’s budget and a general consensus, rewards may vary. Some of the popular choices are cash prizes, gift hampers, free day off or thank you cards. Such performers may be recognized and celebrated at team meetings, with enthusiastic teammates cheering them on!

6.   Encourage transparency

A company that promotes a fair level of transparency has a better chance of employee engagement. If you keep your employees in the dark regarding what’s happening behind the scenes, they may question the management and lose faith in the overall leadership. Note that higher management may choose to remain discreet about sensitive information. This is done, keeping in the best interest of the organization.

However, managers should keep their team members updated about decisions that may potentially affect them.

7.   Establish an effective communication channel

Corporate communication includes a number of initiatives for driving engagement between the company and its shareholders. However, one group of shareholders often tends to be overlooked. It’s the employee.

Studies show a whopping 74% of employees believe they’re missing out on important news related to the company. Set up an internal communication channel for facilitating seamless interaction between the leaders and employees. Here, employees may approach higher management for clearing their doubts or queries. These direct interactions foster an environment of trust and transparency.

Leaders feel excited about posting regular updates, questions or polls that would draw the attention of employees and boost their involvement with the organization.

8. Check the pulse of the team frequently

A candid approach backed by honest feedback and unbiased evaluation can go a long way in forging a bond of respect and trust. Employee engagement is an intangible concept. Yet, the management needs data to present accurate and consistent measurements of employee engagement.

Disagreements and arguments may take place during some of the feedback sessions. Managers opting for leadership certification programs are better equipped to handle conflict situations at the workplace.

Besides the good ol’ one-to-one session with the manager, companies have now resorted to several new-age techniques for tracking employee engagement. Some of these are listed below:

  • Pulse survey
  • Specific Employee Engagement Survey
  • Employee Life-span Survey

9. Accountability all the way

Motivated employees go the extra mile to get things done. But they can’t be the only ones working hard while others idle around. It wouldn’t be fair to expect such committed employees to compensate for their team’s lackadaisical attitude and work on their behalf. If gone unnoticed, such scenarios can result in employee burnout. The management and leadership also need to step in and ensure every team member is held accountable for his actions.

Commitment and accountability are the cornerstones of success. The least that an employee can do is deliver customer value on a daily basis, contribute to the team and if needed, ask for help.

10. Put more emphasis on processes and results

In today’s competitive age, companies are ready to employ every trick in the book to outdo each other. While this approach works in most cases, it could adversely affect employee engagement, creating a pool of exhausted and resentful employees. That’s why team leaders should stop obsessing over results and concentrate on developing a meticulous process. Note that these two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand.

At times, the team needs to be flexible with processes to deliver desired results. On other occasions, it’s difficult to make headway without well-designed structures and SOPs. Advance planning can help avoid unnecessary, last-minute overloads. Ensure the backlog is cleared in a systematic manner. Design suitable metrics for measuring process effectiveness. By adopting these measures, considerable damage can be avoided.

Conclusion

Employee engagement doesn’t happen by chance. Like most critical initiatives, it begins by asking the right questions to the right people in an organization’s hierarchy. A successful employee engagement program requires a formidable combination of strategy, communication, and accountability.

By following the steps mentioned above, an organization is able to create a highly focused and productive workforce. This turns out to be a huge victory for the organization. As far as the employees are concerned, there’s no limit to what they can achieve with an engaged mind and an earnest attitude.

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