If you’re trying to do some quick math, you’ll realize – if you don’t know by now – that disengaged employees will cost your company more than you think. According to a report issued by Gallup, the cost of employee disengagement will be anywhere between $960 and $1.2 trillion a year. So, the question then becomes, what drives your employees to be more efficient, productive, and effective overall, and what are some of the leadership practices that you could engage in to ensure that that is indeed happening?
In the end, your management style matters, as well as your leadership qualities. Social science research has suggested for decades that in order to have effective employees, a company must first ensure effective management. Both groups are important to ensure effective performance and employee engagement – you’d be lying to yourself if you tried to blame employee results on one group only. Here is a new approach that should be considered and that might provide useful tactics for a company’s success.
Set clear expectations
To ensure that your employees will give out the best results, you must ensure that they have a clear understanding of what they should and shouldn’t do. This cannot happen if you don’t provide them with enough information and help them follow the steps to successful performance. Every single one of us needs guidance and clarity in our pursuits; the same goes for your staff. Here are some ways in which you can make your expectations clearer.
- First, ensure that you know what your company stands for and what your expectations are. If you don’t know, how could your employees? Set realistic expectations for the company such as “follow this or that dress code,” “respect one another,” or “never delay a project.” Make sure that you come up with some functional rules.
- Minimize employees’ confusion. Communication is the key here. If you are unable to communicate clearly with your employees, they might never understand what you are asking of them. Lay out your exact requirements and deadlines. Provide them with a sheet of paper containing their responsibilities. Address any questions that they might have and answer them patiently. Ensure that they understood exactly what they are required to do by following up with them.
- Help your employees understand how important their responsibilities are. Remind them that they are driving the company and that they are the ones who are making up its culture.
- Ask them why expectations are important and see what their answers are. Give them examples of how expectations can break or strengthen companies and how adhering to rules and regulations can have an effective impact on the bigger goals of the company.
- Get them to sign a commitment agreement to ensure that you have their word. This will also keep them more engaged than before – they are now taking personal responsibility for their actions.
Set clear goals and objectives
Creating clear project goals is key to ensuring employee engagement. Many projects fail because they don’t have clear objectives and are not basing their work on clear key concepts. So, to be deemed successful, it is important to have your team of employees understand what the goal of the project is, what the milestones are in achieving the desired outcome, and methodologies will be used in creating a well-structured strategy. Have answers to these three points and you’ll notice how perspectives will broaden and employees will expand their horizons and thus, increase their determination.
Caine Smith, specialist and UX designer at uk.bestessays.com, writes, “Clear objectives will also help your employees ask the right questions to gather the necessary information, help them prioritize tasks based on importance, and set clear KIPs with which they can later measure their success.”
Give (and ask for) constant feedback
Giving feedback is important for your employees’ success because they can take it, digest it, and then change their behavior according to it. The first reason that you are offering feedback is that you want to see change and you want to see it quickly. Maybe you want your employees to improve the ways of interacting with each other or maybe you just want better communication between staff and clients. Whatever your end goal is, offering constructive feedback to your employees should become a priority. Unfortunately, some employees might take this feedback personally and might be completely overthrown by it. If that’s the case, then here is a short piece of advice that might be helpful to you.
- Make sure you figure out your employees’ preferences by asking them directly, how would you prefer your feedback? You can have them answer in writing to ensure that they are non-biased in their answers. Write down this question on a piece of paper and then hand it to them. Have answers such as “Right away,” “Please schedule a meeting with me and tell me that I will be receiving feedback,” or “Please let me know throughout the day, whenever I have free time.” You could also ask them about their preferred way of receiving feedback; some prefer video calls while others want to have it in writing.
- If you are worried that feedback might impact your employees negatively, say something. Encourage them to speak out and let them know that their opinions are important.
- Make sure you place your feedback in the context of what is currently happening. Offer them a second opinion on how things are unfolding for them right now and what you can see from an outside perspective. Pay attention to the moment when they are the most willing to receive feedback.
- Avoid the “sandwich technique,” it never actually works, and it is very predictable. For those of you unfamiliar with the concepts, the sandwich technique is when am employer starts with a good thing, states a bad thing, and then ends with another good thing on one’s employee activity. It’s been overused and it is starting to use its efficiency.
- Care about them and show them that. Do not come from a place of anger or disappointment but from a place of care and love. Tell them how much you want them to succeed and the reasons why you offer them this feedback. Don’t be bitter or mean, it never helps.
Offering specific and accurate feedback will help your employees develop a better work ethic and feel more valued. It shows that you care about their progress and success. But that doesn’t mean that you should not be open to receiving constructive feedback from them. Schedule one time per month when you are open to only receiving and do it!
Make them feel valued
Making employees feel valued is another important milestone in helping them engage more. Offering them feedback is usually not enough; feedback must be combined with:
- Recognition. Recognize their accomplishments personally and as a group and offer them bonuses or paid dinners. You could also improve your relationship with them by taking them out to lunch. Whatever works.
- Ask for their opinion on matters that concern your company. Ask not only about the project at hand but also about the job as a whole – do they like it? Is there anything you could do better to have them evolve more?
- Communicate often to keep them on the loop on what’s going on with the business and within the organization. Show transparency to help them trust you more and feel how important they are to the company itself.
- Give them benefits by assessing their needs and knowing exactly what they want.
- Appreciate them publicly and ensure that they get informal rewards for their accomplishments.
- Provide them tasks that offer them a good level of challenges, showing that you trust them and their capabilities of solving an issue or dealing with a problem.
- Invest in their development – this leads me to my next point.
Offer growth opportunities
A major factor in employee engagement is motivation – if you can motivate your employees to want something, they’ll 100% go for it. This is human nature after all. You should offer them continuous growth opportunities as they move along their careers. There are four major types of growth that your employees will be interested in:
- Financial growth – they want more financial gains, so they’ll be motivated by a higher salary especially when that is tied to their performance.
- Career growth – they just want a higher rank and thus, more prestige. They want to be able to move up the ranks.
- Professional growth – they want to be provided with opportunities that could improve their mindsets and make them more productive. Some tools could be mentoring programs, online coaching sessions, conferences, or tuition reimbursement.
- Personal growth – they just want to grow personally by engaging in a professional setting; you could ease up this process by providing flexible schedules, remote working opportunities, or social gatherings outside of the workplace.
Motivating your employees and showing them how important they are to the company are crucial factors in increasing engagement. But first – you must care enough to do it. Good luck!
Justin is a blogger from Leicester, England, UK. When not teaching his little students and rooting for Leicester FC, he loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing for uk.bestessays.com